Interview with Matt Frary, CEO and Founder of SmarterChaos
What does Affiliate Window’s acquisition of ShareASale mean for the rest of the industry?
The acquisition of ShareASale by Affiliate Window means that ShareASale is now going to have a more global footprint, and Affiliate Window will have a larger domestic footprint. In terms of changing anything in the industry, it won’t change that much. Brian Littleton, CEO of ShareASale has assured us he will remain CEO of ShareASale and still be the spiritual leader of the karaoke and piano sessions in our industry. The ShareASale/Affiliate Window combo will allow these guys to compete even closer with Commission Junction, LinkShare, Impact Radius and PepperJam. They are all in a tight race for land grabs (Advertisers and Publishers) but there is so much blue sky in performance marketing that there is still enough room for these networks. In the end the Network that focuses on their key partners and can facilitate their growth will win. It’s not about trying to do it all in house, its about facilitating agencies and advertisers to do it on your platform. ShareASale has committed to Advertisers and to Agencies through changing technology and tools as well as constant communication and interaction. Affiliate Window has also done a great job with this, as has Impact Radius and PepperJam. Those networks competing with agencies to provide managed services and that try to manage 1000s of advertisers are going to find themselves unable to innovate with technology.
An increasing number of networks have major new-investor money behind them, funding more sophisticated technology and greater scale. Are networks inevitably going to get bigger, and will small networks be driven out?
The large networks that don’t innovate their technology will die the death of the dinosaurs and take any stubborn advertiser with them. For example, if you can’t place a publisher’s Server to Server pixel, you can’t work with sub-networks, you can’t track coupons properly, do data feeds right, handle cross-device tracking, or track mobile installs and engagement, you might as well check-out now and hang onto what you got as the other networks steal your business. The smaller networks will be able to move as fast as the software companies that power them like Has Offers, Cake, HitPath, LinkTrust and any other platform that is popping up to help networks. Most smaller networks are powered by these companies, and the survival of the smaller networks like She Is Media are dependent on servicing a smaller focused niche as well as a strong focus on advertiser and publisher client service teams with deep knowledge and added value. It’s not enough to just pay weekly or have “exclusive offers” but these days its about building strategy and becoming a strong advocate for the brands as a smaller network. They will survive as long as they can move quickly and stay relevant in these smaller niches.
What should an advertiser using performance marketing be thinking about in 2017?
An Advertiser in 2017 should be paying attention to attribution models and how their various channels interplay with each other. The old way to consider affiliate marketing in the media mix was to judge based on last click and how many sales an affiliate drove. This is no longer enough, and you have to have a system like Impact Radius, Conversion Logic, Convertro or any of the other marketing Systems of Record. The new way to manage your media spends it to back EVERYTHING into some sort of performance metric like Effective Cost Per Action (eCPA) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). At SmarterChaos we usually define a metric like ROAS up front with our Clients, and then affiliate, SEM, social, email, SEO and all other types of traffic are normalized using a common metric. We use Impact Radius to provide us proper attribution by channel, and then we make decisions using data and analytics that take into account the complexity of a strong digital marketing mix.
Another major trend to watch is the sheer amount of transacting going on in the mobile space. Some of our retailers pointed out that this last Christmas and holiday season they saw as high as 80% of transactions occurring on a mobile device. This is something that marketers will not be able to ignore. Mobile specific sites, creatives, check out processes, apps, marketing mix, and strategy will make huge differences in the success of any performance marketing program. Mobile marketing cannot just be an “add on” to the marketing mix and/or an afterthought. The technology is available to do cross-device tracking, targeting, and measurement. Marketers will have to become across all types of digital platforms like desktop, mobile, tablet, or other as well as proficient in the marketing mix and driving incremental sales using each. We have an exciting year ahead, and I”m sure we will all learn a thing or three!
Matt Frary is CEO and Founder of SmarterChaos.com, an Internet marketing and sales agency focused on large brands. Matt was a founder of a former top-30 online ad network called ROIRocket.com, and is a frequent speaker at online marketing conferences. As a Mentor at The Founder’s Institute in Denver, CO, Matt enjoys working with start-ups to realize positive ROI quickly and is a passionate and serial entrepreneur.