For those of us that have been working in affiliate (or performance?) marketing for a number of years, we are all aware that the industry has changed beyond recognition.

In the early days, there was the rise of the affiliate networks, who (to a certain extent) still dominate the landscape. Then a certain amount of consolidation occurred and, were it not for the recession, I believe would have continued.

Now we have a whole host of different companies/affiliates/publishers/technologies who are all vying for a piece of the pie.

However, one area of affiliate marketing that I think has not progressed in that time is how media agencies approach and manage their affiliate activity.

At Omnicom Affiliates, I believe we have something in place that all other agency affiliate teams should be striving for – utilising a third-party technology (sometimes called a “white label”) to manage all of the key partnerships in-house.

It amazes me that there are still agencies in the space that work with affiliate networks in the traditional sense and don’t take this approach. Granted, there are some that do, but I expected this to be the norm in 2014, as opposed to being the exception to the rule.

These are the main reasons why I think this makes sense:

Closer affiliate management

This is key – being able to use the Omnicom Affiliates platform to manage all of these key relationships ourselves is hugely important. We are able to look at performance across different programs and different affiliates quickly and easily.

We are also able to focus our efforts on where the revenues are going to come from – those key affiliates who generate the most sales for our clients. I do not believe the long tail is dead, but I do not think the long tail is where we are going to make the best use of our time from a revenue generating point of view.

Centralisation of online marketing activity

All of our current clients have teams within their Omnicom agency who look after other online marketing channels (PPC, Display etc.).

This means that, when it comes to planning/reporting/customer journey projects etc, we are able to handle this in a much more effective fashion, compared to if these programs were outsourced to another affiliate network. It allows us to be more agile and nimble when making data driven business decisions for our clients.

We are masters of our own destiny

The success (or otherwise) of each affiliate program is entirely dependent on the Omnicom Affiliates team. We don’t have any opportunity to point fingers, or disagree on SLAs with affiliate networks, or argue why performance has dropped off. We are 100% accountable for our actions and that is just the way we like it!

Better margins

Simply put, being able to manage these key relationships ourselves means we are able to earn more profit on this activity. If we were to work with an affiliate network we would be paying for the use of that network’s service, which would mean less income for us. This also means that the Omnicom Affiliates team is seen as an important revenue driving part of Omnicom, which helps with our reputation across other areas of the Group.

I would urge any agency that doesn’t currently do this to be brave, take the plunge and don’t look back – sure, it might be a bit of a headache integrating and setting up each affiliate program in the first instance, but the long term benefits far outweigh the short term pain. Let’s make 2014 the year of the agency in affiliate (or performance?) marketing!