women shops via affiliate linksThis article was first written by Rakuten Advertising’s APAC Director of Strategy and Marketing Samantha Deavin for AdNews

The affiliate marketing channel has developed around strong relationships between networks, advertisers and publishers. As a ‘relationship business’, success in the channel traditionally relied on manually brokering deals, and building on partnerships that were fueled by personal connections. While there remains many benefits to these strong relationships, manual processes can put a constraint on both the advertiser and publisher’s ability to scale.

Today, advances in the affiliate channel are helping to support and deepen the relationships between advertisers and publishers, providing both sides of the fence with the tools to automate processes, drive efficiency in the channel and support their increasingly complex business goals.

Bridging the ‘personalisation gap.’
Affiliate advertisers are increasingly keen to align commission structures against their goals, such as rewarding publishers for delivering high-value customers, control costs on low margin products, and incentivise higher sales volumes and AOVs. While this often left publishers penalised with what felt like cost-cutting measures, new tools are giving publishers the ability to align their activity and drive traffic to these commissioning strategies, which is driving data-backed and strategic partnerships between brands and publishers.

Take personalisation, for example. Advertisers started adjusting commission based on goals such as new customer acquisition, but publishers lacked the data to effectively segment and target their audiences to deliver on these goals. As advertisers started moving in this direction, audience targeting became crucial to the longevity of affiliate relationships.

Significant advancement has been made in this space, and publishers can now tap into network databases that can include transaction, engagement and even brand’s CRM data. Requested data is fed via API to the publishers, who can then personalise the consumer experience in real-time – delivering tailored messaging or an incentive for a new-to-file customer, for example. In this instance, both the advertisers and the publishers are working together to provide the best possible experience for customers.

Data and automation driving revenue
Affiliate technology continues to evolve, and automation and AI-powered tools are driving efficiency and additional revenue streams for the channel, removing manual processes between advertisers and publishers. Link insertion technology, for example, allows content to be automatically converted to affiliate links (a must for the growing content-commerce space), and online ‘marketplaces’ for collaboration helps reduce friction when it comes to contracts and securing on-site placements.

AI-powered affiliate products and access to data is also enabling both advertisers and publishers to discover new partners that match business goals. Matchmaking tools draw on affiliate network performance data to provide publishers and advertisers with real-time recommendations on new partners.

With this improvement in data infrastructure and affiliate, tools comes more opportunity for advertisers and publishers to collaborate together in a more efficient way to meet business goals. For publishers, the access to data and new technology offers a diversification of revenue that has become a vital shot in the arm, particularly for global publishing networks. With new affiliate partners emerging due to the ease of integrating affiliate technology, advertisers have access to a broader scope of partnerships and collaboration opportunities.

The time is now
As the scope and scale of affiliate marketing continues to grow, marketers can expect to see an increasing range and breadth of publishers, the introduction of multiple ad formats, and the delivery of targeted and personalised experiences to the consumer.

Dynamic commissioning tools, the access to data, and personalised offers strengthen the advertiser publisher relationship, as a greater sense of transparency builds trust in the channel’s ability to provide a greater return on investment. Advertisers and affiliates can finally align on their one clear goal: providing customers with what they want.

Speak to our team of experts today to find out how Rakuten Advertising can help your affiliate program scale.