It’s Time for the Next “Real Talk” in Affiliate Marketing

Frankly, by any measure, I wasn’t very enthusiastic about partnerships and affiliate marketing to begin with. It’s not something I’m hiding. I agree with a turnaround for a relatively high-profile troubled business in the category. It’s not a simple “yes” for private equity promoters. It involves a lot of hard work.

I haven’t forgotten that this is a category that has been limited for years by its own now well-documented bad practices (including PPC and SEO) Manipulation, opaque arbitrage, click-to-fill, grading your own homework measurement and finally a self-enriching game of clickjacking. It’s not particularly shocking to find that CEOs and CMOs still hand over their most important partnerships to their business development teams rather than their affiliate teams. It’s not particularly shocking to consistently find that more than 60% of project revenue is allocated to fewer than five partners. Not exactly a recipe for growth.

Don’t get me wrong, we have made real progress together over the past few years. New narratives have been written, and technological innovation has enabled diversification of partners, equitable attribution, and the new opportunities that come with it. New capital has flowed into the category business, and with it, skepticism has given way to optimism and marked progress in the path of those of us seeking legitimacy (also known as a significant increase in category spending).

My colleague, Button CEO Michael Jaconi, Recent mentions of ongoing efforts to expand the addressable market for affiliate and partner marketing There is a strong cry for “Affiliates come out of the corporate value blueprint they face. “ Our channel (yes, it’s a channel) is finally starting to have cancellations Ego Barriers to Mainstream Legitimacy Thus opening up a larger potential market. This is because the strategies (partner diversification), methodologies (multi-touch attribution and dynamic debugging) and underlying technologies (automation and open APIs) found in platforms like ours have matured and are providing verifiable Evidence to prove the indispensable role We drive performance business results and profitable growth for marketers, partners and creators.

Take the next step and change the conversation

It’s a good start, but it’s just the beginning. In order to fight this fight, we must personally engage and refuse to settle in order to move the industry away from the status quo and provide a better way for all involved. No CEO or CMO should question their ability to trust the affiliate channel with their most important partners, and there’s an important road ahead before we get there.

Saying that the key to overcoming the shortcomings is getting the CEO and CMO involved sounds like an oversimplification. But if we, as a focused, ever-evolving ecosystem, tend to innovate in all areas, if not slightly lacking, then the combined effect of our positive enthusiasm and quest for change can be enormous. The point is to make sure we all speak from the same script.

Yes, we all wish we had a crystal ball to look into the future five years from now. But it’s safe to say that during that time, we’ll see some core themes addressed, as those of us involved are committed to progress. Most importantly, I think, the traditional web model will continue to fade into the background, just as it has in all other paid channels. If you think about programmatic presentation, it shifts from a web model to a programmatic model. It will take years for this to happen. The larger network model eventually gave way to programmatic providers on the demand and supply sides. According to eMarketer, by 2022, nine out of ten digital display ad revenue will be transacted programmatically.

To drive the category forward, the onus is on innovation to truly push the channel beyond its last click history from an attribution perspective. This happens all the time as we collectively raise the bar for measurement and attribution. Essentially, we must be willing to measure the contributions of our channels using standardized toolsets and methodologies deployed for major channels. So here’s what we’re going to see: more innovation, more disruption, more movement away from traditional models, and a continued push based on brand and partner demand for the category to increase its reach over time. contribute.

The next necessary area of ‚Äč‚Äčinnovation is as important as imagination – making sure we and our customers are reimagining the type of partner to drive business outcomes. Historically, in the last-click funnel, affiliates have often been thought of as cashback sites or coupon providers. Then there are mass media publishers, accessed through an aggregator or sub-network model (the result of the primary inventory owner devaluing the channel and handing it off to someone else to monetize on their behalf). Now, we’re seeing a considerable expansion of membership definitions to include influencers and even what we might call a performance PR model.

Non-traditional partners who might previously have been considered unrelated to affiliates and partner channels can now enter. Brand-to-brand partnerships became more prominent in our conversation, Largely due to the recognition that the next generation of consumers buys based on trust and that matching first-party datasets with complementary brands is an effective remedy for target loss due to the deprecation of ITP and third-party cookiesTake a look at the recent increase in retail media ad network spending as consumer goods manufacturers use search and display advertising to reach target customers during the buying process.

Supporting channel growth and automating non-traditional partnerships through simplified management is an important part of this. The historically manual nature of the channel – often romanticized by the reference to “it’s a relationship channel” without acknowledging that the consequences of purely human-based dynamics are the complete inability to attain a diverse scale – is a declining Dynamic leave. This bodes well for continued growth, but we’re still in the early stages.

Together, we must continue to move forward and work to change the narrative around affiliate and partner marketing.

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