Tracking Clickbank Conversions From Google Adwords And Other PPC

Google AdWords is the "King of the Hill" in the PPC arena.  Every year, I spend north of $150,000 in PPC ads with 80% of my spend going to AdWords.  For those around  less SEO savvy, (myself included), AdWords is an excellent medium to drive targeted traffic to any site.

To be successful with AdWords or any other PPC medium, you have to keep track of your clicks versus conversions.  Some keywords will convert into sales better than others.  Some will not convert at all.  This data is critical when determining your bid amount and which keywords you target.

When you are offering a product for sale on your site, you have full control of the infrastructure and can easily setup a mechanism to track clicks versus conversions.     I offer a free guide on my site that includes a script for tracking Paypal transactions with Google Analytics.

These techniques work great when you are in full control of the product being sold, but what about driving PPC traffic to an affiliate network like Clickbank.  In this type of setup, you have zero control over the sales process and don't have the ability to add your conversion tracking code on the "thank you page".  So how can you track PPC traffic you send to another site?

There are a couple of methods for this.  In my experience, one works best of all, but I'll share each of them and the final decision can be yours.  These techniques can be easily modified to work with any affiliate or PPC network.

Creating Unique Keyword Identifiers

No matter what technique you use, the first thing you should do is setup your keywords and PPC ads for tracking.  There are easier ways to do this, but I recommend assigning a unique identifier to each keyword that can be placed in the URL.  This keeps my data secure from prying eyes at affiliate companies and assures only I reap the benefits of my testing.

If I were setting up three keywords for advanced tracking and planned on sending them directly to a Clickbank affiliate site, I would assign each of them a unique identifier and URL like the example below.

wagons - Identifier =1 - Unique URL =

red wagons - Identifier =2 -  Unique URL =

toy wagons - Identifier =3 - Unique URL =

If I were sending the visitors to my website first, I would setup the urls and the unique identifiers similar to the following.

wagons - Identifier =1 - Unique URL =

red wagons - Identifier =2 -  Unique URL =

toy wagons - Identifier =3 - Unique URL =

This should work fine with any server.  You put the ?kw= at the end of the url you want to send the visitor to followed by the unique identifier for that keyword.  Google AdWords makes creating unique URLs pretty easy, especially if you are using Google Adwords Editor.

Clickbank Conversion Tracking - Sending PPC Traffic Directly To An Affiliate Sales Page

This is the easiest of all the methods and the one I recommend the least.  It involves sending traffic directly to the affiliate sales page.  I don't like this technique because it prevents me from having interaction with the visitor and passes them directly to the affiliate site.  I'd much rather have the chance to get their email address and encourage them to bookmark my page or subscribe to my blog.  But if this is the method you choose, setting it up is easy.

Clickbank tracking works simply by placing the following after you affiliate URL.  ?tid=keyword You can substitute "keyword" for any eight characters containing alpha or numeric values. You should make this identifier a unique value for each keyword.  When you make a sale using this method, Clickbank will display which identifier resulted in the sale.

If you use this method, I'd recommend assigning a unique identifier using the method I describe above.  A lot of affiliate marketers will just plug in the keyword for the tid.  I don't like this method.  I'm not interested in passing my conversion data to the affiliate network.  That's why I prefer to "encrypt" my keyword identifier so only I know which keyword it represents.

Setting Up Your PPC Keywords For Tracking From Your Site

This is my favorite method for affiliate marketing. It gives me the chance to send traffic directly to my site before forwarding them to my affiliate offers.  This way, I have the chance to interact with the visitor and possibly have them sign up for my newsletter, bookmark my site, or subscribe to my blog.

I'll send all the PPC traffic to my site using a URL I created using the method above.  Then on the landing page, I'll place the following php code.

$kw = $_GET['kw'];
if ($kw == "")
$kw = $_COOKIE['kw'];

What this code does is assign a cookie to your visitor named kw.  The value of kw will be the unique keyword identifier that you included at the end of your URL.  Then if the visitor leaves your site without visiting your affiliate links but later returns, the cookie will still be present in their browser and you'll have the opportunity to include it at the end of your affiliate URL for tracking.  Here is how you do that.

You can access the value you recorded as "kw" using the following snippet of code.

<?php echo $kw; ?>

Any place you include that code, the value for "kw" will be displayed.  Here is an example of adding tracking to a Clickbank URL using this method.<?php echo $kw; ?>

Confusing enough?  The process is really simple.  If you need any help, just send me a comment so everyone can benefit.


