Archive for July, 2010

Digital Window: Protecting Our Affiliates

Written by Sarah on . Posted in Network News

With the announcement regarding DGM following on from the recent news of iLevel, affiliates may naturally be concerned about how protected they are from these events. With this in mind I’m hoping to allay any concerns our affiliate or merchant partners might have by giving a bit more visibility on our processes and the company. I would just like to add that this is not meant to denigrate any other process or detract from the sad state of affairs surrounding DGM but to answer some of the questions raised regarding the safety of network payments to affiliates.

Affiliate Window operates a system that ensures affiliates can be paid as swiftly as possible. We pay our affiliates on all validated commissions (with no claw back), twice every month and in the last 10 years have only been late by a couple of days on three occasions and each time these were tech related. We work hard with merchants to ensure they validate their pending transactions in a timely fashion and validate frequently. This often means that between transactions being validated and merchant invoices being paid, affiliate payments are due. In order to facilitate paying affiliates in advance of being paid ourselves we need two things;

a) A very healthy cash flow position – Currently Affiliate Window has a 95/100 credit score with ample funds to cover the affiliate payments, regardless of being paid.

b) A level of comfort that the network will be paid – In this instance Affiliate Window pays a considerable amount (6 figures annually) to secure credit insurance against every merchant and this is at no cost to affiliates or merchants.

The process of securing credit insurance allows us to assess the risk potential for each merchant and communicate this clearly to affiliates. This is via the traffic light system;

Green – The merchant is within their credit insurance limit and Affiliate Window will pay all validated transactions on the next payment run to affiliates. This process ensures affiliates only have to wait a period of 2-4 weeks from validation date to be paid their commission due.

Amber – This merchant has breached their credit insurance limit and therefore all validated transactions will remain ‘on account’ and paid out to the affiliate once Affiliate Window has received payment.

Red – This merely indicates that the merchant may be in difficulty and we would advise not promoting as payment may be ‘at risk’.

As of today we have 73% under Green status, 26% under Amber status and less than 1% under Red status.

Of the 3 scenarios above, Green status protects the affiliate fully. If the merchant were to become insolvent any financial impact would be on Affiliate Window as we would already have paid affiliates. In cases of Green and Amber status the first £3k is covered by Affiliate Window with any remainder claimed back through our credit insurers. If a merchant were to move to Amber status and then become insolvent we would cover everything up to their credit threshold with anything above that being subject to normal creditor terms. Considering the level of credit insurance per merchants varies from £3k (the limit Affiliate Window covers) up to £2m, this offers a significant level of additional cover for our affiliates in the advent of a merchant becoming insolvent. Total credit insurance cover is in excess of £10m per month. Only when a merchant is on red status will affiliates be unlikely to receive commissions, but again this is subject to any credit insurance allowance or payments received by the network.

Implementation of our AWin Index and the traffic light system have been instrumental in helping merchants appreciate the impact that quick validation times and faster invoice payments have on the profile of their programme and subsequent ‘uptake’ from affiliates. With many merchants wishing to operate extended payment terms, many agencies having limited or no creditworthiness and the pressures of the current economic climate, we feel that our process offers the highest level of protection for affiliates.

Our acquisition of buy.at has gone very well but plans to align the financial operation fall into 2011 so they currently operate a separate payment process whereby affiliates are paid 2 months in arrears regardless of whether the merchant has paid or not. Again buy.at have a track record of paying affiliates when merchants have become insolvent and whilst this is not always a guarantee, both networks have a similar outlook on protecting affiliate earnings and also identifying and communicating ‘at risk’ merchants as soon as possible.

Digital Window is trading profitably with profit before tax of £2m in the 6 months to 31 December 2009. The last audited accounts at 31 December 2009 show a strong financial position with Total Assets of £18.4m, including cash of £8m. Our company registration number is 04010229 for those who wish to verify this personally.

In addition Digital Window’s ultimate parent company is Axel Springer AG – a major German media group with annual revenues of EUR 1.6bn (billion), profit before tax of EUR 400m and Total Assets of EUR 2.6bn (billion)

Unfortunate as the incident is surrounding DGM we must ensure that the wealth of knowledge and experience held within the network is not lost. Digital Window has aspirations for its continual development over the coming years and would like to offer the opportunity for any interested candidates to contacts us at adam.ross@digitalwindow.com.

