The shift away from using terms like “affiliate marketing”, “affiliate”, “advertiser”, or “CPA Network” to encompass the industry and its different players has been a long time coming. While these terms may have once adequately represented the key players in the performance marketing industry, Perform[cb] feels that now is the time to elevate the terms and their related definitions. Why now? Well, because traditional “affiliate marketing” is now just one valuable piece of the overall performance marketing landscape, which is being fueled by a new wave of networks, technology, media buyers, and brands with expertise in the space. Perform[cb] is a leader in this evolution and has a finger on the pulse of where the industry is headed next, and in our view “affiliate marketing” is very 2019…in 2020, we’re focusing on performance marketing; starting with modernizing the four terms that are at the core of our industry vernacular: Affiliate Marketing, Affiliate, Advertiser, and CPA network.
Traditional term: Affiliate Marketing
Modern term: Performance Marketing
The term “affiliate marketing” is generally used to refer to conversion-focused (lower-funnel) partners such as deal and loyalty sites, as well as traditional affiliate networks. These partners are crucial to the success of a brand’s performance marketing efforts due to the incrementality they drive through increasing metrics such as average order value (AOV) and conversion rate.
Though valuable, lower-funnel partners are only one piece of a healthy digital marketing mix. According to a 2019 study by Hubspot, 47% of consumers viewed three to five pieces of content prior to engaging with a sales rep. The marketing rule of seven touchpoints to conversion is still alive and well, which means a balance of lower, mid, and upper-funnel content is key for performance. This comprehensive approach drives conversions and user-acquisition on a Cost-Per-Action (CPA), Cost-Per-Install (CPI), Cost-Per-Lead (CPL), Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE), Cost-Per-Sale (CPS) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) pricing model. Since almost all modern marketing is tracked and metered, it could make sense to say all digital marketing is performance-based. However, the common thread connecting each channel listed here is that payment is solely based on performance, hence the shift to referring to this type of marketing in its entirety as Performance Marketing, rather than Affiliate Marketing.
An example of a traditional “affiliate” is a media buyer who runs traffic in a saturated channel, which lacks transparency. In recent years, the industry began referring to these affiliates as publishers, but the relationship between affiliate, or publisher, and network has historically been very transactional. Collaboration is one of the principles upon which Perform[cb] is based, which is where the relationships between our industry veterans and affiliate partners come into play. After 20+ years in the performance marketing industry, Perform[cb]’s team of industry veterans have been known to form solid relationships with their affiliates. It’s not uncommon for a Perform[cb] rep to receive an invitation to an affiliate’s wedding, and vice versa. They communicate daily, sometimes multiple times, and sometimes when needed, even in the middle of the night. Our reps are always there for our affiliates, and that is why we have some of the most loyal affiliates in the industry. This isn’t an affiliateship, it’s a partnership, and that’s why we refer to them as our Partners.
When channels were more limited, the act of selling a product was supported primarily by advertising. In the traditional sense “advertise” equals “impressions”, and an “advertiser” was, traditionally and simply put, someone who had a good or service to sell. However, the complex world of modern product sales and lead generation requires a savviness that old-time advertisers just didn’t have. This includes the ability to navigate different channels like social, display, email, and content to maximize ROI and produce quantifiable results for their brands. This agility in shifting priority based on insights and data is the epitome of marketing, and thus why we choose to refer to our brands as Marketers.
Traditional: CPA Network
Modern: Performance Network or Marketplace
CPA is really too narrow for today’s performance marketing environment. As established above, the Performance Marketing funnel includes several types of marketing for the purpose of driving customer and user acquisition on a CPA, CPI, CPL, CPE, CPS and CPC pricing model.
With this evolution, the networks in the space must also evolve and reinvent themselves to keep pace with, and to stay ahead of, the needs of their Partners and Marketers. To address this need, pivotal to our recent rebrand, Perform[cb] launched an integrated Network powered by PerformLEAPTM, our advanced proprietary end-to-end marketplace platform that supports sophisticated account management and client self-service. Protected by PerformSHIELDTM, our in-house developed anti-fraud software, Marketers have the ability to build offers, manage budgets, creative, and more all directly within the platform. This drives. This drives more autonomy and transparency for Marketers, allowing for real customer lifetime value (CLV) alignment throughout the funnel. For Partners, PerformLEAP offers a variety of features including Suggested Offers, Multi-Level Offer Priority, Brand & Image Rotation, and pixel placements (global, vertical, offer group, and offer level) – all intended to help Partners to be more efficient and generate higher ROI. Learn more about some of our recent feature releases here.
The Perform[cb] network goes so far beyond CPA that calling us a CPA Network or an Affiliate Network just isn’t fitting as we look towards the future. That’s why we refer to ourselves as a Performance Marketing Powerhouse, (maybe that’s why “perform” is the very foundation of our new brand?), but you can call us a Performance Network…and we will gladly refer to you as our Partners and Marketers.
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