Season 02 / Episode 016

Focus on Performance Over Categories

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This is our second host rant, you read that right. I am ranting today! Ok, not really so much, but today I’m talking about something that can truly drive me crazy. The idea that we should be removing or stop working with affiliates in our affiliate programs because of their type or our self imposed categorization. What we really should be talking about is their performance markers (KPIs), the audience we get access to, and the customers we are actually receiving from them.

Let’s focus on the performance, the hard data, and not our feelings. We make better affiliate management decisions.

I talk about an affiliate marketing study we put together at, that aggregates hard core data from all the major networks and publishers. It addresses consumer behavior and the types of customers coupon sites are actually driving. You have some amazing data at your fingertips to make great decisions. Don’t miss out on this one!

And hey, we are always looking for more guests. Email if you or someone you know should be on our show!



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[00:00:48] Jamie Birch: Hey, Profitable Performance Marketing podcast listeners. This is Jamie Birch, CEO and Founder of JEBCommerce and your host of the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. Let me try that again, the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. I really had no idea how hard that would be for me to pronounce week after week when we named it, but here we are, me stumbling through that. I do have to say if you hear a little noise in the background, while I’m recording this, my Great Dane is with me. Her name is Winnie. She’s about 160 pounds, and she’s a loud sleeper. So if you do hear anything, that’s probably what it is.

Anyway, I wanted to give a little rant today, a little solo podcast. Take a few minutes and talk about something that we often run up against, and that is different advertisers will get really caught up in the type of affiliate and how you categorize them and what category they fall into. Yup, I’m talking about coupon sites, loyalty sites, shopping sites, and really any site that they don’t feel that category of affiliates isn’t going to get them top of funnel results and new customer acquisition.

Now, we can talk at another time about where in the funnel your affiliate program should really be focused on. But let’s talk about this concept of really what are you focused on. So here’s the situation that happens, and this is about as ranty as I get. Maybe you’re an advertiser, and you’re running a program, and you see a coupon site at the top of the list. Or you see a reward site, a cash back site at the top of the list, and you have a feeling about how they do things. You have a feeling about how their customers behave.

That feeling is usually that those customers, the way that they shop is they found your awesome marketing, or your catalog, or drove by your store, or saw your TV spot, or something like that. Went to your site, did their shopping, but right beforehand, they said, “Hey, am I getting a coupon and discount? Is this the best price I can get?” Or, “Oh, I need to go get my rewards at this other site.” Then they go through that site and complete their order. The feeling is that the affiliate, they added no value. They were bottom of the funnel. Right before the sale, they added no value.

Now, I will say that does happen. Totally does happen. But I keep talking about feelings because sometimes when we act on feelings, you don’t always get the right result. I can tell you many times in my professional career. My wife can tell you many times outside of that, where I’ve made poor decisions based on how I felt and not data that was readily available. So that’s the thing. You have a ton of data that’s readily available to you, and we collected a bunch of that data for you in our report on coupons and those types of affiliates, and do they add value. We actually surveyed and gathered data, real data from many of the top networks and publishers out there so that you could see what really is happening with the customer’s path to purchase and how they’re using those sites differently than maybe what you’re thinking.

That’s some industry-specific stuff. We’re going to include links to that in the notes of this podcast as well, but that’s just some basic industry stuff that you can go to. If you want access to that data, it’s pretty simple. Just go to for that report, and we’ll have a link. But that’s data that I have. You still may not believe any of that and trust your feelings on this, but you have data readily available. So here’s what I recommend you do. What are your key KPIs for a performing affiliate? Are they new customer acquisition? Are they average order value? All sorts of things. What is your key KPI?

That’s what we do in affiliates. We drive those KPIs. Take those KPIs. I like to perform sort of a blind taste test. I’m going to date myself here, but remember the blind taste test that malls for Coke and Pepsi. Do something like that. Don’t worry about the name or the type of affiliate. Evaluate every single one harshly, strictly on those KPIs. It may be revenue. It may be revenue growth. It may be new customer acquisition. It may be all sorts of things. Evaluate them strictly on those KPIs alone, and that will show you which partners you should and shouldn’t be working with and where you should be investing your money. A lot of people are throwing away good partnerships because of what they think or feel about selling and not making that decision on the data that is at hand. That’s probably one of my biggest frustrations.


