Does affiliate marketing need a shakeup?

James Little, group commercial director, TopCashback

I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to other publishers and industry folk recently and there seems to be a general consensus that it’s well past time that we looked at how we can improve some affiliate marketing’s core functions.  

To start with, I’d like to see more auto-approving of transactions, better tracking (especially with the Firefox changes just around the corner), better reporting, increased payment speed and a stamping out of unethical practice by some advertisers.  

I honestly believe if we can get more collaboration and conversations going between publishers, networks and advertisers then we can go back to those exciting days like when the IAB Affiliate Council first launched and bring some well-needed change; the benefits of this will be more spending on the channel and more publishers to use the channel and make 2019 a very exciting year.

Programmatic advertising and ad fraud

Julia Smith, director of communications, Impact

2019 may well be the year where we see companies hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Fraud continues to be a battle that our industry is fighting against;  and whilst many companies are committed to ensuring that they are trading in fraud-free inventory, those that don’t are likely to be exposed. 

The stark truth is that ad fraud messes with every aspect of digital marketing; skewing the attribution model and channelling marketing spend into the hands of the fraudsters. Let’s hope that, as an industry, we win the battle against this epidemic in 2019.

Frost Prioleau, CEO of   

At a time when advertisers increasingly want to localise and personalise campaigns, the next logical step for programmatic advertising in 2019 will be addressable. We’ve watched the evolution of addressable advertising expand from mail to TV and now to programmatic. We will continue to see the same push for more granular, more efficient targeting in 2019 and beyond.

Ben Walmsley, digital director, The Bridge
The WFA global media charter was a significant development of 2018; one that was music to the ears of reputable publishers.  The first decade of the programmatic era brought wonders to marketing, albeit with some side effects felt most acutely by the crucial contributors to a free internet: advertisers, content creators and audiences. These groups are awakening to the misuse, and inherent value, of their data. And we should be clear: it is theirs. 
Advertisers’ dissatisfaction with opacity, fraud and misaligned incentives is as acute for publishers. This will manifest itself in publisher monetisation technology in 2019. Publishers will be increasingly judicious in accepting code on their pages, striving to move it to servers. Pace will be dictated by the progress of a single ID, which should be democratised rather than owned by a single gatekeeper. Publishers know they are solving the same problems independently, leading to inefficiency, fragmentation and complexity. 

Paul Barnard, senior director – SaaS business development, Nielsen Marketing Cloud

Although the programmatic ecosystem is growing and revenues are rising, the medium continues to be hamstrung by advertisers’ continued question marks around topics such as transparency, fraud and brand safety.

As advertisers increasingly become more digitally savvy, the market must improve in its ability to prove both audience and measurement effectiveness. As we move into 2019, the industry needs to work together in order to prove the effectiveness of campaigns in the increasingly fragmented media landscape. 

Can Singles’ Day captivate UK consumers?

Andreas Pouros, CEO and co-founder at Greenlight 

Alibaba is currently championing the Singles’ Day trend in China, but, it seems the UK retail giants have steered clear of the phenomenon. In fact, in the social analysis we conducted, there has been a 48% decrease in the amount of #SinglesDay mentions over the last two years in the UK. 

Ultimately, Singles’ Day 2019 does have the potential to captivate UK consumers as more than just a Chinese extravaganza, but only if big brands put in the groundwork in terms of their SEO, paid media, conversion rate optimisation, social media, analytics, and eCommerce strategy in order to deliver relevantly, highly targeted offers that entice consumers to invest in a UK Singles’ Day.

Automation powering real-time decision making

Mark Simon, managing director, North America, Toluna

This year, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the consumer insights space. This momentum will carry forward into 2019, where consumer insights will become a critical component of the modern MarTech stack. 

Enterprises place a premium on understanding consumers and are now seeking automated solutions to power real-time decision making. The information they’re coming to expect will evolve to go beyond transactional and survey data, as users seek true insights into their consumers. Tech-forward enterprises are incorporating automated platform-based solutions into their marketing tech stack to garner and leverage these insights at an increasingly faster pace. This evolution will echo across the entire enterprise, enabling quicker and more effective critical decision making in departments from marketing to product development.”

Influencer marketing set to drive performance

Maria Cadbury, founder, We Are Spring

The Influencer Marketing show this year gave us a glimpse into what we can expect to see more of in 2019. 

The channel in 2019, will be an ever more important part of the overarching marketing strategy. Brands will become increasingly aware of the need to use this channel to build a closer relationship with consumers to drive performance. This is in response to consumers demands for marketers to convey an empathetic understanding of their needs and prove that they have a social responsibility at the heart of their business. 

What the industry will have to demonstrate in 2019 is that the channel not only resonates with consumers but that it can also deliver strong performance and revenue for advertisers.  The statistics in 2018 showing up to x11 ROI are strong. Let’s see how much this can grow to in 2019!

Geno Prussakov, CEO, AM Navigator OPM Agency

2018 was marked by an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions within the performance marketing industry, and I expect this tendency to continue in the new year. Additionally, I believe that 2019 will be the year of further divergence and clearer differentiation between affiliate marketing relationships and influencer marketing arrangements, which often differ and shouldn’t always be approached identically. Finally, I expect a closer advertiser focus on affiliate value, incrementality, and new customer acquisition.

