Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing Attribution in 2019

As we get further into 2019, Marketing Executives are trying to better understand their buyers’ journey and which marketing channels are contributing sales. They are trying to determine where and how to spend their marketing dollars in a way that drives the highest possible ROI, the most well defined cross channel transactions, and where their new customer acquisitions are really coming from.

In an effort to provide more clarity around what attribution strategies Marketing Executives should be looking at, I spoke with attribution expert, Anthony Clements, about what attribution really is, and how companies should be thinking about investing in it this year.

 

What is the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel attribution? 

It’s worth saying from the outset that these two phrases are used quite interchangeably in many aspects of digital marketing, which often creates a bit of confusion for marketers. The real difference between multi-channel and omni-channel from an attribution perspective is in the outcomes.

Multi-channel attribution seeks to measure how effective an individual marketing channel is at driving a conversion. By definition it’s conversion orientated, and helps marketers understand how important each channel is at getting customers to buy their products or services. It does this either by algorithmic or ‘place-in-the-chain’ models. Multi-channel attribution thinks more in terms of marketing channels like Display, Search, Affiliate etc than it does about the customer.

Omni-channel attribution seeks to measure how customer’s engage with a business, including different types of marketing, platforms like desktop or mobile, and will also generally look at offline engagements. For businesses that embrace the theory of omni-channel marketing – creating a single, unified commerce experience across all points of customer engagement, omni-channel attribution will help to properly understand customer journeys and also help to understand how the best / most profitable customers like to engage with a business.    

 

Example of a Click-to-Consume Path Analysis using attribution. Source: Impact

 

Why do you feel companies need to invest in attribution today?

Attribution feels like one of the slowest-burns in digital marketing. The technology and principles have been around a while, but adoption has been gradual. Adoption of digital attribution has accelerated over the last two years primarily because database technology has facilitated the advent of algorithm-driven attribution which uses data modelling to ‘score’ the effectiveness of channel engagement rather than the original ‘place-in-the-chain’ concepts which were ultimately quite biased. If a marketer favoured upper-funnel traffic then a first-click model would give them the results they wanted to see. Attribution is now more scientific and less open to individual bias.

Marketers are now being asked to invest their budgets in a range of large media platforms that all operate their own, siloed tracking ecosystems. Facebook Ads runs its own event and conversion tracking, as does Google Ads, as does LinkedIN Ads. It’s vitally important that marketers have the ability to scrutinise the results from these platforms using independent technology that helps them understand their relative importance to driving conversions, rather than simply analyse the results in isolation. Throw in a host of other marketing channels like other Display platforms, Affiliate, Email and then a variety of ways for customers to transact be it desktop, mobile web, mobile app or in-store…then the need to measure fractional contribution in ever-more complex customer journeys becomes obvious.

The industry also has a much greater handle on using attribution analysis to deliver meaningful results. Attribution doesn’t generate new traffic, and that often meant it was difficult for advertisers to justify the budget. Now, it isn’t uncommon for advertisers to redistribute up to 30% of their total spend based on new insight from an attribution model, so the outputs are powerful and actionable in a way they were not a few years ago.

 

Example of an affiliate attribution analysis, looking at "Initiator" (Top of Funnel), "Contributor" (Mid Funnel) and "Converter" (Bottom of Funnel) affiliate contributions. Source: Partnerize
Example of an affiliate attribution analysis, looking at “Initiator” (Top of Funnel), “Contributor” (Mid Funnel) and “Converter” (Bottom of Funnel) affiliate contributions. Source: Partnerize

 

What recommended next steps do you think companies should take in order to get true attribution set up correctly?

Like many digital marketing initiatives, setting up a data-driven attribution model is an iterative process. A company’s online marketing needs to be of a certain size and scope to really benefit from multi-touch attribution. This is primarily because a company needs to be ready to implement the spend and tactical marketing changes that should result from attribution analysis. We normally ensure a company is running at least three online advertising channels concurrently and is already using an online analytics solution like Google Analytics to collect and analyse customer journey data before we’d advise them to invest in attribution.

It’s also important to go into attribution work free of bias as to what channels or platforms are most valuable. This can be difficult for marketers with many years experience, but an open-mind is vital to ensuring attribution analysis is actionable.

With these things all in place the next step is to find a provider. Google and Adobe operate well-known enterprise level cross-channel attribution solutions, and VIsualIQ are highly regarded at the top end of the independent market. But these solutions are cost-prohibitive to many businesses. The market for independent attribution providers is growing fast with Fopsha, AttributionApp, Conversion Logic and in the affiliate space Impact and SingleView by ROEye all doing good things.

