Newb Guide Pt 2: Setting Up Tracking

This is part 2 of the Nickycakes newbie Affiliate Marketing Guide.

For any type of paid online advertising campaign, accurate tracking is probably the most important part of being successful.  Tracking is what separates the amateur from the pro.  Without it, you will have a difficult time knowing exactly what is going on with your campaigns, which is not only frustrating, but can lose you a lot of money.

When Nickycakes first started, pretty much everyone had to write their own ppc analytics software, if they had the ppc skills, because there was really nothing available that had all the features that would be required.  Smaxor had posted a rough php script on his blog that was a good start to anyone writing their own, but it was very very basic.  That’s about all that was publically available.  It really sucked.  Nickycakes had written his own tracking, which was enough to get by, but it had no advanced features like roi graphs and fun stuff like that.

Now things are a little different.  Nickycakes’ friend Wes and his team of coders have made Tracking202/Prosper202 which is a very comprehensive ppc tracking platform.  It has pretty much every bell and whistle you could think of outside of managing your bids for you.  Best part is, it’s completely free?  Why?  Not really sure.  When they were first developing it, it was supposed to be a paid service.  Somewhere along the line, they decided to make it free to sort of make a name for themselves and get their foot in the door in the industry or something and make way for other paid services down the line.  Well, they certainly have made a name for themselves.  202 is probably the best piece of free software you’ll ever see for the internet marketing industry.

Anyway, as this post is part of a beginners guide, you may be completely lost at this point, and have no idea what tracking will actually do for you, or how to use it once you have it set up.  Don’t worry.  You don’t really need to know what it does at this point, you just need to set it up in preparation for things down the road.  If you do it properly now, things will be much easier for you later on, and that’s all you really need to know right now.

202 has two different versions.  They have the hosted version, and the self-hosted version.  If you’re a complete moron newbie and don’t know anything about computers, please use the hosted version ( as that requires no real work on your part to set up.  All you have to do is sign up for an account.  The drawback is, it’s hosted on their servers, so you are relying on their hosting to never go down.  Their servers are rather stable, though.  Another possible drawback is, since it’s on their servers, they have access to your data.  This has been discussed over and over, and paranoid people may be worried about this.  Knowing Wes, Nickycakes would seriously doubt he would be interested in stealing your campaign info.

The self hosted version (prosper202) requires that you buy a domain, hosting, and set up the software on your hosting.  It’s not too difficult if you know how to do at least a few of the following: Read, tie your shoes, color inside the lines, not eat the crayons afterwards, fit the square peg in the square hole, etc.  Skip the following setup parts if you’ve decided to go with the hosted (tracking202) version.

So, first you need a crappy domain and some hosting.  Go buy yourself any old random domain at  Nobody will ever see this domain as you will only be using it for tracking, so just buy whatever.  Coupon code INTERFACE usually works to get like a dollar off a domain there.  They give out a free year of whoisguard for each domain, which prevents most people from seeing who owns the domain, which is good for keeping your campaign info secret-ish.  After that, you will need hosting.  The hosting will need to have mysql 5.1 in order for 202 to function properly, which is not available everywhere.  Nickycakes does not keep tabs on hosting providers much.  He has a dedicated server at softlayer that he uses for his tracking server, but it was a complete bitch to set up with mysql 5.1, so you may want to go with a more managed solution for yourself unless you want to go through a big headache.  The prosper202 site has a few recommended hosting services on it, so maybe try those.  After that, you just point your new domain at your new hosting (if you don’t know how to do this, you should check your hosting documentation), and then you’re ready to set up 202.

For setting up prosper202 on your hosting, just read the documentation provided.  It really should only take a few minutes.  Just upload the files, and just go to your tracking url and click install pretty much.

The next post will be about getting hooked up with some affiliate networks.

Peanut Gallery

  • Awesome Nicky !

    I’ve been using prosper 202 from he very first day when i started affiliate marketing properly and i must say prosper 202 is the best tracking app I’ve ever came across when it comes to track your conversions.

  • Just finished installing Prosper on my server..extremely easy…Looks like a great piece of software… Looking forward to the next step of your guide!

    And haha at the “tie your shoes” line…

  • I remember tracking conversions with gigantic spreadsheets on my first campaigns. Prosper202 ftw!

  • I had the hardest fucking time setting up p202 on 1and1 Hosting I actually felt like a complete moron and gave up. It’s on my to do list as something to figure out some day. Anyone want to make a quick $20 and set it up for me? haha. srsly.

  • Anyone have some success with Bluehost for setting up Prosper 202 on it? Without killing the CPU lol

  • Justin, I’ll take you up on that offer. Email me at rileypool -at- yahoo -dot- com

  • Hey Nicky,
    Great meeting you at ASW09. Thanks for taking the time to update this stuff. This is something new I would like to learn. Wish me luck.

  • Hey Nicky,

    Thanks for the great post. I have a question on how the software knows the customer you have sent has hit the thankyou page and made a conversion? With other analytics programs you need to have some code on the thankyou page to trigger the software that a conversion has been made.

    Cheers and beers

  • I might be wrong but Softlayer could probably setup mysql 5.1 with $3.00 support ticket.

  • @monkeyman: a few months ago i couldnt get them to install 5.1 cause it wasnt a stable release…not sure if it is yet even.

    @martin: rtfm

  • @Martin

    The conversion page tracking is called a) Trackback or b) Pixel. They both do the same thing. Unfortunately, there is no way to solve this problem other than added the code to the thank you page to trigger prosper202.

  • @melvin: wrong. p202 can use subids to track conversions. that’s how most people do it. rtfm.

  • Yeah, the hosted 202 does make me a little nervous, but IMO the people who would be the most scared are “opportunity finders”. I have a few campaigns like that where I’m solely brokering traffic, but for my best campaigns, who cares if someone knows my keywords and my bids?

    They’re not going to replicate my business model & relationships with customers, and I doubt they’ll have all my backend stuff in place. Chances are anyone peeking at some of my campaigns would think I’m an idiot for keeping those cpcs. Just saying a hosted program isn’t for everyone, but their new pro version which updates everything on the fly is pretty slick.

  • Have any of your tried Optimize my Site now owned by the PPC CLassroom boys. I’ve been able to track down to the keyword and I was wondering how it stacks up against 202.

  • Does Prosper allow you to capture raw queries? So if you are running broad match, you would be able to see the queries that triggered your keyword. Google lets you see some but lumps all the long tail queries together as “outliers”.

  • i well tell you letar

  • Is there anything like this to track banner ads placed with ad buying networks? Thanks.

  • Since prosper now collects info on your campaigns supposedly, what do you suggest for tracking now?

    by Simple Sally

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