Leading UK online travel agent On The Beach is to experiment with taking voucher code functionality off its site completely as it seeks to better assess the value of the affiliate channel.
Victoria McQuillan, the site’s head affiliates and online partners, said the move was part of a general attempt to ensure the right partners are being credited with sales.
She told this week’s PerformanceIN Travel conference that the agent would probably rebuild its voucher code management tool to be more dynamic on the back of the experiment.
“We will set up a dynamic link so that box only shows if you are running a promotion with that voucher site. In theory that should increase the value of the programmes you are running and you cut down on leakage.”
McQuillan said On The Beach was keen to make sure bookings with vouchers are incremental business and not just bookings the retailer would have got anyway.
“The value of your voucher programme depends on where the voucher box sits. If it’s on your home page that’s nuts,” she said.
“Having it on the check out page makes sense but you might argue you would get that sale anyway. We are going to test to see what happens.”
Currently On The Beach has its voucher box at stage four in the buying process, just before check-out.
McQuillan added: “Content sites tend to lose out because incentive sites get the last click, but we are all very focussed on that.
“You need to take into account that these content sites are important and will continue to be important and we will continue dealing with them.
“What you do not to do is to give someone commission for nothing.”
James Little, partnerships director at TopCashBack, said merchants should assess their affiliate partnerships based on a range of metrics.
“Affiliate marketing has always been a response-based channel, it always will be, but in this space there are more ways to get exposure with things like banners, blog posts, social media and emails.
“The industry has developed a lot, it’s become a bit of a fusion between display and response marketing. There is an opportunity to get some real brand exposure across sites.”
Little said big brands are likely to dominate due to their popularity but smaller merchants were able to gain exposure if they running regular promotions and offering a variety of deals.
“Put in a really strong offer, if that can increase your popularity on the site and people start thinking about your brand you do see the halo effect. It’s a case of consumer acquisition for you.
“Not every campaign you are going to run is going to be the most profitable but if you can attract consumers from that that’s up to you to convert them.”
Little said the biggest mistake marketers make across the verticals in which it works are lumping all sites together and assuming if one deal works with one it will work with the others.
Marina Pattengell, head of partnerships at vouchercodes.co.uk, agreed: “You do not have to work with everyone, you want to pick out some key partners.
“Look at your affiliates as individuals and decide how you want to work with them. “
McQuillan said in the early days On The Beach tried to work with as many affiliates as possible “until we learned which ones worked better for us”.