Affiliates for retailers in 2014: the Rubik’s cube quandary

Posted: Monday 28th April 2014 in Performance Marketing, Thought Leadership.
Jumbled Rubik's cube

Affiliates in 2014 resemble an incomplete Rubik’s cube: each move evolves the shape of things to come

Whilst sitting at my desk mulling over the usual daily contemplations (should I have tea or coffee? Why is that Rubik’s cube incomplete?) I turn my attention to the future of the affiliate channel.

As we all know, 2014 is the year of mobile…again. And affiliates look set to play a big part…again. I glance back at the incomplete Rubik’s cube and realise that the reason the same topics keep being raised is because, like the Rubik’s cube, each move made then evolves the cube. To complete it you need to change the way you are thinking and looking at the shape in order to select your next move.

In 2014 it will be important that retailers take a much closer look at the basics of their channel to ensure that anything additional they implement does not affect the fundamental principles that have made their affiliate programmes successful so far.


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Following this they’ll want to look at:

  • Attribution – especially with the work that tracking provider and Summit partner, DC Storm, has been carrying out in partnership with Affiliate Window and Linkshare. At Summit we have our own approach to attribution that importantly takes into account the entire customer journey and not just affiliates in the channel. The focus on attribution will lead to more use of an alternative reward model, instead of the last click wins model, which in turn leads to a further spread of reward through the affiliate base giving smaller content affiliates a reward for the content they produce. I expect to see an increase in the number of retailers applying this to their affiliate programmes this year.
  • Mobile – the affiliate channel is right there with everyone else looking at ways to adapt and capitalise on the growth of mobile. In response to this we’re starting to see an increase in the number of mobile technology solutions this year. We have already seen the emergence of a couple of mobile-specific affiliate networks enter the UK such as MobPartner and KissMyAds. As a result there are bound to be some new pieces of technology that publishers will devise to increase their traffic-driving capabilities through mobile devices.
  • Affiliates are set for international expansion

    UK retailers are likely to look into international expansion for affiliates

    International expansion – I think the number of UK retailers looking to invest in overseas expansion via the affiliate channel will increase, as too will the publishers themselves as they also look to capitalise on cross border opportunities. Key markets this year have already been discussed in Performancein, with fashion retailers beginning to emerge in the Australian market. No doubt there will also be more and more retailers looking to tap into the huge US market.

The affiliate channel remains an excellent way for retailers to engage their brands with a wider audience. It is also an excellent platform to develop relationships with affiliate partners that are brands within their own right and have an excellent user base.

Carrying out the above steps is really only be the beginning but, in essence, the first face of the Rubik’s cube will be complete.

What will be more interesting is how, over the next 5 years, the other faces of the cube will look. Will advanced tech be on affiliate radars? How nice would it be to be able to claim your cashback or use your vouchercode with a swipe of your watch or with a cheeky wink via Google Glass? And remember, once your cube is complete there is always the possibility that someone will cause disruption by rearranging it and putting it back on your desk! But at Summit if we didn’t enjoy the challenge we would not be involved in the world of Changemaking.

How do you think your Rubik’s cube will look by the end of the year? Or for that matter in 5 years’ time?


If you have any questions about affiliates at Summit, or would like to know more about what we can do to help you make more money online please contact Dave Trolle.