Archive for February, 2009

The First AWin Academy For Affiliates

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Events

afftrainingday

Today we played host to 20 (relatively) new affiliates for our first Affiliate Training Day. Speakers from five different parts of the company delivered presentations about; the interface, reporting tools, using ShopWindow, creating PPC adverts and other topics.

My thanks to all those who presented and answered questions. It proved to be very interactive with lots of discussion points from delegates throughout the morning. The coffee break and lunch session were great opportunities to share ideas while everyone mingled together. It was a great demonstration of why we like to host events!

It will come as no surprise to learn that affiliates are far more gadget-orientated than our merchant delegates… for the first time at a training day there was a scramble for plug sockets! The majority of our guests had brought a laptop to take notes. Fortunately we had several extension leads and enough coins between us to keep the electricity meter fed :-)

Many thanks to all those who attended and if you have web-tool you want to share with the world, or some feedback about the day, then please add it as a comment.

David

AWin Create-a-Feed is Live

Written by Sam Surry on . Posted in Network News, Technology

Affiliate Window has launched their latest technological development, AWin Create-a-Feed. Built on the back of a number of affiliate suggestions this tool is available to all affiliates and should allow greater flexibility when accessing merchants’ product data.

Our old datafeed retrieval format is still available; however this new application brings with it many improvements including:

• Download a single feed of products by ShopWindow category
- Combine multiple categories and/or sub-categories for a tailor-made datafeed
• Download a single feed of products from multiple merchants
• Download a single feed of products by product brand
• Add or remove columns from your datafeed
• Re-order your columns to best suit your requirements
• Compress the file in to three different formats
• Dynamically updated manual URL
- Allows your system to automatically retrieve the latest product data within your chosen parameters

AWin Create-a-Feed can be accessed from the control panel within every affiliate account; click the Create-a-Feed link within the ShopWindow section. The new system is simple and intuitive; however a user guide is available to download here.

We will continue to listen to all affiliate feedback regarding this new application and consider its current format a work in progress. We encourage you all to use AWin Create-a-Feed sending any feedback to support@affiliatewindow.com.

We look forward to reading your comments and seeing AWin Create-a-Feed in action.

Kind Regards,

Sam.

Samantha Leigh
Head of Communications

Affiliate Census 2009: Results Available Now

Written by adamski on . Posted in Network News

Today sees the release of the results from the 2009 e-Consultancy Affiliate Census which can be downloaded via this link and also from the AWin affiliate and merchant interface. Whilst sectors within the advertiser side generally remain consistent, affiliates are in a constant state of evolution. The affiliate census provides a greater insight into this developing cycle of maturity and in so doing allows advertisers and networks to better tailor their services.

Since the first 2007 census, affiliates have definitely come of age. We have seen marked increases in perceived value, ROI, responsiveness and a desire to build solid, long-term relationships with advertisers which adds to the increasing professionalism of the affiliate channel.

Looking at the 2009 results, a much larger percentage of affiliates now rely on the industry as their only source of income with greater numbers owning their own businesses. We have also witnessed small 2-3 employee businesses flourish into healthy, well managed SMEs with over 20 staff.

With the influx of high calibre individuals across all areas of affiliate business, services have diversified and typically an affiliate has numerous promotional methods and wide-ranging traffic sources at their fingertips.

There is, however, a definite imbalance in the industry. It is still affiliates who apply to merchant programmes and no facility exists for merchants to accurately seek out the affiliate “gems” (and this doesn’t just refer to the high profile specialists or the long established experts either). Whilst a merchant is obliged to be completely transparent to affiliates including providing performance statistics, creative and details of promotions, there is little expectation (or opportunity) for affiliates to do the same.

Over the course of this year and in an effort to redress this, the industry needs to provide advertisers with greater transparency on the origin of sales through improved affiliate profiling and analytics. Affiliates need a platform from which to demonstrate their portfolio of sites and services so merchants can select appropriate partners.

With a greater number of advertisers not just entering the affiliate channel but embracing it, the message of generating scalable ROI on actual sales is gaining ground. Old concepts and methodologies have to change though in order for this to be truly appreciated. Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Econsultancy said it all perfectly in a blog post called “New metrics and business models for digital publishing – selling outcomes not inputs?” and I hope he doesn’t mind if I urge you all to have a read.

Adam Ross
Client Services Director

The Incre-Mentality

Written by adamski on . Posted in AWin Advice

I know incrementality isn’t a word but it is a suitable title for this blog post.  As the recession bites and merchants look even more closely at ROI, the affiliate channel seems to suffer despite it being touted as the most cost effective.  Whether it be de-duplication policies, questioning of different traffic types or sales validation, affiliates are constantly coming under intense scrutiny.

In particular, I want to tackle the over used argument that affiliates must only deliver “incremental” sales.  We live in an era where customers interact with multiple media channels.  The average consumer may read the newspaper where they are exposed to display advertising, watch the television where they see numerous commercial breaks whilst at the same time browsing the internet on their laptop where affiliate advertising, amongst other methods, is hugely prevalent.

For a large brand it is quite conceivable many channels will have contributed to a customer’s buying decision.  Therefore, tasking affiliates with delivering pure incremental sales is not only an unfair demand but probably a complete impossibility.  This certainly calls into question the de-duplication methods used across channels, an area that definitely requires greater transparency.

In recent years the industry has made great strides in eliminating unethical activity.  There is still some way to go and 24/7 brand and spyware monitoring should now be considered essential tools for any affiliate network.  Certainly at Affiliate Window, whilst we can never eradicate this activity, it is now a much more manageable problem compared to 3-4 years ago.

The recent voucher code initiative by the IAB, where networks collaborated to devise policy, was a pivotal moment in the development of this industry.  Whilst it has certainly created a great deal of controversy, inter network communication has improved and the vast majority of voucher code directories are now compliant with IAB guidelines.  This has enhanced the user experience on these sites and therefore increased the legitimacy of sales from this channel.

I must caveat this by saying it is by no means perfect and ongoing improvements are required, but it has been a positive start.  With all networks fully supportive, I can only see this improving throughout 2009.

It is easy to let the “incremental” argument cloud one’s judgement of voucher and cashback affiliates.  If used correctly however, both channels can be hugely valuable.  Voucher code and cashback sites could no doubt stand accused of being weaker at new customer acquisition and better for customer retention but this shouldn’t be seen as a negative, it just needs to be recognised and considered when deciding on commercials.  Perhaps merchants who place a lower value on the customer retention qualities these sites offer may wish to pay these affiliates an adjusted commission.  Undoubtedly, there is value in these channels, it just varies from sector to sector and needs careful consideration.

The better quality sites already offer merchants excellent ways to direct consumers to specific products and engage them with high quality email creative.  As the industry matures, I have no doubt the innovative affiliate community will devise improved methods to assist merchants in attracting and targeting customers.

What is certain is that traffic to incentive based sites is on the rise.  As the economy worsens, the bargain hunters increase.  Rather than overtly criticising these channels, merchants should see them for what they are and pay them what they deserve, whilst at the same time developing more innovative customer retention strategies of their own.

CPA should be seen as a high one off cost but with better site stickiness, data capture and email campaigns merchants can play their part in encouraging customers to go direct, rather than getting frustrated when customers seek what they are looking for from alternative sources.

Now is the time for a change in mentality so merchants can dismiss concerns about the prevalence of incentive sites and start developing better strategies to capture the customers referred from the affiliate channel for life.

Adam Ross
Client Services Director