Friday, 7 February 2014

London Affiliate Conference

The iGBAffiliate London Affiliate Conference gets underway this morning in Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, a prime entry on the calendar for most major gaming organisations.

Over 3,000 people are expected to attend so I'll be talking to many of them to get views on where the industry is going, in the light of changes in gambling legislation and Google's allgorithm. Both are going to be major factors affecting operators and affiliates over the coming year and the conference programme addresses them head on with some excellent speakers planned.

Check back for the update later today.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Google Affiliates update

Well, its over 6 months now singe Google closed their affiliate network and I gave my initial thoughts on their reasonings. Interestingly, when looking at the analysis of gan.doubleclick - their tracking domain - in Publisher-Discovery data, there are still over 37,000 websites linking in (from 44,000 in March 13).

That gives raise to a few potential insights:
1 - Google's 'Affiliate Network' was a pretty hollow entity - if there were only 7,000 affiliate sites who considered it worth swapping their links, there was likely to be very little revenue generated by the overall network;

2 - If the above is true, then we can draw a conclusion that Google closed the network on a very poor analysis of the overall affiliate market; and

3 - By leaving the domain live, Google have created 37,000 sites with over 1.6M 404 errors:

...a bit of a lost opportunity assuming there is any traffic running through those domains.

Even more bizarre is that a fresh index on December 8th shows 790 new linking domains - with GAN links in them. 

I'd be interested to see your thoughts or observations.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A new venture

Just recently Gill and I bought a 2 bedroom cottage up in the pennines in the small village of Rookhope in Weardale. The intention is to have a place to disappear to when the need takes us - and to rent out by the week when we don't need it.

Terrace cottage roadway
The Lane outside
Its been an interesting ride dealing with a solicitor who despite only being 5 years older than me, seemed more old in his head than my own dear father!! Eventually the searches and surveys were completed and we are now the proud owners of a sweet little place in a great spot.

The views are great and there's loads of places nearby to visit and amazing walks and cycle routes as I've tried to show in the Terrace Cottage website. I really love the drive over from the A68 via Blanchland (now I've mastered it and don't get lost) and the view over the village as you drive down from the moors on the hairpin bends is amazing.

For us, bookings were a prime consideration and we looked at the Sykes/Hoseasons type option but decided at least for the first year on something a bit less tying as they wanted exclusivity and a 12 month contract. So we're now listed on and which is actually a Tripadvisor property and so part of Expedia. The first of those is 'as it says on the tin' - and Holidaylettings has lower charges than any other mainstream booking engine.

So we're waiting for the calendar to fill - so if you want to take a week out in beautiful countryside just shout out your dates! You can book via this link.

Let me know you've booked and I'll make sure we leave a special welcome pack for you :)


We've currently got Christmas week available (New Year has been taken!) - and the lucky visitors will have a real Christmas Tree, and complimentary Mulled Wine to warm those chilly evenings by the fire!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

GAN closure...

This was added as a comment to a post on the news pages on the announced closure of the Google Affiliate Network, announced yesterday (April 16) on the Google blog.

There was a fair bit of talk yesterday afternoon here at #AMDays when the news broke which produced many differing opinions on where this leads. My view on how this changes the landscape extends beyond the simple technology and 'where to place my programme?' questions.

Google have dipped their toe in the water and gained a lot of valuable knowledge from which to make their next changes, which will no doubt become apparent over coming months. One key element is: while Google were running an affiliate offering, affiliate websites with obvious affiliate links were an important part of the mix for them. So until now affiliate sites have still performed well in natural search, where the site can be seen to add value to the browser in this post-Penguin/Panda world.

Now they are exiting that space, they are likely to evolve their offerings to advertisers with the primary objective to provide increased revenue without the higher costs and less controllable aspects of using affiliate sites. I'm sure advertisers will be able to buy ads on a CPA basis going forwards - but that will be so much more on Google's terms and in their control.

Once affiliate revenues are taken away from the Google P&L, that leaves the question for them over how their algorithm will perceive affiliate links on a website. One metric that will be very interesting to record is how some of the affiliate sites currently performing well in search fare going forwards. Will Google now start changing their algorithm to gently (or even quickly) ditch these sites from SERPS? That of course would enable the big G to provide 'more relevant' results from their own stable of advertisers within the results - without the competition from affiliates.

