Discussing Innovation and Transparency at Affiliate Convention

Last week we attended the first annual Affiliate Convention in Denver, where senior director Steve Hartman joined Peter Bordes, CEO of MediaTrust on a keynote panel discussing innovation and transparency in affiliate marketing. Other panelists included Steve Schaffer, founder and CEO of Vertive, Rebecca Madigan, head of the Performance Marketing Alliance and Wes Mahler, CEO of Prosper202. Peter shared several interesting facts about the performance marketing industry, such as: •    Performance marketing is the fastest growing segment of the exploding online ad industry, making up 57% of total online ad spend (according to PricewaterhouseCoopers) •    17 percent of affiliates drive more than $600,000 annually in sales to their merchants (this is huge!)

Some of the other takeaways from the keynote included: •    There is a need for better measurement of the performance marketing industry. Very little data exists. Few merchants and/or networks share publicly what they do have, making it difficult for the industry to measure results and the impact performance (and affiliate) marketing has on merchants and affiliates. Peter suggested finding a way to connect all forms of performance marketing for better measurement and results •    All panelists agreed that better collaboration should be in order. When affiliates work closely with their network and merchant partners, they have an opportunity to influence policies and innovation, making the entire system work better. Getting to know your partners is key to building a trusted and prosperous relationship for both sides of the affiliate marketing equation •    Paying for quality was noted by several panelists as the best way to ensure a healthy affiliate program. While some merchants offer as little pay as possible in order to make affiliate marketing a feasible expense, some merchants (including eBay) have realized that paying for quality is a better option. It allows merchants to pay its best affiliates the most, while discouraging lower quality traffic and activity. Affiliates seem to like this also, because they feel they are getting paid fairly for their performance and it allows for a more trusted relationship between the two parties •    There is more education to be done on affiliate marketing. From the executive suite to reporters, analysts, policymakers and marketers – there is a major lack of understanding of affiliate marketing. The only way we will be able to continue the growth and prosperity of the industry is if we all work to educate the influencers. The more value that is seen in affiliate marketing, the more money merchants will be able to pay out and the more money on the table for affiliates.

After the panel we hosted an impromptu breakout session for affiliates interested in learning more about eBay Partner Network. The result was very valuable for us, and (we hope) for the affiliates, too. We received some great feedback and ideas for our blog, our tools and our reporting, some of which you’ll see the results of in the near future.

Thanks to Peter and the Affiliate Convention for having us, and thanks to everyone who attended our sessions! We appreciate the opportunity to work with you all!