Affiliate managers often strive to add content-focused affiliates, such as blogs, forums, news sites — most any site that informs and shares knowledge. The reason content affiliates are so desirable is because they tend to drive new customers that are interest-driven rather than deal-focused.
Identifying and recruiting content affiliates can be challenging. Blogs come and go. Forums may shift in tone from credible to critical. As such, affiliate managers need to consider multiple factors when evaluating whether to partner with a content site. These factors include engagement, timeliness and frequency of posts, articles and discussions, traffic levels, and longevity.
In 2012, CJ Affiliate by Conversant launched a set of tools and services designed to connect advertisers with content affiliates, and to support the creation of monetized content. The goal was to help both advertisers and affiliates save time and generate revenue. Examples of these tools include (a) storefront generators, which enable affiliates to merchandise a storefront via a WYSIWYG interface, (b) a deep-link generator, which enables affiliates to link to any page on a merchant’s site, (c) and deep-link automation, which monetizes pre-determined URLs on an affiliate’s site. Other affiliate networks offer these tools as well.
However, last year CJ Affiliate by Conversant introduced for both merchants and affiliates a content certification program, which is unique in the affiliate marketing space.
“In essence, it’s like building a content network, within a network,” Sarah Crosby, director of content development at CJ Affiliate by Conversant, stated. Merchants and affiliates apply to be included in the “Content Certified” program. Both parties are evaluated by CJ Affiliate by Conversant across multiple criteria.
Merchant criteria include category relevancy, commission rates, and willingness to respond to affiliate requests, such as products for review or for giveaways. Merchants must also be able to provide a competitive offer that is higher than their standard commission rates. Certified affiliates are auto-approved to work with certified advertisers, which gives them immediate access to the content-only commission rates.
The program has five verticals: Style, Home, Technology, Business, and Lifestyle. Approximately 400 advertisers and 500 publishers have been certified. The platform supports traditional monetization through deep-links and product recommendations, and also enables merchants and affiliates to partner via sponsored posts.
For merchants, the solution offers deeper reporting as well.
“If you’re running a campaign, we can provide a recap report that includes social metrics, such as number of comments, website traffic, and other metrics that go beyond standard affiliate metrics. This is great, because we can track sales associated with a content campaign,” explains Crosby.
These metrics have also shown that across the Content Certified program, there is a higher average order value and a higher new customer ratio.
Crosby says the program is a vehicle to help build relationships between retailers and content providers, and that the real challenge is teaching retailers how to work with content providers.
“Retailers need to understand how to engage content providers,” Crosby says. “Not everyone is just going to start talking about your brand, you need to be a part of their story.”
The Content Certified program is available to all retailers within the CJ Affiliate by Conversant program, regardless of service level. There is a dedicated team to support retailers in this program, too.