An affiliate network represents multiple parties. The two main parties a network consists of are the advertisers and the publishers. Without advertisers there wouldn’t be any programs to promote, however it’s the publishers in the network where it is based around. The majority of publishers focus on one core business. Publishers can focus for example on offering discount codes to consumers or on comparing insurance policies. We will discuss the different publisher channels.
Content publishers include many different parties, and it depends on what type of content as to which advertisers are promoted. For instance, in the industry Telecom and Finance other content publishers are active than in the Fashion industry. Content is a broad term because almost all the content on a site can be seen as content. Therefore it is difficult to understand and define a 'content publisher' in its proper definition. If a publisher is not in one of the other defined categories, then it probably belongs in the category of content publishers.
Content publishers - Bloggers
These publishers come in various shapes, sizes and topics. For example, bloggers can write about new phones, politics, sports, fashion or science. It is possible to write a blog on every possible topic. Bloggers are often seen as innovators and ‘early adopters’, and can in that matter fulfill an important role for advertisers. Bloggers talk about new things they encounter which in turn will be read and picked up by their followers. The opinion of a blogger is important for his/her followers, because he/she is an opinion leader.
Examples of bloggers are:
- Whowhatwear.com (fashion)
- androidcentral.com (telecom)
- imore.com (telecom)
- cheapscholar.org (finance)
Content platforms are websites that fulfill various publisher roles. The combination of content, promotions and other promotional opportunities is becoming more and more common among publishers, because by offering this combination the retention rate of visitors is higher. Consumers can use the same site for different puposes, whether they’re looking for background information, the latest trends, offers or exciting promotions.
Action Portals can be defined as websites that give an overview of all offers/discounts of various advertisers. A publisher can do this by offering a list of daily offers, a list of discount codes, and general announcements of a sale or other actions that motivate a consumer to make a purchase in de web shop of an advertiser. Daily offer portals provide an overview of attractive discounts and other promotions from various advertisers which are available for one day only. If an advertiser provides daily offers, it is wise to have a separate data feed for these offerings so that it’s easier for these publishers to promote them. When they are using a feed, they do not have to update all promotions every day. The publisher simply retrieves this data feed from the system and places it on the website. An example of such a website is www.woot.com/.
The offerings on voucher portals include all kinds of different types of promotions from advertisers. The most common promotion is the discount code, but these publishers also communicate general offers to consumers like free samples and general sale periods. An advertiser can offer a general discount code which all publishers can use. Or the advertiser can offer an exclusive discount code which may only be promoted by one publisher.
One of the biggest voucher code publishers in The Netherlands has for example the website www.groupon.com/. On its homepage groupon.com offers a selection with the top 5 promotions, voucher codes and shops. To support the promotions, publisher Imbull also uses other channels like Facebook, Twitter and newsletters in conjunction with the promotion. An exclusive promotion or voucher code often yields more possibilities for exposure by a publisher than a general action promotion because an exclusive promotion will draw more traffic to the website of the publisher.
Some content websites show online promotion folders, printed advertiser folders which you would normally get in your mailbox at home. The items in the folders are clickable thus allowing consumers to be redirected directly to the product page in the web shop of the advertiser.
Advertisers can be promoted on content sites in many different ways. For example: in addition to the standard methods (data feed, links, banners) special advertorials can also be used. In this way advertisers can be promoted through a more detailed description of their brand or products in combination with a picture or a short film (visuals). There are endless other opportunities such as banners, homepage takeovers, highlighted web shop positions and so on. With a homepage takeover for example it means that - again for a fee - the background of the publisher website will show an expression of an advertiser, blogger competitions, Like & Win campaigns and so on.
Cashback and savings programs
Next to rewarding members with a substantial discount or offer, there is also another way in which publishers can create consumer loyalty. Cashback and savings programs often offer an overview of all the promotions of different advertisers to their members, but also give an extra reward. Cashback publishers get a commission from the advertiser, just like all other publishers, when a sale is generated. But in this case Cashback publishers give the consumer a part of the commission they earn as an extra discount. When a Cashback publisher for example receives 10% CPS they can give a discount of an extra 5% to the consumer. Savings programs actually make use of the same method, but give their members a form of loyalty points. The publisher gives their members fictional money or points, which they can later redeem for cash, discount codes or donate to charity. All kinds of promotions can be communicated through these kinds of publishers. These promotions mostly include discounts. Cashback and savings programs are not always allowed by advertisers, because an advertiser may want to prevent the possibility that its products can be bought for a lower price through other channels than their own.
Comparison publishers allow visitors to compare different products based on their product characteristics. Comparison sites earn their right of existence through the fact that they are seen as more transparent in contrast to online parties that for example offer just one brand. They make it possible for consumers to compare similar or identical products and have them next to each other in a clear overview. Due to the fact that consumers act more and more independent in the purchase of products and because of the large demand of their services, these publishers have a strong position in the online affiliate business. Despite the fact that a lot of comparison sites are or claim to be independent – and mainly communicate through comparison – most times there are ways to advertise on their websites. Lots of comparison sites always have banner space available for advertising or offer the opportunity to get ranked higher in the list of the comparison operators.