Are you enjoying the show so far? I sure hope so. There’s been an awful lot of discussion over the last few years about the value of coupon affiliates. Maybe even you have doubted whether there’s value or not. Well, we at JEBCommerce wanted to find out, and the good news is the data is out there. So we interviewed all the top networks, did our own research, and compiled all the data from many reports already done about these affiliates on whether they add value or not. You see, we wanted to know the truth.

That resulted in an e-book that is now available to you at In this e-book, you’ll find the three categories of coupon affiliates, information from Rakuten’s marketing report on incrementality, data from Google and Comscore, data from LinkConnector on commissions dealing, funnel participation, and data on brand perception and so much more. If you’re struggling with this debate and trying to determine your coupon strategy, you definitely want to download this free e-book, and I want you to have this 100% for free. Simply for being a listener of our podcast, you can access this free e-book at all for free. So thank you for listening.

Now, back to our show.


Now, some of that activity that you feel is going on and the behavior that that consumer is taking and exhibiting to lead to commissions being earned that aren’t valuable to you or maybe aren’t necessary for that purchase to happen, there’s so much technology right now available from almost every single network to keep those things from happening, especially what we call cart sniping. I gave in that example, where the purchase is really already made. The decision has been made. Now, let me go see if I can find a coupon. Then the affiliate gets credit, you lose margin, and it’s generally not a great experience for anybody, except the consumer. There’s technology to make sure that affiliate doesn’t get credit for that order.

So a lot of people are throwing out good partnerships because of the category of affiliate. Does that really matter? I mean, does it matter? What are you trying to do? What are your KPIs, and how are you being evaluated in your performance? Is it the type of affiliate that you bring in? Or is it the type of customer that you bring in? I’m often brought back to how Amazon really took over so much of our e-commerce and retail shopping in general. That is because they had a sole focus on the customer. I think we can learn from them, and that’s what we need to do in this space. Focus on the customer and the audience. Are you getting the type of customer you need to get from this channel? Are you making poor decisions on budget, removing it from the affiliate channel, putting it into others because of how you feel or what the data is showing?

Like I said, we have a bunch of case studies. Go to You’re going to get hard data. We’re not making this stuff up, and it’s not anecdotal. It is hard data to show you how customers are behaving on these sites, and you really need to read it if that’s what you think. But anyway, that’s one of my biggest rants. That’s one of the biggest things that I get [most] frustrated [about] is advertisers and merchants making decisions on publishers and affiliates based on how they feel about their category, not how they perform and what type of customers are bringing in. That’s it. That’s the one.

Now, the reason I bring this up now is because affiliates, and in one of my previous episodes we talked about how affiliates now have way more power in the relationship than they did when I started out in affiliate marketing way back in 1999. They have that power. The audience is there. They’re going to the affiliates first. Are you going to be there? Or are you not because you think they’re a cash back site, and cash back you think or you feel doesn’t provide the value that they should? Look at the customers that you’re bringing in, measure them against the KPIs that you measure every other channel, and then make your partnership decisions based on the solid ground of data, not on the shifting sands of how we feel about it.

So anyway, I hope this was helpful to you. I would love to hear from you. Comment on this post. Send me an email at and tell me what you think about measuring and weighing, evaluating affiliates based on their category type versus their KPI. If you think I’m off my rocker, send me a note. Now, I would love to chat with you and help you with your affiliate program. If you have questions about how to evaluate affiliates and how to integrate all this data into the day-to-day of affiliate management, I would love to help you with that. You can reach me at

If you like this podcast, please share it on all your socials, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Hey, be the first to share one of our episodes on TikTok. That’d be great. But share this. If you have an idea for a podcast topic that you would like to hear about, hear me talk about, maybe even rant about, then definitely send us a note at We are always looking for new guests. So if you’d like to be a guest, or you know of someone who you would love to have on our podcast, again, just email that to

Well, thank you so much for listening to me. Hopefully, my Great Dane, Winnie, wasn’t a distraction for you. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks for listening.


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