Lockdown globally led to more consumers shopping online and experts believe that this growth in eCommerce will spike this year and alter consumer behaviour into 2021, and beyond. When we look at Q4, in particular, a recent Retail TouchPoints webinar reported that digital would account for 30% of sales during the upcoming holiday season, a 14% increase YoY.
This year, with fewer shoppers expected to visit brick and mortar stores due to COVID-19, the volume of that undesirable activity will likely increase. So, what can you do to get ahead of this potential threat and protect your consumer journeys online? We answer your top questions in our blog.
If you would like to find out more about protecting your brand online this Q4, watch the full discussion between Helen Southgate and Van Chappell, in our on-demand webinar with BrandVerity.
What is non-compliant affiliate activity?
The partnership and affiliate industry is built on relationships and trust, with affiliates working as brand ambassadors for the advertisers they promote. While most partners in the affiliate industry follow the rules and represent brands legitimately, there are some affiliates that conduct non-compliant activity.
What are the types of non-compliant affiliate activity?
- Attribution fraud: This occurs when an affiliate takes credit for organic traffic or traffic originating from another channel. They may do this through various methods, including cookie stuffing, click injection or spamming on a mobile device.
- Voucher fraud: This type of fraud happens when an affiliate uses a fake voucher to drive SEO to their site and then drops a cookie on that user's site.
- Botnet fraud: This takes place when an affiliate generates fake clicks or leads through an automated programme, it is sometimes done manually at scale via lead farms.
- Form stuffing: This occurs when an affiliate finds unfinished forms with users' data and completes the process to get the lead assigned to them.
- Brand bidding: Keywords drive a significant percentage of search traffic. Brand bidding occurs when affiliates bid on brand terms illegitimately.
- Ad hijacking: This occurs when an affiliate imitates an advertiser branded advertisement and takes credit for driving the customer sale.
What can brands do to monitor non-compliant affiliate activity across Q4?
With an increasing number of consumers shopping online this holiday season, the competition will be fierce. It's more important than ever that you have a robust plan in place to monitor affiliate non-compliance including:
1. Monitor different search engines
Be sure to monitor activity across different search engines; don't just focus on Google. This is especially important if you are present in various regions. Whoever is owning monitoring affiliate activity should carefully review the search engines that are popular in each market. Tools such as BrandVerity can help to automate this process.
2. Have clear affiliate agreements in place
Any affiliate programme should have clear and transparent affiliate agreements and terms and conditions in place. List what affiliates can and can't do in terms of promoting your brand, especially in the search space. Having these agreements in place makes it far easier to contest non-compliant activity when it happens.
3. Have a process in place to manage non-compliant partners
It's essential to have the systems and contracts, agreements and principles in place. Especially ahead of a busy Q4. Establish a process for reporting non-compliant activity and be sure to stick to it. For some, this may be a two-strike rule, for others immediate removal from the programme. It's important to identify different types of non-compliant activity and have processes in place for how you will address each. For example, a new partner that works in a less mature market may have accidentally promoted your brand in a non-compliant way. In this instance, you may wish to give a strike to that affiliate and educate the partner on what needs to change. Conversely, another affiliate may be intentionally promoting the brand in a non-compliant way, resulting in immediate removal from the programme. Your affiliate management agency or network can support you with this.
Before approaching the partner, have data behind you to illustrate the non-complaint process. At Acceleration Partners, our team regularly uses data from BrandVerity to identify non-compliant activity.
4. Regularly review your affiliate programme
Monitoring and reporting non-complainant affiliate activity needs an owner. It should be part of your regular programme management and across Q4 non-compliant activity should be reviewed on a more regular basis. To help ensure that affiliate partners within our clients' programmes are compliant, our client services team dedicated time daily to monitor affiliate activity. Key areas include:
- Any unusual spikes in traffic or sales coming from specific affiliates
- Use of voucher codes
- Affiliates on the programme as well as carefully reviewing each new affiliate application
- Conversions spiking in certain geographic locations
As an increasing number of consumers are expected to shop online this Q4, you must have a robust process in place to monitor and address affiliate non-compliance to ensure affiliates are driving incremental sales for your brand.