I trust this communication has helped to add some visibility as to the network’s financial position and policy for protecting partner earnings. This is not to say that things cannot be improved and we will continue to invest in new opportunities to strengthen this position.

Kind Regards

Mark Walters

Digital Window Announces Merger with zanox

Written by Lisa Chaikin on . Posted in Network News, PR & Press Releases

Axel Springer AG and the Swiss PubliGroupe AG bring their majority shareholding in Digital Window, the UK market leader for affiliate marketing, into their common subsidiary company zanox. Combined, they comprise the European market leader for performance-based online marketing under the umbrella of the zanox group.

With annual revenues of approximately €323 million in 2009, the group comprising zanox, Digital Window and buy.at lies well ahead of its competitors in Europe. Against the prevailing market trend, the company group achieved substantial growth in 2009.

Philipp Justus, CEO of zanox: “With Digital Window, the zanox group becomes the largest company for performance-based online marketing in the UK. Combined with our leading position in Continental Europe, we are now also the leading performance marketing network at European level. As a result, we offer our advertisers even greater reach, as well as direct access to all European markets. Our publishers benefit from new and attractive programmes.”

The strength of the group’s market position is also demonstrated by the scale of its advertiser network: The merger with Affiliate Window and buy.at adds a further 1300 international customers to the total of over 2000 advertising customers of zanox.

Within the framework of the merger, market presences will be arranged according to geographical responsibilities, with client accounts transferred into the strongest respective division of the network. In Continental Europe, the zanox brand will remain in overall lead including the Scandinavian and Dutch customer base of buy.at. The group’s future presence in the UK will work exclusively under Affiliate Window and buy.at. Therefore, in the future, zanox’s UK client base will be served by Affiliate Window.

“Aside from the ability to share publishers and advertisers with this extended reach, we now have the opportunity to pool technical resources for joint development projects ensuring we can drive innovation at an even faster pace, ultimately creating new opportunities to add value and generate revenue,” says Kevin Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Digital Window.

-Ends-

For more information please contact:
Lisa Chaikin
PR Manager, Digital Window

e: lisa.chaikin@digitalwindow.com
t: 020 7553 0333

Digital Window’s 1st Round Table Event

Written by Lisa Chaikin on . Posted in Events, PR & Press Releases

St Martins Lane Hotel was the setting for Digital Window’s first Round Table discussion yesterday, hosted by our Strategy Director and IAB AMC Chairman, Kevin Edwards.

The objective of the day was to facilitate discussions between leading members of the affiliate community regarding the most pertinent industry topics, including the current state of the affiliate channel, potential future challenges, collaboration between agencies and networks, and valuing clicks.

Attended by merchants, affiliates, agencies and networks, many of whom were A4U 2010 Award winners, the conversations drew upon the extensive expertise within the sector and fuelled interesting debates all around.

The entire exchange was recorded and is currently being converted into a free downloadable podcast which will be hosted on the iTunes platform. We’ll post a comprehensive write up of the event, with key highlights and comments, together with the podcast next week.

To lighten the mood and unwind as the discussion came to a close, attendees participated in a fun cocktail-making class in the hotel’s Light Bar where they became bartenders and created some delicious concoctions.

Photos from the day can be found here.

For more information please contact:
Lisa Chaikin
PR Manager, Affiliate Window

e: lisa.chaikin@affiliatewindow.com
t: 020 7553 0333

Our World Cup Winner!

Written by Sam Surry on . Posted in Network News

In addition to our weekly Spot the Ball game cards, Digital Window has also been running another affiliate incentive across the World Cup campaign. For those that don’t remember the details, you can refresh your memory by reading our Football Fever blog post from May of this year.

Early last week both the Affiliate Window and buy.at tech teams began crunching the numbers to provide me with a list of all the eligible entrants and then in a very sophisticated and high-tech manner (!) we randomly selected one name from the list.

