Before I start this post about a huge flaw with Media and Search metrics (view through conversions) that many Affiliates don’t know about, I wanted to talk about a funny and possibly slightly offensive thing (if you don’t have a sense of humor or understand sarcasm) that I was laughing about at the airport today.
I was flying back to Washington DC from Atlanta and not only was TSA going a bit overboard, but I was watching women who had just had babies struggle while TSA people were yelling at them to hurry. Although this isn’t anything new, being half asleep and in a cranky mood I thought of a sort of funny satirical cartoon that would be perfect for a newspaper.
Every paper published either someone faking an orgasm, asking for a drink while they were getting frisked or showed people saying things like “Well it is for the best and our safety” while a TSA security agent is putting on a rubber glove for a full body cavity search. I was thinking about the ladies who had to go through this while also carrying a newborn and really felt bad for them. I sometimes forget to pack travel sized contact lens solution or products like hairspray and so they usually tell me that I need to throw them out. One time I watched as this new mother had to throw out bottles of breast milk that she was carrying. Don’t ask why, but when I saw these people getting frisked and looking miserable, I thought of that lady and also of a really funny cartoon idea for a satirical strip or one box where you have a woman who is well endowed breast feeding her baby and security telling her no liquids on the plane or that she needs to empty those containers. You could take it a step further and also show a bunch of really happy men in the background saying I’ll do it or holding dollar bills. The headline would be something like “TSA has gone to far” or something similar to get the point across that at a certain point they need to stop and people need to speak up. It is insane what you have to go through at some of the airports and TSA has started to go to far. The cartoon wouldn’t be meant to be offensive, it would be meant to say that you need to have a different way to evaluate certain things.
A mom wanting to feed and bring breast milk for her baby is completely legit. It is also kind of gross that she had to throw it out. Why not find a better way to test the liquids for chemicals, explosives, etc… and that way her baby can eat without her having to breast feed in the airport…gentlemen, this part is not opened for comments about breast feeding in airports. Squeeze some of the breast milk (from the containers and bottles in question) or pour some onto some sort of testing machine and run it to see if it is something hazardous and then let the mom go through if it checks out so that the baby can eat on the plane. The baby will be happy, the mom will be happy and the passengers who are still safe will also be happy since there is no hungry baby screaming. Something that is just as ridiculous as making a mother throw out her babies all natural and safe food because it isn’t in a travel sized container is a Media and PPC metric called View Through Conversions.
View through conversions in my mind are absolute bullsh*t. If Media and Search companies are getting paid on them, why shouldn’t Affiliates? Although they are great to have and provide Merchants with a ton of incredible information because you can see where else your customers visit, they don’t actually show that they drove an action or sale. I have had verbal conversations where Media companies and Search companies bash Affiliates left and right. Especially from Remarketing firms and from PPC companies.
One way media companies don’t look at it is that if Affiliates weren’t building sites, then Media companies couldn’t buy their ad space and serve ads. If Affiliates weren’t running non affiliate ads then the content and shopping networks would start to lose millions and possibly billions of impressions. What those two types of companies try to do that Affiliates don’t do is use a metric called View Through Conversions.
View through conversions means that your banner may or may not have been seen. It may have been or probably was on a page and even though no one had clicked on it, a cookie or some sort of tracking code was set. This way the Media or Search company can see when the person converts on your site, even though they didn’t have to click. When the person finally makes a purchase, whether or not a click happened, the Search or Media company will claim the sale as a view through conversion which may also mean you as an Affiliate may lose the sale. What if Affiliates did that?
Media and Search companies would throw a fit! Merchant’s would be paying out a heck of a lot more money and Affiliates would be much richer. By Merchants allowing view through conversions they not only give credit when a click did not necessarily have to occur, but they are giving credit with no proof that the company helped to drive the sale. They could be overpaying or spending in a channel that is ineffective.
So what, I buy ad space on an email platform and serve an ad. Yes its expensive but if the person didn’t click when they saw the ad but they did come and make a purchase a couple days later, why should the Merchant have to pay for that? Why should that count as a view through conversion sale for the Media company? What if that person came to my site and saw a banner right after.
My banner also had the company name and maybe a deal or something that the consumer remembered. My site was the last touch point but I don’t get credit on a view through conversion. It is absolutely not fair and should be pulled from the game. In fact, stuffing tracking code may end up becoming a bigger issue as we watch new lawsuits come into play. Then what happens if the Media companies who rely on view through conversions cannot perform at their normal rates? Exactly, Affiliates may start to prove their value once again and help to save the day.
The reality of view through conversions is that the ad could have been below the fold and never seen at all. The cookie could have been placed within a second during a session where someone who went to the page or site clicked by accident and left before even seeing anything. It could have been set a ton of ways and that banner on the page may not have driven a sale. Affiliates on the other hand don’t get paid, once who don’t force clicks, for the most part on view through conversions. Instead we have to wait for a click to happen and hope that the Merchant isn’t using or isn’t partnered with the adware companies so that our cookie is still active and we get credit for the sale. Most of us could only wish that our view through conversions would count or we would get to see these. Not only would our sales increase dramatically, but our channel would quickly rise into a much larger value stream. The problem is that Affiliates sit by and watch as Media companies and Search companies bash us behind the scenes.
We have a bad name because many of the Networks allow adware and call it loyaltyware or couponware or PPV and give it fun names or say its ok because it is opt in. If we would actually start to call this out and fight back against the Media companies, the networks and the OPMs who encourage this 0for allowing adware, etc… guess what, Affiliate Marketing would have a much cleaner and better name for people.
If Media companies were forced to only get commissioned or show sales based on clicks to conversion, without adware and with no other channel interferance, we would definitely see the ROI decrease and conversion rates plummet for them. With Adwords and some Search companies throwing view through conversions into their conversion numbers, when is it Affiliate’s turn to start to get paid or given credit as well? These are more sales that you as an Affiliate may be missing out on and the more you let Media and Search companies bash you, the more you will get pushed aside. The more you allow this and don’t speak up about adware companies getting into industry shows or being seen as good by networks, the more you give your industry a bad name and the faster you drop to the bottom of the food chain in a Marketing Department. If you don’t speak up than shows and networks will allow it to happen. If you don’t let them know that you don’t want it, then how are they supposed to do anything about it?
Its time to cut the crap that Media and Search feed the Marketing Departments about Affiliates. In its true form, Affiliates should be the king of the castle in the Marketing World. We build our own followers. We build our own traffic streams and we can drive sales that don’t rely on the Merchants spending their own money. Many of us don’t need to poach and never will poach their shopping carts or have to use remarketing off of their own customers to drive a sale. By allowing them to trash you and get away with things like view through conversions, you further make the case for them on why you are not as valuable and why you should be pushed aside. Then you are stuck with media ads on your site as Affiliate slowly fades out. Its time to make the Media and Search companies have to have a legit click, not forced click or cookie stuff to generate a legit sale. Make them use the same pixel and not blame everything on an Affiliate. There are tons of bad Affiliates out there, but there are tons of bad SEO, PPC and Media companies as well. It’s time Affiliates fought back and started to show the true value and non adware driven sales that we can drive. The Affiliate channel should be one of the ones at the top of the list to devote time to. You should start to really think about why Media and some Search companies get away with using metrics like view through conversions and why Affiliates are always the worst group out of all of the Marketing channels. Its time to start to demand the same tracking for them and then be able to show who is the better channel. I would like to say that not all Media and Search companies are bad, just like not all Affiliate companies are bad. Its just time that the good Affiliates start to speak up and show the real value of our industry.