On 26th July, Admitad organized their 2nd annual event on affiliate marketing in Bengaluru. It was an amazing learning opportunities for attendees. The event was kick-started by Neha Kulwal, CEO Admitad India. The event included three panel discussions and one keynote address. In this blogpost I have captured the key learning that I took away from the event.
Panel 1 – Building Blocks of Affiliate Program’s Success
They key points discussed in this panel were –
- Active vs Passive Affiliate – Whether a brand should deal with an Active affiliate or a Passive affiliate. Active affiliate is an affiliate who reaches out to the advertiser, while a passive affiliate is an affiliate who is reached by an advertiser. The pros and cons of both types of affiliates are equally applicable. It all depends on the nature and context of business. An advertiser should take a calculated approach.
- New users vs LTV of customers – What is better? Some business keep focusing on acquiring new users, while some are focused on milking their existing users and thereby improving Lifetime Value (LTV).
- Transaction source – Panelists from diverse business backgrounds shared their experience of transactions emerging from a desktop vs mobile site vs app. A business owner should keep a close eye on transaction source and accordingly optimize the efforts.
- No. of affiliates partners one should work with – Shreyansh, from Flipkart said they have stopped onboarding any new affiliate, as they have enough partners on board. While, its a good problem to have for an organization like Flipkart, it doesn’t apply for other organizations. A careful choice and mix of affiliate partners is needed for a fruitful business.
- Importance of affiliate network in overall digital marketing mix – Panel strongly felt that gone are the days when affiliate marketing received the paltry budgets, and mostly towards the end after majority of the budget was allocated to native channels like Google and Facebook. These days advertisers are evaluating affiliate marketing as a key strategy and the budgets allocated for it are increasing.
- Event tracking – Tracking of key events in an user’s journey is very key to every business. Advertisers should make conscious effort to track as many events as possible and make sense of them.
- Attribution model – The debate on choice of an appropriate attribution model is a never-ending one. Bet it any digital marketing conclave or event, this topic arises for sure. It is even more crucial in the affiliate marketing, as the entire payback and feedback mechanism is based on attribution models. The eminent panel agreed that both advertisers and affiliate partners should sort this in an amicable manner.
- Returns – In e-commerce businesses and especially those in fashion retail have to face the Returns issue. Hence, tracking of returns and reverse logistics cost need to be factored in while evaluating the success of overall affiliate marketing campaign.
- Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – CPA during initial and later part of business through affiliate marketing needs to be closely monitored and examined.
Panel 2 – A Question of Tracking
The second panel of the evening was focused on importance, relevance and necessity of Tracking in the affiliate marketing context. The panelists included – Sri Krishna, Gaurav Dhake, Ravi Bansal, Amit Raman. Abhijit Banerjee, from Admitad moderated this panel.
The key learning from this panel discussion were –
- Accuracy and reliability are Key factors for Tracking
- Tracking is the key building block for attribution modeling
- Real-time Tracking is improving not only at Impressions and Clicks but also on Feedback loop
- Mis-attribution of a conversion through an affiliate partner to some other digital channel (Direct / Organic / Paid) is a perennial issue. Hence, every touch point in the user’s buying journey should get weightage. Affiliates who work hard to create awareness, at the upper funnel, need to be compensated for their efforts. Multi-touch attribution is the need of hour.
- Fraud detection and tracking is not real-time, hence delays feedback loops, delays payments, reduces working capital and thereby increases fraud costs.
- Creative impact plays a crucial role even in affiliate marketing, like any other digital marketing channel
- Third party tracking tools – Awareness of tools is necessary for advertisers. It will boost acceptance of various SaaS products available in the market.
- Dependency on Google Analytics (GA) for attribution – Panelists were candid to agree that GA has highest acceptance in the industry as its free, enables unified audience population and its a holistic tool to track user journey and attribution. It requires least tech capability and supports implementation of multiple tags through GTM to make website light.
- Attribution window – Earlier the attribution was mostly 30 days. However, now advertisers are moving towards one day, seven days or even session based attribution window, which is win-win situation for both advertisers and affiliate partners.
- Incremental costs while scaling up business is usually lower in cacse of affiliate marketing compared to Google or Facebook.
