A New Sheriff in Town: Taming the Wild West of Affiliates

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For decades, traditional affiliate marketing roamed the partnership landscape with a swagger, offering advertisers the ability to pay only for sales, rather than impressions or clicks. With no upfront marketing cost, affiliate marketing promised big returns, thanks to publishers who would promote products and services in exchange for a cut of the sale price.

As affiliate networks boomed in the late 90s and early 00s, however, a Wild West, rough-around-the-edges mentality soon emerged where online brands had little control or visibility into their partnerships. As a result, gamesmanship and fraud ran rampant and rules were blatantly ignored. Questionable practices were everywhere: Cookies were stuffed, trademark bidding on Google was rife with abuse, while advertisers often weren’t even aware of these affiliate model challenges.

Partnerships Have Evolved Beyond Traditional Affiliates

Fast forward to today: The partnership channel has evolved beyond traditional affiliates, but there are still significant fraud-related challenges brands need to be aware of. These include evolving issues such as mobile fraud and influencer fake followers as well as old tricks like cookie stuffing and unknown toolbars. In fact, a whopping 30% of all digital advertising remains fraudulent, particularly in emerging or new channels such as mobile in-app advertising, so staying vigilant remains essential.

The difference is, now brands know and demand better. These days, partnership managers want to gain full strategic control of and full visibility into their partnerships. They want to make sure they stay on top of potential risks as they expand their programs. To

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