We sat down with Kader Benatil, the global affiliation manager at Sarenza, to ask a few questions about performance-based marketing. Affiliation offers an enticing CPA model for start-ups, but affiliate platforms (the middleman between advertisers and publishers) tend to prefer larger businesses with the strongest possible earning potential.
Mr. Benatil offered to share his experience with start-ups who might be unsure if affiliation presents a strong opportunity for their business.
What are the advantages of affiliation vs. other acquisition channels?
« The biggest advantage of affiliation is, in my opinion, that it regroups all of the acquisition channels into one. You can make it as diverse as you want. The second advantage is that you have total control of your budget, since the basic business model is normally performance-based.
Not negligible is the fact that affiliate platforms know the performance history of other companies. Therefore, they know which kind of actions could work for your program. Your account manager should understand both sides–the interests of the publisher as well as the advertiser. They should make sure that both parties can be satisfied with all actions taken, as it’s important for the platform to create an ongoing, long-term relationship between the three parties involved: the advertiser, publisher, and the platform. Direct partnerships, on the other hand, might result in simple one shot actions. »
What are the major criteria that advertisers should keep in mind when selecting an affiliate platform?
« The service they might expect of the platform and the trust they have in your product. A dedicated account manager is expensive for the platform. They have to believe in your product to make the investment to put someone on your program and get the most out of it by developing it as fast as possible.
The second factor is the type of reach you want to achieve. Most affiliate platforms are specialized in one segment, for example travel, finance or retail. You should always keep in mind which platform the publishers you want to work with are the most familiar with. »
What unique benefit does affiliation present to start-up companies in particular?
« Knowledge. Since the affiliation channel is the widest of all acquisition channels, affiliate platforms have the knowledge to create an adapted marketing strategy to penetrate your target market. With their experience of other start-ups, along with their knowledge of big companies, they can guide you in every step of the evolution of your company. »
What is the best way to attract publishers to a new affiliation program?
« Competitive commission and flexibility. You should be able to interact quickly and actively seek opportunities, not only with your account manager but also with your publishers. Together, you have to be creative and see what is the best way of building the program.
Your program should be constantly animated. It’s important that you keep your publishers informed on what’s happening in your company and on new innovations in your field. This way, publishers will have more to share more than just promotions. »
What do you think is the future of the affiliate channel?
« I think affiliate platforms will become more and more like overall marketing agencies. Most of them already propose far more than only performance-based models. This will develop even more in guiding companies with a complete marketing strategy through the media landscape. The biggest advantage is that the platforms have a rich history, significant data, and knowledge about online marketing.
Another trend will be going more international. Today, a huge percentage of companies–and even start ups–operate on an international level. Affiliate platforms can guide you in these new markets by proposing a global cross-border strategy. »
Kader Benatil is the global affiliation manager and Dutch online marketing executive at Sarenza, a leading European e-commerce retailer based in Paris.