The Publisher’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing: Part I

By Peter Klein | SVP, Media Services

In the fall 2012 edition of Revenue Performance magazine I wrote an article, “The CMO’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing,” that established the basic principles every marketer needs know to launch an effective affiliate marketing program. Now, I’m turning my attention to the entrepreneurial side — the affiliate/publisher.

As an affiliate myself for the better part of a decade, I know that none of the progress of the performance marketing industry would be possible without the entrepreneurial spirit of publishers.

Being a publisher isn’t easy. In the digital age, many major media sources, as well as the State and Federal governments, conspire to make it difficult for publishers to consistently and efficiently market their business. Even if a publisher makes it through all of those pain points and finds a great campaign to scale, it requires significant financial support and a watchdog mentality to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The road to being a successful affiliate or publisher isn’t easy but it comes with many tangible benefits. Over the course of the next two posts I will lay out the reasons why publishers use affiliate marketing, along with a five-step plan they can use to launch their first affiliate marketing program.

Let’s start with five of the many benefits that affiliate marketing affords publishers:

  1. 25 billion reasons and counting. The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates that annual spending in the United States on performance marketing services will reach at least $25 billion in 2012. That is a 120-percent improvement over 2011 spend. Performance marketing accounts for 67 percent of all online marketing revenue transactions, according to the IAB. It’s a growth sector and represents an opportunity for new and old affiliates alike.
  2. Low barrier to entry. It takes a small investment to test affiliate marketing campaigns. There are multiple media channels to experiment with, offering publishers several ways to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Often, it takes $1,000 or less to accurately measure the effectiveness of a test campaign and to judge whether additional spend is warranted.
  3. Affiliate network support. Networks are available to take most of the stress off of the sales, technology and client service needs that eat up labor expenses. They make it easy to access brand advertisers that would be difficult to otherwise engage as an individual or small company.
  4. Lucrative potential. Few industries have produced the number of millionaires that the performance marketing industry has spawned. Performance marketing services are in high demand. If you test, optimize and innovate, there is the potential to make a lot of money.
  5. Lifestyle. Affiliate marketing provides the freedom to work remotely since few office-based services are needed. Until physical working capacity is reached, and you need to hire multiple employees, there is little need to leave the comforts of home.

There are many more reasons to become a publisher. Later this week, I’ll write about how publishers can launch a successful affiliate marketing program.

What are some of the benefits you think affiliate marketing offers publishers? And for you publishers: What have you learned from working with an affiliate network?