The potential of this scenario and threat to affiliate revenues is likely to see a rise in less trackable and untrackable server call tracking systems now available in some of the more advanced affiliate networks. Again - if this scenario does play out as I've painted it, how would the behemoth networks with legacy tracking from the late '90s fare.

I think that should make the rest of 2013 a very interesting ride, and one that will see some soul-searching and technical advances at the same time. I look forward to tracking this at the various conferences as well in Philadelphia, Amsterdam and London - so see you all there!

Chris Tradgett

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Performance Marketing in New York City - March 2013

It was a very interesting few days in NYC in March, where Performance Marketing Insights held its inaugural conference slap bang in the middle of the action in the Crowne Plaza, Times Square Manhattan. 

Probably as an indication of the heritage of other Existem events there was strong European support from Affiliate Networks and other NYC was that the Affiliate Summit organization also had an event scheduled. Not co-incidentally Shawn's Performance Marketing Summit event clashed with PMI's first day. I had postulated that there was an element of bad blood involved here with the incumbent US affiliate event people feeling threatened by incomers from the old country!

Timing is all in marketing as many have said before me and the timings shed an interesting light on the hows and whys of how these clashed. PMI was announced during January 2013 and until then there was no hint of any other ASW activity in the East - apart from a photocopied page added into the ASW13 convention notes

So, as I attended both events, here are a few observations on the Affiliate turf wars in New York.

the Linkdex elevator pitch
PMS - Performance Marketing Summit

This was billed as going back to basics in respect that it was held in the same venue as the very first Affiliate Summit in 2003; the Baruch College campus on Lexington Ave. 

There were basic elements throughout and the conference materials were a little sparse, perhaps reflecting that there weren't big sponsors supporting the production of brochures.

The format was of quickfire 20 minute sessions to cover a lot of ground quickly, all in one room, without exhibition booths, apart from a couple of promo tables from the main sponsors. There were some excellent speakers, notably Brian of Shareasale and Mike Buechele.

One of Mike Buechele's slides at PMS13 shows display ad technologies infographic!
The event was marred slightly by one of the main speakers pulling out in the week running up to PMS, and it did seem a very hasty addition to have a 20min 'elevator pitch' session allowing attendees to give a brief 1 min pitch to the room.

Performance Marketing Initiatives

The PMI conference was far more businesslike - evidenced in a brochure that was very professionally produced and reflected the quality of speakers. We were privileged to hear some interesting sessions with topics reflecting innovations across the industry. 

As this was over two days, there was also a lot more opportunity for networking. I met up with many friends from UK and US in the Crowne Plaza bar on the Monday evening and caught up with much of the industry gossip. Even more fun was the event across town in the very cool Sky Lounge on the Tuesday evening which led to several Weds AM late risers! 

The two day PMI conference was visibly a more polished event overall, with some industry leading speakers and not just friends within the affiliate industry as I'd seen at PMS.  

Compare and Contrast

Both events had a strong speaker line up and tackled some of the pressing issues facing the industry, such as attribution and threats to the basic model of linking and reporting from browser software and elsewhere. 

Both also managed to attract a very strong attendees. From an exhibitor's point of view, the quality of attendees at PMI was much much stronger, certainly from judging from my own conversations at both events. At PMS, many I spoke to were just starting in affiliate or were pretty small merchants, I had three content writers on my table.

At PMI the attendees did live up to the billing as C-level execs and above and we at Linkdex had several very good and useful conversations that have already developed into client relationships. As an exhibitor, that has to be the measure for any event; and on reflection also differentiates the Affiliate Summit and A4UExpo events in Europe and the USA.

Shawn did note that the PMI website had only been registered in May '12 and that PMS had been planned well before that. I do question the use of of the 'Performance Marketing' name (a weird coincidence if it was), with the the addition of Summit to keep on 'brand'. Certainly there was no mention of the event until a few days after PMI was announced and was a simple photocopy page in the ASW brochure.

Judging by comments from a number of attendees I met at both events, it was seen as detrimental to the reputation of the ABW organisation and its excellent reputation built over the years of the Affiliate Summits.

Having said all that, the US is a huge space and there should be space for both events to be successful over coming years. I would urge both organisations to try and ensure there isn't the awkward calendar clash which overshadowed what was otherwise - with both events - a very good week for the Performance Marketing Industry.