I’m delighted to report that the lucky affiliate, who had the drinks delivered this weekend so may still be feeling the side-effects, is David from Travelpixel. Congratulations!

Later today we will also be announcing the name of our final Spot the Ball winner so watch this space. :)

The First Steps in Integrating Affiliate Window & buy.at’s Technologies

Written by Lisa Chaikin on . Posted in Network News, Technology

Digital Window has just released new functionality making it easier to access buy.at and Affiliate Window accounts from the new administration area, known as Darwin, in addition to the capability for affiliates to easily sign up to the sister networks from their respective management areas.

These new features are the first of many that affiliates and merchants from both networks will benefit from as we utilise the best technologies from each platform.

Simple access to management areas

On the ‘manage accounts’ page within Darwin, users are able to enter their buy.at login credentials to allow all accounts associated with that email address to be listed alongside their Affiliate Window accounts. This makes it easier for affiliates and merchants to access both their buy.at and Affiliate Window management areas by allowing access to both platforms through one interface.

Simple network sign up

Affiliates from Affiliate Window who don’t operate on buy.at have the option to create an account by following the link on the user homepage in Darwin. buy.at affiliates who would like to create an Affiliate Window account are now able to do so within their management area; an option can be found in the interface. Some of the fields within the forms are auto-populated with the individual account information to speed up the sign up process.

These new features make it even easier for affiliates to take advantage and start promoting the long list of merchant affiliate programmes that are available on both networks.

For further information please contact:
Michael Newman
Product Manager

Michael.newman@buy.at
+44 (0)191 222 97 58

Latest IAB Affiliate Marketing Council Updates

Written by Kevin Edwards on . Posted in IAB

June’s Affiliate Marketing Council meeting saw a bumper turnout of more than 50 affiliate, merchant, agency and network employees for what proved to be one of the liveliest meetings to date.

Top of the agenda was behavioural retargeting and de-duplication against natural search. These are two subjects that have recently come to the fore of affiliate marketing and will require further discussion by all the networks who are members of the Council, to decide on whether we pursue a collective approach.

Behavioural retargeting (BR) is an interesting topic as it deals with the type of promotion not usually seen within the affiliate arena. For those who don’t know, BR serves banner ads for advertisers whose sites consumers have previously visited but failed to purchase from. In other words, there was an obvious interest in the products or services offered by an advertiser yet the consumer didn’t transact, and therefore in an effort to close the sale relevant banner ads are served on portals and publisher sites after the advertiser site has been visited. Many BR companies currently operate on a CPC model and deal directly with advertisers but some are now looking to turn their attention to affiliate networks as they recognise they offer easy access to thousands of advertisers.

While this could expand the reach of affiliate marketing, looking deeper into the issue raises a number of questions that we’ll need to address. Some of these points were discussed at last week’s meeting and this short piece can’t do justice to the depth of debate that is needed. But at Digital Window we’re inclined to believe the key point is on what we would term ‘cookie weighting’.

BR companies are serving up (potentially) millions of impressions and have required networks to agree that they will run post impression (or post view) cookies on the programmes they promote to make the activity commercially viable. So assuming PI/PV cookies are in place what cookie hierarchy should exist?

There is a general consensus that PI/PV cookies are a ‘softer’ action; a click carrying far more intention to engage with the product or advertiser. At Digital Window we strongly believe click is king, overwriting PI/PV cookies whilst not being overwritten by the impressions that may be served afterwards.

This issue was discussed in more detail on the A4UForum a few weeks back and some of the networks including Affiliate Window gave some insight into their current thinking on the subject. Presently there’s collective debate amongst the networks as to whether there should be more of a standardised approach towards working not only with BR companies but PI/PV cookies.

For now this activity doesn’t impact affiliates as little, if any, BR companies are operating via networks. But as an industry we will need to better understand the impact this potential next stage of affiliate evolution could have on all of us or what the impact will be on affiliate campaigns if BR companies choose to operate directly.

The next meeting is in London on 26th August. If you’d like to sign up for the agenda points and minutes please drop me an email. You can also follow the Council on Twitter @IAB_AMC.

Kevin Edwards
Strategy Director