In case you missed them, we have been pleased to announce over the last two weeks our Blue Book top ranked networks for 2020:
These are the best performance marketing networks in the world and are worthy standard bearers for the industry. We are proud to recommend them to you.
This year’s survey was one of the most successful ever, with high levels of engagement from both advertisers and publishers. As we analyzed the responses, four insights crystallized from within the data:
- increasing care taken in network selection;
- ability to invest in tech a key competitive advantage;
- M&A activity to accelerate;
- high levels of service demanded by advertisers.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
- Advertisers & Publishers Showing Care In Network Selection
Affiliate marketing is a key monetization strategy for many startups and larger publishers now, while for advertisers it is becoming a standard part of the marketing toolkit. But as pay-for-performance grows in importance, it means potential clients and affiliates are being more careful about selecting networks with which they may choose to partner. New networks are struggling for traction as experience, bespoke tracking platforms and the ability to scale quickly become more important.
- Money Matters
The Blue Book has always tried to promote excellence in the industry, regardless of network size. We have often recognized smaller, boutique networks that do superb work, rather than simply promoting the idea that bigger is better. More and more though, we see that the need for tech investment and innovation is allowing networks with deep-pockets to take a larger share of business, and votes. The result is that smaller networks are under greater pressure than ever in their fight to survive, and we see this as an increasing rate of churn in the lower levels of the Blue Book tables.
- M&A Activity To Increase
Following on from point #1 above, we expect M&A activity in the industry to increase still further. We have already seen significant venture capital and private equity investments into leading networks. As customer information becomes ever more valuable, new types of companies are going to find affiliate marketing an attractive route to acquisition of first-party data. In such a market, as more networks change hands, expect to see not just increasingly aggressive competition for business – the Blue Book survey had multiple anecdotes of networks aggressively slashing fees to attract business – but also more networks juggling several brands at once.
- Service Wins
For advertisers especially, quality of service trumps all other concerns. Of course, advertisers want reliable tracking and terrific reporting, but what really rocks their boat is knowing that when they call, their issues are dealt with quickly by someone who knows what they are doing. Look at Rakuten, for example, with their entire company ethos essentially based upon the Japanese concept of “omotenashi”, or service ad hospitality. Or MaxBounty with their high-touch customer service and new advertiser-facing interface. Networks have to able to run successful campaigns, of course, but those are table stakes. For networks to win in this environment, they need to retain staff in order to provide expert service.
The industry is growing, professionalizing and consolidating. These are positive trends for 2020.