Most affiliate managers recognize that their program can be complemented by the addition of strategic media planning with selected partners. Tactical thinking and in-depth data analysis based on targeted KPIs is required to understand whether initiatives in the affiliate channel are producing incremental results.
Related: what are incremental sales?
However, several important questions often arise when the time to implement a large-scale, coordinated media buy arrives. Here are the top questions Streamline receives regarding affiliate marketing media planning.
What is media planning?
For those advertisers unfamiliar with the topic of media planning in the landscape of affiliate marketing, let’s take a step back. Affiliate is a pay-for-performance marketing channel, meaning that advertisers pay their partners either a percentage of each sale, a flat fee for each sale, or a fee for each lead generated, depending upon the program structure.
Yet there are also opportunities for advertisers to gain more consumer eyeballs by paying an additional flat fee or offering a commission increase to key partners for supplementary real estate. These fees are on top of the existing pay-for-performance agreement. Media buys may consist of site placements, email placements, social media exposure, mobile placements, and any other place where consumers engage with a publisher’s user experience.
Why do media planning at all?
Many of the highest-performing premium placements available for sale perform so well that they may only be available to advertisers willing to pay for them up front. As publishers continually optimize their user experience, they find that certain emails, site placements, mobile spots and other placements consistently generate such strong results that they don’t need to give them away for the pay-for-performance fee alone. Advertisers unwilling to entertain the idea of media buys will miss out on these opportunities.
Media planning also helps to form stronger long-term partnerships. This means that when the time comes for an advertiser to approach a publisher about an innovative business idea, the door is already open. Advertisers willing to buy media are also typically given make-good placements if their buy doesn’t perform to their expectations.
Which publishers should advertisers buy from?
Before beginning media planning, account management teams must closely consider the company’s goals to determine what they are looking to achieve. For example, if they need to drive more new-to-file shoppers, they must look at new-to-file volume by publisher and prioritize placement buys around that KPI. If the company strives to drive more top-of-funnel shoppers, they should look at shoppers’ first click by partner to prioritize buys, looking both at share and overall volume.
However, advertisers should be open to opportunities to run media buy tests with publishers, as data from media buys might differ from the overall publisher performance data. This is where strong account relationships become important, as publishers may be able to offer remnant inventory at a reduced price to advertisers they are familiar with who are looking to run a test.
When do advertisers buy media?
Affiliate programs new to media buying may want to consider running test buys before committing to long-term contracts. However, the best policy once both parties are comfortable is to attempt to do overarching buys as early as possible, ideally for six months to one year. This skeleton buy ensures that the advertiser will receive better placements for key events like Black Friday, which are often first-come, first served. Then, the advertiser should backfill the placement schedule as needed with remnant sale inventory from publishers as well as last-minute sales that might arise.
Long-term buys can be beneficial in negotiating package pricing deals with publishers, which can save advertisers substantial sums of money for premium placement opportunities. It is important that the account management team or agency understands where there is flexibility for price negotiations, and how to think creatively about how to best maximize available spend.
What is the best way to measure media buy performance?
Media buy performance measurement can be accomplished in many ways, depending on the goals and KPIs that matter to the advertiser. Some advertisers prefer to measure overall program lift, while others look at clicks, sales, and other metrics for each specific media spot. Whatever the approach, the key is to ensure that this analysis is not “one size fits all,” and is instead tailored to the individual business.
Streamline utilizes best-in-class data analysis to provide recommendations for media buy investments. Our proprietary in-house technology, Streamline Analytics enables us to import our clients’ valuable internal metrics and marry those with comprehensive affiliate network data, giving clients visibility into the performance of each individual placement. We would be happy to show how we can accurately measure media buy performance by applying our methodology to your data in a test audit. Please reach out to us today!