NATS For Networks LinkCodes

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A linkcode is a referral url created and tracked by NATS For Networks. Linkcodes are how affiliates promote and get credit for the traffic they redirect to your offers. To get an affiliate linkcode, visit the offers page on the affiliate side of NATS For Networks, and select an offer.

Linkcode is synonymous with Tracking Link.



There are four types of linkcodes that NATS For Networks will recognize:

  • Encoded Links
  • Un-Encoded Links
  • Shortname Links
  • Tiny URL Links

All four types contain the same information and work the same way, they are simply displayed differently.

To change the kind of code you use by default, visit your Affiliate Display Settings.

Encoded Linkcodes

File:NFN ExampleLinkcode.png
Figure 1.1 - Encoded Linkcode Explained

Encoded linkcodes are the most common in NATS For Networks. All of the information required by NATS For Networks to tie an affiliate to a visitor is located in the string of characters at the end, which are base64-encoded. The last part of the sample URL is known as the Tracking Code, which has multiple uses in NATS For Networks.

For more information on any of these topics, please visit our wiki articles:

Unencoded Linkcodes

File:NFN UnEncodedLinkcode.png
Figure 1.2 - UnEncoded Linkcodes Explained

Un-encoded linkcodes display a period-delimited list of all information that would be in an encoded string within your URL. This is an alternate way to display affiliate linkcodes; the following example will break down what is displayed in an un-encoded linkcode.

  • Tracking Domain – The domain of your NATS For Networks install, necessary for proper cookie tracking. This can be a custom domain as long as it points to the domain of your NATS For Networks Install.
  • Track - The alias to the NATS For Networks tracking script you are using. Could also be strack.
  • Affiliate Username - The username of the affiliate who referred this visitor.
  • Commission ID - The numeric ID of the commission that the visitor's transaction will be paid out under (See Things to Remember).
  • Offer ID - The numeric ID of the NATS For Networks offer your visitor is trying to visit
  • Landing Page ID - The numeric ID of the offer's landing page that your visitor will be redirected to (See Offers Admin for details).
  • Affiliate Campaign or SubID set - The numeric id of the Campaign or SubID set associated with the affiliate (0 = the default SubID for that affiliate).
  • Creative ID - If the visitor followed a linkcode associated with a creative, this will represent the numeric ID of the creative the visitor saw. If no creative was used, this will default to 0.
  • Custom Affiliate Pass-Throughs - If you would like, you can pass back additional parameters from an external website. NATS For Networks Offers will then assign to it a numeric ID number.
  • SubAffiliate ID - The numeric ID of the SubAffiliate associated with this linkcode (if any).

Shortname Linkcodes

Shortname linkcodes look very similar to un-encoded linkcodes, with a crucial difference. Instead of using ID number like an un-encoded linkcodes, this format uses the shortnames of the commission, offer, and landing page you have specified in the URL.

Example:
http://demo.natsfornetworks.com/track/natsfornetworksdemo.15azo.baseball.baseball.0.2.0.0.0.0.0.0/

Tiny URL Linkcodes

Sometimes a linkcode can be very long, and therefore seem messy or unkempt. A Tiny URL creates the smallest possible linkcode for your affiliates. This code consists of the Tracking Domain, "tiny", and a shortened Tracking code.

Example:
http://www.natsfornetworks.com/tiny/wkqbc

Decoding Linkcodes

Encoded linkcodes can be decoded using base64 decoding, which uses ASCII characters and binary to encode/decode links. For the admins, we built a page that allows for creating/decoding Tracking Code. Visit this page in the Code Builder section of the Creatives Admin. The affiliates also have a page that is not shown by default. Affiliates can visit this page from their linkcodes page, by selecting Details of a particular linkcode.

Things to Remember

  • All four formats are interchangeable!
  • The non-encoded formats are security-smart! If an affiliate alters a linkcode so that he/she sends traffic to an offer/landing page that can not be promoted, the affiliate will not get paid out on any transactions that result from that traffic.
  • The non-encoded formats are NOT fool-proof! If an affiliate alters the linkcode so they are using a commission they don't belong to or using a landing page that doesn't belong to the offer, they will not get the desired payment or the visitor will not land on the right landing page in most cases.

Deep Linking

Affiliates can link to any other page on your offer by appending a forward-slash and a relative URL to the linkcode. For example, using the following linkcode to link to http://example.natsfornetworks.com/landing_page1.html:

http://example.natsfornetworks.com/track/MjozOjE/landing_page1.html

Affiliates can also manipulate the query string. For example, the affiliate can pass the variable extra_var=1234 to a landing page by appending a question mark and the variable assignment to their linkcode:

http://example.natsfornetworks.com/track/MjozOjE/?extra_var=1234 


Additional Fields

Affiliates can dynamically populate a number of different fields in their tracking links. Any field passed into a tracking link is available in a pixel / postback by wrapping the field name in %%. Fr example with the tracking link

http://example.natsfornetworks.com/track/MjozOjE/?extra_var=1234 

The value 1234 would be available in a pixel by using

http://your pixel url?field=%%extra_var%% 

Some pre-defined fields with special significance are:

  • _ocid - your unique click / transaction id. Normally used as a pass through for postbacks
  • subaff - your sub affiliate. this can be used by the network owner to identify how traffic from this source is performing
  • subaff2 - additional source field. this can be used by the network owner to identify how traffic from this source is performing
  • subaff3 - additional source field. this can be used by the network owner to identify how traffic from this source is performing
  • subaff4 - additional source field. this can be used by the network owner to identify how traffic from this source is performing
  • subaff5 - additional source field. this can be used by the network owner to identify how traffic from this source is performing
  • autocamp - a new comma separated list of subids to replace the existing subids for a link
  • autosubids - a new comma separated list of subids to append to the existing subids for a link