2103 brought so much to JEB and this industry. I was blessed with an invitation to join a fantastic PMA committee, we landed many amazing clients, our team continued to demonstrate amazing capabilities and the industry scored some huge wins across the country. But what does 2014 bring? To be honest, I’ve got as good a clue as any of you. There are some things I think our industry needs to address and some obvious trends that will be realized in 2014. Here is my best guesses for this coming year:
“The process of identifying a set of user actions (“events) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome. ” Wikipedia has that definition pretty accurate – what channel or channels contributed to that sale? The concept has been around for as long as we have had more than one online channel, and advertisers are pushing their channel managers to figure this out. It’s important to this industry because the affiliate channel tends to be under-represented in the office, outgunned by other channels and have no ammunition to show their value. This concept is going to be a much larger focus and our industry needs to get a better handle on it, both on the advertiser side and the affiliate side.
Related to the concept above, the move towards transparency should take hold this year. Transparency between partner and advertiser to drive better incremental sales, increased new customer acquisition and over profitability of the channel. In the past, there hasn’t been a whole lot of transparency from the advertiser to the affiliate. Data needs to go both ways in order for these partnerships to achieve more specific and targeted goals, like higher lifetime value, profitability and new customer acquisition. Where is the vendor to scrub customer lists so affiliates can target most likely new customers?
3. Stronger Industry Association
The Performance Marketing Association is leading the charge in so many different ways. They have been instrumental in many different states’ battle to reverse the nexus tax. Great job! I’ve had the good fortune of sitting on the Insight and Measurements comittee with some amazing people. Their work will continue to be vital to the health of our industry. If you haven’t joined, you should! They need your help. Sign up for their newsletter and follow their blog.
4. Better Equipped to Fight for Validity
If you haven’t had to prove the value of this channel to a supervisor, fellow channel manager or a client, you probably haven’t been in the industry that long or you are one of the lucky few. Many of us have had to fight for this channel for the entirety of our careers. New strategies, technology (yeah ShareASale!), transparency and fraud protections allow us to be much more confident that the actions we are driving are true to this channel and the costs associated with it are necessary ones. We haven’t had these in the past, and I think you’ll see more of this from the networks, agencies like us and definitely from the PMA. I know there are some great tools coming out in 2014 that will help all of us demonstrate the validity and profitability of this channel to a wider audience.
5. Huge Leap in Mobile
Doesn’t this go without saying? Just this past holiday, 21% of the sales we drove for our clients were driven through mobile devices. 2013 saw this trend really emerge and as advertisers become more saavy, devices become more functional and networks become more advanced, you’ll see this continue to climb. Those advertisers that can take advantage of this, and the affiliates that are able to carve out mobile niches, will both be able to truly benefit. But, you already knew that.
6. Greater International Movement
Yes, it is a small world after all. So many clients come to looking to broaden their reach globally that we had to start a division to focus just on that. The world is getting smaller and the opportunities to reach the farthest part of the globe are within reach. If you aren’t thinking of extra-domestic markets you are going to be left behind. There are hundreds of millions of people that could be looking for your products. Knowing how to navigate the country specific financial, regulatory and cultural environment in ecommerce and affiliate marketing is going to prove incredible vital to the health of your company in 2014 and beyond.
It’s fun to make predictions, we’ll see how good I am at it. Agree? Disagree? What things do you think will be emerging, strengthening or weakening in 2014?