Are affiliate feeds and tools worth the investment?

By Lee Brignell-Cash

PwC, on behalf of the IAB, have conducted some research into the value of online performance marketing and the long-awaited results are extremely insightful. Far from being extinct, it seems that performance marketing is booming and highly significant.

The results show that in 2012 the online performance marketing industry generated £9 billion in sales from advertising spend of £814 million. This equates to a fairly impressive return of £11 for every £1 spent. What is remarkable is that more than 20% of affiliate spend can be attributed to price comparison, content and blog affiliate activity.

Content affiliates are always looking for better ways to work with advertisers; integrating high-quality feeds and affiliate tools makes it much easier for affiliate marketers to increase ROI whilst improving the shopping experience for visitors to their site.

What’s the significance of data feeds?

Data feeds allow a product inventory to be integrated in a variety of online channels. As the data is taken directly from the ‘parent’ ecommerce site and the feed is regularly refreshed, the product information remains up-to-date. The higher the quality of the data feed, the more products and attributes available to be integrated. Business logic can also be applied so that out of stock products do not show up in the feed to improve the consumer experience.

With the new changes to Google Shopping due to be implemented in the next few weeks, the need for high-quality data feeds is almost imperative. Google’s comparison shopping engine is to become a paid-for service focusing on Product Listing Ads that require high-quality product data feeds. By setting a standard for product data, Google can guarantee the most up-to-date, accurate product details and stock availability for consumers using Google Shopping.

How can affiliate tools help?

Affiliate marketing tools allow publishers easy access to an advertisers’ product inventory so they can create novel content that invites customer interaction. Content can be tailored to the publisher’s target audience using the merchant’s product data feeds so that selected products are contextual and relevant.

For example, a dance teacher using a sports shop affiliate programme could use affiliate tools to select specific items from the advertiser’s data feed, making sure that the only products featured on her site were clothing and equipment for dancers. At FusePump we’ve seen the quality of both managed and in-house data feeds and affiliate tools vastly improve recently and this makes it much easier for advertisers to engage in more affiliate programmes, increasing revenue accordingly.

Useful, engaging and specialised content drives sales

With 20% of affiliate revenue generated by comparison, content and blog affiliates, surely providing high-quality product data and easy-to-use affiliate tools is a sound investment? Especially as both help to improve the customer experience as content can directly target the intended audience. For retailers who want to increase sales in this highly competitive area of performance marketing, ignoring the innovative affiliate tools available would be extremely foolish.

About the author

With far-reaching experience and a degree in Materials Engineering, Lee Brignell-Cash first discovered sales and marketing during his sabbatical year working at Bath University’s Student Union. Since then he has worked within roles involving sales, project management and strategic partner development, before teaming up with Rob Durkin and Chris Conn to form FusePump in 2009. Originally from the West Country, Lee has three children, supports Aston Villa (for his sins) and enjoys fine dining, comedy clubs and sailing.

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