More the Merrier?
One of the questions I am regularly asked is “Should merchants partner with more than one network?” I have been on both sides of the fence. At Nationwide I ran with both single and multiple networks at different times. For the majority of DSG brands we run exclusively with Affiliate Window
Competition and Loyalty
A common argument for running more then one programme is:
The networks are just virtual sales forces. Surely an element of competition will improve performance as the networks try to beat their rivals.
On the face of it, that is a sound argument. In certain circumstances that is true. However wherever there is competition, there are generally winners and losers. Whilst in the initial stages, competition is rife, often the losers motivation deteriorates. This results in more work for the merchants and less focus on those affiliates.
In addition, some affiliates do have preferences with certain networks. This could be down to personal relationships or the technology the network provides. Whilst very few affiliates do work exclusively with one network, they often prioritise merchants based on the network they are with.
So do merchants on exclusive agreements miss out?
Merchants on single affiliate networks benefit from a number of efficiencies. The de-duping becomes less of an issue. You don’t have to worry about double paying through affiliates or integrating two tracking technologies.
Processing of payments, affiliate approval and communication is streamlined. The main benefit is the fact that relationship building with the networks become easier and more focussed. In turn the network can talk in much more depth about your programme and sell the benefits to affiliates.
So does one network reduce affiliate choice? Well in one sense yes, if an affiliate really wants to work with Currys for instance, then there would only be one network. However it does make choice easier for the affiliates and they know exactly who they need to speak with in order to resolve issues or to negotiate incentives and optimisation.
The end game has to be based on your objectives. If you are meeting your KPIs with one network do you need the additional work of two networks? There is not one single answer, different approaches work for different brands with different objectives. For me Affiliate Window offer great technology for retailers and affiliates alike. For that reason sole networks could be the way forward.