When the world changes, good businesses evolve. In today’s performance marketing industry, this phenomenon is playing out in hyper-speed as the pandemic runs its course.
The biggest economic slowdown in living memory has seen advertisers and publishers scrambling to restructure their operations. With close connections to both, CPA networks have had to cope with these changes while also focusing on their own survival and evolution. Many networks have scaled back their activities and their teams, essentially hunkering down until the economic turmoil has passed. Others, like Perform[cb], have found ways to thrive amidst the altered circumstances: moving faster, working smarter, and taking market share.
Perform[cb] is an interesting network. They were ahead of the curve in bringing in new investment money three years ago, have been assertive in making acquisitions since, and are continuously innovative in developing their technology. It is as if they have consciously decided to keep evolving as a way to stay ahead of the pack.
Which brings us neatly to the subject of this article: the latest iteration of Perform[cb]‘s marketing platform, named PerformLEAP®. It promises to take Perform[cb] another step forward, offering new features designed to help both advertisers and publishers make more money and, over time, reach alignment by “right-pricing” traffic so that the value of every single click is maximized. On the surface, it seems to be just what a state-of-the-art marketing platform should be.
That’s the promise. Let’s see if it is delivered.
Thought Experiment: What Would Your Ideal Marketing Platform Look Like?
Imagine you could design a marketing platform from scratch. Naturally, you would make it easy and fast to use, with great reporting and lots of connectivity. But how would you design it so it helped you to do the most important part of your job, make more money for your organization? How would you create it so it worked better for both affiliate partners and advertisers?
Perform[cb]‘s answer is that you can only do so by aligning the interests of affiliates and advertisers at a much deeper level than simply one selling traffic to the other. But aligning interests is easier said than done in an industry where self-interest tends to rule. Perform[cb]‘s solution is to provide a set of tools to publishers that allows them to manage and segment their traffic more easily and accurately than any other platform, and then to leverage this improved segmentation by giving advertisers the means to report, optimize, and incentivize better traffic in ways that we haven’t seen before.
What you end up with is a platform that brings the interests of the advertiser and affiliate partner into alignment over time so that both earn more. The affiliate is able to monetize every click, with better quality traffic earning higher payouts, while the advertiser has full visibility into which traffic is profitable, and can reward it by increasing the payout on just the right traffic sources. During the discovery phase of development, Perform[cb] spent two years consulting with their advertisers and affiliates to see just what they wanted. PerformLEAP is the result of those conversations and, it has to be said, it presents a compelling vision of what is possible.
Modern software platforms tend to conform to a consistent design language and PerformLEAP is no different. It is clean and attractive, with everything being well-organized and easy to access. Perform[cb]‘s infrastructure is cloud-based which means it is responsive and provides reporting in real-time. All this is as expected. Where the affiliate-facing interface stands out from the crowd is in three key areas.
PerformPRIORITY Custom Link Redirection
This is a feature offered by Perform[cb] originally known as Multi-Level Offer Priority (MLOP). It provides flexibility and ease of use via the ability to custom redirect a single link. By creating a custom redirect, this presents another layer of automation in campaign management. Whether an offer is limited by budget, day-parting, or geo-targeting, PerformPRIORITY allows partners to prioritize offers; should the first priority offer reach its budget cap or pause for any reason, the second offer group will seamlessly be pushed live to receive that partner’s traffic.
For example, many finance campaigns allow multiple offers to be targeted using different geos and day-parts, enabling publishers to accomplish two things. First, affiliates can include several offers within a “Priority” group using the same link to ensure that every relevant geo is fully covered. Second, affiliate partners can include another set of offers in a “Secondary” group, that will automatically be swapped in if the first priority group is paused or capped.
We know from our interviews with Perform[cb]‘s affiliate partners that this feature is a big hit, allowing them to “set and forget” a group of offers that will automatically adjust through weekends or overnight without additional attention. The success of this feature and the feedback from Perform[cb] affiliates helped guide the development of perhaps the biggest innovation in this new platform: Weighted Distribution.
This feature has been a year in development following extensive consultation and feedback from affiliate partners, combined with Perform[cb]‘s own experience from working with the most popular commercially available network platforms. Weighted Distribution is a big deal for affiliates because it gives them a new level of flexibility in terms of how they can maximize ROI on every click-through. This feature also allows affiliates to keep all of their traffic within the PerformLEAP platform making workflow and optimization seamless.
Weighted Distribution is designed to work in tandem with offer rotation, allowing efficient control of the flow of traffic. Affiliates also have the ability to allocate a percentage of traffic to offer groups while testing others. Ultimately, this enables affiliates to drive consistent traffic to their top-performing offers, while increasing both their conversion rates and reputation within the affiliate marketing space.
API for Mobile
The third major area of innovation is the availability and flexibility of the API for affiliate partners; it has proven popular, especially with CPI partners. It provides the ability to get immediate visibility into new offers via PerformLEAP’s automated feed, and allows mobile affiliate partners to automate the launch of new campaigns. This means that affiliates can begin to test and optimize new campaigns without delay – an invaluable timesaver for high-volume affiliates.
