In the world of affiliate marketing, tracking conversions is crucial for both advertisers and affiliates. It allows them to measure the success of their campaigns, optimize their strategies, and accurately calculate commissions. One of the key methods used for conversion tracking is postback URL tracking. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of postback URL tracking in affiliate marketing and explore its importance, functionality, and implementation.

What is Postback URL Tracking?

Postback URL tracking is a method used to transfer conversion information between servers in affiliate marketing. It involves the use of “postbacks,” which are URLs that transmit conversion data from one platform to another. These postbacks are also known as callbacks, server-to-server (S2S), or cookieless conversion tracking.

Unlike pixel tracking, which relies on a piece of code placed on the client side, postback URL tracking allows servers to communicate directly with each other without user engagement. As soon as the source platform (affiliate network or tracker) is enabled, the postback links swiftly transmit data to the target platform (tracker or traffic source).

Why Is Postback Tracking Important in Affiliate Marketing?

Postback tracking plays a vital role in affiliate marketing as it enables the transmission of responses from the server to the server side via postback URL parameters. This confirmation and response delivery process is essential for marketers to track their URLs’ performance, such as the number of clicks and the generated traffic. It empowers them to make informed decisions and improve their advertising campaigns based on the gathered data.

Moreover, postback tracking allows advertisers to accurately attribute revenue to the correct sources. By utilizing postback URLs, affiliates can ensure they are compensated for their advertising efforts, while advertisers gain insights into the performance of their campaigns and make data-driven decisions.

Pixel Tracking vs. Postback

Pixel tracking and postback URL tracking are two commonly used methods for monitoring conversions in affiliate marketing. While both serve the same purpose, there are some key differences between the two.

Pixel tracking involves placing a piece of code, typically a pixel, on the client side. When the page loads, the script sends a request to the target platform, indicating a conversion. This method is widely used by affiliate platforms and networks to record conversions. However, it may not always be accurate as pixels can be blocked or removed by software or human intervention, leading to potential discrepancies in tracking.

On the other hand, postback URL tracking relies on the exchange of URLs between servers. The postback URL contains parameters that carry unique identification values and conversion data. This method ensures more reliable and accurate conversion tracking, making it the preferred choice for most affiliate marketers and networks.

How Does the Data Flow in an Affiliate Marketing Campaign?

To understand the intricacies of postback URL tracking, it’s important to grasp the overall data flow in an affiliate marketing campaign. Here are the key steps involved in the traditional campaign funnel:

  1. The visitor clicks on an ad and is directed to a landing page through affiliate tracking software.
  2. After clicking on a call-to-action button on the landing page, the visitor is led to the affiliate network page via the tracking software.
  3. Once the visitor completes a conversion activity, such as making a purchase, the affiliate network generates a postback URL containing the relevant conversion information.
  4. The postback URL is then triggered by the affiliate tracking software, which records the conversion on the traffic source platform.

During this process, click IDs play a crucial role in tracking conversions accurately. Click IDs are unique values assigned to each visitor when they click on the campaign URL. Both the affiliate network and the traffic source platform use these click IDs to associate conversions with the correct sources and calculate commissions accordingly.

Setting Up Postback URLs in Affiliate Marketing

Setting up postback URLs involves configuring the URLs on both the affiliate network platform and the tracking platform or traffic source platform. The process may vary slightly depending on the platforms used, but the general steps are as follows:

  1. Obtain the postback URL template from the tracking platform or traffic source platform.
  2. Replace the placeholders in the template with the appropriate tokens provided by the affiliate network or program. These tokens represent values such as click IDs and payment information.
  3. Submit the postback URL to the respective platform, ensuring that the correct tokens are assigned to the appropriate parameters.

It’s worth noting that some traffic source platforms may also require the inclusion of their own click ID values in the postback URLs to accurately attribute conversions. Refer to the documentation provided by your affiliate network and traffic source platform for the specific tokens and parameters required.

Advantages of Postback URL Tracking

Postback URL tracking offers several advantages that make it the preferred method for conversion tracking in affiliate marketing:

  1. Accuracy: Postback URL tracking ensures more accurate conversion tracking compared to pixel tracking, as it bypasses potential blocking or removal of pixels.
  2. Reliability: By enabling direct communication between servers, postback URL tracking minimizes the risk of data loss or discrepancies.
  3. Attribution: Postback URLs allow advertisers to attribute revenue to the correct sources, ensuring fair compensation for affiliates and accurate performance measurement.
  4. Fraud Detection: Postback tracking data can be analyzed to detect and prevent fraudulent activities by affiliates, improving the overall integrity of affiliate marketing campaigns.
  5. Data-Driven Decisions: Postback tracking provides marketers with valuable insights into the performance of their campaigns, allowing them to make informed decisions and optimize their strategies.

Implementing Postback URL Tracking in WordPress

WordPress users can also implement postback URL tracking by creating custom endpoints and integrating them into their websites. Plugins like “Order Postback Woo” and “ClickPerf” are available to simplify the process of creating and managing postback URLs in WordPress. These plugins offer features such as automated postback URL generation and integration with popular affiliate networks.

To implement postback URL tracking in WordPress without plugins, follow these general steps:

  1. Create a new plugin or add the necessary code to an existing one.
  2. Use the add_rewrite_endpoint function to create a custom endpoint for the postback URL.
  3. Hook into the template_redirect action to check for the presence of the custom endpoint in the URL and handle the postback request accordingly.
  4. In the callback function of the template_redirect action, use the wp_remote_post function to send the postback request to the target URL.
  5. Retrieve and process the response using functions like wp_remote_retrieve_body.
  6. Flush the rewrite rules to ensure WordPress recognizes the new endpoint.

It’s important to note that the exact implementation may vary depending on your specific use case and the e-commerce platform you are using with WordPress. Consult the platform’s documentation and seek assistance from developers if needed.


Postback URL tracking is a vital component of conversion tracking in affiliate marketing. By facilitating the transmission of conversion data between servers, postback URLs enable accurate performance measurement and revenue attribution. Compared to pixel tracking, postback URL tracking offers greater accuracy and reliability, making it the preferred choice for most affiliate marketers and networks. Implementing postback URL tracking requires configuring the URLs on both the affiliate network platform and the tracking or traffic source platform. WordPress users can leverage plugins or custom development to integrate postback URL tracking into their websites. Ultimately, postback URL tracking empowers advertisers and affiliates to optimize their campaigns, detect fraud, and make data-driven decisions for successful affiliate marketing endeavors.