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Maximizing Sales with CSS: The Benefits of Partnering with Shopping Affiliates

Affiliates play a vital role in partnership marketing, and brands cannot have an affiliate program without them. The worldwide affiliate marketing industry is valued at over $17 billion, with 84% of businesses utilizing affiliate programs. Hence, it’s imperative to not only have an affiliate program but also a successful affiliate strategy that includes selecting the right partners.

While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to selecting partners for your program, it’s important to consider the unique benefits that each partner type can bring to the table—and comparison shopping services (CSS) partners shouldn’t be overlooked.

CSS partners help brands promote their products and services efficiently and cost-effectively. In this blog, we dive into how brands are successfully leveraging these shopping affiliates to increase activity and form profitable and smooth partnerships.


What is a CSS partner?

A CSS partner can promote your brand’s product(s) within the affiliate channel using Google/Bing shopping. This can be used to compliment or enhance your existing shopping campaigns in Google/Bing, while leveraging a pay-per-performance payout model.


Benefits of working with CSS partners

There are many benefits to partnering with CSS affiliates in your program, and some of the most prominent ones include:

  • Brand Awareness – They can widen your brand’s reach within the shopping space and appear across comparison sites to support brand awareness.
  • Competitors – They can push competitors out across relevant search terms, on a CPA-only basis, gaining increased impression share.
  • CPAi Opportunities – They can utilize a CPAi strategically to target less efficient products/high stock or outlet products.


Ensuring CSS partner incrementality

Working with a variety of CSS partners can result in more opportunities, as many top brands have found by run successful campaigns with multiple CSS providers. By working with CSS partners who use AI and machine learning, brand can even drive incremental sales that don’t completely overlap with their existing campaigns.

Here are 3 ways CSS partners can deliver incremental CPA sales without overlapping with Google Shopping:

  • The unique product identifier (EAN or GTIN) in the feed will be recognized by Google. Google will not show the same product more than once from the same retailer in a single set of results, regardless of how many CSS partners you work with.
  • The CPA a CSS partner works toward should be below your in-house cost of sales target, but as high as you can go to enable them to compete in the Google Shopping auction. You can also give them a higher CPA for specific categories or the whole feed.
  • CSS shopping campaigns don’t create direct competition with the retailer; they only compete with the other CSS partners, so it has no effect on any existing in-house Product Listing Ad activities.


Best practices and tips to successfully partner with CSS affiliates

If CSS affiliates seem like the right partner fit for your brand’s marketing goals and KPIs, be sure to keep the below considerations in mind as you move forward with the help of an experienced partnership marketing agency.

  • While CSS partners can take a share of internal activity, remember that there is more to gain when implementing the use of these partners.
  • Vary your CPA rates. If you want to safeguard your internal efforts, it’s recommended to have the CSS partner on a lower CPA than average for the internal channel.
  • Be clear with partners on the dos and don’ts that align with your brand goals.
  • Decide how many partners you want to work with—like if you want to focus on one main CSS partner or have a variety across certain platforms, such as Google or Bing.
  • Understand that CSS partners won’t increase a brand’s CPC costs. Google is set up to not increase bidding on search terms if multiple CSS partners are bidding for the same product/brand, which means it will not raise CPCs in situations like a new competitor bidding on the same branded search terms.

Partnering with CSS partners can offer notable benefits to both brands and affiliates alike if they align with brand goals and KPIs. With guidance from an experienced partnership marketing agency, leverage CSS partnerships to cost-effectively boost brand awareness and revenue.


Ready to realize better performance through better partnerships? Let’s connect!