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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    from Internet Retailer Conference
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    Here at IRCE, I'm in a workshop around affiliates and along with 80% of the attendees, I'm sitting here with my jaw open because instead of offering ways to maximize your affiliate business, this workshop has essentially been a 90 minute rant about what scum-bags affiliates are and tons of data that are essentially telling retailers to scale back or do extreme policing of their affiliate programs.

    Why the anti-affiliate sentiment?
    I decided to cover this topic on CSE strategies, because with ChannelAdvisor's ShoppingAdvisor product, we've seen more and more retailers going direct with their top affiliates, and keeping the bottom-tier affiliates in affiliate networks for closer management. Retailers seem to be separating the wheat from the chaff.

    Barbara Hurd from Harry and David talked about how they are fighting affiliates that are doing bad things like saying they have a H+D coupon code, but then send people to competitor's sites.

    Vickie Updike from Miles Kimball - pointed to some research they did that showed affiliate drove only 17% NEW orders for them. In other words, 83% of the affiliate orders were essentially coming to MK were intercepted and MK had to effectively pay for orders they would have gotten anyway.

    George Michie went on a rampage and talked about the bad guys and their tricks such as:


    • PPC fiends - these guys violate your affiliate rules and do things like buy your keywords at night (night pirates), or use geo targeting to avoid your corp HQ and buy in other regions. You can catch these, but it's tough.
    • Coupon sites - these guys are trained by the consumer press (today show mentioned twice - evidently Matt Lauer is big on coupons)
    • Domain squaters - they buy things like plasmatvs.com and do lots of SEO and then charge for traffic to a bunch of affiliates.
    • Loyalty programs - eBates kind of programs essentially want to take an affiliate % from traffic you should be getting - avoid them.
    What's a retailer to do?
    At the end of the day, the panel seemed to be saying that it's time to drop the hammer on affiliate programs, cull out the bad guys and focus more on Web 2 kinds of activities like blogs, user-generated-content, etc.

    On the culling side, one of the panelists likened finding your 'good affiliates' like trying to find the good guys in prison.
    Bob Pets Warehouse
    Worlds Largest Pet Supply DataBase
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  2. #2
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Similiar discussion over here: http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=106451

  3. #3
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Won't it be great when the performance marketing association (made up of ex CJ parasite loving and pushing people) save our industry's image - the one that they F'ed up by not enforcing the CoC that they themselves wrote.

    But, yeah ... that's it - through another BHO at 'em, that'll fix it! The new affiliates will drive "loyal" consumer sales and instead of managing a channel with many small whiny affiliates you just deal with a few select loyaltyware cos ... yeah that's it! Problem Solved - Woo freakin hooo!!!

    (Worth Repeating, and some serious thought as well)
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  4. #4
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    What Haiko said. Plus...

    Since these are posted separately from the "should there be some association trying to boss us around" thread(s), I'll give my opinions on some of those points:
    At the end of the day, the panel seemed to be saying that it's time to drop the hammer on affiliate programs, cull out the bad guys and focus more on Web 2 kinds of activities like blogs, user-generated-content, etc.
    OMG Nooo, no no no!

    That panel is way behind the times. There was a time that blogs were just run by housewives who weren't trying to make money, and therefore didn't bother to be too tricky (also I presume they didn't sell Jack, after all, they weren't trying to make money!). And, that time ended about 4 years ago! Now everyone knows there's money in it, and that means that ALL the players are now in.

    Vickie Updike from Miles Kimball - pointed to some research they did that showed affiliate drove only 17% NEW orders for them. In other words, 83% of the affiliate orders were essentially coming to MK were intercepted and MK had to effectively pay for orders they would have gotten anyway.
    She's onto something. Many affs say they do better if the merchant has a known brand, to the point that some only want to promote already-branded merchants. But NO there isn't really a viable "solution" for it, at least not that I can think of. If you make terms so restrictive that you cut out that 83%, chances are there won't be enough left over for affiliates to bother promoting you--that 17% is usually so spread out that it's not worth the effort to go only after that segment. Not to mention that you'll look like a real a-hole and pretty clueless, too, if you say something like "you cannot appear in the SERPs under [general terms that can apply to us]."

    So it boils down to, does she want to throw away the 17% of new business, to avoid paying commish on the 83%?

    The fact that old customers will click a link because it says Miles Kimball isn't a "fault" with affiliates. In fact, it's not really a fault, period. It shows that MK's branding is good, and that their customers will deal with them again when reminded that they exist!

    They have a huge amount of brand recognition and a big old-customer base. So I think they're chasing moonbeams hoping that there's any advertising or promotional method that won't bring in lots of old customers along with the new.

    Domain squatters - they buy things like plasmatvs.com and do lots of SEO and then charge for traffic to a bunch of affiliates.
    That's not domain squatting. A name like plasmatvs.com is very general, and not something any merchant has a right to. If they're saying that's unethical, they're propagandizing in order to get people to give up doms that they'd rather have (or because they're just being stupid).

    The quality of the traffic would depend on the setup. But calling your site SomeGenericThing.com isn't "bad" in any way, in and of itself. If your site's about [some particular kind of products] than naming it accordingly is just using your sense!

    And of course, they charge for sending traffic to a bunch of MERCHANTS not affiliates, good grief that joker doesn't even know what is what, how did he manage to get on a panel!??

    Coupon sites - these guys are trained by the consumer press (today show mentioned twice - evidently Matt Lauer is big on coupons)
    Who gives a flying squirrel who they're trained by?! What the~?

    And in any case, the sites are not "trained" by the consumer press, it's the *consumers* who get the idea to go to coupon sites because of that. That guy is totally off the clue train judging by what you've said.

    In any case that gripe about the press seems to be purely politically/ideologically motivated with no basis in, well, anything that matters one hoot.

    one of the panelists likened finding your 'good affiliates' like trying to find the good guys in prison.
    If that guy is seeing such a VAST amount of crooks, I would say his program has gotten a rep for being crook-friendly.

    Barbara Hurd from Harry and David talked about how they are fighting affiliates that are doing bad things like saying they have a H+D coupon code, but then send people to competitor's sites.
    That's blighted.

    But are they H+D affs? It sounds like their competition is playing dirty, rather than that their own affs are nuking them.

    keeping the bottom-tier affiliates in affiliate networks for closer management.
    *spit take*

    If they're at CJ, LS, or Perf they will not have the results they seem to want, if they expect those networks to do "closer management." Those are the places to go when you want hardly ANY management!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager
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    Bob,

    I attended that session at IRCE as well and was amazed by the tone they took with respect to affiliates. The prison comment was classic. In general, I found the session remarkably unhelpful. They seemed to have one mind set of how a program should be run and they just set that as the mantra.

    Also, in the environment that we are in now, how could they have the one and only session about working with affiliates and not say anything about what was happening in NY? I was the one that asked that question during the Q&A session and I got the impression from their response that it just wasn't something they had fully thought through for the their program.

    Weird,

    Erika

  6. #6
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    She's onto something. Many affs say they do better if the merchant has a known brand, to the point that some only want to promote already-branded merchants.
    Right on Leader. This gets said too often, and too loudly around here.
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

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