One of my arguments against the long-term viability of Affiliate Networks is the fact the consumer typically must become acquainted with a product before they consider sampling it. In the old days of radio, we used to say the listener “listened with half an ear”. The expression was an allusion to the fact it usually took about a dozen plays of a commercial before the listener even knew they had heard it. Only then might they pay attention.
Affiliate networks pay based upon performance, but as Commission Junction’s charming support team told me in 2010, we are given the privilege of running their ads without being charged, and we get paid when a visitor clicks, thereby rewarding us for performance. I dropped them like a hot potato. They were branding their clients on my land without remuneration, and telling me I should enjoy the poking sensation all the while.
Of course, less experienced people in the ad-spend space will not understand my reasoning. After all, I didn’t have to get the clients, design the ads, keep track of results. This is true, to a considerable degree, and it is the reason I only expect a percentage of a sale. Rent, however, still comes due the first of the month for me. I don’t like affiliate networks, but they are the game at the moment.
I am presently reading David Eagleman’s Incognito: The Secret Lives Of The Brain. The book is a telling insight into the human mind, both conscious and unconscious, by one of the preeminent neuroscientists of our day. His discussion of brain manipulation, through the process of priming, is something our “friends” at CJ, Adperio or any other affiliate network should read. They may be less likely to take millions of eyeballs for granted. Of course, I refer to the real traffic that sees a display ad that is properly placed to accommodate maximum exposure to an audience.
David Eagleman writes, “Beyond a temporary tickling of the brain, the effects of previous exposure can be long lasting. If you have seen a picture of someone’s face before, you will judge them to be more attractive.” This is extraordinary information! The first barrier to appeal falls when the brand or product is flashed before a consumer. When they see the product, through an ad, the second time, they are already more receptive to it.
He continues, “This is true even when you have no recollection of ever having seen it previously. This is known as the mere exposure effect, and it illustrates the worrisome fact your implicit memory influences your interpretation of the world.”
Here’s one politicians have grasped long before the media started noting it, and pandering to it. “Another real-world manifestation of implicit memory is known as the illusion-of-truth effect: you are more likely to believe that a statement is true if you have heard it before,” Eagleman explains.
The dastardly rip-off property owners suffer when affiliate networks get free branding on valuable domains and websites can only be perpetrated if it is permitted to continue. Those who have successfully taken it up the tailpipe until the little payouts begin are not likely to give up their few dollars per click or lead in favor of risking the bigger prize. Try renting out a billboard on I-95 and paying the property owner only if you can verify someone made a “validated inquiry” or “valid purchase, directly inspired by the billboard”. Well, you’d be in court pretty quick!
The digital model has changed the approach to ad-spend, but the time is coming – hopefully it will be sooner rather than later – when the property owner will have much more influence on the pricing of his domains’ and websites’ visible space, beyond mere acquiescence to the affiliate marketers’ whims. The relationship between site owners and affiliate programs is woefully lopsided at the moment, and horrifyingly favors the affiliate program. But what about those of us with the traffic?
What happens if we decide the affiliation is an abomination, a relationship skewed so the property owner creates value for the advertiser, but the affiliate network makes collecting rent a Sisyphean task?
Thanks to Danny Pryor and
Thanks for “listening”
The Neu Facebook