How to check if Affiliate Programs are Worth It using GA4

If you’re using GA4 then the natural follow up from our article on are affiliate programs worth it is to explore this data for yourself using the methodology outlined below:

Table of Contents

A How-To Guide for checking if Affiliate Programs are worth it:

Open up Google Analytics

The first step is to open up your Google Analytics portal which is found at (you will need access from your web team if you don’t have it already). This is how it will look when you first log in:

Navigate to Model Comparison

Using the navigation on the left hand side of the page, you want to select “Advertising” which will open out a further menu option where you can expand upon Performance or Attribution. Our interest is in Attribution as we want to understand how value is delivered across all stages of a consumer’s purchase.

Lastly, select “Model Comparison” as this fits with our goal of compare one way of thinking (last click rules) with another (introducer/first click rules). The first click attribution model is one that is considered increasingly more often brands hunt for websites that introduce consumers to their products. 

Compare Last Click to 1st Click

Upon successful navigation you will find yourself looking at a view similar to this. The default first view is “Cross-channel last click model” but you then want to select the “First click” for comparison:

Use the most useful Channel Grouping

The first change to make on this page is to choose the “Source” (assuming that you are using source to identify your affiliate network’s traffic. We encourage the use of source rather than “default channel grouping” as Google isn’t always 100% accurate at recognising affiliate traffic:

You now have a way of comparing what each channel looks like in relation to how well it introduces consumers to your site (Cross-channel first click model) and how well it converts consumers that have already been on your site (Cross-channel last click model). 

In this particular example it looks like the affiliate channel introduces consumers 38% less frequently than it converts consumers which is good for the revenue numbers of the affiliate channel but not so good for building brand awareness and making a wholesome contribution to your marketing mix.

Dig Deeper into Specific Affiliates

There are warnings to heed as using the specific example above creates a view on the affiliate channel as a whole but of course the channel can have hundreds and sometimes thousands of partners, all acquiring traffic in different ways. It’s in your interests to dig deeper and understand which of your partners is effective at “introducing” and which are primarily “converters”. 

So let’s first hone in on just your affiliate performance by adding a filter to the source(s) which encompasses your affiliate traffic:

You then select the new dimension you want to compare (in most cases this will be “Campaign”, but it can also be “Medium” (as is the case here) or “Content” depending on your initial GA setup). Either way, you should end up with a view like this:

Compare against Industry Benchmarks

In the example above you can now see that there are a real mix of affiliates. Website 2 is very good at converting customers that have been on your site before but does not introduce any customers to the site.

The exact opposite is true for website 3 which introduces almost twice as many customers as they convert – the sign of a really great value affiliate! these are the types of affiliates that you can more confidently say are “worth it”.

Once you’ve read and analysed your own results, head back to our article on are affiliate programs worth it and see how each site compares to our industry benchmarks!

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