PART ONE: Top Tips to Manage Risk For Publishers

Top Tips to Manage Risk For Publishers

Performance marketing is a fast-growing digital marketing channel that is proving to be extremely lucrative for both brands and publishers. As with any partnership, there are risks and considerations on either side that when evaluated effectively will be the hallmark of a successful working relationship. While the industry is unlikely to ever be risk-free, as a merchant and as a publisher it is possible to avoid possible landmines by knowing what to look for.

In part one we will look at risk management for publishers. When it comes to choosing affiliate programs and networks there are endless options, so it’s important to make sure that you choose the ones that make sense for you.

Also, in the financial services industry, compliance teams are often stricter with their affiliate rules and regulations, which means working in this space can be a challenge. Understanding what potential risks are in place is important to help make a partnership even more successful. Here are six tips to help you find the right partnerships to grow your business:

1.            Trusted Merchant/ Affiliate Network

You want to make sure you work with a reputable merchant/ affiliate network provider. Therefore, before joining an affiliate program, it’s best to diligently review your marketing partners by asking around on discussion or question-and-answer websites like Reddit and Quora. On LinkedIn there are also affiliate groups and is one of the best ways to share ideas, learn from others and find connections within your industry.  An example is the Affiliate Marketing Group which is a networking hub for affiliates and affiliate managers.

2.            On-time Payments

Understand the payment terms for each brand program, which can often be found in a merchant’s terms and conditions. Promoting a product takes a lot of effort and resources, so make sure that your merchant/ affiliate network provider is known for its consistency with on-time payouts. Once again asking around will help – LinkedIn is an example of where you can ask and get feedback from other publishers.

Understand the payment terms for each brand program, which can often be found in a merchant’s terms and conditions. Promoting a product takes a lot of effort and resources, so make sure that your merchant/ affiliate network provider is known for its consistency with on-time payouts. Once again asking around will help – LinkedIn is an example of where you can ask and get feedback from other publishers.

3.            Minimum payouts (Payment policies)

It’s always important to determine that the merchant/ affiliate network provider’s payout threshold is right for you, and what payment methods they offer.   Most programs will offer different options and different thresholds depending on the costs associated with each method. For example, to receive a wire transfer, it’s normal to expect a program to require a larger commissionable amount to help save you (and them) costs. Not to worry – most programs will rollover commissions earned to the next month if you didn’t meet your threshold and be sure to check this practice in their terms! FAQ Sections can also be a great place to start and are generally very helpful in clarifying minimum payouts.

4.            Tracking method

Earnings Report

Since your commissions are contingent on the accuracy of the merchant’s tracking method, it’s crucial to know how your performance will be tracked.  Some merchants use postback URL tracking, which uses a server to server approach, and though it’s slightly more complicated than using cookies, it’s a very accurate method of tracking. Many merchants use cookies to track sales or leads, and since cookies could be tracked for a few days or a few weeks, it’s something you want to investigate.

5.            Program Requirements

From trade lines guidelines to how you are getting traffic (i.e. PPC, banners, click exchanges, purchased traffic, etc.) – you must read and understand the terms and conditions to find out precisely what is allowed and what isn’t. You want to make sure you know what you can and cannot do. In most cases, if you’re in violation of the program’s terms and conditions, merchant/ affiliate network provider will use the threat of suspension and the withholding of earnings to ensure your compliance with their policies. There are often program details on each merchant’s profile and a link to their terms like here where you can see under details the cookie duration, whether paid search/ PPC is accepted and so on.

6.            Legal Requirements

When promoting a product or service, there are various laws that come into play, including laws that govern the use of email, SMS, MMS, direct messaging and phone calls for marketing activities. Thus, you must make sure you comply with the laws, which can differ in every country. For those in Canada, here is a link to the latest CASL laws. That said, you should do some research or even talk to a lawyer make so you have all your bases covered. This way you know what is required according to the law. For example, in some cases you may be legally obligated to have a disclaimer on your website.

In conclusion, there are always risks that publishers will face, but when handled appropriately these risks are manageable. As a start, always do your research and let the six tips above guide you.

If you are a financial institution stay tuned for part two with your own set of top tips for managing risks, which we will post on our blog over the next week!

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