- Need for an app – Brands that don’t have frequent repeat customers like JBL, Manyawar, donn’t need apps. A mobile msite is more than necessary but critical for them. People in India and globally still prefer desktop over mobile for completing transactions.
- Downstream compensation metrics – App installs don’t lead to retention or conversion. Make cohorts of app installs from publishers and track postback for 30 days. Hence advertisers move to CPA or CPS.
- Cross platform tracking – Increasingly user journey is becoming complex, leading to complications in tracking and attribution. Hence, cross-platform tracking is necessary.
- Device level targets – Publishers aren’t comfortable taking targets at device level. So, its necessary to track the performance of each channel, however it would be too much to push device level targets.
- A Good Affiliate Partner – Transparency, knowledge, tech preparedness differentiates a good network from another.
- Fraud detection tools are costly, so most of the startup aren’t in a position to invest in them, but rely on in-house tools to minimize damage.
- Audience sharing – Some advertisers are open to share organic audience pool with affiliate partner and work along with them to build lookalike audiences and widen their reach further.
- Incentives – Keeping incentives for affiliate partners transparent will help solve downstream fraud issues.
Keynote – Affiliate Marketing for Financial Sector
Dinesh Arora from Angel Broking delivered the keynote on ‘The worth of affiliate marketing for financial sector companies’. He delivered an insightful keynote in a humorous tone highlighting below key points –
- Affiliate partners are Agile and Innovative compared to large media channels.
- Affiliate Marketing is garnering 15% of digital budget.
- CPA in case of affiliate marketing is 50% of biddable platform.
- Custom KPIs like CPV, CPI, CPD, CPS etc. are possible with affiliates, which is a great flexibility.
- Advertisers should evaluate if an affiliate partner has own inventory. They should check if the campaign is run on a brand safe environment or not.
- Equally important for advertiser to share regular feedbacks. It leads to increased partner trust.
- Apply OTP, double verify leads to ensure good quality of leads are attained.
Panel 3 – Affiliate Inventories – Going beyond the obvious
Though being the last panel discussion of the evening, the panelists were enthusiastic in sharing their inputs on below lines –
- Affiliate inventories – Its often said that affiliate inventories are invisible to advertisers. However, the panel listed out various inventories like YouTube, Instagram, Deal website, Push Notifications, DSP, Coupon website, Emailers, Toolbars, Drop Shipping, Content Website, WhatsApp etc.
- Contribution of affiliate partners – Its a common apprehension that contribution by an affiliate partner remains more or less in the overall sales mix. In order to get over this trend, it was a panelists had a common view that affiliate partners should focus on increasing various inventory avenues. They should also explore more content marketing oriented inventories, as brands these days are more focused on Brand Safety aspects.
- Most valuable inventory – As per panel members, the most important and valuable inventory that is available to an advertiser is on their own site/app itself and not outside site – Email, SMS, Web Push or App Push. Advertisers should first study in detail their first party audience and make the most of them.
- Role of AI – Leveraging AI to analyze data is the new buzz term in the industry. However advertisers need to be more patient, as AI also takes time to learn and get trained. Advertisers should be open to explore more avenues basis the data analysis and identification of new customer trends.
- Browse and Cart abandonment are key campaigns. Those are the most low-hanging fruits that advertisers should first capitalize on.
- Role of Influencers – Content posted by influencers play a crucial role. Influencer’s belief, expertise and consistency towards a product category leads to user’s belief. Its important for advertisers to understand influencer’s true affiliation.
- Role of cashback sites – New generation users trust large players, but they find it hard to trust smaller players / startups. That’s when cashback sites come to rescue. They offer offer cashback option, which further drives new users. However, cashback websites and other channels cannibalize each other, hence attribution needs to be sorted.
The meet ended with a closing note and vote of thanks by Ksenia Pescherova, Global PR Head for Admitad. She highlighted how Admitad could join hands in announcing major partnerships and thereby driving win-win proposition for advertisers. Admitad has been active in PR space, by publishing around industry trends, influencer marketing, partnership with publishers, or client partnerships.
Overall, it was very well organized event and it had over 150 attendees from advertisers, publishers, agency partners. A well invested Friday evening with lots of learning for sure! Look forward to next year’s event.