The affiliate dream – once the great hope of online marketers – was never realised because of acquiescence to the creed ‘last click wins’.
DC Storm marketing director Lewis Lenssen said: “In travel that was so clearly wrong, that it’s no surprise that the affiliate dream was not really realised.
“What we ended up with was an absolute focus on the bottom of the purchase funnel with huge focus around brand search, voucher codes, remarketing and cashback.
“That area became hugely competitive. Margins were being eroded and that’s where we are now.
“At the top of the funnel there was no one really contributing because the commercial terms did not allow them to be rewarded.”
DC Storm has been working on a new affiliate model that seeks to reward affiliates that help in the initial inspiration phase through engaging content.
The results were reported at last week’s Travolution Summit in London and a whitepaper distributed to delegates on the new approach. The whitepaper can be downloaded now for free.
Lenssen said the modern consumer was a lot more aware and savvy about the commercial implications of being referred from one site to another, and understood how to price compare.
This added complexity means firms are having to do more to understand which channels in the customer journey are working beyond just the last click.
“Most affiliate programmes are stagnating,” he said. “There is an opportunity to break out of the standard model, align the interests of affiliates and networks and merchants so we can grow the market rather than cannibalise this last click area.”
Lenssen said that in transfer specialist Resorthoppa and its network Afilliate Window it found partners willing to test a new model by sharing information on what the customer journey looked like.
“We built an attribution model for them. We took the model Resorthoppa built internally and said let’s communicate that to our affiliate partners and pay them on that basis.
“We said we are going to share commission based on the contribution, we are going to test, we are going to adapt and we are going to make it work better.
“The technical challenge was trying not to change too much. The biggest problem was to break inertia, to rediscover the dream of how affiliates could be a great way to market.”
And the results? Lenssen said despite predictions that affiliates would ditch the programme, it actually grew by 200% in just three months.
“This growth has been sustained and has continued. Affiliates as individuals have either made more money or some have made less but their earning has reflected their contribution.
“People who have earned less have been spoken to and given the opportunity to change what they are doing. Lots more affiliates have been paid.”