Owen Hewitson

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Making the affiliate Long Tail wag : part one

This is the first of two articles about how to engage and optimise the Long Tail of your affiliate programme.

Whilst the term has its origins in statistical sciences as early as
1946, it was popularised 60 years later with the publication of Chris
Anderson’s book of the same name.

So how does this apply to affiliate marketing?

The Importance of cookie hierarchies

Not all affiliate activity is the same.

Any single affiliate
programme is as likely to include behavioural
re-targeting, site abandonment-triggered emails or downloadable software
as it is to number ‘traditional’ affiliate stalwarts such as blogs and
incentive-based sites.

This is a good thing. Affiliate marketing should be as focused on targeting as any other online marketing channel and it is a sign of the health of the industry that new methods can find a place in an environment where the focus has always been on customer acquisition.

How reliable is cookie-based tracking?

The issue of the reliability of cookie-based tracking is perhaps one of
the most important issues for affiliates and always has been.

Affiliate
marketing operates on the basic assumption that the sales affiliates
refer to advertisers are tracked and reported correctly.

How do you decide when to remove affiliates?

If you are an affiliate manager you face something of a dilemma: how to
attract a range of good quality affiliates to your programme without
becoming bogged down in managing the issues that this multitude of
relationships may present?

Affiliate marketing is something of a bottomless pit: it is not a question of performing a set number of tasks; there is always more you can do, which can very quickly swallow up a large amount of your time.

Is the affiliate divide a problem for advertisers?

What do advertisers want to see from their affiliate programmes?

Generally speaking, they ask two things: firstly, that the largest
possible proportion of their affiliate base is active in driving sales
revenue; secondly, that there be a constant feed of good quality new
affiliates coming onto the programme to actively promote them.

The truth about affiliates and cookie overwriting

Who overwrites who in the affiliate channel? This question has been at
the heart of some hotly-debated issues in affiliate marketing over the
last few years, but little research has been done to answer the
question directly.

When we scrutinise the value of incentivised
traffic, question whether or not voucher code sites are ‘stealing’
sales that would otherwise have been credited to content sites, or
wonder how different models of multi-attribution might work, the
ability to inform these debates with insights in to what extent cookie
writing is occurring, and amongst which affiliates, is surely vital.

The art of affiliate incentives

As we approach the pre-Christmas rush many advertisers will be looking
to launch affiliate incentives as part of their fourth quarter
marketing campaigns.

But with affiliate marketing continuing to show
strong growth, advertisers can expect increased competition for
exposure on the best affiliates’ sites. So what makes an affiliate incentive successful and what ideas might advertisers want to avoid?