Advertiser Interface & Real-Time Reporting
We have already mentioned that the look and feel of the PerformLEAP interface is what you might expect from a state-of-the-art affiliate and partnership management platform. Marketers using PerformLEAP (either themselves or via their trusted account manager) have full insight and transparency into their campaigns and, if they want, can adjust and optimize them at will.
The important aspect of this is that many of these new features are only possible because of the capabilities developed on the affiliate side. The improved traffic segmentation capabilities that affiliate partners now have directly enables advertisers to expand their audiences by providing granular targeting capabilities and payouts on the offer level. While the platform makes it easy for affiliate partners to prioritize multiple layered and weighted offers, advertisers can set tiered payouts to incentivize affiliates at all stages of the funnel. In short, both sides benefit from these new features.
Targeting & Traffic Segmentation
In a traditional model, advertisers run traffic on a one-to-one basis in the sense that all the traffic from a given source is routed to a single offer. The technology that PerformLEAP employs changes that model and allows advertisers to expand their target market. As advertisers build their offers they can leverage advanced segmentation tools and price every traffic source to its genuine value.
If an advertiser wants to pay more for desktop traffic on a Tuesday, they can. If they wish to allocate a test budget to a specific link-ID, or several of them, they can do that too. The flexibility is such that they are able to liaise more closely with affiliate partners and scale campaigns in collaboration with them. This results in traffic and offer alignment over time, both in terms of pricing and volume, in addition to newformed trust between the advertiser and affiliate.
Advertisers can also schedule detailed start/stop times and dates – to fit with call-center hours, for example – and can set budgets based on time periods or conversion amounts. They can even set up “budget groups”, in which several offers share a budget. This is a level of campaign control that advertisers have only dreamed about before now.
The hidden value behind all this new functionality for marketers is that it enables affiliates to run their offers more frequently because of the granular segmentation available at both ends of the conversion funnel. The advertiser can allocate more budget to a specific traffic type, and the affiliate partner can hone in on that traffic in order to benefit from that budget increase. These new platform features facilitate genuine alignment between the interests of the advertiser and the affiliate. This is a potential game-changer for the performance marketing industry.
Advanced Pricing Alignment
PerformLEAP provides advertisers the opportunity to adjust offer payouts at the link level. It’s a straight-forward concept that enables advertisers to prioritize their budgets toward better traffic, reinforcing the concept that quality is actively incentivized.
To understand how this works, imagine an advertiser is buying auto insurance leads. They are likely accustomed to being able to segment their traffic from an individual publisher via a wide range of targeting criteria such as device, weekday, and time of day. Now that marketer can also segment by cost or payout. If they value weekday traffic more highly, the advertiser can offer a higher payout and tailor the payout by individual traffic source and affiliate.
Over time advertisers will be able to create different buckets for segmented leads, utilizing granular targeting and efficient spend based on the consumer’s actualized CLV. Now for the first time, advertisers can incentivize affiliates to drive more high-quality traffic.
In this way, we can see that the benefits are not one-sided, as the affiliate gains too. Now affiliate partners can, for example, spend more on their media buys for the traffic that gives the best-segmented payout. If an affiliate has a traffic source for which the value aligns less with a particular marketer or campaign, they can still monetize it by negotiating a lower payout.
What we see here is real alignment between advertiser and publisher. The advertiser is motivated to dig deeper into their analytics because their Customer Lifetime Value, for example, can be directly related to the price paid for traffic from specific links and affiliates.
No review of a network platform like PerformLEAP is complete without touching upon perhaps the most important factor of all: the level of available support. This is an area in which Perform[cb] consistently ranks extremely high in the Blue Book survey, largely as a result of their tenured account managers and dedicated team of developers. All of their accounts are managed, meaning that support is readily available for both marketers and affiliate partners. With the new platform updates and features being released regularly, we feel that support is critical. As most advertisers will not have experience with marketing technology such as PerformLEAP, the opportunity to obtain guidance and education on in-platform best practices will be warmly welcomed.
Perform[cb]‘s PerformLEAP platform brings together several elements to make it a powerhouse for affiliate partners. It builds upon Perform[cb]‘s wide array of offers, and high levels of service, by providing innovative technology that offers tangible benefits. Weighted Distribution, PerformPRIORITY, and the API for mobile affiliates are stellar advances in helping affiliates not only survive, but thrive.
Even better is the way that the features designed for affiliates result in concrete advantages for advertisers, and vice-versa. Affiliate partners gain new functionality, helping them monetize their traffic more effectively, and the result is a cascade of benefits down to the advertisers whose offers they are running.
For advertisers, the granular targeting that is now available effectively opens up the target market, while being able to adjust payments on an individual basis creates true alignment between the two parties. Put these features together with Perform[cb]‘s veteran team of account managers and you have a powerful package for marketers that is unmatched across the industry.
In our view, PerformLEAP is a step ahead of any other network marketing platform in the industry, including the commercial “off-the-shelf” systems. It’s intelligent, well-designed, and incorporates genuinely useful innovation. PerformLEAP may not just be the best network tracking platform currently available – it might also be the best tracking platform for affiliates and marketers, period.