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60 Responses to “Tracking Clickbank Conversions From Google Adwords And Other PPC”

  1. Dave Says:


    Thanks much for taking the time to write this guide, and for your follow-up with everyone — great to see that!

    Your solution is excellent for search network campaigns, but I’m not clear if it’s applicable to content network campaigns…I don’t think it is, right? At least not without some modification?

    Here’s what I’m looking to do, perhaps you can point me in the right direction….grateful for your assistance…

    I am just starting to promote a Linkconnector lead gen offer (Linkconnector is another affiliate network similar to CJ). I’d like to use Google conversion tracking but the advertiser won’t allow that. Also, I’ll be driving traffic mostly with the Google content network (keyword-targeted campaign). Since it’s the content network, I don’t necessarily care about which keywords convert for me (at least I don’t think so), but rather which sites end up bringing me conversions. The idea is to then offload those converting domains into a separate placement-targeted campaign. I know about the Placement Performance Report, and I understand there’s conversion data in that report. But I’m thinking AdWords is only able to grab conversion data via the Google pixel…. but if advertiser won’t allow the Google pixel, how do I get conversion data?

    Is there anything I can do other than Google conversion tracking to track conversions on the content network? Also, I’m driving traffic to my own domain (landing page) first…

    Appreicate any help you can offer!


    – Dave

  2. Brent Crouch Says:

    Dave, yes you can track conversions using the content network provided Linkconnector will let you pass tracking code. Clickbank refers to this as the TID. There are some limitations.

    One of the things I don’t like about the content network is you can put 100 keywords into an ad group but Google doesn’t show you which of those keywords are driving clicks. So you can create unique urls for your keywords in the content network, but none of them are ever going to be used. It is always going to default to the url you have setup for your ad. With this in mind, you can track conversions across different ad groups and can even track conversion across different ads. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to break this down by keyword when using the CN.

  3. Dave Says:

    Brent –

    Yes, understood that you can’t do kw-level conversion tracking on content network…and actually that’s okay with me. Since this is a keyword-targeted content network campaign, I am most interested in knowing what domains/pages are bringing me conversions….or even more generally, which domains/pages are bringing me clicks. If I can get this data, then I can setup a second campaign — this time a placement-targeted campaign — and just pay for clicks on the domains/pages I saw converting/driving traffic for me in the keyword-targeted campaign. Does that make sense?

    Also, Linkconnector does allow me to pass a subid parameter, they call it ATID (Affiliate Tracking Identifier).

    Do you have any ideas on how I can actually accomplish this with PHP?

    Thanks for your help Brent….

    – Dave

  4. Brent Crouch Says:

    Dave, it’s exactly the same code as I use in my example. The only thing you have to do differently is to use your affiliate link and sub the snippet of php code I use in my example for the value of ATID. If you need more help send me one of your links and I’ll show you how to set it up.

  5. Vic Says:

    hello Brent!!

    I dont now bu t think adwords don’t like me..
    They suspended my account twice ,, How do you think why that happens ?

  6. David Says:

    Hey Brent,

    I know this thread is a thousand years old, I appreciate you’re still answering questions…

    The short version is I’m having trouble passing the kw data directly to a clickbank order page.

    Here’s my situation:

    I’ve cloned a clickbank landing page and made some changes to it, and when prospects click on the order button I’m sending them directly to the clickbank order page.

    I’ve incorporated your php code on the landing page, and added the ECHO php code to the end of the clickbank order page link:

    WHen I mouse over the link, it does what it’s supposed to (shows ?tid=keyword).

    But it’s not actually passing the data to the clickbank order page. At least it doesn’t show up at the bottom of the page as AFFID.TID

    I’ve seen a few people around town asking how to pass the tid to a direct order page link, but no answers yet.

    Help me ObiWan!



  7. Vijay Says:

    really helpful and I was exactly looking for this..

    Thanks a lot

  8. Brent Says:

    @David – Sorry for the slow reply! Send me a copy of your source code and the page url and I’ll take a look at it. Just email it to brent at Put in the subject and I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  9. sandy Says:

    I want to get visitors to my landing page which contains an order now button with affiliate ID.
    Now in adwords i have to use the display and destination URL as this landing page which is my own. So how do i track conversions if someone clicks on my ad and go to my landing page and press order now button and actually do the action that i want to do.

    I am running an CPA offer. How do i track conversion at each keyword level for this. Because i cannot change destination URL in the adwords for each keyword as it will be my own landing page.

    However can i put any code in my landing page which will help me to decide which keywords actually converted through my stats..

  10. mike Says:

    awesome. this is exactly what i was looking for. i’ve been blindly using bing adcenter, but had no idea how to track conversions…

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