Networks have begun to pull back on programs and brands with sub-par reputations, and with good reason, knowing the impact that inferior programs have had on the reputation of the industry. Include the increased scrutiny from industry bodies and federal regulators and the pressure on networks and advertisers to be more selective about business models and fine print is further compounded.
Although the pullback on these programs has been met with some resistance from players on both sides of the fence, it is important to keep in mind that this is a short-term pain for a long-term gain. While it’s true that some of these programs have historically generated high payouts for affiliates, they have damaged the reputation of the industry and the consumers involved, and prevented bigger industry players from becoming more deeply involved with the performance marketing channel.
Even though weeding out the low-integrity programs with high bounties causes average payouts to decrease, the eventual entrance of higher quality campaigns from higher quality advertisers will result in more revenue for publishers over time.
The Butterfly Effect
Obviously, working today to develop long-term partnerships with legitimate advertisers that deeply care about customer value will create better long-term opportunities for publishers in the future. Established brands have deeper pockets and will provide long-term reliable revenue streams that publishers can stick with and optimize.
Affiliates should be thrilled by the fact that such a market correction today will improve the number of brand advertisers with great programs in the channel, increase the long-term viability of each program, reduce publisher risk and attain the nirvana of consistent payments.
By increasing the consistency and performance of the channel via building long-term relationships with established advertisers, rooting out of the shady players and attracting brand marketers into the space, we have the opportunity to make the performance channel realize its potential as an indispensable online brand building tool.
If We Want Brands, We Need to Attract Them
According to Affiliate Summit’s 2010 Affstat Report, brand awareness is one of the most important factors to affiliates when choosing a merchant, a close second only to payout amount. To continue to attract additional known brand advertisers to the channel, publishers must reset their short-term high payout expectations and develop long-term strategies for building their businesses with consistent revenue streams with trusted brands.
Brand advertisers want to work with professional publishers that see the long-term opportunities — not publishers that will move on to the next big thing in two weeks. In addition, increased brand participation will depend on the uptake of their offers, which may not always be as immediately compelling as some of the get-rich-quick promises affiliates have come to know and love from lesser known promoters.
By refocusing efforts on high-quality advertisers and programs and eschewing short-term gains in favor of long-term consistent profits, we will attract reliable, permanent and deeper-pocketed advertisers to the channel.
With this more balanced and even-keeled revenue focus, the industry and its affiliate publishers will be able to rely on more consistent payments and a future for the channel. We all need to make the conscious decision to commit to the sustainability of our revenue streams and the long-term success of performance marketing.