I enjoyed my two days at A4U Expo this year. Affiliate marketing was worth about £5bn last year and will grow again this year. This is the “channel” that uses search, display and social within itself while pushing analytical insight.
For me, the two hot themes of the conference are Loyalty and Transparency.
TransparencyEveryone wants everyone else to be more transparent in affiliate marketing.
I genuinely do want to see an industry standard for an API from the networks data warehouses and I’d love for that API to be nice and robust. It makes complete sense to me that networks can %100 justify technology fees and overrides with the development of such a useful asset.
However, I also appreciate that the networks do work hard to show the value they offer beyond tracking, reporting and payment and I appreciate being able to offer extra special analytical insight might be part of that and that’s why networks might not want to be a free-for-all data bucket.
A special shout-out has to go to Helen Southgate and Affiliate Window who put together a particularly transparent (impressively so) presentation on Sky’s affiliate stats. Sadly, it’s missing vital SEO data but if we push that aside for now we’ve got some valuable data for comparison and understanding.
Something has to move on transparency otherwise next year’s A4U will roll around and we’ll find ourselves watching presentations in which networks, affiliates and networks present each other’s data only to discover that the co-owners of that data had no idea it was even available.
LoyaltyAs you might expect there was much discussion around the value that affiliates such as voucher or cashback sites offered. Even from these quarters I picked up the suggestions that even powerhouses like Vouchercloud and Quidco were moving towards more of a loyalty model.
It was said again and again that loyalty would be a focus of attention for many brands going forwards. This is not just in areas like mobile, broadband, banking, etc where the brands have to fight to retain customers as new customers are scarce but also in wider retail, hospitality and travel areas too.
The challenge is that people are increasingly viewing brands as commodities – companies offer pretty much the same thing. People also understand that most companies are in it to make money not to offer the best service they could possibly do so. This problem has been fuelled by brands teaching people to expect discounts.
I think this is where we’ll see the blending of what we might currently call “social” with what we call “affiliate”. The new model will reward people for staying loyal rather than offering a discount for an one off purchase.
The video wasn’t shown at A4U but I was reminded of Hyper Island’s David Erixon’s views on value as it appeared on YouTube as the expo started.