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E-consultancy has just published its latest  Affiliate Marketing Roundtable Briefing (free to registered E-consultancy users) which covered topics such as the attribution of commissions and the policing of affiliates.

While recent research by E-consultancy and R.O.EYE has suggested that the industry has dipped slightly in terms of relative digital marketing budgets, it was clear from the numerous merchants assembled at our roundtable that reports of affiliate marketing's demise are exaggerated.

As pointed out by Andrew Walmsley in his column in Marketing magazine this week, affiliate marketing is particularly valuable not just for Christmas campaigns but right through the year.

Like others in the industry, I'm very much looking forward to the a4u expo at ExCel London next week to hear from affiliates, merchants and networks about what is happening at the coal-face.

One of the topics discussed at the roundtable was the attribution of commissions and whether, realistically, there is likely to be any change from the last-click-wins model in the foreseeable future.

The rise of voucher affiliates has brought this issue into even sharper focus because so many shoppers are now making sure that they get a discount code as one of the last steps on their journey to purchase.

Some people in the industry are worried that affiliate marketing is becoming skewed towards voucher code and loyalty sites, and that there is a lack of "young blood" coming through to create content-rich sites which can drive a more sustainable affiliate marketing model in the long-term. 

What is clear - and we'll keep banging this drum - is that the affiliate sales force should include a healthy mix of different types of publisher, without too much reliance on one particular affiliate or type of affiliate.

Although there is a trend towards a much smaller number of affiliates driving the lion's share of sales (see our report for more on this) networks can continue to add value for the bigger brands and retailers, because this is a people-driven as well as technology-driven sector.

Effective affiliate marketing requires co-operation between all parties, and affiliates need to be communicated to properly as a virtual sales force.

Direct-to-merchant (DTM) affiliates and Google's entry into this space should not upset the apple-cart  too much for networks, at least for the time-being.

Trends covered in our roundtable briefing include:

-) Affiliate brand-bidding approaches after Google's policy change
-) Impact of Google Affiliate Network

-) Growth in new affiliate channels
-) Content creation
-) Policing affiliates
-) Future technologies and services
-) Attribution of commissions

Attendees at the roundtable included: Affililate Window, AXA-PPP, HSBC, IVIS, Lastminute.com, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Ordnance Survey, Post Office, TheTrainLine.com and VFC. 

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 8 October, 2008 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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Comments (2)

Jessica Luthi

Jessica Luthi, CEO at Affiliate Program Advice

"Some people in the industry are worried that affiliate marketing is becoming skewed towards voucher code and loyalty sites, and that there is a lack of "young blood" coming through to create content-rich sites which can drive a more sustainable affiliate marketing model in the long-term.

What is clear - and we'll keep banging this drum - is that the affiliate sales force should include a healthy mix of different types of publisher, without too much reliance on one particular affiliate or type of affiliate."
Yes Im one of those people that can see a host of issues all lining up.

We know that paid search is possible the biggest drivers of sales and leads but as more and more merchants are starting to put ppc restrictions in place. Some restrictions are valid and understandable, but there are some merchants that really don’t understand paid search and are struggling to know what the right thing to do is. We still see cases of merchants asking affiliates not to bid on their brand name, but they are not a brand, no one is searching for them. So there is still a lot of work to be done to break down the myths of paid search, when you should allow affiliate to do ppc and when there is a need to have restrictions in place. We are still seeing cases where by the merchant has not registered all of their domain name extensions and then get upset if an affiliate registers it and uses it to drive sales to that merchants site. PPC affiliates will always have enough business for the immediate future but Im thinking there will be an awful lot of chopping and changing, ppc affiliates will also have to become a lot more choosey when it comes to working with merchants as the cost for a click rises, not to say that they were not choosy before, but lets just say they will probably be a lot more wary.

We are seeing voucher codes, in some cases, not being used responsibly by the merchant, and whilst it may not be a problem here today, could be tomorrow. We are also seeing a scenario where by the voucher code site appears directly under the merchant’s domain name in natural search. But in the same breath they will drive sales and they do have a place and again its about how merchants are using voucher sites and how they are managing their vouchers. What I do have a problem with is voucher code theft, if affiliate abc was issued an exclusive voucher code and affiliate def steals it and the network knows and does not do anything, the industry at large is being harmed. It will take a brave affiliate network to take this bull by the horns and show it the door. Again in the same breath there are some networks that are completely on top of this.

Content affiliates seem to be reducing in terms of balancing out who the top % of sales and lead affiliate types are, so there does seem to be an imbalance (or is this the real future of affiliate marketing?) a potential bottleneck maybe be happening. Merchants are still expecting to see content affiliates as being the main contributors of sales and some are rather surprised when they see that this is not always the case. Content affiliates are most sought after as there is no doubt they do and can deliver steadfast and consistent sales and longevity.

I rushed this btw… Im sure there is a lot I have missed out, affiliate marketing in the UK is big business, the potential to make it even bigger and better is the responsibility of every one involved in this industry to educate and give something back, is my belief.

The above is my own personal opinion and not the voice of my other colleagues over at APA, but if they don’t agree with me, they wont get their Christmas bonus ;0P

almost 8 years ago

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Don Malik, Profitasusual

Affiliate marketing is valuable and has to be encouraged by all concerned. I commend your effort.

Don Malik
http://profitasusual.blogspot.com

almost 8 years ago

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