With more scrutiny than ever before on every touch point in online marketing campaigns, is it inevitable that affiliates will get squeezed? As merchants improve their understanding who will be the winners and losers?
We have to remember what affiliates are and what they represent. Affiliates are paid search experts, SEO specialists, voucher code sites, cash back sites, comparison sites, bloggers, social marketers and more. They are companies or individuals who are successful in working to the return on investment model where they only get paid on the results they deliver (CPA), irrespective of the challenges presented.
When Google changed their search algorithms from only allowing one merchant URL to feature in the search results (previously multiple URL’s could be displayed for one merchant as long as the affiliate included (aff) in their ad copy), this impacted search affiliates quite significantly. However, these same affiliates sought new ways to drive traffic through paid search. As social marketing emerged, affiliates were the first to test ways to monetise the channels. If we view affiliates for what they are – CPA experts in the online marketing field – then those who do survive, and continue to thrive, are those who don’t stand still; they innovate, seek out new opportunities, discover new platforms, target new channels and continue to evolve.
Furthermore, affiliates are experts at seeing gaps and filling them. As merchants improve their understanding of the online market space, then working with your affiliates to close the gaps (on a CPA basis) can only help the cause.
So, who will be the winners? The winners will be the merchants who fully understand their marketing mix and embrace it; those who can apply knowledge and understanding to their customer acquisition strategies. The winners will also be those who are able to budget effectively and pay fairly for new customers.
The losers will be those who use their insight to unnecessarily cut costs – yes, we all want to cut costs when possible but those merchants who feel pulling back spend in the hope the same volume of sales will be achieved are deluding themselves. It simply won’t happen. Those who are fair and transparent, and work closely with all of their digital partners, including affiliates, should see a positive return.