Finding and recruiting new affiliates is one of the most time-consuming tasks in affiliate management, taking many hours each week to do effectively. Affiliate Future (AF) needed a way to quickly analyse the affiliates and provide advertisers meaningful suggestions on who to recruit on to their programme, something that takes considerable time and can be a bottleneck. 

Publisher Discovery addressed this with network analysis tools which use new technology-driven by AI and machine learning to simplify the whole process initially with the in-network Recommender tools available to all Affiliate Future advertisers via the network interface – extendable with an upgrade to the full Publisher Discovery suite to view competitors across other networks and in multiple geos.

Master of Malt needed to build their affiliate programme to discover more valuable content publishers – and grow online sales via the affiliate network. This was the result of a six-month affiliate recruiting project.

Discussing the project in more detail and the results it delivered, we spoke to John Vickers, head of client services at Affiliate Future and Stephon Anthony, affiliate executive at Master of Malt to find out how the campaign led to over 50 new high-value affiliates recruited, saving significant account management and significantly increasing overall online sales, largely attributable to the new affiliates discovered.

Hi Stephon/John, thanks for taking the time to speak with PerformanceIN. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey and what led you to working with Publisher Discovery to expand your current affiliate base?

John Vickers: One of the struggles of account management is publisher recruitment – it takes so much time to find relevant publishers for advertisers.  We all know it is an incredibly important aspect of an affiliate programme, but we also know it’s a real pain point.

Affiliate Future has been around for 20 years now and we have a lot of affiliates on the network (over 300,000!). It can take a long time to sift through all these affiliates and find some interesting content/long-tail ones. Publisher Discovery helps our account managers and advertisers with this task. As the tool is fully integrated with the Affiliate Future interface, advertisers are able to use Publisher Discovery immediately, analysing their programme and working through a list of recommended affiliates; they can also send out a message and sign-up link all from the one screen. This process used to take hours or even days, with many spreadsheets – now, it takes just a few minutes.

Publisher Discovery recently added the functionality to analyse an advertiser’s competitor programmes which suddenly changed the tool into a necessity.  Imagine being able to pull all the publishers on a competitor programme, mark which ones are relevant, send out communication and sign them up to your programme – all from one interface screen and within a single session.

Stephon Anthony: Affiliate Future continuously strives to look for additional opportunities to support the demand for their clients, such as Master of Malt.

Like most advertisers, we are keen on finding new affiliates every day and the size of the affiliate doesn’t matter to us. We focus mostly on the quality of the services they can offer, their reach and particular demographic(s).

From day one when Master of Malt got on-board the affiliate channel, everything was more or less like a game of supermarket sweep, getting as many affiliates live as fast as possible.

As time progressed, the programme found traction and we began seeing strong performances. Naturally, we wanted more. We wanted to add further scope into content, price comparison and blog/review affiliates. This is when AF introduced us to Publisher Discovery. 

The Publisher Discovery Recommender and Gap Analysis Tools utilise advanced AI and machine learning technology. How were these tools implemented into Master of Malt’s recruitment process, and in return, supported you to find the right affiliates for your campaign?

JV: There are a lot of easy to use features with Publisher Discovery, such as finding out if the publisher has other sites, the contact details, along with a really easy to understand GAP analysis table.  

The integration of PD has meant we get some extra features within our interface, and allows us to see how relevant a publisher is to an advertiser with “Relevance”, “Value” and “Score”.  This means we can work more efficiently with sorting by high value or high relevance rather than having to work through a list alphabetically.

SA: The tools that Publisher Discovery had available was like the missing cog to our affiliate recruitment process. When we got ourselves integrated with them, it synchronised perfectly with our Account Managers suggestions. What’s more, it adds further transparency to what opportunities are available rather than wait for affiliates to find us (Master of Malt), or for a network to notify us.

These tools made Affiliate Recruitment easier, bearable and pretty interesting. I would say it tips the scales between the Network and client, instead of the Network always trying it’s hardest to find affiliates, it also allows the client to contribute and do exactly what the network does- but more efficiently. It also makes us understand and engage more with the support exec(s)/account manager(s).

Affiliate relationships are vital in any affiliate programme. With several high-value affiliates recruited from using Publisher Discovery and significant time saved, how did this allow more focus to build new relationships to scale and profitability?

JV: It is fantastic we have been able to recruit high value, content publishers on to the Master of Malt  programme via Publisher Discovery. This helps Master of Malt, but it also helps the publisher find a new revenue stream – an advertiser they may not have thought about working with previously, now they are growing their website content and offering more to their own visitors, as well as generating new sales.  

As I mentioned earlier, publisher recruitment can be a laborious task – Publisher Discovery makes this vital job significantly easier, helping the account manager to find high-quality sites quickly.  This freed up their time to work on other aspects of the account, but it has also improved our account managers morale as they are actually getting results quickly. 

What was the results from using Publisher Discovery and did this meet your overall objectives? 

SA: In short, yes. Publisher Discovery has definitely satisfied our expectations and met all our objectives.

We take advantage of their filtration sliders and to make everything easy,  the contact details, website details and social media links are all in one place which makes things smoother.

Last year, we saw a 26% increase in revenue from the affiliates we recruited from Publisher Discovery.

These were pretty small to medium-sized content/blog affiliates. Pretty niche compared to other affiliates out there but this is what we were after, especially in the Wine & Spirits vertical to capture those dedicated users keen to read and buy from Master of Malt.

As an advertiser, would you recommend Publisher Discovery to others looking to scale their affiliate programme and establish new relationships?

SA: Absolutely. It saves time (especially during peak periods), it gives the advertiser a thorough understanding of expectations when it comes to affiliate recruitment and it’s easy to see what affiliates our competitors are on board with, as well as if it’s worth pursuing or not.

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