As renowned physicists William Pollard once said: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” As we find ourselves in the last quarter of 2018, I can’t help but feel that next year will be a year of disruption for the digital and affiliate marketing industry in South Africa.
It’s already happening abroad where we saw a major regulatory change (GDPR), increasing complexity around tracking (Safari ITP) and a shift in user expectation and what people deem acceptable. We’re also (finally) seeing traditional media publishers recognising the value and turning to affiliates in a big way alongside a growing wave of disruptive fintech businesses looking to offer users third-party products through affiliate deals. But, with disruption also comes opportunity. To capitalise on this, we all need to become industry ambassadors, but how?
Transparency was (and still is) at the very heart of AdMarula from the start. It’s why advertisers and publishers turned to us in the first place – we were finally offering an affiliate solution that was completely transparent. For the industry it means dropping black hat processes completely, yet it’s scary how often we still come across this. Domain cloaking, fake performance and affiliates deliberately setting out to commit fraud damages the credibility of the whole industry and we need to police it wherever we can.
Honesty, honestly! As long as the content is useful to users, they are generally happy for sites to be getting a commission on a sale, but obscure data mining and re-selling for targeting will do the opposite. We’re well placed as an industry to benefit from the disruption currently facing programmatic, but we must be transparent with users. The more we do this, the more users will trust us (and the affiliate model) and the more budgets will come flying through the doors.
Help brands understand the value of affiliates. Unfortunately for many organisations affiliate is still a small, unknown item on their overall digital agenda. This is set to change as pioneering brands continue to see value from affiliates – both Best Buy and Nordstrom recently confirmed that affiliate content drives more sales than social and display combined. That’s huge. Cases like this are great, however, we need to help more brands change their thinking and recognise affiliate as a core value driver to their businesses. This is one of AdMarula’s biggest jobs.
Support brands new to the space. While new businesses find the performance based affiate model very attractive, since it means they don’t need a large budget to get started but can see immediate results, larger and more established organisations find it much harder to make that shift. It’s very interesting. The value proposition is the same, yet it means thinking differently about digital and the way they’ve been doing things in the past and ultimately questioning their existing processes and media spending.
So let’s all be the change we want to see in our industry – and let’s start today.
Daniel Gross – CEO