Affiliate Marketing – Changing Marketers Expectations of Advertising Results

   Affiliate marketing is defined, according to the Bible of the Internet, Wikipedia, "as a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts". 

How It Works

Typically, affiliate marketing is done online. "Affiliates" are individual websites/publishers.  A company, lets say Walmart, for example, can create a digital marketing campaign on one of the numerous  online affiliate networks. This campaign will feature a wide variety of banner ads, mobile ads and other email that affiliate publishers can run on their websites that link to specific products on or their general website. Every time a consumer clicks on these banners and makes a purchase from Walmart, the affiliate publisher receives a commission. Here at MediaBids, we offer our own unique offline affiliate advertising program, which replicates these online networks, but drives sales from print newspapers and magazines.

Sample Networks

Some of the big players in online affiliate marketing are Affiliate by Conversant, Rakuten Linkshare and Impact Radius.

Benefits to Marketers

Affiliate networks, as well as other online advertising platforms such as Google AdWords, provide marketers with a way to pay for their advertising based solely on results. AdWords charges primarily on a pay-per-click basis, but Affiliate Networks work almost exclusively on a CPA or Revshare basis. Advertisers pay anywhere from 2% – 30% commission (usually on the lower end of that) per sale – the network takes a cut – but there’s no upfront costs to the advertiser for media placements. What’s even better for them, is often times affiliate publishers, such as bloggers, will create unique content featuring the brand’s products to showcase and promote the affiliate links. Marketers get a ton of free exposure, with minimal risk.

Altering Expectations of Other Media

 One of the offshoots of the rise of affiliate marketing and performance marketing online in general is that marketers have become increasingly more risk averse. By advertising primarily online, they’ve become accustomed to paying for their advertising based on response, while having access to real-time statistics about who is seeing their ads, how many times their ads were clicked, and other interesting conversion data.

This has been a challenge for many offline publishers when pitching traditional advertising plans. Advertisers expect transparent metrics to be able to evaluate how the ads are performing, and are looking for some sort of performance guarantee. In newspapers and shoppers, we’ve been working through our per-inquiry print advertising program to track print ad performance through Call Tracking and working with advertisers on online reporting. Magazine publishers have created a performance guarantee program. A large part of print’s decline has been the huge departure of advertisers leaving for more measurable media. We’re hoping to help bring them back.

As the performance marketing industry evolves, and more tools become available, it will be interesting to see how other mediums adapt. We know of a few performance oriented TV and Radio agencies, but they seem the exception and not the rule. Here at MediaBids, we’re doing our part to make performance a part of  print buys, and we encourage individual publishers to do the same. – Jessica Greiner

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