Monday, March 01, 2010

Affiliate Window buys buy.at

Image representing buy.at as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

When I say “Affiliate Window” I actually mean their parent company “Digital Window”.

This is my Monday morning wow news. One reason this is “wow” news is because buy.at was only semi-recently bought by Aol. At a glance they seemed to be a good fit for Aol – even the new model Aol – as the affiliate network represented one clear way the content company could monetize content.

Now. There’s clearly been challenges in integrating buy.at into Aol. I’m an affiliate on buy.at and in my day job I also help merchants get the most out of buy.at and I’ve seen the branding roll back and forth between Aol strong and Aol weak. I didn’t see much in the way of international merchants coming on board and that would have been a factor for the international Aol too.

Perhaps more significantly this puts the spotlight on the “should affiliate networks also be affiliates?” question. This happens far more in the USA where in some instances you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between an affiliate network and a performance agency.

If Aol was going to use buy.at to monetize its own content then this would mean that buy.at and Aol were closer to the latter model. I don’t think we can say “it didn’t work for them” because, as far as I know, they didn’t quite get around to giving it a good try.

This also means that there’s one great big family of affiliate networks. Buy.at is owned by Affiliate Window. Digital Window and Zanox have the same parents – the publishers Alex Springer. Yes; publishers! Perhaps we’ll see buy.at push into Europe and eastwards rather than westwards across the States.

I can only hope this is a good thing for affiliates – will we see Affiliate Window’s tech been rolled out to support buy.at’s merchants? Will we see single, bundled, payments and thresholds? Or will we just see the end of buy.at’s brand... but what about all the buy.at tracking scripts? What timeframe will affiliates have to upgrade?

If affiliates do have to upgrade their tracking moving from buy.at’s current redirects to the merged tech of buy.at and Affiliate Window – will that be disruptive to merchants? Will it be harder for a smaller site to get onto an affiliate network now as there’s less competition (and networks tend to only want merchants that will be profitable; not unsurprisingly).

Affiliate Window have blogged it.

Haven’t we seen quite a lot of digital marketing news in the last few days? The writing, I think, is on the wall.

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