Affiliate marketing is a fairly simple concept, but this industry certainly doesn’t make it easy for any business looking to get their foot on the ladder. We’ve overcomplicated the basics, with difficult interfaces and tricky phrases and made the registration process a science in itself. There has been a big shift in the way companies want to do business with affiliate networks and this byzantine process has to change.
Knowing what applications can do nowadays, networks should be accessible in a more immediate manner. The merchant/advertiser sign up process needs to be automated, easy and fast with a focus on the tracking integration and agreement sections. Most networks request a fairly detailed amount of information from advertisers, gathering company details including performance data i.e. visitors, sales, conversion, average order value, historical data and so on. An advertiser spends time producing this information and ultimately the network still decides if they want to work with the advertiser or not. This causes enormous delays, is immensely frustrating and can still result in a refusal.
Whilst this may be necessary for larger advertisers, it does cause problems for smaller brands that want to get a foot on the affiliate ladder. For these businesses, all that’s required is the programme information to launch a campaign. From initial application, why not make it easy and open for these advertisers through a simple sign up and verification process?
Then there’s the tracking integration process. For most networks, this usually takes place after they have reviewed the advertiser’s application and finally given them the go-ahead. In many cases this is still a manual process, with networks using data provided by the advertisers to set up an account. They then provide advertisers with login details to finalise the setup e.g. integrate tracking, sign the contract and, in some cases, pre-fund the campaign. This requires a lot more work from advertisers and involves technical staff to integrate the tracking with their own systems. This whole process is overcomplicated and causes further delays. We should work towards an integration system that works across all content management systems (CMS). It will allow advertisers to integrate faster and will save them having to pay developers to integrate tracking.
The industry needs to make it easy for advertisers to move from network to network. This has been debated for a while now but it’s time to do something about it.
We work closely with other networks and it’s clear that we are not all on the same page. Each of the well-known affiliate networks has its own advantages. Some have evolved, with new technology and tools, while others are doing very well in specific niche markets. Some networks rely on content marketing affiliates while others have a strong affiliate/publisher base from paid search, social media campaigns or discount,voucher and cashback affiliates. The point is, while operating in different markets many networks could achieve better results when working closer together which will ultimately add more value to advertisers.
This is something we have been working towards with our own networks and while it’s slightly more complex when switching an advertiser across to completely different networks, there’s definitely room for a multi-networking API which would make the process a whole lot easier than it is currently. Network cooperation is the key to making this happen. Networks can create better partner schemes making it easier to re-launch the same campaigns across other networks, whilst relying on one main network’s tracking system. That would make it beneficial for all parties. Some networks are doing this already, but we are along way from creating a universal interlinked merchant network. Technically, this would be a better and easier solution as advertisers could avoid signing contracts with other networks and simply rely on agreements made between networks themselves.
We are keen to see this happen and I would be happy to work with other networks to get the ball rolling.