3 Affiliate Marketing Themes that Emerged from Affiliate Summit West 2016

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Three main themes emerged this past week at Affiliate Summit West 2016, which we’ll refer to as MAG: Mobile, Attribution and Global.

From speaker presentations and breakfast meetings to casual hallway chats and after-party conversations, these MAG topics were woven throughout the show, reflecting their status as game-changers and growth areas for the industry.

With MAG in mind, here are some insights we took away from ASW 2016:


Most merchants are still not tracking mobile or apps. Typically, the school of thought is, we are making money, so why change? It was clear at ASW 2016 that some industry thought leaders are of the opinion that this thinking is penny wise, pound foolish because if you’re directing people from your website to your app, your affiliate program needs to have built-in app tracking. Otherwise, you won’t get the desired behavior and you won’t be promoting or incentivizing the behavior you want.

What’s more is that if you aren’t setting up your affiliate program to successfully track mobile and apps, it’s very likely that your affiliate sales will plunge in the long-term. This point was driven home by a comment that was made by a top affiliate at Affiliate Summit East last year and shared during a presentation:

“If I test a program and it’s not tracking mobile I drop them right away.”


Back in the old days of two click affiliate marketing, everyone was worried about first click cookie stuffing, so most (if not all) retailers adopted a last click policy. For the past decade or so, the last click approach to attribution has fostered an entire industry focused on one goal: being the last click.

This is where toolbars, PPC, trademark bidding, DNS redirecting, etc. came from. In the early days it was easy money, but that’s not the case anymore. Not only is last click attribution not a best practice, many at ASW 2016 argued that it’s probably a worst practice.

There was much buzz and discussion around multi-touch attribution taking over last click attribution. With so many marketing channels today – PPC, paid social, SEO, affiliate, etc. – multi-touch attribution makes much more sense within and across the different channels.

The multi-touch model is more accurate because it accounts for every channel associated with a sale. This attribution method assigns weight to each touch point based on the impact it had on the final sale, ensuring that no channel is taking too much credit.


In the age of a more sophisticated world wide web, many brands are looking globally for customers and they want their affiliate program to reflect this.

Two macroeconomic factors driving global e-commerce marketing are:

  1. Politics. Not that long ago, working across international lines to grow an affiliate program was a non-starter. Today, you see companies having global Centers of Excellence and being much more proactive about cross-country collaboration.
  2. Technology. Companies are rolling out global e-commerce platforms, tools and functionality to support global affiliate programs, including electronic contracts in specific currencies, making it possible to track and pay global affiliates in their country’s currency, report in specific currencies, etc.

While global affiliate marketing is definitely an area that is only likely to grow, the key is to be very thoughtful and strategic about it. Advertisers need to be clear on what’s important to them, what’s realistic from a revenue and growth perspective and how much they can bite off at once.

For example, rather than taking a program into multiple countries at once, it may be smarter to sequentially take a program to one market first and establish strong roots before expanding  into other markets.

As expected, ASW 2016 was a jam-packed event loaded with insightful, relevant topics to help affiliate marketers, agencies, publishers and advertisers take their affiliate marketing program to the next level in 2016. We look forward to attending ASE in the Big Apple July 31st – August 2nd and seeing where these MAG topics are at mid-year.

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