Halloween is the time of year when things go bump in the night skies and eerie sounds can be heard all around. A scary time of year indeed,so, as publisher manager at affilinet, I thought I would provide some advice on how affiliate programmes can avoid any nasty frights when it comes to affiliate marketing activity.

Trick: Affiliates only influence consumers at the last click

Because the affiliate channel works to a ‘last click’ model there is a misconception that publishers only influence the customers purchasing decision at this point. This is most definitely not the case. Now, more than ever, there are many new publishers, such as search retargeter Captify and display retargeter GDM ,who use their data, lookalike modeling and insight to target consumers right from the initial research stage of their purchase. Affiliate marketing is so much more than the last click and has a huge role to play both in ‘sealing the deal’ and influencing consumers higher up the purchasing funnel.

Talk about a treat…Affilinet are able to see which other affiliates may have driven clicks before a purchase, not just the final referral. This means that we can see how different publishers have influenced a customer during their journey. We also work closely with advertisers and different attribution partners to understand how affiliate marketing fits in with their other marketing channels. By sharing this data we can help advertisers to understand the role that different affiliates/models play in the wider consumer-purchasing journey. Advertisers can also look at the quality of sales coming from different partners and engage with those who are contributing to generating the right type of custom.

Trick: Affiliate publishers should be de-duped against all other channels and each other

De-duping is something of a hot topic in the industry and is a complex matter. It’s not as easy as switching on a third party with a ‘last click’ rule for all channels and care should be taken to properly consider the contribution of each type of activity and how it is rewarded. As other channels are paid up-front on different metrics it means that publishers have the most to lose when sales are reassigned and they receive nothing. Certainly it is paramount to be transparent with publishers as to what terms are in place, so that they can understand the impact on conversions.

We also have to think about click-path within the affiliate platform, especially with the newer publisher models that focus on converting customers whilst they are still on, or have just left the advertisers site. Using a cookie hierarchy can ensure that publishers who initially drove a customer to the advertiser site don’t have their sales overwritten by a ‘soft click’ interaction from a technology publisher sitting on the site. Each and every player in this space needs to be recognised and understood.

In my mind, we should work to ensure that all publishers, short, mid and long tail and that the affiliate marketing model as a whole, are protected. But we also need to strike the delicate balance so that the new publishers have the chance to demonstrate their strengths and influence to ensure that our industry is evolving with the times and with consumers’ habits. The treat therefore is to really understand and emphasise the difference between retargeting and conversion focused affiliates, and traffic driving affiliates to ensure that each is rewarded appropriately.

Trick: Having an affiliate programme that is overly reliant on one channel

Putting all your eggs in very few publisher baskets is risky business. There is a very strong focus on continually strengthening and diversifying the mid to long tail at affilinet. Of course, we need to take into account the individual objectives of each advertiser and understand how they are supporting the overall business growth and ambitions, but generally, to drive incremental sales with a higher lifetime value; it makes sense to have a varied and engaging programme with a wide range of publishers.

We need open minded advertisers to work together in testing and analysing new partners and also to explore working with new technology solutions. The treat of having a programme that incorporates a wide range of publisher models and technologies, is that advertisers aren’t limited in terms of how they grow and operate in the channel and the types of offers or promotional methods they must use to see strong conversion.

Whilst building this varied mix, you need to be sure to treat different publishers in the right way. It is prudent to categorise publishers and engage with them in the right way – supplying the most relevant and useful information. Tailoring communications and content helps advertisers stand out from the crowd, and in turn the publishers to do the same on their behalf.

Trick: Giving publishers short thrift

Common publisher gripes include not getting paid on time, rejected partnerships with no real reason and leakage, whether it is phone numbers endangering the conversion or a mobile site without tracking altogether. In regards to multi-device tracking, we hear it all the time: ‘browsing and buying habits are changing at unprecedented speeds’. In order to avoid both our publishers and our advertisers missing out on these shifts in behaviour, as an industry, we need to be future proofing our technology and our methods to supersede these changes. As much as there have already been leaps and bounds made in this space, we shouldn’t stop forward thinking and developing. These new tools and technologies should be transparent and adaptable for both the publisher and the advertiser. And providing education and an understanding of these new tools as they are introduced is of paramount importance if we want to future proof our industry and protect these partnerships both new and old.

On the payment front, publishers are professionals providing a service and need timely and fair remuneration to continue with their business, especially when investing up-front. This simple courtesy is no more than other suppliers and marketing channels expect. The bottom line is that without these advancements in technology and a shift in the mindset around the value of publishers, advertisers are still receiving sales but with too little acknowledgement of the publishers’ efforts. Let’s ensure our publishers are treated with respect and endeavour to help advertisers and their business’ develop a deeper understanding of the value and infinite potential of our amazing marketing channel.