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Feb 27, 2020

The mobile affiliate moonshot

Brian Marcus

Here on earth, influencers may be making the affiliate headlines. Yet there is a more interesting story emerging: the race to unlock “the mobile” in affiliate partnerships. Why? By Brian Marcus

Mobile Is Everywhere
Mobile is no longer a device or a channel, but a foundational part of life. So much so, Pew Research found that in 2019, 1 in 5 Americans rely on a smartphone as their only means of internet access at home.

And as mobile evolved, marketing technology evolved with it:

  1. Digital tracking and measurement methods advanced.
  2. Mobile payments and mobile commerce became commonplace.
  3. Cross-channel customer experiences have (mostly) been optimized.

Thanks to these advancements, the opportunity for mobile affiliate is wide open. So, what’s slowing us down?

Barriers to Mobile Affiliate
Organizational walls. Brands that existed before smartphones often have organizational walls that separate their online and mobile businesses. These companies may tack on apps and mobile websites as an afterthought, or treat mobile as a separate strategy — an offshoot from the core business and its marketing.

Cross-channel affiliate links. Online advertisers and app marketers have different tracking standards. With two sets of tracking methods and systems, affiliate tracking links sometimes create black holes in the cross-channel attribution universe. Affiliates want to steer clear.

Cross-channel affiliate UX. Often, user experiences in the affiliate marketing ecosystem (e.g., web ad to app product page) are inadequate. While intelligent routing exists within app stores, not all brands use it to make their affiliate marketing journeys cross-channel.

Lack of familiarity. Companies with limited expertise regarding the mobile ecosystem — affiliate players (sub affiliate networks, mobile measurement partners), creative form factors (e.g., native), ad fraud — may be slow to adopt mobile.

Improving Education and Tracking
Simple education (like this) is a useful first step in advancing mobile. But bridging the tracking gap between mobile and desktop is the game-changer for all marketing partnerships. Particularly because cookies are not reliable for mobile web tracking and are useless in mobile apps.

To track performance, apps and mobile websites need measurement software development kits (SDKs). These communicate tracking data using server-to-server communications called “postbacks.” SDKs and postbacks enable accurate attribution on mobile devices, no matter whether the user is directed to an app they use, a new mobile website, or an app that they have not installed.

Winning the Space Race
Today, companies known as mobile measurement partners (MMPs) are best equipped to track performance in apps and on mobile web. Companies like Branch and AppsFlyer stitch together every event and customer touchpoint, route users optimally, and enable multi-touch attribution. 

Partner marketing platforms like TUNE that can directly integrate a customer’s MMP data with the customer’s partner data, without the need to install another SDK, will win the race. If your brand has an app, chances are you have the right SDK already in your box. With a few lines of code, you could be measuring mobile performance and managing mobile partners today.

In a universe of opportunity, why keep your world so small? [FF] FeedFront | January 2020 | No. 49 


Brian MarcusBRIAN MARCUS

Vice President of Global Marketing , TUNE

Brian Marcus, TUNE’s Vice President of Global Marketing has been shaping the performance marketing and ecommerce communities — as a digital marketer, as a platform owner, and as a platform evangelist since 2002.  Brian launched into eCommerce leading customer acquisition at JC Whitney, a century-old cataloger destined to move online. From there, he went on to build two global affiliate marketing platforms, one at Google (Google Affiliate Network) and the other at ebay (ebay Partner Network).  Just prior to TUNE, Brian was VP of Marketing at Teespring, a global print-on-demand platform to create and sell customized consumer products.

Brian is a Chicago native, a Cubs fan, and a music fanatic. He now considers Seattle his home and spends his free time enjoying the Pacific Northwest with his family. He earned his BA from Grinnell College (in Iowa) and his MBA from the University of Chicago (Booth).

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