July 13, 2015

Meet The Team: Kelsey Aschenbeck

Author : Guallie Garcia

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In today’s Meet The Team blog, I interview Kelsey Aschenbeck who is a Graphic Designer for Schaaf-PartnerCentric.

What is your background and how did you find Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

“I studied architecture in college and moved into graphic design. I like to make things easily interpreted by visual means. I found myself at Schaaf-PartnerCentric when I was introduced to Brook Schaaf. After meeting with him a few times, I found myself doing part-time work with Schaaf-PartnerCentric and now I work here full time as a Graphic Designer.”

What do you like the most about your position?

“Every day is a new day for me. I spend my mornings checking my Asana page and then I go from there with my design projects. My days either consist of very big projects or a bunch of little projects. I usually have bigger projects in the morning and little things later in the day.”

“It’s nice to be the main designer in the office. It feels good knowing that I create a standard and represent the company with my work. I also enjoy the company humor and how the company collaborates and talks together as a team to get things done.”

What do you work on outside of Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

“When I am not working, I enjoy making hand-lettered typography. I also have side projects for my designs such as print making, drawing, and photography.”

What advice would you give to new hires here at Schaaf-PartnerCentric?

“I would advise new hires to try to learn the lingo fast. There are so many things related to affiliate marketing that I had no idea existed until I situated into my position. The learning curve is pretty big when trying to work in this industry. Be open and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

 

If you liked this blog, go check out my article on what it is like being the Marketing and Events Coordinator here or learn more about the life of a Marketing Analyst here. If you want to get the latest Affiliate Marketing news, go ahead and give us a like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter.

 




July 09, 2015

Why the Affiliate Sandbox is Shifting in the US

Author : Stephanie Harris

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This article first appeared in PerformanceIN on June 8th, 2015.

The affiliate sandbox is shifting. The composite we have played in since the late ‘90s, layered with coupon, loyalty, data feed, and a smattering of content sites, has been disrupted. As the performance marketing industry matures, the perception of what a “valuable affiliate” is, and how it is measured, has evolved. Advertisers want more affiliate revenue, but only from sources and touch-points they recognize as incremental sales.

How many times have affiliate marketers found themselves in challenging conversations about those who “introduce” and those who “conclude” a sale, about “mommy bloggers”, about valuable content or niche sites, and “less valuable” traditional affiliate sites? Efforts are being re-directed to respond to this shift, and a cottage industry has emerged to address a clear gap. There are countless departments, specialist roles, processes, and software aimed at coaxing these high-valued content and blogger sites into the affiliate sandbox.

Initiators

One of the biggest indicators of this is the shift away from the last-click-wins-all and toward the multi-touch model, with the most valued affiliates pegged as the “initiators”. Advertisers seek to grow this bucket of sites, and to address this need a great deal of time is spent in the pursuit of recruiting potential initiators. Through these efforts, the insight we’ve gleaned is that, with some exceptions, the engagement we need to have with these types of sites is different from affiliate engagement, and requires a pivot in thinking, in workflow, and in the structural model in order to address it. We can still grow the relationships our advertisers have with these types of sites, but not necessarily through the affiliate channel, and not always by working within our own sandbox.

These sites, as a whole, don’t respond well to the pay-per-performance model. Anyone who has tried tirelessly over the years to forge relationships with these sites at their conferences and in their milieu, and drag them out of their box, over the line, and into an affiliate program can attest to this. They are of a different breed. Affiliate marketing is traditionally focused on the conversion of a sale, and the traditional affiliate role is the execution of that sale. To focus on influencing the sale is a different strategy. And it requires a different approach.

Motivations

To understand the most effective method is to understand the motivation. Why do advertisers want to spend so much time recruiting these sites? It’s not for the revenue they generate, or their sheer volume – typically these sites won’t do near the volume of the traditional affiliate, which is built more for mass appeal. What is valuable is their platform to speak to niche, targeted potential customers with a high customer lifetime value. And what are the sites interested in? They want to introduce brands to their audience, build enthusiasm, and generate content and sponsorships.

