Affiliate Marketing

Not Measuring Mobile In Affiliate Marketing? It's Time To Start


A few years ago, I worked for a cost per thousand ad impressions (CPM)-based digital advertising ad network, and I was flabbergasted at how slowly mobile marketing and measurement adoption took place in the U.S.

While comScore first started reporting that mobile-connected time exceeded desktop in 2013, mobile share of total digital media ad spend has only recently claimed the top spot, according to eMarketer data.

Even more disturbing was the number of mobile media programs that had no defined objectives or performance standards. At that same ad network, I worked on a project categorizing campaigns going through our platform by objective, and a big chunk — about one-third — were “measured” solely on whether the ads ran or not. That’s right — the sole measure of their effectiveness was whether the client ads actually ran. Nothing about branding or revenue results. 

Of course, some things have changed in the years since. Now, mobile advertising is measured as aggressively as desktop inventory, except in affiliate marketing, where many brands are likely missing out on millions in attributable revenue.

Without Affiliate Measuring, You’re Not Getting The Full Picture

A big part of the reason why brands are missing out is that affiliate measurement has traditionally relied on third-party cookies. Cookies are problematic in many mobile use cases, and the recent introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) further limits the effectiveness of this methodology for mobile.

Just as problematic is that measurement for mobile app events — ad clicks and shopping in a brand’s app, for example — cannot be done with a third-party cookie-tracking solution. As a result, many sales cannot be attributed to marketing efforts and teams.

If consumer journeys that include Safari 12 or mobile apps account for 10%, 15% or 30% of a brand’s sales, for instance, then the marketing team is missing out on a huge proportion of the transactions its programs drive. Put another way, not measuring mobile is kind of like advertising all month, but only measuring results for three out of the four weeks in the month. In regions like Southeast Asia, India and China, where mobile represents the majority of connected time, it’s like only measuring performance every other week in that month. 

You wouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t omit mobile measurement either.

Rethinking Your Mobile Measurement Strategy

Marketers of all stripes are facing more accountability and tougher key performance indicators. In an environment like that, we need credit for every sale that we drive. That is only possible by having a robust mobile measurement strategy in place for affiliates.

You owe it to your business — and yourself — to address incomplete data challenges. Let’s start with increasingly aggressive third-party cookie restrictions in browser policies, like ITP. While there is a range of solutions available to address this new Safari browser policy, many brands haven’t yet decided to migrate to better measurement approaches. There are now many vendors offering measurement methodologies that mitigate these challenges. Approaches that don’t rely on third-party cookies. They may require a little configuration or development work, but the operative word there is “little,” and in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the costs. If you haven’t already spoken with your network or measurement solution about ITP and possible future initiatives like it, you are likely missing out on many conversion credits. 

On to a more direct discussion of measurement for mobile apps. Even if you don’t have an app for your brand, if you are advertising in apps — where a large quantity of mobile ad inventory resides — you’re likely missing credit for those conversions.

For consumer journeys that include apps, you need a different approach — one that can accurately report and attribute consumer actions and purchases to the partners that drove them. Mobile app measurement generally requires that a software developer’s kit (SDK) be installed in the app. The installation process is usually straightforward once your tech team has reviewed the security credentials of the package. SDKs enable accurate measurement of app consumer journeys, independent of browser cookie policies.

In sum, mobile measurement requires a little bit of effort to get into place. As indeed, all valuable measurement requires a little effort. But the potential benefits to your business can be enormous. And the accurate measurement of mobile conversions may well be the difference between making your number or missing by a mile.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



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