Performance marketing is on a roll. Big data is finally giving tech-forward networks a real competitive advantage. Major advertisers are increasing their performance-based marketing spend. But what about publishers? What do they want and need?
It has always been the case that 90% of affiliates who try their hand at performance marketing are unable to make a go of it. It’s not easy: modern digital marketing has a lot of moving parts, and it is very difficult for newbies to develop the huge skill-set necessary (even though I could introduce you tomorrow to 200 “gurus” who will claim otherwise).
The fact is that the publisher side of the industry is professionalizing just as quickly as are networks and brands. Here in San Francisco it is not unusual to find new startups partly- or mostly-basing their revenue projections on affiliate offers, backed by dozens of staff and millions of VC money. I recently met with the leadership of a $1 billion research company. They do almost $15 million a year in CPA commissions just as a sideline on the traffic they generate for their main websites. Affiliate marketing is now big business.
So how do advertisers and networks attract this new breed of tech-savvy publishers? Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, it comes down to money, but with the twist that sophisticated publishers understand that profits build over time and depend upon medium- to long-term relationships.
They’re not seeking a two-month Acai berry campaign followed by a flight to the Caymans. They want exclusive offers that have been tested and optimized before they’re introduced to the market, rock solid financials and tracking platforms that take some of the work away from being a publisher. Being an affiliate is hard, even with a staff of 20, so any help that a network can give in terms of campaign optimization, full traffic coverage with relevant offers and ease of campaign management is worth a great deal.
Publishers are still the heart and soul of the affiliate marketing community. As the industry has matured, so too have their needs and wants. Advertisers and networks have it in their hands to do more than simply attract hundreds of newbies: give publishers what they need to make money.