Within the affiliate marketing universe, the Affiliate Summit’s count among the major conferences of the year. Last week at Affiliate Summit East 2016 in New York, there was a whirlwind of activity. The event brought together merchants, publishers, networks and SaaS companies for three days of speaking, meetings and networking events. Beyond the chance to be in the same setting as some of the most influential people in the industry, the conference gave us a glimpse into the latest trends in affiliate marketing.
If you were unable to attend the three-day event, here are some on-the-scene insights.
Several speakers at the conference predicted that ad blocking will disrupt the digital marketing industry as we know it. Ad blocking is on the rise, especially on mobile since the launch of ad blocking software on mobile devices. A drawback for the entire advertising ecosystem, it affects publishers, marketers, agencies, merchants and other businesses who depend on revenue from advertising.
While more compelling user experiences could potentially slow people from adopting ad blockers, they will continue to screen out ads they find intrusive and irrelevant. Display and retargeted ads are the most frequently blocked and thus far the impact on affiliates has been negligible. This potentially offers brands a window of opportunity to shift ad spend and drive more performance from the affiliate channel, however, there’s no guarantee that affiliate traffic won’t eventually come under scrutiny.
In the long-term consumers want more control over the ads they are served and this will have a positive impact on digital marketing as publishers, networks, SaaS platforms and advertisers will be pushed to develop better technology and higher-quality ads.
Influencer marketing is hot topic on our blog and it was no less a hot topic at the conference. A modern day “word-of-mouth” recommendation medium, influencer marketing allows brands to leverage the power of popular online personalities that consumers follow and admire (stylists, fitness trainers, mommy bloggers etc.)
By partnering with top online influencers that have a strong following, brands expect to grow awareness as they become part of an ongoing conversation the community is already invested in. Affiliates have already been doing influencer marketing for years, as the whole model is based on marketing partners who decide how to present products and content to their audience. While they share similarities, there are a few areas where Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing are different.
- Affiliates are rewarded on performance which is based on a revenue share of the sale made from their site whereas Influencers are typically paid a flat fee and receive free products to promote the brand.
- Influencers are measured on higher funnel metrics ( impressions, social shares etc.) as compared to affiliates who use tracking cookies and pixels to track bottom-funnel metrics (registrations, sales, conversation rates, customer lifetime value)
- Influencers have typically not disclosed that they are being compensated to promote the brand as they aren’t aware or don’t understand FTC disclosure regulations. By contrast, affiliates usually include a disclosure at the top of their post.
As brands seek to more efficiently manage their influencer marketing initiatives, they will turn to their affiliate channel to manage mid-tier to long-tail influencers.
Data & Advanced Attribution Models
Continuing to garner buzz, data and attribution is more important than ever as brands seek to optimize their performance marketing activities. They are increasing leveraging data to better understand consumer behavior, correctly determine affiliate payments, and make smarter decisions about digital advertising spend.
Companies are increasingly embracing multi-touch attribution and have developed models that assign credit to each channel so they can make informed decisions about their marketing strategy. There’s no “right attribution” model but many considerations and benefits to weigh. It’s important to understand you’re trying to measure and apply it to different models (First Click, Last Click, Linear, Time Decay, U Shape). With consumers taking a complex journey to the path to purchase, attribution is an ongoing process requiring testing and refinement to ensure you can best allocate your resources.
Affiliate Summit East 2016 brought together a wealth of talent that shared their insights and expertise on how to take performance marketing to the next level. If you missed it, be sure to catch Affiliate Summit West (#ASW17) January 15-17, 2017 in Las Vegas.