Performance marketing series: How can the publisher/network relationship be optimised?

The Drum catches up with a cross-section of performance marketing experts to discuss the key questions facing the industry.

Over the next few days, The Drum will publish a series exploring developments in performance marketing, to coincide with the publication of The Drum's latest quarterly performance supplement dissecting the space.Performance marketing is founded on relationships, and in today's article, we catch up with our industry panel to discuss how the relationship between networks and publishers can be optimised.Carla Arrindell, client services director, OMGThe key here is direct engagement and greater transparency. As publishers continue to become more sophisticated in their ability to define, target and reach consumers, the sales channels for networks and in turn their clients continues to broaden but to attain this level of detail, there needs to be regular engagement and greater transparency to ensure that these opportunities are leveraged fully. We engage with our publishers regularly to keep abreast of how their model is evolving and innovating, and at the same time share data and insights we have from our advertisers to create and identify further opportunities for growth. Adam Ross, chief operating officer, Affiliate WindowThis is an area that needs constant attention. Affiliate marketing works exceptionally well for those that understand it, but is a minefield for the uninitiated. Networks have a responsibility to provide solutions to alleviate this and lower the barrier to entry for publishers. This can be achieved through offering better tools, simplifying our interfaces but also through providing a broader range of transparent payment models. I would emphasise the word transparent because in the advertisers’ quest for improved cross-channel ROI, publisher ROI is often forgotten. Martin Ferguson, director of publisher services, Rakuten LinkShareWe are in a relationship-driven industry, so continuously improving the relationship between publisher and network is paramount for us. We’re the match-making service between publisher and advertiser so the publisher must feel that the network understands their business model completely. They must also have full trust that the network can sell the benefits of that publisher to the clients if they are to create lasting relationships.As a network, we have the responsibility to be the publishers ‘trusted advocate’ and this only comes with a full knowledge, understanding and trust of how that publisher could work with a brand. For example, we can identify the sites where video yields the best results or where a particular product sector can excel. The relationship will only grow if the network facilitates the relationship, while simultaneously advancing and improves its services – and that is always the goal for our team.Helen Southgate, managing director UK, AffilinetUnderstanding a publisher's business model is vital for a good working relationship. It might sound obvious, but it is something that a lot of networks often overlook and it, rightly, really frustrates publishers. Networks must understand how publishers make money and the tools they need to be able to do that. That means networks need to ensure that their teams have broad experience and skills across multiple disciplines. Equally though, publishers need to be transparent with networks, open to the ideas of doing things differently and proactively take new ideas to networks that will help advertisers to do things differently.Eleanor Pickering, head of advertiser development, Commission JunctionAgain, communication is key to publisher relationships, but it’s also good to bear in mind that it’s a two way affair. One thing we do to improve communication is to make sure publishers have the opportunity to present to the entire management team, meeting all members of staff working across a wide variety of merchants. Publisher relationships are as important as advertiser relationships and they should be nurtured and treated as such; networks who provide regular, proactive status reports on account performance and potential optimisation will have the best relationships with their publishers and therefore deliver the best results for their advertisers. We’re always keen to learn from our publisher network as well, trying out new models, implementing new technology and listening to what innovative models are available that could suit our advertiser base.Stephen Kerin, managing director, Webgains UKThe publisher/network relationship is of vital importance and it’s imperative to ensure that it is optimised. I think networks do need to take it upon themselves to go out and connect with new publishers and most of all to listen to them and take note of their needs. At the same time, the development of the publisher/network relationship is as much about expanding its parameters as anything else. As advertisers look to bring more and more of their marketing activity under the CPA umbrella, technology partners make up an ever increasing proportion of the publisher landscape. These are partnerships which can have real value for advertisers.Andrew Copeland, network director, TradedoublerThe first step is to understand the value that your network can bring. Historically, performance marketing has been seen as a new traffic channel, where a publishers’ only responsibility was to refer an increasing number of visitors to an advertiser’s site. However, the industry has moved on and the emergence of new technologies has resulted in performance marketing becoming a far more integrated channel. Retargeting, remarketing, social and onsite conversion specialists have entered the performance space and vastly changed the publisher/advertiser relationship. Networks are now, more than ever, exposed to cutting-edge technologies and advertisers should be leveraging this technology by adopting test-and-learn strategies to take advantage of these new opportunities. The Drum's next performance supplement is published this Friday, 22 November.

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