For businesses new to the space it can be resource intensive to find the right provider and then implement the right attribution model. Consultancy services like ours help companies navigate the ever-expanding vertical of digital analytics and attribution.

 

If you wish to contact Anthony for a full review of your multi-channel and omni-channel attribution options, you can contact him here, or contact All Inclusive Marketing for a full list of affiliate specific attribution solutions for your program this year.

Why Impact Radius is Impacting Tracking

An integrated marketing suite. That’s what they are. They are an affiliate marketing platform, tag management system, media measurement tool, pay per call solution and much much more. Why is this important to internet retailers? Because with their system you can make and save more money.

Here are 5 cool features Impact Radius has to offer.

 

1. Tag Management

One of Impact Radius’s main features is extensive and flexible tag management. You can add and remove tags anywhere you want. You can manage multiple affiliate networks within it so you don’t get hit by double pay outs. You can track re-targeting ads. You can track and measure all media. If your ad campaigns look anything like this then Impact Radius is right for you:

  • Organic Google
  • Affiliate Program
  • PPC Ads
  • Re-targeting Ads
  • Email Campaigns
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Shopping Feeds

The tagging system then calculates all your costs and ROI metrics in one place, plus it’s more accurate than Google analytics by correcting the discrepancies between marketing channels reported in analytics. It’s best to use both. Google analytics can’t capture the level and depth in accuracy that Impact Radius can. For example, analytics do not have rules that match up with your program terms in your affiliates program (ex. 30 day cookie period) and consequently do not accurately credit the affiliate channel, but can help give the user a better understanding of on site issues Impact Radius can’t.

 

2. Set Up Marketing Channels and Properly Measure Them

Impact Radius STARTS with accurate data tracking. They do not replace analytics, but they give you a stronger idea of how your marketing channels work outside of your website performance. You can set up rules within the platform specific to each channel, such as “I want to track click throughs with a 14 day window from this source”.

Merchants can credit affiliates properly based on rules set in the platform. This means you can create a system that says “if these two things happen, affiliate X gets paid” or “if these two things happen, I know to credit it to my re-targeting ads” or email campaigns, or SEO efforts and so on. Analytics alone is not able to understand that. This means, Impact Radius is all about successful attribution tracking down to every dollar spent.

 

3. Partner Management Solution

Impact Radius offers a lower cost tracking solution than most of the affiliate networks out there including CJ, Linkshare or Google Affiliate Network.  For example, if you are paying out $100,000 per month in affiliate commissions, your network could be adding an additional 30% ($30,000) fee. Tracking those same partners on Impact Radius might only cost you $1,000 – $3,000 resulting in a significant cost savings. This allows you to then spend the savings on ad buys, hiring a good outsourced affiliate program manager, or put it back into profits.

Strategy Tip: Take your top 10% of affiliate performers driving 90% of your profits and work with them directly through Impact Radius instead of the network. You’ll get better tracking and at a much lower cost.

Impact Radius is generally 15-40% more accurate in affiliate tracking than other affiliate networks because of its unique tracking methodologies. It has the ability to  cross check standard cookie tracking with “fingerprint” tracking which means sales are not lost when cookies are not set.  For internet retailers, Impact Radius helps with coupon management as well. You can assign promo codes and set rules around them so coupon codes will stop getting credited to the wrong affiliates and people who should be credited for sales using an exclusive code regardless of the affiliate tracking link will get credited accordingly. Impact Radius coupon tracking also works in direct mail, social channels such as Facebook and Twitter and across any other touch point on or offline.

 

4. Attribution Reporting

Impact Radius shows the exact touch points associated with every sale, including every touch point within the affiliate marketing channels. For example, if Affiliate A is the first touch point, Affiliate B gets touched half way and Affiliate C closes the sale – you can model the media costs and sales revenues across all three partners so you get a more accurate representation of each partner’s contribution. This works across multiple channels and with every touch point, so you can assess the true cost of acquisition and which channel contributed the most value to the sale.  By being able to determine your true CPA per touch point, you will be able to  determine how and where to spend future marketing dollars for greater ROI.

 

5. Pay Per Call Solution

If you need an alternative to Ring Revenue for pay per call tracking, Impact Radius offers a tracking solution as well. If you’d like to use this within marketing channels where you are buying media, or within your own affiliate program, this will give you a complete integrated solution to track calls and sales from phone number tracking as well.

