Overhauling trends of affiliate marketing practices in 2015


Affiliate marketing is a burgeoning industry, but it still faces a lot of challenges, scrutiny and unanswered questions- especially in some developing markets. Here are some insights into what industry experts should look at in 2015.

While long associated with the online world, affiliate marketing has been around longer than the World Wide Web has had its presence and impact in the way we market. We've seen it take businesses in different directions, become abandoned and rife with skepticism, tweaked, reshaped and renamed to suit different classes of online entrepreneurship and the market economy. Despite how simple the conceptual foundation of this business is- defined as a kind of performance based marketing that enables merchants with more marketing exposure which is attained through the collaborative effort of networks and publishers (the affiliates who market a merchant's product to the latter's customers)- things managed to get complicated somewhere down the line. It can either aid you make more money or taint your reputable name. It can either make customers grow fond of an affiliate's efforts or curse the day they decided to click on a third party's links. However, there's a lot to learn from how end users experience the output of affiliate marketing and how the messy evolution of this business has been at the root of most complaints.

It's high time that we streamline the manner in which networks, advertisers and publishers come together once again for a more amicable year of affiliate marketing. These up and coming performance marketing trends shouldn't remain tangential but should be an integral part of the way you steer your business this year if you intend to take affiliate marketing more seriously.

How to make an affiliate's life easier


We wonder why affiliate marketing took some bludgeoning, but can we blame advertisers for having second thoughts? Take a look at some of the most common, and even successful, affiliate networks websites and how they operate on an overload of your senses. Everything from confusing acronyms to unintuitive interfaces, ambiguous procedures and differences in reporting make it less desirable for affiliates and advertisers. We're seeing more networks attend to these issues, but a lot are still lagging behind and there's still a lot of confusion surrounding even some of the most basic vocabulary that gets thrown around between respective networks, affiliates and advertisers. This year, a resolution affiliate networks should be working on is how to finally find some common ground and proper disclosure of events. What's in it for them and for you?

How affiliate networks are changing


Just as important is documenting how affiliate networks seek to change their traditional methods in unison. If the fragmentation of networks approaches has taught us anything, it's the need to become more consensual and transparent with each other- even the competition- about the role affiliate networks want to play in regards to selling performance products.

Remembering the gem of affiliating


Affiliate networks serve to bring merchants in closer contacts with affiliates who can further their exposure. We forget that the dawn of the Internet age made us all more global than we ever thought we could be. Yet, affiliates are still clinging on to what's local- at least in India. Affiliate marketing is the best way to grab an overseas opportunity! We see a demand pouring in from overseas customers who are interested in local products, but we're not all very sure how to harness all that global attention. It's been trial and error for the past decade, with only a few burgeoning franchises like Amazon going all out. Big names have their own big data resources to rely on, but what of low to mid-range companies? This is where network reliance comes in, as well as the potential to tap into data that identifies cross-cultural differences in addition to which affiliates are best suited to get the job done on a grand scale. There's a lot of data coming in and 2015 should see new ways of utilizing this data to suit the global scene.

Network compliance


As a content manager and affiliate representative, nothing disturbs me more than the wavering compliance of networks. Network compliance, or quality traffic, is the backbone of affiliate marketing and yet we're constantly battling between active and paused campaigns, re-routing traffic, re-evaluating what is an isn't allowed to be published across multiple platforms and switching between networks that focusing on where we take a merchant's products has become secondary to the technical hurdle. The less palatable aspects of affiliate marketing- the engine that drives traffic- is often ridden with nefarious, black hat web tactics, and we've lost sight of maintaining proper standards. A more truthful, macro approach to gaining quality traffic via network compliance is needed to avoid falling under the scrutiny of external search engine regulators and even larger governing bodies. Knowing this, could it be one reason why Flipkart recently hired a previous Google senior executive to aid in having a more serious direction of future mobile products?

A call for industry regulation


If alarm bells weren't already sounding due to the lack of eCommerce laws in India, they should be going off at a rapid rate for existing affiliate models that still haven't embraced the need for stricter regulation. Need we forget about the financial pressures that have come from affiliate models boasting incredibly high discounts that even eCommerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon have operated at a loss? We've gone past incentivisation, and have entered the territory of serious profit versus debt control. This issue needs to be tackled evenly across all affiliate marketing agencies and in parallel with the changes that are occurring before the encroachment of external regulation reaches the core of this industry. Now's the time to avoid questionable tactics and to entertain the maintenance of proper standards that are more in line with international marketing laws.

