When I first joined the affiliate space, I was shocked at how many thousands of dollars go out for placements by simple email agreements, no contract and no specific numbers provided. For additional context, I came from the corporate world and no money ever changed hands without a signed contract that included an outline of deliverables and result goals, if not specific guarantees. So why is this not the case in the affiliate space?
Publishers are great at providing deals, custom placement offers and many often have a beautiful Media Kit ready to pass along to our clients if they have any questions. However, understandably so, publishers are always resistant to make any promises of lift that this specific placement will provide to specific brands. My plea to you is to please work with us outside of your comfort zone to help us help you! Here’s why….
As agency managers, it’s our job to guide the program’s health and one of our tasks is to be the liaison between our publishers and our client contact.
Let’s take a quick moment to consider everyone’s position within this small and relationship-based industry. These players are; the Agency Account Manager, the Publisher Contact and the Advertiser.
- The Brand: Must make money to justify their affiliate sales channel, their agency retainer and any investments put into the channel. Without profit, they will not and cannot reinvest. There is likely one VP within the company who is held responsible for the success of the affiliate channel. They will also hold responsibility of the investment budget.
- The Publisher: Not only does this publisher make commission on sales, but they also make money by selling placements on their site to advertisers to gain them additional consumer exposure. The concept of these placements are simple: more exposure to the publishers consumer base leads more revenue driven for the brand and the publisher. Greater spend leads to greater revenue and everyone is happy.
- The Agency Program Manager: This person strongly controls where brands invest their dollars. They make recommendations based on experience working with many brands and many publishers in the space. If a placement will not drive revenue for the brand, they will often not recommend it. However, the program manager does not sign the checks and at the end of the day, they are held responsible for the success of the program. It is in a managers self interest to always make investments drive strong return.
As a manager, I am always having the same conversation with my publishers. When asked how to grow sales on their site, a publisher will often suggest a paid placement. Great! However, when I then ask that publisher what kind of additional dollars this investment will gain my advertisers, they cannot guarantee anything. However, your affiliate managers will be re-selling your opportunity to their clients, one of the most valuable things is to arm them with as much ammunition as possible. Here’s what will REALLY help us help each other:
- Consider Relationships: If this placement goes well, this manager will then likely recommend it to every client that they manage. This can add up fast. Being willing to work with a manager on the price will not only please the client and the manager, but will most likely provide additional revenue for you down the road.
- Don’t Undervalue A Make-Good: We realize that if you offered a strong makegood on EVERY placement that didn’t perform, you would not make money. However, without ROI guarantees, being able to tell my clients “if this placement doesn’t perform, this publisher is willing to work with on a makegood to figure out if we can adjust the placement to get it to perform better” goes A LONG WAY to alleviate the client. Remember, they’re used to having contracts for everything, so even verbal updates can make a difference.
- Case Studies: If you’re a publisher and trying to sell me on a placement, your pitch can go a lot further if you look up case studies from within my competitive space and show me the successes that they have achieved.
- Be Honest: Not every placement is going to be a success for every advertiser. If you tell me you don’t believe a placement will perform and provide me data, you save me money and build trust. You bet your bottom dollar that when I have additional budget to spend in the future, as an Agency Manager, I’m going to call my trusted partners first!
- ROI: Finally, provide any and all ROI numbers that you possibly can. Whether or not it’s expected lift, estimated traffic or additional things you can do from your end to make a placement successful, being able to offer these will make an advertiser a thousand times more likely to invest money in you again.
I realize not all of these are doable for every manager that reaches out saying, “How can you help me optimize?” However, as many personalized relationships based on reciprocity and continued success you can build, the better the placement experience will be for all!