Behavioural retargeting and de-duplicating against natural search dominated the meeting with excellent discussion from all sides about the wider and longer term implications for affiliate marketing.
Several networks also fed back on the work they had carried out auditing 25 of the top voucher sites and updates were given on the work of the two sub committees. Everyone can read the minutes from the meeting in the Best Practice and IAB Affiliate Council Forum
For the purposes of this post though I thought it was worth touching on Behavioural Retargeting (BR) more closely.
Behavioural Retrargeting (BR)
For those who don’t know, BR serves banner ads for advertisers whose sites consumers have previous visited but failed to purchase from. In other words there was an obvious interest in the products or services offered by an advertiser yet the consumer didn’t transact and therefore in an effort to close the sale relevant banner ads are served on portals and publisher sites after the advertiser site have been visited.
There have been clear trends in the evolution of affiliate marketing over the past decade; content to PPC, cashback to voucher codes and I’m sure many of us wonder what the new revenue generating affiliates will look like. BR companies could be that new affiliate; many currently operate on a CPC model but looking to turn their attention to affiliate networks as they recognise they offer easy access to thousands of advertisers.
While this could expand the reach of affiliate marketing, looking deeper into the issue raises a number of questions that will require networks to potentially alter their offering. Some of these points were discussed at last week’s meeting and this short piece can’t do justice to the depth of debate that is needed but I’m inclined to believe the key point is on what I would term ‘cookie weighting’.
BR companies are serving up (potentially) millions of impressions and have required networks to agree that they will run post impression (or post view) cookies on the programmes they promote (without these they claim the activity isn’t commercially viable). So assuming PI/PV cookies are in place what cookie hierarchy should exist?
PI / PV cookies
There is a general consensus that PI/PV cookies are a ‘softer’ action; a click carrying far more intention to engage with the product or advertiser. I strongly believe click is king, overwriting PI/PV cookies whilst not being overwritten by the impressions that may be served afterwards.
This issue was discussed in more detail on the Forum a few weeks back and some of the networks gave some insight into their current thinking on the subject. Presently there’s collective debate amongst the networks at the moment as to whether there should be more of a standardised approach towards working not only with BR companies but PI/PV cookies.
For now this activity doesn’t impact affiliates as little, if any, BR companies are operating via networks but as an industry we will need to better understand the impact this potential next stage of affiliate evolution could have on all of us.