Augmenting your Tech Stack thru Affiliate

Non traditional publishers are enabling  Brands & Retailers to test new types of conversion & optimization tools thru the affiliate channel.  

Publishers in today’s affiliate marketing ecosystem are using technology in new ways to drive higher conversion rates & user engagement.  Savvy advertisers can leverage the expertise and innovation of these Publishers, and as a result augment their technology stack with minimal risk all while increasing sales and profitability.

An effective affiliate strategy for Advertisers should have these types of Publishers, who are focused on technology innovation, in the mix as they look to grow their programs.  This provides the opportunity to do many things including helping grow revenue, drive new customers, and optimize conversion rates.

Through the Affiliate channel, Advertisers have a vehicle to get things done quick & efficiently as we are now at the forefront of ushering in new types of distribution where we can start to implement things like data collection, personalization, chat bots, and more.

The Opportunity

There is a plethora of great technology solutions out there today, in a wide variety of channels, that can support growth & innovation for Advertisers.  Yet, when you think about new technology often times a big challenge is the overall complexity.  There is often an install of some type, there is negotiation of legal agreements, establishing & tracking economics, and working through an entire business development process. One of the beautiful things about affiliate marketing and partnership marketing is the infrastructure for all of this already exists.  And along with the infrastructure, through networks, platforms, and agencies, you essentially have access to a library of potential partners to choose from who are just a phone call away.

As retailers continue to fight to keep up with Amazon and are looking for new and innovative ways to provide the user with a great online shopping experience, the ability to do everything at once can be challenging in a variety of ways, but here’s where the affiliate/partnership channel can help move things along much more quickly.  Rather than battle internally for engineering resources, budget, or time from legal – the infrastructure of affiliate has what we need today to evaluate & test new partners, measure performance, and do it efficiently & transparently.

Some Publishers do ask for some type of install of their own, but the majority of the structure needed still exists, and with more and more networks building and deploying universal container tags – the ability for Publishers to piggyback on those has helped lessen this friction.

Using affiliate, you’ve now reduced your time to acquisition by months and sometimes even longer.  And if it wasn’t the right fit for you – you’ve managed to fail fast and avoid months of work.  As an Advertiser, these technology partners can be core to your strategy or in some cases complementary – but Publishers are a perfect way to test into a decision on whether or not to use it short or long term.  A simple agreement will help you establish a partnership with minimal back-and-forth while testing and learning new things.

This may seem cliché or even a bit “101” but it is worth calling out the great progress we have seen with publishers in the channel as they continue innovate.  They do it nimbly and often with a keen understanding of the challenges not only brands & retailers face, but challenges end consumers face and thinking about how to solve those problems for all parties involved.

In Practice

There are many examples of this out there.  One I love is an app called Bixy.  I love it, because full transparency, I’m an Advisor for them!  But they leverage the ability to transparently collect user opted in data via their app in exchange for providing an offer to the end consumer while the Advertiser benefits from the data they collect.  Affiliate is the infrastructure on which this value exchange can happen.

Another example is Personali – a personalization engine that allows a brand or retailer to customize the coupon or offer they’re providing to the consumer – leveraging a customer offer while better managing margins.  You can leverage their technology to build in more intelligent personalization capabilities than you could build yourself, or on a quicker timeframe if your team is developing it.

And some of the core foundational publishers we know and love continue to innovate – be it coupon & deal sites expanding their offerings, or the card linked technology Rakuten (my former employer) has built and scaled.

I’d even consider Influencer platforms to be part of this trend, especially those using affiliate to manage the core economics while providing enhanced discovery and editorial management for brands looking to capitalize on this distribution.

Beyond Affiliate

Another key benefit is that as an Affiliate manager for an Advertiser, as you look to reposition affiliate internally, this will show your peers and senior leadership how affiliate goes beyond the traditional publisher model and provides new and innovative partners that can help grow your entire business beyond just one channel.

I encourage everyone to think about this beyond just “the affiliate channel”.  This is truly a partnership channel. From a marketing perspective or a customer acquisition perspective think about the publishers in your program and think about how they could reach new customers in places that you were not looking today or help you convert customers more efficiently thru the product & technology innovation they bring from their businesses.

Affiliate is a great way to embrace new opportunities such as improved site conversion, mobile app performance, personalization, retargeting, influencer, and more.  The Publishers in your program are on the cutting edge of innovation and are always thinking about what’s next.   Leverage your program for this and use the channel to identify the right partners to work with transparently & efficiently.