Retargeting in the Affiliate Sector

If you’re an affiliate based in the UK you will no doubt have come across the recent furore over retargetting.

In a nutshell, the retargeting technology that is currently being debated so vociferously by affiliates is the mechanism for a merchant or third party contracted by the merchant to distinguish customers that have abandoned a shopping cart partway through the sales process on the merchants website and the facility to email the customer with a “sales pitch” aimed at converting the customer to a sale.

This form of marketing has been in operation by some of the largest ecommerce sites for some time and theoretically retargeting a customer that has already shown enough willing to part complete a purchase should provide decent conversion results.

However, the problem that has been highlighted in the affiliates4u thread stems from the fact that a merchant (in this case Kiddicare) contracted with a retargeting company on a CPA basis. In other words to offset the cost of having to acquire or license the retargeting technology, the merchant decided to give the retargeting company a slice of all traffic they managed to convert on a CPA basis. The problem with this was that Kiddicare also ran an affiliate program. Therefore any traffic that was sent by an affiliate but did not convert fully, the retargeting company would try to convert the traffic and in doing so that would overwrite the original affiliate cookie and take the commission from the affiliate that originally introduced the customer.

So What’s The Problem?

Obviously given the situation as described, this represents a problem for the affiliate marketer. Essentially the affiliate has done the hard work by sending the customer to the merchant only to have their cookie potentially overwritten if the customer decides part way through a sales transaction to abandon the process to complete later if the retargeting is successful.

Clearly the issue at hand is the overwriting of cookies. Yes, there are similar concerns when it comes to brand bidding, but just because it is a problem in that instance, it doesn’t mean that the industry should muddy the waters further by introducing retargeting techniques such as these.

The Outcome

The good news is that after the outcry by affiliates, the merchant, network and retargeting technology provider got together and resolved that no prior affiliate cookies would be overwritten by the retargeting process. The retargeting company still get to take a cut of any business that they manage to convert online; just not business that was referred by affiliates. Retargeting will still take place for customers sent by affiliates that do not complete a sales transaction, but no cookies will be overwritten which means affiliate conversion rates should actually increase.

Retargeting is fairly new in terms of the affiliate sector, but given the potential upside for affiliates (given the correct implementation) it should be welcomed with open arms.

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