Affiliate marketers the world over are keen for a bit of a re-brand. After the renaming of a popular affiliate marketing forum, you see so many affiliate managers calling their job ‘performance marketing’; as if to lend an air of credence to an ill-reputed industry.
Before delving into where the balance of power shifted in the affiliate world – let’s look at where things are today.
What is an average to small online business, with not much online knowledge supposed to do to launch an affiliate programme?
Perhaps Google affiliate programmes, read a little more about them, look for the largest network then immediately stop, and fret that they cannot afford the fees and also do not understand how to launch or indeed operate a programme.
Businesses aren’t stupid. They clearly understand trading and are commercially aware, hence them being in business in the first place. But they are not always experts in digital marketing.
What’s happened in affiliate marketing is exactly the same as in many other aspects of digital marketing, or driving, or fishing, or indeed anything else humans have created as a means to an end; it has evolved.
Evolution isn’t always a bad thing, everyone has to evolve, change, adapt, and most of all improve.
But what if change makes something more complicated? Less attractive? Less value for money? Some would argue this is what has happened to affiliate marketing.
Let’s strip away all the round tables on attribution modelling and cookie-less tracking and try to look at this from the perspective of a company looking to launch a programme. At this stage you aren’t interested in any of the glitzy stuff; you just want to know that was the guy who told you, ‘you will be paying only for performance’, right?
At the moment a businessman is told to pay to launch the programme – the larger networks commanding higher launch fees. They are then introduced to the network override, a payment per transaction based on the commission amount. This is sometimes followed up by a technology license fee, at which point the poor merchant is thinking “what’s going on?!”
Launch the programme and begin recruiting publishers and you see some of them want to be paid on per click basis too. Some want money up front to simply feature you on certain places on their websites. All of this quickly becomes confusing and overwhelming if you are new to this, and understandably so.
To play the devil’s advocate, everyone charging anything other than a commission at this stage would be doing so in the belief that they are adding value, and also time spent is something that needs accounting for.
Though the merits of this can be argued, and at times we would be supporting – the overwhelming impression of a closed and complicated circle engulfs the mind of businesses new to affiliate marketing.
Somewhere along the line everyone involved with affiliate marketing may need to have a moment of self-realisation and decide what the true worth of what they are doing is. Must every bit of value be charged for up front, or should we work to improve performance, collectively before declaring the worth of our output?
What is abundantly clear though is that the large publishers/affiliates, are now wielding more power than ever before. The large networks have so many programmes that actually do pay the set up fees they feel no need to reduce costs and wait for the sales to come in.
Many new businesses are not using the professional help they need in navigating these sometimes choppy waters. There are great returns to be made even now, with the right help and guidance.
For any affiliate marketing needs or queries please get in touch and we will be happy to guide you through the process.