Widgets and the Future of Affiliate Marketing

13 thoughts on “Widgets and the Future of Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Amen, brother. And I’d argue that its not just “widget” marketing that’s perfect for affiliate marketing, but just about every form of consumer generated content and niche social networking and more — all of it is about being able to get highly specialized content to users. And once the user picks their provider(s) for this content, that platform becomes not only a trusted source of information (referral marketing!), but becomes the starting point for every browser session. How powerful is that?

  2. Sam…
    Anyone who links to me (although links are dead; I learned that — FROM A LINK!) is brilliant but you take it to another level. Okay, brilliance aside I have to say that what you and Jeff may be neglecting here are the economics involved from the advertisers’ perspective. What I’m getting: cost per acquisition advertising has, traditionally, been all about customer acquisition (not retention). It has FAILED (are you listening Commission Junction, Linkshare, Performics?) to adapt to what advertisers demand — a model that includes cost mechanisms for customer RETENTION.

    Affiliates maintain tight relationships with consumers? This translates to the same (existing) customers clicking through. Aside from “customer ownership” issues that can be debated endlessly I’m suggesting that we must also talk about changing the cost model. I’m confident you’ll agree.

    Indeed, “affiliate marketing” lacks creativity in the area of delivery! Innovators like FatWallet stand apart but not because of innovations in delivery (although affiliates have experimented none really stand out — other than CouponCabin of course; nothing beats Yahoo.com as a delivery device). Some affiliates have achieved remarkable levels of success due to their ability to tap into **community** and a tangible benefit (chiefly discounts) to consumers. Even though these affiliates struggle with advertiser relationships from a pure economics perspective.

    You can open up the delivery mechanism and explode the options — let creativity run wild. It’s exciting but I don’t know that it solves the very real problem that exists for “affiliate marketing” which is a “pure CPA” environment. Why? It’s been retarded by the cost structure. Mainly the vendor (affiliate network) structure that is tied directly to the affiliate fee.

    Brief rant:
    It’s time for a change. Affiliate networks do not hold the keys to affiliate relationships. Who does? It’s a long list: netExponent, PartnerCentric, PartnerPerform, Commerce360, The Partner Maker, LinkProfits… and on and on. Affiliate networks must be reduced to what they are: tracking and reporting tools, not business development tools.

    Back to cost:
    Perhaps what this may lead to is a new ad platform that is centered on widgets and blends the media cost models?

    Why am I typing this on a blog? Why are you? Are we insane? Someone pay me now!

  3. Sam, Jeff & Jeff: Great discussion here and in the Weekly Insight podcast. I have spent most of my time in Affiliate Marketing on the advertiser side of the fence (why is it a fence? Yes, I know it shouldn’t be and I do my best to level it). Jeff Molander correctly points out that this conversation brings us back to the age old question of who owns the customer. It takes time for a merchant to build a direct relationship with the customer.. and of course, that is dependant on the merchant having a product that the customer wants again and again. Otherwise, that first transaction is more like a one-night stand (vs. a relationship). Now, having worked with merchants at all stages of development of their affiliate program (pre-launch to mature)…I am realizing that the affilaite marketing solution must adapt over time. There are acquisition focused affiliates and retention focused affiliates (right?). And, there are merchants that care more about acquisition and merchants that care more about long term customer relationship and cost management. Question is.. how do we match up the right merchants with the right affilaites. What happens when a mature merchant and a retention affiliate continue down the path and end up in a place.. well, where both parties are frustrated. I’d say – relationship therapy is needed. I think Jeff is onto something with a commission model that adapts to the change in the relationship. Also, mature merchants that are frustrated with affiliate marketing as a whole (which is unfair) should consider taking their programs private and managing those partnships differently. Your widget conversation merely highlights that we are going to be seeing more and more frustration and that we will need more therapy.

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