What do we do with incentivized traffic?


Feeding customers with cashback awards and high discounts sometimes reaching the full price of a product is incentivized traffic at its best, but it's also been the bane of profit in India's eCommerce segment. We have seen tremendous value come from offering discount coupons and directing customers to merchants offering those discounts, as much as we have seen the effect of offering exclusively unique discounts as an incentive to come back for more couponing. However, it still hasn't been clear enough whether or not these impressions have made a real impact. What we do know is that there are already plans to reduce coupon discounts to 20% by the end of 2015. Could this mean that there will be implications for affiliates who currently thrive on high discounts? And what of the intent behind driving incentivized traffic? Many affiliates have been turned down time and time again for delivering a high volume of users through CPA campaigns, short of making any sales. We need to think through the difference between performance, intent and what's waiting at the end of the line for merchants and networks who opt to pay their affiliates according to outdated CPA models.

Consolidating activity across multiple platforms


In India, players have been turning their attention more and more towards mobile shopping. We know that Indian consumers have evolved in the manner they like to shop online. It took a long time before Internet reached more rural towns in India, and a lot of that success is owed to the mobile adoption craze. Big players are correct in riding this wave too, coming up with mobile apps to help support an ever growing clientele, but it has also distracted us from understanding how we can effectively track and map out consumer browsing behavior and the transactions that are transferred from one platform to the next. Cross device tackling and reporting is probably the next hurdle the affiliate marketing industry will have to overcome, before this obsession with going mobile becomes unjustified.

Read Online VS Offline Affiliate Marketing


Comments

Author: Timmappa Kamat22 Mar 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

Affiliate marketing is the next best thing after AdSense for the website publishers. But will the affiliate marketing succeed in current scenario? I am forced to ask this because of the current trend of mobile phones. It is heard that the top Indian e-tailer Flip kart has been planning to shut down its website and become an app only platform. It is closing down its mobile website by next month and is on the verge of closing down the main website soon. So will affiliate marketing survive in this state ?

Author: Joanna Jaoudie23 Mar 2015 Member Level: Silver   Points : 5

I wouldn't go so far as to say that affiliate marketing will be less effective for mobile campaigns- it works just as well as long as both the networks and publishers are aware that they are promoting a different kind of content-on-the-go. The most important thing is for all networks, advertisers and publishers to work in unison together and to realise these changes when they happen so that we don't fall behind. In so far as your insights about Flipkart, I'd be interested to know where that is coming from? I haven't read anywhere that they plan on shutting down anything. In fact, Flipkart has just been investing more and more on its online platform- developing their mobile app has only been a part of that. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they are shutting down at all unless they wanted to operate at a loss.

Author: Joanna Jaoudie23 Mar 2015 Member Level: Silver   Points : 0

AH! Flipkart is going mobile-app only. (Just read the update). Well, it's a bold move- let's see how far they get with it!

Author: Timmappa Kamat23 Mar 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

My doubt, however remains unanswered. Now that Flipkart is going to be converted into an "App-Only" model - how will that affect the earning of affiliates?

Author: Joanna Jaoudie24 Mar 2015 Member Level: Silver   Points : 3

It will affect the earnings of affiliates because the current affiliate models don't support cross-over purchases (those that start on an app and continue the purchase on desktop or the other way around). The current conversion feeds also haven't been worked out for app-only programs either. There will have to be a complete change in the way that networks adapt to this change. Either that, or Flipkart will go back to developing their own affiliate program that takes these factors into account.

Author: Timmappa Kamat24 Mar 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

In any case most of the website owners and bloggers are already moving away from being affiliates of Flip kart and opting for Amazon. Flip kart has stopped or decreased the commission amount on the frequently purchased items .

Author: Joanna Jaoudie24 Mar 2015 Member Level: Silver   Points : 2

You're right about that! Earnings from Amazon have always been higher than Flipkart's- which is very demotivating indeed. Problem is that they know they will sell with or without an affiliate's help....

Author: Aman07 Apr 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

That's right to say, a person can earn more through his/her affiliate links of Amazon than that of FlipKart. Because FlipKart had decreased the amount of commission given to members so many bloggers are now opting for Amazon. But I would like to tell that a good blog is required to earn through your affiliate links of Amazon.

Author: Aman07 Apr 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 1

Without a good blog it will be difficult for you to earn good through your affiliate links of Amazon. So you need to first make sure to get a good blog.



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