Affiliate network Affilinet is to recruit a “data evangelist” as it tries to promote standardisation of information in the travel sector.
Peter Rowe, Affilinet managing director, said as affiliates become more professional their requirements of advertisers are becoming greater.
“In the travel sector product data is not done as well as it could be. Advertisers struggle to get product data in a consistent format.
“There is so much of it. The question is how do you rationalise it down to useful data. We are recruiting a product data ‘evangelist’ to see how you can be more sophisticated with the data.
“We want to go to the advertisers and understand what they have access to and feed that back to the affiliates.”
Affilinet works with the likes of Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook, Barcelo hotels and Hotels4u on affiliate programmes.
Rowe said a period of expansion in the affiliate sector, in which it captured sales that may have been generated anyway, was now over and affiliates were having to up their game.
He said companies now need to offer more bespoke support to their best affiliates rather than relying on “out of the box” services, and make sure affiliate programmes are integrated with other channels.
“Travel is great for affiliates because you can work with lots of different types and have a really broad mix, from content sites and blogs to affiliates promoting specific holiday vouchers and cashback sites, and email works really well.
“What we try to do is get affiliates at every stage of the buying process. Out of the box isn’t really working anymore. It’s about working smarter, understanding tactical promotions and working as a partnership.
“Travel is a sector which is growing online, even though there are challenges in terms of costs. A lot of affiliate programmes have probably seen a lot of growth that would have occurred anyway, but now a more stable market has been established and that growth curve is slowing.”
Despite this consolidation in the market, Rowe expects affiliates to continue to drive valuable business to advertisers.
And he said he sees last click pays as remaining the dominant model despite the development of value attribution technology. “At the moment I’m not sold on value attribution, I think for the time being it’s last click.
“There are so many issues with value attribution. Just because I click on a site does that mean it added value?
“While last click is not perfect it works. Affiliates understand what they are going to be paid.”
Rowe said there remains widespread misunderstanding in the industry of what affiliates can achieve and although brands are investing heavily in programmes they are not hiring expertise in the area.
“One of the problems is the sector has grown quite quickly and there is not that much true expertise from an account management perspective.
“It’s difficult to find really good people who have had a good background, not just in affiliates but in how the other online channels fit in as well.”