AI integration and innovation

Oscar Romero, managing partner, Spark Foundry’s Performics Practice
2018 brought substantial changes to the digital marketing sector in several forms, including the growth of interactive chatbots, voice search development and integration of AI. These changes will continue to shape the industry in 2019, bringing an even greater focus on innovation and measurement, in both customer understanding and untapped growth opportunities.
Innovation aside, there remains a need for advertisers and companies to be able to effectively attribute value to their customers across all touchpoints. Providing a single customer view is imperative in a time of economic uncertainty, where marketing investment is under the microscope more than ever before.”

Katherine Munford, managing director, Data2Decisions

AI has made a critical contribution to unlocking the power of insight to drive effective decision-making; as such, there is much expectation about the potential of AI circulating in the marketing community. Marketing technology is developing in scope and complexity at pace and, as brands continue to discover the merits of linking ad spend with KPI driven business outcomes, the use of AI to drive this will only accelerate in 2019.

Where AI will become crucial is in learning from systems that connect multiple data sets to drive business results, including performance data, campaign diagnostics and live search data. This will allow brands to make marketing more targeted and relevant to consumers and, through connecting directly into media-buying platforms, will drive greater efficiency in digital media bidding and business performance.

Curtis Nishijima, managing director, EMEA, ADARA
In terms of trends that we expect to see in 2019 and beyond, coming in the next five years -  blockchain, recognition technology, robots and personalisation are all going to play a key role:

Blockchain – While still very nascent, experimentation in this area can unlock new possibilities to immediately identify passengers at the airport, guarantee transparency in tourists’ opinions, and provide easy and secure payments.

Recognition Technology – As the technology advances and becomes more widely accepted, we can expect facial biometrics to be used to automatically authorise payments, or automatically check out of the hotel. This could dramatically reduce queues, freeing up restaurant or reception staff to deal with customers who require more hands-on assistance.

Robots – Out of all the emerging digital trends in the travel industry, one of the most exciting is the use of robots to perform intelligent tasks. This opens up a huge number of potential uses, ranging from customer service, through to data processing. A particularly good example of the possibilities is the 1A-TA robot by Amadeus. The robot can find out information from customers while they sit in the waiting room, analyse preferences and intelligently recommend suitable destinations.

Personalisation – When it comes to customer service, greater personalisation ranks among the top requests and those within the travel industry are taking note. Big data and machine-based learning both provide hotels with opportunities to deliver a more personalised experience for guests and this trend will only grow in the years ahead.

Nigel Gilbert, chief market strategist EMEA, AppNexus, a Xandr company

In 2019, machine learning will drive even greater outcomes and efficiency for the digital advertising industry at large.

Because machine learning is now available and applicable, data and analytics will improve as we enter 2019.  Through custom optimisation (owning your own algorithm and bidding logic) machine learning will reduce wasted bids and avoid missed opportunities such as purchasing key inventory or reaching the most relevant audience for your campaign, ultimately increasing Return on Ad Spend.  This automation will free up time for employees, which will help companies put increased emphasis on valuable ‘human’ tasks, such as spending time with clients, building important customer relationships, and understanding new platforms.  Ultimately, this will take programmatic into the next stage of evolution.

What’s next for marketers and GDPR?

Jon Cano-Lopez, CEO, REaD Group

2018 was all about GDPR, with a lot of focus on consent. In 2019, data will continue to be a driving force for marketers; now the furore over consent has calmed down, they can look at other important elements, such as meeting data quality obligations on an ongoing basis and maximising the value of data to drive business success.

Data is now acknowledged to be business critical, as reflected by the appointment of Chief Data Officers and Chief Analytics Officers now being the norm. And as the amount of data that can be collected continues to rise at a phenomenal rate, combined with rapid technological innovation – data strategies led by DPO and DPA need to keep pace for brands to remain competitive.

Automation will be a key trend in 2019, with Data as a Service (DaaS) solutions becoming more widely adopted for efficiently and securely maintaining data quality and compliance.  Fuelled by good quality data, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will also grow in prominence, with algorithms providing a scalable way for marketers to create unique experiences for consumers.

Jenny Stanley, CEO, Appetite Creative Solutions and Femme Niche

2019 is already being heralded as a year of radical change and challenges. The two areas that will have a significant effect on this are GDPR; and the increased use of AI in digital.

GDPR legislation has reduced the use of ‘cookies’ which has damaged ad revenue streams. However, off the back of legalising has come enforced creativity. There is less programmatic inventory available which has pushed prices up and made higher quality sites and ad formats more appealing. Creativity, not conformity, will be the biggest differentiating factor in who successfully monetises their inventory or campaigns in 2019.

The second prediction is the increased growth in audio in 2019 through machine learning. Given that nearly 50% of all searches will be made through voice search by 2020, brands should plan on using AI to be more creative in communicating with consumers, via audio and voice-activated creative formats.

More demand for performance and measurement

Christian Jones, commercial director, Tug
Brands will expect so much more for their digital ad spend. We predict that marketers will fall back in love with search and that SEO will see a resurgence in popularity; largely due to how well search works for voice activation. In 2019, brands that have strong visibility for their target keywords will achieve a head start and strong conversions. It will also be crucial for brands to achieve high visibility through organic search, as they are perceived to be a more trustful company when they perform well through SEO.

Post-GDPR, databases have been decimated so more efficient channels are being sought. Brands who understand who their target audience is and approach their marketing plans with a cohesive media, creative and tech strategy will prosper in 2019.