Performance Marketing

How to Overcome Your Fear of Performance Marketing Programs

Becky Doles

performance marketing

Last week during the Performance Marketing Insights conference in New York City, several industry experts came together for a panel to dispel several fears and myths about the performance marketing industry. The panel, moderated by Rebecca Madigan (Executive Director, PMA), included Sarah Bundy (Founder and CEO, AIM), Mark Walters (Managing Director, Affiliate Window), Stephen Polinsky (COO US, Ve Interactive) and James Revell (Senior Director, Affiliate Partner Marketing for Ticketmaster). They discussed why so many brands are afraid to adopt performance marketing programs, and highlighted some of the top fears companies have about them.

Fear #1: It’s hard to measure performance marketing

The panelists all agreed that one of the biggest misconceptions and fears about performance marketing is that ROI is hard to measure. According to the panel ROI is actually very easy to measure, if you’re data driven. James Revell of Ticketmaster explained that “being data driven shows us what’s really working for us in what sectors and what categories … By doing that we can say this is where we need to spend more dollars.” Ticketmaster also provides full disclosure with everything they do, so the company has clarity in their data.

Revell adds however, that a “lot of folks in our industry aren’t using the best technology to get the attribution”, which explains why many still believe ROI is hard to measure. Mark Walters of Affiliate Window added that the problem is exacerbated when affiliate programs aren’t treated like other types of marketing. Walters explained, “Commerce managers get it. They get a budget. The problem is when there’s no budget.”

Fear #2 Every affiliate is different

Another prevalent fear in adopting a performance marketing program is the very real fact that every affiliate is different, operating with different skillsets and with different types of goals and needs. Sarah Bundy of AIM suggested that with the right kind of transparency and attribution, this can begin to “help executive teams discover what’s happening from a performance metrics standpoint.”

She also explained that depending on what type of network a brand is working with, that transparency may be different, as the information about each affiliate will vary.

Fear #3 Maintaining brand identity

Brands are also notably hesitant about affiliate programs because they are afraid they may “water down” the brand’s reputation. Rebecca Madigan pointed out that brands definitely “need strong enough business models to stand on their own and advertisers need to let go a little bit of their brand.”

Expanding on this point, James Revell suggested that in order for brands to both balance their identity and still drive traffic, it’s critical to not just elevate the brand, but also extend the reach through channels they may not ordinarily reach through organic or paid means. This is Ticketmaster’s approach, and has worked well for the company. Additionally, Ticketmaster finds other brands to position itself and align with, in order to maintain its brand identity.

Fear #4: Affiliate fraud

As the panelists noted, affiliate fraud is the elephant in the room in the industry. Mark Walters noted that even years ago, most of the affiliate networks were aware there was an affiliate fraud problem. Rebecca Madigan noted that only 6-8% of traffic is fraudulent and stated that the problem is “a bit overblown.” However, Mark said that 6-8% is still “a serious number.”

While affiliate fraud can be severely detrimental to brands, Stephen Polinksy of Ve Interactive explained that brands should treat this risk factor no differently than other risks involved in other marketing campaigns – which is how a performance marketing campaign should be viewed as well. As he said, “at the bottom line, it’s risk management and should be incorporated into the campaign budget.”

Overcoming Your Fears

If you are thinking about adopting a performance marketing program, what fears are stopping you? Feel free to share your concerns in the comments.

Like this article? Sign up for our blog digest emails.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

Leave a Reply