While great focus is placed on increasing the number of quality publishers on a campaign, the most important elements are often the least scrutinised.

Empowering your commission and cookie structures with data and insights allows you to create a fair and mutually rewarding system for you and your publishers. Throw cross-device tracking and automated commission validation into the mix, and you secure the future of your campaigns from the outset with a culture of trust and commercial viability.

We believe the following four principles, or pillars if you will, are the bedrock of a successful affiliate marketing campaign, and I’ll be divulging our take on each of them within our talk at PI LIVE on October 24.

Here’s a taster of what you can expect…

The hidden value of cookies

Most affiliate managers overlook the importance of their cookie structure, placing focus on identifying and refining their publisher base. But if sales are inaccurately or unfairly attributed, publishers will never work to their maximum potential. Many affiliate networks offer the ability to subtly adjust how your cookies work, with the most common three types being post-click, post-impression and soft-click.

Affiliate campaigns often contain an element of re-targeting, on-site optimisation tools and site abandonment emails as well as the more traditional ‘content’ led opportunities. The affiliate channel is one of the most innovative, and a healthy campaign will utilise all of the tools available to it. But how do you ensure that new technology doesn’t adopt the last-click attribution model?

One of the most straightforward options is to prioritise your cookie hierarchy. How? Well, I guess you’ll need to attend our talk to find out!

How data can empower your commissions

Creating a commission structure which effectively rewards your publishers whilst also protecting advertiser margins is difficult. Advances in the way advertisers set and report on commissions have definitely improved the situation, but most advertisers do not utilise all of the tools available.

The ability to channel data from your e-commerce platform into your affiliate network, even simply via the tracking pixel, should allow advertisers to create commission structures which reward publishers correctly. For example, it’s quite possible that a handful of products do have extremely low margins, but instead of setting the entire brand or category to 0%, you should identify the product SKU’s (Stock Keeping Unit) and adjust commissions accordingly.

Why not offer a significantly above market value for new customers (truly new customers), a much much lower percentage for existing, but also offer a middle of the road value for customers who have not returned to purchase after a number of months. We’ll share more information on getting your commission structure right as part of our presentation.

Tracking across devices

Traditionally, advertisers view mobile as the tool customers use to browse, while purchasing takes place on their desktop, but as many of us are well-aware, that simply is no longer true. Consumers are now just as likely to browse and purchase on their mobile device, with the market share of m-commerce increasing dramatically year-on-year.

But with that in mind, and with nearly half of all transactions taking place on mobile, it’s crazy to imagine that some advertisers still do not track their mobile website, never mind their apps or cross-device.

There’s much more to this story of course, but we’ll save the best bits for our presentation.

Automating transaction validation

In many cases, we still see advertisers ignoring commission validation, and then reacting appropriately to that (or inappropriately!) when they realise the scale of the lost cash.

It’s strange that we don’t see more advertisers utilising the ability to automate commission validation, which links their e-commerce platform with their affiliate network. At Visualsoft Affiliates, this is a no-brainer for us, but throughout the industry, so many are yet to make the connection.

We’ll be on hand to give you more detail about the process of automating transaction validation on October 24 at PI LIVE, so if you’re attending this year’s event, come and discover more about the Four Pillars of Affiliate Marketing, with me, Luke Atherton (network director at Visualsoft Affiliates) and David Duke (Visualsoft’s CMO) at The Dome Stage from 12.30pm. We’ll also be answering your burning affiliate-related questions.

Get your ticket to PerformanceIN Live today.