We caught up with UK performance marketing network Affiliate Window to discuss leveraging the long tail, its importance, scaremongering, and what lies ahead.
If all performance marketing businesses choose to only focus on work with larger publishers in order to maximise the revenue from them, rather than trying to develop the long tail, how would this impact the wider industry?
On the subject of why it is important for the performance marketing industry to try and leverage the long tail, chief operating officer at Affiliate Window, Adam Ross, said the industry must do everything it can to support this area - or be faced with a rather ‘uninspiring’ future of a smaller group consisting of only large publishers.
Ross also said recently there has been some ‘scaremongering’, by those with ulterior motives about the complexities and risks in managing the long tail.
“Suggestions have been made that brand advertisers are better off without them. We categorically prove this is a flawed strategy,” Ross said.
“The publisher mix on the network is fluid and any brand which cuts themselves off from this diversity is missing a huge opportunity. There are very effective ways to manage and cultivate a healthy long tail with brand protection in mind and don’t be fooled otherwise. It’s not just a volume play but a value mix too.”
Complexities & Obligations
Ross, who joined Affiliate Window nearly nine years ago, said the long tail has always been a crucial part of the Affiliate Window network and something it is passionate about nurturing and developing.
“It’s one of the most attractive areas of the publisher base because, apart from it being the place where larger publishers are born, it’s a vibrant source of incremental and high value sales for advertisers,” Ross said.
When asked if Affiliate Window could do more for long tail, Ross said the company has an obligation to listen to the needs of advertisers and long tail publishers; to ensure the platform provides the resources required to make performance marketing easy for these partners.
“As a new publisher, one has many monetisation solutions available and if you currently look at the ease of engaging with each one, performance marketing is probably one of the more complex. We have an obligation to address this,” Ross said.
When it comes to the question of whether other performance marketing networks and agencies do enough to support long tail, Ross said more can be done.
“We don’t believe any of us do enough and, as I mentioned previously, some parties appear to undermine its importance as the long tail requires greater investment in resource and care,” Ross begins.
“Performance marketing should be considered one of the primary channels for new publishers and sacrificing this approach for the ease of chasing volume has longer term consequences for everyone.”
Work to be Done
Ross stressed the importance of understanding the challenges new publishers face and that systems and approaches need to be adapted to suit the specific long tail needs.
“Whether that’s through evolution of the service we offer, technology or payment protection, depends entirely on the publisher type, but we only need to look at the current setup to see there’s a lot of work to be done, but progress is being made,” Ross said.
According to Ross, long tail is a thriving part of the business and is something its clients have a growing appreciation for. He said without a doubt the future for long tail is bright.
“Monetisation models and flexibility need to be examined to ensure the value being delivered by some of these publishers is adequately rewarded. We have some interesting pilots running with clients where this is being addressed with great effect,” Ross said.
“We believe there’s a lot for the long tail to be excited about in this space.”