In this age of media buying, some big questions persist about the effectiveness of programmatic and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Ad view counts can be deceptive, as bots make up a large percentage of so-called viewers. In fact, a report from the security firm Imperva shows that 52 percent of web traffic comes from bots. The Bot Baseline Report’s findings are similarly grim, forecasting losses of $6.5 billion for businesses worldwide caused by bot fraud in 2017.

Bots seem to be much more receptive to display ads than humans. Intrusive PPC ads are seen as a nuisance, as evidenced by the rise of ad blocker software. In 2016, the use of ad blockers across all devices rose by 30 percent, according to a report from PageFair.

Even when inauthentic PPC and programmatic ads aren’t blocked by software, they rarely generate quality leads. Consumers are bombarded with irrelevant ads that fail to make a connection with them — and that’s why affiliate marketing is much more attractive for both businesses and customers.

Beyond Bots and PPC: The Affiliate Approach

Real people almost always ignore generic PPC ads but pay attention to specific publishers or influencers who demonstrate expertise in their niche and thus convey their authenticity. For key demographics, authenticity is paramount: According to research, 43 percent of Millennials must trust the company or site that produced content before they will consume it. Moreover, 61 percent of women won’t click on an influencer’s ad unless it feels genuine.

As companies look for higher-quality leads and more ways to drive results beyond programmatic display and other digital media channels, driving lead generation efforts through affiliate marketing is on the rise. Because people are less likely to ignore niche publishers or influencers who draw upon a specific expertise to genuinely connect with them, many businesses are investing in affiliate marketing for their lead generation programs.

Publishers only get paid when their promotional efforts succeed, and commission payouts are structured around the business’s lead generation goals. Compared to paying upfront fees for programmatic or PPC ads, which often have an uncertain effect on lead generation, these performance partnerships are more attractive to companies.

The Keys to Implementing an Effective Affiliate Program

Both B2C and B2B companies have found that affiliate marketing is one of the most cost-effective, scalable models for enhancing their customer acquisition strategies, generating high-value leads, and driving traffic to their sites. Before you implement an affiliate program at your own company, first carefully consider the answers to the following questions:

  1. What do you want to achieve with affiliate marketing?

Before launching your campaign, it’s essential to define your goals and metrics of success. Generating a certain number of leads requires a specific approach tailored to that goal; determining the end goal of a specific lead takes another tack.

Take a deeper dive into your leads to determine what you expect of them. Is it their information? Do you want them to purchase a product or service, or make a referral? By structuring your commission payout around your goals, your affiliate partners will be aligned with them and working to execute on your brand’s strategy.

  1. Who are you selling to?

By understanding the type of lead you are looking for, you can better identify the types of partners you want to work with. Is your audience college students searching for ways to save money? Or do you want to grow a base of leads that have a large disposable income?

Knowing the answers to these types of questions not only helps you segment the types of publishers you partner with, but it also helps you structure your program’s creative. Understanding your audience segment is key to letting your partners know what messages you want to resonate with their followers.

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