Jonathan's Blog

It’s only been 7 weeks at my new affiliates specialist role and I already feel like a frog out of the well.  I’ve discovered this whole new side to affiliate marketing that I didn’t even know existed before. There’s so much more to affiliate marketing than paying bloggers commission to write about your product. Much hustling behind the scenes is needed between advertisers and publishers (aka affiliates), for the big money to be made.

Below are some of the things I’ve learned to date:

The 80/20 Rule Applies for Affiliates

In a typical affiliate program, 20% or less of the publishers generate 80% or more of the sales. For smaller affiliate programs, it is not unusual for one publisher drives 90% of the sales. When one publisher dominates a program, great lengths are often taken to ensure that the dominant publisher stays happy and continues to promote the advertiser’s product. Incentives to stay can include commission increases, ad buys, SEM funding and cash bonuses. Generally, it is better to have a more diversified program so that a handful of publishers do not have too much leverage over the advertiser.

You Need to Communicate with Publishers

An informed publisher is a better performing publisher. Promotions, bonuses and new products should be frequently communicated so that publishers can take advantage. Newsletters are the least that an advertiser can do to help their affiliate program perform.

Experienced affiliate program managers will have built up many relationships with account executives at various publishers. It is through these relationships that the program manager will be able to great increased exposure and more effective promotions from publishers. Having a good relationship with an account executive can lead to being able to get better rates on increased exposure, notifications when a promotion slot opens up and insight into competing advertisers’ activities on the publisher site.

Policies Need to be Clear and Enforced

The biggest downside of an affiliate program is that sometimes your brand can be associated with the less savory elements of the web. Any properly managed program will have a set of policies that clearly spell out what publishers can and cannot do to drive sales. Some examples of restricted publisher tactics include, the use of toolbars, SEM bidding on brand terms and use of brand terms in URLs. Brand Verity seems to be the tool of choice for affiliate policy enforcement, it runs keyword searches on the major search engines and alerts you of any affiliates who are in violation of your policies. There does not seem to be a tool to test for toolbar compliance yet, so you’ll just have to risk downloading and testing all those yourself.


Worked growth marketing in startups my whole career and now sharing my stories on this blog. Always down to grab some coffee and talk shop.

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