Blue Book Panel: Interview with Melissa Feemster by Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book, November 10, 2015 In five year’s time, will the CPS side of the performance marketing industry be bigger in the USA than it is now? If so, what will drive that growth? The CPS space has only growth ahead. For example, we’ve seen the evolution of Publisher models over the past few years and believe they will continue finding new ways to innovate and reach consumers through mobile and social channels. Part of why I love the industry is that it is hard to predict exactly how it will change, but I am positive growth and significant change await us in 2016 and beyond. Networks play the role of setting up their partners – both Advertisers and Publishers for success in new ways. We create the platform for innovation where more money can be generated, and new business models can be created. Because we are backed by one of Forbes’ most Innovative Companies in the world, you can count on Rakuten Affiliate Network to drive the innovation for the industry throughout the next five years. A sneak peak – commissioning changes, new reporting, and new tools – all with the goal of making being a publisher easier and more profitable. To put specific numbers around the next five years’ compound annual growth rate, Rakuten Affiliate Network has commissioned a Forrester study to update their last growth forecast. How can an advertiser tell the difference between a good network and a poor one? Advertisers should look for scale, stability, experience and compliance rigor to determine the strength of a network. Scale should be in publisher volume, breadth and depth as well as in a neighborhood of similar Advertiser partners. Established scale means you will benefit from a network effect of growth and choice. Make sure your vertical is well covered with specialized publishers and with other advertisers so that the network can provide rich benchmarking. Scale leads to stability as well. Be sure the network has large advertisers who push volume levels so that you are positive their systems are stable and well positioned to get through your busy season. Experience means the ability to provide strategic guidance based on historical data. Look for a tenured client service and leadership team that knows the industry inside out. Finally, a compliance focus is essential. Look for a combination of technology and experienced team members at the network. Be sure that the network has rigorous processes in place. In the end, however, often times it also comes down to a feeling of partnership and a demonstration that the relationship can sustain many years ahead. Are affiliates right to worry about their commissions being affected by shaving and scrubbing? If so, what should they do about it? Affiliates should always seek to receive appropriate credit for their traffic. They should ensure the network has rigorous compliance practices in place. And, they should open a dialogue with their advertiser partners so that they understand the advertisers’ attribution logic and range of offers available. What do you see as the key differentiators between the leading CPS networks? Scale, technology investment, focus on innovation, and availability of capital separate the leading CPS networks in the space today. Is it possible for the performance marketing industry to police itself in any meaningful way? It’s definitely possible, and it’s happening! Rakuten Affiliate Network has invested in attribution tracking technology, backup tracking that advertisers can install to ensure enhanced accuracy, and compliance rigor. Also, the network effect of scaled advertiser and publisher data passing through our analytics platform helps us identify fraud and trends to watch. Filed under: eCommerce, Revenue Tagged under: affiliate marketing, Affiliate network, CPS Network, ecommerce, Interviews, performance marketing About the Author Chris Trayhorn, Publisher of mThink Blue Book Chris Trayhorn is the Chairman of the Performance Marketing Industry Blue Ribbon Panel and the CEO of mThink.com, a leading online and content marketing agency. He has founded four successful marketing companies in London and San Francisco in the last 15 years, and is currently the founder and publisher of Revenue+Performance magazine, the magazine of the performance marketing industry since 2002.