 

What’s the bottom line? if you need a fully comprehensive tool that allows you to track your efforts more accurately for smarter marketing and higher ROI then Impact Radius is it.

What is ExactView Affiliate Management Tracking Technology?

Last month I had a very interesting phone call from one of the original founders of Buy.at Affiliate Network, Malcolm Cowley. An extremely intelligent and interesting man, Malcolm explained in many details the direction he believed to be the future of in house affiliate marketing optimization.

Now leading the efforts at Performance Horizon Group for ExactView, Malcolm explained many things about why ExactView would make it’s mark in the future of affiliate marketing.

Here’s a quick Q&A summary from our session:

Q: Tell us about Performance Horizon Group and why a merchant would be interested in you.

A: PHG offers a proprietary SaaS platform called ExactView for brands and publishers to manage their key revenue, drive relationships in-house, and make critical decisions through data analysis, thereby limiting risk across their web, social and mobile strategies. Our solutions are designed for several marketing channels including: Affiliate, Lead Generation, Mobile, and Social.

We have several high-level benefits brands and publishers receive including:

  1. Efficiency and Ease-of-Use: We make measuring and managing partners and affiliates easy, ultimately ensuring more sales leads. The purpose is to bring our customers fully customizable, easy-to-use tracking and management solutions.
  2. New Revenue Opportunities: Our ExactView platform brings customer’s immediate costs savings by providing better management solutions for their top partners combined with lower overhead, creating greater ROI for their brand marketing campaigns.
  3. Limit Risk: We help brands and publishers limit risk by giving them access to data, which thereby allows for better decision making in a shorter amount of time.
  4. Intelligence: ExactView allows brands and publishers to gain new insights into how their content is being consumed; brand is being portrayed; areas that can improve, etc., all while learning how to find new opportunities to maximize their brand marketing campaigns.

Q: After your sale of Buy.At, how did you come to launch PHG?

A: After we sold Buy.at, we knew we had only scratched the surface of  potential ways to bring innovation to the performance marketing industry. We barely even took a vacation before we started planning Performance Horizon Group. We knew if we could create a software platform that enhanced both the way brands and publishers work with each other, demand for the software would naturally grow. It took a little while to get the platform right, but once we were confident we had a winning solution, everything proceeded seamlessly from there.

Q: What would you say are the advantages of working with PHG?

A: We see many advantages to working with us. A few top advantages include: First, we offer fully customized solutions to fit our client’s needs. Second, we offer customers access to our proprietary API’s, which allows them to build the tools they need to enhance their tracking systems. Third, we’re the only company of our kind to offer full financial support to customers to maximize their performance marketing campaigns. This is a major differentiator for us. Finally, our platform allows for reduced costs and increased sales by simply allowing customers to receive a full and complete understanding of their performance marketing activity.

Q: What differentiates ExactView from others networks and technologies in the industry?

A: We see several differentiators and reasons for brands to leverage our ExactView technology platform. For instance:

  1. Better account management – Our customers are able to build better long-term sustainable relationships with their top partners.
  2. Better Tracking Solutions – We offer reliable data in real-time across all of our customer’s vertical platforms. Brands don’t want to deal with individual partners at an impression level, so we allow the brands to bring the tracking in-house.
  3. Publisher Tools – Because our solutions are customizable. In other words, our customers offer their partners easy-to-use, constantly updated publishing tools, which allows for better interaction and real-time reporting.
  4. Significant Cost Savings – By limiting the ‘over-ride’ process typical of brand/network relationships, brands will immediately see costs savings.

Q: What are PHGs competitive advantages?

We see several advantages to the ExactView platform. First, ExactView’s technology and architecture is brand new and allows for faster – as it happens- data with a flexible interface turning data into actionable information. Also, because ExactView is built on proprietary APIs it allows for better customization, ease of integration with 3rd parties and advanced data collection opportunities.  We also believe our product features such as social integration and Finance-as-as-Service set us apart from others in the industry. Additionally, because we offer white label solutions, our customers can experience full customization to build and use the technology however they see fit.

______

It was an interesting interview and one that requires a second blog post, because the conversion that went back and forth between Malcolm and I about the potential of this tracking technology was intriguing.  We talked about the automation of languages translations, the integration of unlimited APIs, the advanced tracking solutions they provide that I’ve never HEARD of anywhere else. The list when on and on and I likely could have spoken to him all day.

I think if you’re a merchant who is very forward thinking in your mobile, social and international commerce opportunities and looking for something that can more accurately track various channels in real time, ExactView is certainly worth checking out.

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