In the first of a series of this year's quarterly supplements covering the performance industries, sponsored by Affiliate Window, The Drum highlights the value of performance and its increasing importance in the overall marketing mix. Kicking off the report is Affiliate Window's Kevin Edwards, who gives an overview of trends in the performance sector below.With growth comes scrutiny, and the performance channel is no different. The focus for many industry practitioners has shifted from a focus on the volume of sales delivered to the value those transactions provide.In many ways the volume part is the easy bit. The value nut is harder to crack, the intangible element based as much on perception as it is the cold hard data.We sit on billions of lines of information and this only continues to grow every day. Stitching this together with additional data to tell the story is the ultimate goal. From small insights, big decisions can be made, significant budgets secured.The classic question surrounding affiliate marketing has been how incremental incentivised traffic is. Or to put it another way: “would I have got that sale anyway?”In many ways we’ve had to play catch up as the voucher code, loyalty and cashback sectors have grown at such a fast pace. The previously relatively measured evolution of the channel went into override about five years ago and we still lack industry standards to showcase its worth.We’re getting there; we know, for example, that cashback customers are typically high earners, based in the south of England and loyal to the concept of cashback. The challenge as a retailer is in understanding how the products you sell or services you offer best fit that demographic.The channel has internal cases to prove as well. Assimilating disparate publisher business models mean those grabbing the headlines (or cookies) are those that potentially erode others’ sales. Affiliate Window’s data has been remarkably consistent on this score, proving time and time again that the overwriting impact is negligible.What is often surprising is the disconnect between perceptions around publisher traffic and the reality of how it behaves. Only by sharing the data from initial point of interest through to potential long term customer value can we start to make the informed choices the channel deserves.Kevin Edwards, strategy director, Affiliate WindowSubscribers can download a PDF copy of the The Drum's Performance supplement below.