Conference Preview: Economic upturn will shift focus from last click attribution

As the UK economy continues to recover from the recession, travel firms will increasingly reward affiliates at the top of the purchase funnel, according to a leading expert.

Jim Banks, global head of biddable media at Cheapflights, said the rise of voucher code and cashback sites in recent years was a reflection of the worsening economic environment.

Banks has been lined up to speak at the next London Affiliate Management Days event that will be held at Chelsea Football Club on May 13-14.

He will be on a panel in a session entitled ‘Understanding Your Affiliates: Getting the Most from Different Publisher Types’ and will be alongside speakers from Savoo and TopCashBack, among others.

Banks said once merchants had been educated about the value of results-driven CPA models after these were established after 2008, the door was opened to cashback and voucher code sites.

“Now it’s endemic, it’s shifted the pendulum. But now the advertisers,sto when they do their analysis, are realising that the people who have got the visitor to the site in the first place are not being rewarded for their involvement.

“Looking at attribution modelling is going to be much more important in 2014 that it has ever been.”

Banks said travel sites will start actively looking for content producers such as bloggers who can drive traffic for a particular product-type that has been identified as a target.

This will result in more of a bathtub-shaped attribution model in which greater value is placed against first click and last click.

One travel firm already doing this and claiming early positive results is transfers specialist Resorthoppa, which brought in a new attribution model last year with its agency DC Storm.

Banks said travel firms, including Cheapflights, were constantly trying to diversify their channel mix to reduce their reliance on Google.

“If you look at the way travel is evolving, more and more people are morphing into metasearch – that’s the predominant model of the future.

“We will be moving quite heavily into meta this year and for the next few years.

Banks added: “When you are working with lots of affiliates you have to make sure the traffic you deliver is quality. Performance as a channel is definitely growing.

“Look at the market share of the likes of Google. We are no different to most other companies in most verticals in that we have an unhealthy reliance on Google for a lot of traffic. We are trying to find ways to differentiate that.”

Platform proliferation will be an important trend, Banks said, with more and more activity taking place in the mobile channel in particular.

But as the cost of mobile advertising goes up, conversion is becoming more important, so investment in mobile-friendly sites and analytics to track impact is key.

However, a lack of suitably qualified talent continues to be an issue for all firms, Banks claimed.

“I started in digital marketing in 1999 and set up my first agency in 2000, and the biggest challenge was that there was a lack of quality of skilled people to do the work.

“If you fast forward to today, that’s exactly the situation we have now – there are not enough people with the right skill set to do the smart work.”

Banks said the trick to dealing with affiliates is to understand their businesses models to ensure you are providing them with the sort of partnership they need.

He said the sector has become much more professional over the years, but big advertisers are now looking to simplify things and are questioning the value the big networks bring.

The emergence of firms such as Performance Horizon Group which gives advertisers a platform to work directly with affiliates is forcing networks to differentiate themselves.

Early bird rates for the Affiliate Management Days event expire on March 28. Sign up here:

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