This content has been authored by Melanie Skuse, a Client Director at Awin. Awin are one of founding members of The APMA and a global, award-winning affiliate marketing platform.

The affiliate channel, once synonymous with discounting and price, is undergoing a perception transformation with affiliate activity now appearing across all digital platforms in diverse formats. Advertisers are redefining the affiliate channel’s value by utilising the vast scope of specialised partners for engaging untapped audiences, enhancing onsite performance, and leveraging technology for customer acquisition and retention, to name but a few.

A recent study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Awin, highlighted that affiliate marketing’s multifaceted nature adds strategic value in today’s complex digital marketing landscape, with 28% of respondents saying the unique strength of affiliate marketing is that there are always new, innovative marketing partners entering the channel. The decision makers surveyed believe that in line with their key digital marketing objectives, affiliate marketing leverages emerging technologies to enhance existing marketing capabilities (22%) and supports both enhancing customer retention (22%) as well as increasing new customer acquisition (21%).

Using Attribution to Demonstrate True Value

The adoption of attribution reporting within the affiliate channel has enabled us to fully understand both the role of individual publishers and the role of the overall affiliate channel in the conversion funnel, challenging the assumed last-click dominance that once defined the channel. At Awin, we see last click sales from journeys with multiple touchpoints account for only 25% of the total value driven by affiliates in the UK, with 37% of value driven in the research phase of the customer journey. This indicates the need for additional communication strategies with affiliates and their customers, to further enhance the value generated earlier in the customer purchase path.

One publisher type that has historically received scepticism for the value added on last click conversions is voucher code. However, UK data revealing 64% of voucher code affiliate value is driven before last click dispels this myth, highlighting their impact on customers in the awareness and research phases of the purchase process.

Publishers have evolved into consumer brands themselves and wield considerable influence over customer journeys. Notably in sectors such as price comparison, noteworthy publisher brands contribute 28% of sales value when they are the only touchpoint in the customer journey.

Content publishers play a pivotal role in driving value, with 30% of revenue driven when content sites initiate the customer journey. This highlights the importance of flexible payment models such as Awin’s Commission-by-Assist feature, which enables remuneration when the publisher was involved in the customer journey before last click.

Affiliate Influence By Vertical

If we look more closely at performance by vertical, we can see in greater detail the influence publishers have throughout the purchase path and how they play distinct roles depending on sector.

Cashback drives the most value in Finance and Telco sectors when it is the only touchpoint in the customer journey (37% and 32% respectively), however in Retail, cashback generates the most value in lower funnel, with 29% generated via last click.

By contrast, comparison publishers drive the greatest value in the research phase of the purchase journey, in both Retail and Travel sectors, at 34% and 56% respectively. Interestingly however, comparison publishers drove the least value at last click across all sectors.

Affiliate marketing continues to evolve and further diversify, mirroring the consumer landscape it serves. Given the value publishers can add throughout the purchase funnel, advertisers should review their affiliate strategy in light of any overarching digital marketing and conversion problems being faced, where specialist publishers could support. This approach breaks away from any siloed thinking around the affiliate channel, encouraging a holistic perspective for sustained success for the affiliate landscape and beyond.


About the Author: 

Melanie Skuse is a Client Director at Awin – a global, award-winning affiliate marketing platform.

With 14 years’ experience in the affiliate industry, including nine years in agencies, heading up a publisher side client services team, and an attribution focus at Awin for the last three years, Mel is an advocate for demonstrating the true value driven by the affiliate channel beyond last click. The recently launched attribution powered reporting suite within the Awin platform enables advertisers to fully understand the different roles that individual affiliates play across the entire customer journey, helping to inform affiliate strategy and to demonstrate the value of the channel to stakeholders beyond the affiliate channel.

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