Over the past several weeks, we’ve been writing about how to effectively book paid placements in affiliate. In our first series, we went back to the basics, bringing you 3 easy steps to booking placements in uneasy times and then followed up by providing 3 easy steps to track and audit those placements to ensure efficiency. Today, in the final installment of our paid placements in affiliate marketing blog series, we’re writing about what is for many marketers the biggest challenge when dealing with paid placements and media buys: how to accurately measure their results.
Paid placements are traditionally one–off opportunities that allow brands to gain premium onsite exposure with a publisher partner. They are often funded separately from the variable commission rates allocated to a partner and in many cases, operate on a fixed fee, similar to a media buy. It’s the result of these one–off media buys that create complexity for marketers when it comes to measuring the incremental lift directly attributable to the placement. So, to help bring clarity and focus to this complexity, below are 7 simple steps that easily break down how to effectively measure the results of your affiliate placements.
1. Evaluate placements in the Ascend™ platform’s Track module.
Ascend™ makes monitoring the real-time success of affiliate placements easy with Placement Tracking and Reporting—your go-to reporting tool for holiday and beyond. Placement Tracking and Reporting enables marketers to quickly and easily:
Gain real-time insight into the effectiveness of your placements and featured exposure with metrics like clicks, transactions, revenue, conversion rate and more.
- Monitor return on spend with placement performance and cost data displayed prominently on the report.
- Easily access historical placement specifics and results to recall exposure details and replicate previous wins. Adding and reviewing results for placements in Ascend™ is quick and easy—learn more in our user guide.
2. Establish baseline measurement period for performance comparison.
Set the bar for success by selecting a previous performance duration for the publisher partner that is running the placement similar to the time period that the placement will run. For example:
- Tuesday – Thursday of last week vs. Tuesday – Thursday of this week
- This month vs. last month. For months that differ in number of days, get a monthly comparison by dividing the total monthly revenue by number of days in the month for an average.
- Year over year comparison using the same calendar dates. As a note, this method does not account for seasonality and shifting holiday dates—an important consideration in evaluating performance. For example, Black Friday 2018 fell in the second-to-last week of November, whereas Black Friday 2019 was the last week of the calendar month.
3. Consider data beyond immediate lift in revenue.
The affiliate channel delivers results beyond merely lift in revenue such as brand advocacy, increased site traffic, new customers and more. When comparing results for a respective placement duration, it’s key to look at the whole picture, and not simply the lift in revenue.
- Review your Ascend™ KPI tracker to see how featured exposure impacted your top three primary success drivers.
Visit Track to check out metrics like traffic, conversion rate, transactions and average order value (AOV) for the placement period as well as the days following your exposure. As a note, days following featured exposure is particularly important to placements such as email drops, as recipients may take several days to engage with this medium as opposed to a homepage feature that expires.
- Configure various Ascend™ reports to determine if any of the metrics experienced a lift during the placement period as opposed to your baseline measurement period. Compare data in the Placement report to that of the Publisher Performance Report by navigating to Track > Performance > Publisher Performance. This is an important step in measuring placement success considering that a traditional top-of-funnel partner with featured placement may have driven site traffic that ultimately resulted in a lift in revenue from a “closer” publisher partner if you are utilizing reward structures. Select the date range of the placement period with your baseline measurement period automatically in Track by easily customizing time periods to compare and evaluate.
4. Analyze the placement data.
Draw actionable insights from your placement performance by asking yourself the following questions:
- Did the placement result in a traffic lift over the comparable period? If so, what was the additional exposure your brand received as a result?
Did the placement drive a greater number of transactions? If so, what was the net incremental lift?
- Did new-to-file (NTF) customers increase?
- Was the conversion rate better for the current placement period over the prior period? Did it have an impact on revenue?
- Did the AOV during the current placement period increase over the prior time frame? If so, did it result in greater revenue?
By gaining a clear understanding of revenue drivers and performance results, it’s easy to replicate wins or iterate strategy for future exposure.
5. Evaluate Incrementality.
Without a true definition, brands must define what incrementality means to their business—revenue, traffic, transactions, views and engagement can all be characterized as incremental value in the affiliate channel dependent on broader business goals. Ascend™ enables brands to measure the incrementality of a paid placement by not only providing publisher partners with a unique tracking link for placement tracking, but also implementing dynamic commissioning structures to commission at the creative level. In combination, dynamic commissioning capabilities and unique placement tracking links provide brands with engagement transparency as well as spend control.
6. Consider the investment by measuring return on ad spend (ROAS).
Measuring return on ad spend (ROAS) helps you to understand if your investment was returned in comparison to the revenue generated by the placement. This measurement, combined with an analysis of the performance metrics, will ultimately help you determine future placement investments. However, ROAS is not the sole factor in determining future placements with the publisher as placements perform differently because of varying factors. For example, a homepage placement might fare better for one partner’s site versus a category placement whereas newsletters may yield better performance than a homepage placement for other partners. Rather, the ROAS will help you make better decisions about the types of placements that are most effective for your brand on a per–partner basis.
7. Bring it all back to your key performance indicators (KPIs).
The Ascend™ platform’s front-and-center KPI widget enables you to manually set your top 4 monthly goals to easily monitor real-time success metrics—data that is particularly important when featured placements are factored in. When reviewing your KPIs throughout the month, consider:
- What are your KPIs? Did you discuss these metrics with your publisher partner when negotiating and choosing a placement or featured placement package?
- How did your placement influence the performance of your KPIs?
- How can I replicate successes from the placement to drive next month’s KPIs?
Coordinating and measuring placements is an important part of your affiliate marketing lifecycle year-round, but particularly when prepping for peak shopping season. If you haven’t yet, we strongly encourage you to prepare yourself by checking out the previous series installments found here and here to get a better of idea on how to select, track, audit effectively measure their results.