The essence of influencer marketing is the same as affiliate marketing: it’s about finding, creating, and fostering direct relationships with sites that advertisers care about. But we need to measure success, the ultimate sandcastle, in terms of reach and engagement, not on a converted sale. Sponsoring giveaways, contests, reviews, or creative paid placement, in exchange for an upfront fee for their time and access to their audience, gives advertisers the traction they’re looking for with these sites. Playing with a different set of guidelines for a different kind of sandbox will allow an advertiser to secure real estate on the coveted influencer sites, as well as foster relationships with site owners who have influence with target brand enthusiasts. This is a new day, and a new way to play.

 

If you’re interested in learning about how our new REACH program could help your brand, please request a consultation below.


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July 07, 2015

Controlling Fraud in Lead Affiliate Programs

Author : Dan Fink

For a lead-based affiliate program fraud prevention can be a daunting task that is critical to success. If done correctly from the beginning, it can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary commissions and fees. Here are three steps to ensuring your program is protected against fraudulent publishers.

Choose the right tracking platform.

One of the most important decisions for preventing fraud in a new affiliate program is choosing the correct tracking platform. There are a myriad of tracking platforms out there and they all have their benefits and drawbacks. Make sure that the tracking platform you’re considering is vigilant in vetting publishers and has a strong QA process in place for all traffic. Some of the larger tracking platforms place equal importance on fraud prevention as its merchants, which leads to expanded services to help control fraud such as real-time fraud detection and brand monitoring.

Set up program terms appropriately.

Once the tracking platform is in place, make sure that the program terms are not attractive to black-hat publishers. If you have a multiple-action program, such as paying on a lead and then a conversion to a paid sign-up, put the weight of the payout on the second conversion. In a pure lead program, keep the payout as close to the competition as possible without putting too much money out there. The bottom line is if you have a strong offer and the publisher drives quality traffic, they’ll understand that larger payouts come as private offers. A high, default-rate payout attracts publishers who may be more interested in taking advantage of the offer as opposed to converting high quality traffic.

Create a rock solid vetting process for new publishers.

All tracking platforms have their own publisher vetting process, with some being much more detailed than others. To ensure a trust-worthy publisher base, personally review all affiliate applications. It is a manual and time-consuming process, but is worth the effort in the end. To help speed up the process, put countries where fraud has a habit of originating from on auto-decline. The most common type of fraudulent publisher I am seeing lately are publishers with content sites that are related and look good for the program I am managing while having little actual traffic. If someone unseasoned was reviewing the application they would assuredly be accepted into the program. Once in the program they generally have a very high conversion ratio with bad leads. However, these sites do have a few tells that are easy to spot:

1) The banners for various programs in the tracking platform are listed on the site

2) They have low traffic scores when looking at Alexa and Google

Another type of suspect application I see are random publishers inserting extremely popular sites into the URL portion of the application. It is obvious that these people have nothing to do with the site, so that is an easy decline. But when it isn’t obvious, there are a few easy ways to gain information and put yourself ahead of the fraudsters:

1) Review the website – In many cases there will be information on the site that does not match up with the application or vice versa

2) Impose traffic restrictions – Create a minimum traffic requirement based on Alexa/Google/Anything else you want. Sites over a million in Alexa generally won’t generate any volume.

3) Make good use of a WHOIS tool – In many cases the domain information will be private, but when it’s not that information is helpful in determining the validity of an application

4) Reach Out – Any publisher that you are on the fence on in terms of acceptance or will be accepting you should reach out to in order to determine their marketing methods and begin a relationship. If it is a publisher you are unsure of and they don’t communicate back, well there is your answer. Invariably, some good publishers will be caught up in the net we’ve laid to prevent any fraud from entering the program.

This is a small price to pay for a clean program and in many cases they will reach out themselves allowing you to review everything again in a different light.

In the end, the most important way to keep your lead program fraud-free is to build long-lasting mutually-beneficial relationships with your publishers.

If you’re interested in learning how Schaaf-PartnerCentric builds highly valued lead programs, please request a consultation.


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