I sat down with John Ardis, Valueclick’s VP of Corporate Strategy (who’s company owns affiliate network Commission Junction) to talk turkey about the current state of the market. I challenged John by making statements like, “there’s very little if any innovation in affiliate marketing” and “affiliate marketing budgets are being cut — consistently.” John admits that some advertisers build a sense of resentment with affiliates over time — based on customer ownership issues and strong desire for incremental sales. John speaks plainly and boldly to the issue. That’s why I love the guy 🙂
After having helped get it revved up, I’ve been beating up online affiliate marketing for the last few years. That’s not to say that its proponants haven’t hit back — they have. From long-time affiliate and affiliate manager, Lee Gientke to my good friend John Ardis of Valueclick Corporation (VCLK) there’ve been a handful of people good enough to argue my points… and argue them well. Here’s John…
Great interview. Having worked with the large networks for 8 years…the reality of the large affiliate networks is the people they have working with affiliates on the publisher level aren’t really able to train or coach affiliates because they lack the experience and education in SEO, PPC Management, content, HTML, etc to really be effective at working with affiliates that want the help. No advertiser should rely on the “network” to grow their program.
Being innovative with motivating your affiliate base is key to motivating more affiliates to become producers.
Advertisers still aren’t doing a good enough job at managing and working with the affiliates on the grass-roots level. Too many companies focus on the big affiliates and don’t give a crap about the little guys, which is where the broad-base of sales volume can come from. We do very intense affiliate management and I can tell you that I hear all the time no one reaches out to the affiliates to really help them. More free tools and techniques should be provided.
Advertisers should be investing money and resources into growing their affiliate programs, instead of focusing on possible lost sales. Advertisers should make it as lucrative as possible for affiliates in order to inspire them to producer more. The big networks have never really catered to affiliates which is why affiliate marketing isn’t actually bigger than it is now. They want to fucus on creating publishers out of web properties which is good, but they have historically have neglected smaller-time publishers.
No you can’t just use one search affiliate and go from there because other affiliates will find out and want in, its a bad strategy.
CEOs always want more performance-based revenue but they usually aren’t willing to payout more, work to increase site conversions, liveralize their search policies, or doing other things that can increase affiliate production. Especially in this current economy, more needs to be done to grow affiliate programs. I love it how company just expect their affiliate channels to grow on their own or with lame management.