Can you give us some background to your trial campaign?

The Shop Direct Group is constantly seeking out new and exciting ways to be innovative within the channel. As an experienced advertiser working in the affiliate industry, we identified an area of our publisher campaign which could benefit from a new approach.

The relationships we’ve developed over the last few years are imperative to the continued success of our programmes and as such we’re always keen to listen to new ideas in order to fairly reward our partners and fully understand the value they add to our brands. The content assist trial will provide affiliates with an opportunity to earn 5% commission if they are one of the last five touch points in the consumer journey. To qualify, affiliates must first be within the content sector and then deliver a proposal indicating how they intend to drive incremental demand for the Shop Direct Group brands.

Why have you launched this trial?

RJ: When a marketing channel is managed effectively to profit as the affiliate programme is at Shop Direct, the question always exists as to how we scale it. We have an established and mature programme in that we work very closely with our big players and we try to ensure we are on the cusp of innovation and new opportunities. If this is the case, then the growth of our programme is driven predominantly by a super affiliate going above the line or a new affiliate entering the market. We recognise that a key way to grow our channel this year is to incentivise the section of affiliates who are often over-written based on a last click payment model. At the moment, these affiliates aren’t writing about or placing a Littlewoods logo on their sites because they don’t get rewarded for it on last click. By rewarding these affiliates fairly, we can motivate them to promote the Shop Direct brands and therefore deliver us true incremental sales. We know these are incremental sales because SDG have built a robust intricate attribution model for all our marketing channels and as such we are able to transfer our learnings from this data into a tangible value added proposition for our publishers.

Shop Direct is taking more of a hit on margins to remunerate more publishers based on the commission structure. It’s a smart move, but how did it come about?

RJ: We have toyed with the idea for some time. The team at Shop Direct has always speculated that staying within the constraints of the last click model was limiting the potential of our programme. However, every decision we make is based on data so we commissioned a three-month test in collaboration with Skimlinks to uncover whether the last click model does a disservice to content affiliates. This test is what gave us confidence that the campaign will drive incremental performance despite the risk it places on margin.

What do you expect the results to show?

RJ: I predict that this initial test campaign will not generate any significant increases in demand. I also anticipate that the campaign will prove contentious to some publishers and a large part of the challenge of implementing this process will be in opening a dialogue to discuss and educate on the technology, payment model and fundamentally what this could mean for their own business models. It is likely that the results will not be advantageous until affiliates notice significant changes in their actual take home pay. However, as a team, we view this as a long-term change in our strategy as a business, designed to fairly reward our partners in the channel rather than a short-term marketing campaign.

What are your options once the trial has ended?

RJ: The content assist bounty is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the strategy we have for rewarding affiliates fairly. We will continue to invest in the idea and build upon the learnings of each campaign. We want forward-thinking affiliates to approach us with ideas on how we can work collaboratively in this area. Ultimately we want to prove looking beyond the last click has potential not only to generate incremental results, but also drive innovation in the channel.