The Future of Affiliate Marketing

As the last venue of the first day at tactixx Uli Bartholomäus our German MD took the centerstage together with several colleagues from the agency, publisher, network and advertiser world to discuss the “Future of affiliate Marketing” from a German perspective.

Michael Kruse (AD:C Media), Manuel Kester (belboon), Miro Morczinek (Zanox), Hendrik Seifert (Kupona), Ulrich Bartholomäus (affilinet), Joachim Graf (iBusiness), Dominic Fuchs (O2 – Telefonica), Markus Kellermann (explido)

The Top Topics this year for the panel have been:
– @mobile marketing
– @customer journey
– @affiliate network quality

As a starting point the panel had to agree on the strongest channels in affiliate marketing:
– Belboon: Retargeting and Postview
– Zanox: Mobile with strongest percentage growth and the renaissance of Postview
– Joachim Graf from iBusiness: Social is the way to go
– Explido: Virtual currency growing strongly, but complex to set up
– Kupona: Retargeting and virual currency, mobile growing from low basis
– affilinet: Couponing and bonusprogrammes/cashback with highest growth rates, mobile growing also from a low base

Regarding mobile affiliate marketing the panel members had a few differing views. While Belboon was critical on the potential of mobile affiliate marketing and underlined the importance of CPC models. The tenor was that CPO models will not arrive in Mobile. However this was highly contested by affilinet and Zanox, who both highlighted the already strong performance of mobile orders within their networks. Uli Bartholomäus from affilinet Germany cited the latest figures of around 4% of all orders within the affilinet network being already generated by Smartphones.
This sparked a debate about what is a mobile device and what are “truly mobile” orders. The general consensus here was that all orders from a Smartphone are really mobile, while orders from Tablet devices are essentially not mobile.
However both Belboon and Kupona clearly stated that still large part of the mobile traffic is still under-monetized, which was the general sentiment in the panel. It is in particular the mid and long-tail advertisers as well as publishers that still need to be supported in developing a mobile vision and mobile versions of their properties.
Kupona also raised the important point of the lack of mobile ready creatives, which finally led Kupona to building and optimizing creative themselves for their customers, just to cater to the new environment and the significantly smaller screensizes/different operating systems and standards.

@Customer Journey
The general agreement in the panel was that transparency is key going forward for efficient online marketing. Telefónica mentioned that their research showed that a split provisioning between channels depending on their value in the customer journey, led to an average higher payment for the publishers. Explido supporting this point also pointed out that in performance marketing the Customer Lifetime Value concept hasn’t really taken hold, but should be considered by advertisers, as there is the likelihood of a better performance of the customers referred by affiliates than through other channels. This was supported throughout the panel as one of our industry’s key tasks going forward. Again transparency was put into the focus of discussion together with clearly communicating the value add of professional affiliate marketing. AD:C Media questioned here, why the efficiency topic in regard to the customer journey hasn’t really been put on the agenda yet. Zanox sees this currently as an issue mainly with the most advanced and bigger advertisers, but would also support a more general trend here.
A very valid point came from Kupona, indicating that large parts of the customer journey, particularly the awareness and demand-building side of the affiliate part of the customer journey, outside of the CPO focus, still lie mostly in the dark.
affilinet showed in an earlier speech that day what big data in general and the customer journey topic in particular will mean in the future for our industry. All panelists agreed that we all need to work hard in making the data valuable for our customers, i.e. deduce information and transport it in clear and easy messages!

@affiliate network quality
Here the opinions were much more aligned than with any of the other topics: The discussion about quality problems in general are one sided and over-rated. The topic was initiated by ibusiness, who were advertising their new study. ibusiness stated differences between the networks and announced that the networks will be informed about the detailled results of the study broken down into the different networks. With this information this topic can be taken to the next step in order to ensure high quality.
At affilinet we rate this topic very high and have 2 dedicated teams that take care of areas of fraud. We also work closely together with advertisers on preventing any kind of fraud on our network. This leads to very strict entry criteria into our network as Uli Bartholomäus pointed out and also to affilinet often baring publishers that seem to be connected to fraud patterns! Thefore we assume that the affilinet network is not affected by the study, an assumption that was supported by many clients in discussions at the tactixx party.

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