Affiliate marketing has long since rewarded its publishers on a last click CPA (cost per acquisition) basis; which has served the industry well for almost 20 years. Whilst this method is largely effective, and has helped the industry grow exponentially over the past decade, at affilinet we believe it restricts the industry to very particular publisher types that sit further down the marketing funnel.

Last month the IAB released the latest ‘Online Performance Marketing’ study in conjunction with PwC, revealing that 4,500 advertisers spent £1.3 billion on performance marketing, over 90% of which was affiliate marketing. With levels of spend so high, the industry needs to prove to advertisers that this is money well spent.

With the last click CPA model only working for certain publisher types and split commissions having been trialled and mostly abandoned within the industry, where else should advertisers look to make sure their performance marketing spend is best used?

Adopting CPC

Digital channels such as display and paid search have used CPM (cost per mille) and CPC (cost per click) as payment metrics since their inception, so why can’t the affiliate channel adopt them?

CPC would allow advertisers to reward publisher types, such as content and price comparison, that sit within the customer’s research phase; those that are unlikely to be the last-click touchpoint for a consumer.

This traffic, whilst not converting directly, can still add significant value to the customer journey which should be rewarded by advertisers. Whilst there are many relationships between merchants and the larger price comparison sites in particular, this would still be a good area to explore between more merchants and content driven publishers.

Assist data

With several UK affiliate networks now providing assist data, it’s becoming easier than ever for advertisers to make use of the information that helps them identify and reward publishers that are higher up the funnel.

An assist is a click that takes place within an order journey, but is not rewarded on the last click. This means that these clicks that are a valuable part of the customer experience, and have had some influence on the order, are currently not being paid for.

Those publishers that are not getting paid commission on a last-click basis but are regularly assisting conversions should be paid for their valuable role in the customer journey. Paying on assist is a far more scalable and cost-effective way for advertisers to reward publishers without fully committing themselves to a CPC partnership or investing in tenancy costs.

If paying for these assists is not a controlled enough method for an advertiser, exploring the data in order to identify key assisting publishers will give merchants more insight into the wider affiliate marketing pool.

Traffic engagement

Progressing beyond assist, data is available to analyse the true level of engagement provided by publishers. By utilising analytics platforms that drill down to publisher level engagement metrics, advertisers can identify publishers that drive customers who spend longer than average dwell times, or consumers that view a large range of product pages.

For a travel merchant, identifying a specific publisher that is more likely to drive customers who spend longer on their site is really valuable. These customers may not convert instantly, particularly if they have come through a content site in their research phase, but that publisher traffic is still a valuable phase within the journey.

Instantly rewarding the publisher on the assists they make and the kind of traffic they refer is not something that has yet been perfected; however, advertisers should be using this data in order to view a publisher’s value beyond the last click.

So is last-click rewarding outdated?

In a word, no. The last-click method is one that will continue to be used widely in affiliate marketing as it is one that works exceptionally well for most key publisher types. However, access to additional data and alternative payment options is providing advertisers with the tools to ensure they are maximising the budgets they are spending within affiliate marketing.