November 8, 2016

Trends & Moves: November

Tom Rathbone

Programmatic in Affiliate

Programmatic advertising is in an interesting position - it is a completely natural and expected evolution, but it is being questioned quite a bit as to the actual value (this is a broader trend in advertising as well).

We are seeing increased investment in programmatic advertising as the efficiency gains are desirable, despite decreased confidence - yet interestingly enough that also comes with a decreased risk perception.

On the affiliate side, we don't have much in the way of programmatic (yet), but we are seeing a few moves in that direction. Many of the larger platforms/networks have begun to actively invest in functionality that will programmatically increase conversion for the publishers. Naturally, larger publishers will already have the ability to display what they know as the ads most likely to convert for them. They have the means to invest in this level of sophistication. The missing piece for publishers in the affiliate channel is knowing which ad is most likely to connect with their user - which delves more into personalization. Those spheres will converge, particularly as consolidation increases in the industry - access to that level of data is critical.

That said, there is a flip side here - many will argue that affiliate marketing is relationship based. To an extent it always will - but relationship-based marketing is inherently inefficient, so we can expect the portion of marketing lead by 1:1 relationships to continue to diminish over time as machines can do much of the work for us.

For that reason, our focus is twofold: 1. Continue to leverage all programmatic resources at our disposal to capture that efficiency, and 2. Continue to develop strong, meaningful relationships with the best marketers out there, so our position remains strong in the industry.

Cross Device Tracking

The hot topic of cross-device tracking has been quickly moving from a large problem to solve, to almost commoditized at this point within the industry. The need to understand and track how a customer moves from their many disparate devices as they interact witha single advertiser is of pivotal interest to affiliates - they understand that their referral to a customer may end up credited to another source as that customer bounces between devices.

We're now at a point where, rather quickly, four platforms are offering these solutions.

Affiliate Window released their cross device tracking in early 2015. Being the first network to release this technology, they use a deterministic method to track these conversions, and have seen some very strong results. This is proprietary technology to the Affiliate Window network.

Linkconnector has been offering their cross device tracking since summer 2016. This uses a similar method as Affiliate Window, and is also proprietary to the network. (See here) They continue to see growth in the percentage of transactions with the cross device tracking involved, and we look forward to seeing more from them!

TradeDoubler also offers cross device tracking in a deterministic fashion, similar to Affiliate Window.

The fourth platform we saw (quietly) release cross device tracking was Impact Radius. This is a bit different - in that the tracking utilizes both Impact Radius proprietary tracking (similar to the other options) and if the advertiser opts for it, additional tracking utilizing third party technology from TapAd.

This last part is very interesting to me - the weakness in all the proprietary cross-device tracking technology is that it can naturally only exist within what that network or platform "sees". So bringing on another technology that looks beyond those confines strengthens the accuracy considerably. We're really interested to continue testing this with our clients and study the results.