Affiliate Summit West 2008 in Las Vegas. Love that town. Not only does it offer endless ways to get in trouble (not unlike performance marketing) but it is the only place I know of where almost every BLT is fantastic. It’s like Elvis looked down from wherever he might look down from and hath created the perfect haven for BLT lovers. Much in the same way NY is a corned beef Mecca and is hallowed ground to those of us who have a hankerin for a Reuben the size of a newborn.
But I digress. Shawn Collins and Missy Ward always put on a class affair, and this year it has swelled to unheard of attendance. I believe it was over 2000 registered. Lots of old faces but more surprising more new than old.
What was new? 2 things that really left an impression on me.
The first was www.AffSpy.com. An idea I had been floating for a year or two myself but never acted on it. Now Stephen Gill and his crew at AffSpy seem to have locked into the whole CPA transparency model as a way of driving publisher traffic. Essentially, AffSpy is the same as OfferVault.com which is now free. The one area that AffSpy will have initially that I cannot seem to find on OfferVault.com is an area for a network to tell about themselves. Right now the AffSpy beta is elegant but bare bones. The bigger goal is to provide a one stop source to review various CPA networks profiles and to be able to view the offers that they have on their rolls. This has been needed for a long time. (NOTE: Both of these sites make money from being a 2nd tier to the network when they sign up a new publisher from their sites.)
I applaud these companies for moving the industry forward as this is the sort of truth in offers that publishers do not always get to see. For the AffSpy beta I previewed, the only way they could get the offers was to scrape them (much along the lines of what we did at AffTrack). I was surprised to learn that the CPA Networks as a whole do not have API’s for their offers. You would think that since offers is a network’s stock and trade, they might treat them more as products on a shelf to be distributed to relevant audiences of publishers. As it stands, you pretty much have to join and login to see any networks offers (save a few).
AffSpy initially only displays payouts and creatives, but does not report EPC as this is a bit trickier to genericize or vanillaize each networks numbers into a apples to apples comparison. This will be the eventual breakthrough for the site, when they are able to accurately show that one network over another performs better on an offer all things being equal. This will then allow networks, by vertical, to rise to the top and attract the most loyal and productive publishers.
I think in the next 12 months we will see several variations of the AffSpy and OfferVault models, all of which will be driving more transparency into the performance marketing sector, which will in turn allow larger well funded advertisers to feel better about allocating budgets here. Why? Because all large media buys are based on statistics and media plan goals. Direct offers to consumers or direct to business has always been the realm of direct marketers. And direct mail marketers in particular have very closely watched metrics that everyone in the game is familiar with. Performance marketing lacks these clear metrics and vision into the ad marketplace which holds back large advertisers from making decisions. The advent of AffSpy and other transparent agents will usher in a new model for performance advertising.
Namely the verticalization of their catalog of offers. The margin busters (those networks who rep offers at street payouts that are inconsistent across several networks) will be called out by the AffSpy’s of our space and eventually will cause payout parity across all networks. This will force networks to prove up that they can add value to both the advertiser and the publisher relationship. Those that do not will most likely fold their traffic into someone else’s and call it a good experiment. AffSpy, OfferVault and the inevitable trail of look alike’s may contribute to performance marketing getting a bigger share of the $24B US Internet Ad Spend pie, but also help usher in a larger slice of the $800B ($370B in US alone) that is spent worldwide on advertising each year. (For those of you who haven’t put the math on paper, Internet gets only 6.5% of US advertiser’s budgets.)
In my next post I am looking forward to bringing you the next mobile app you will likely find a way to use.