Multi-Attribution of Affiliate Commission: A Challenge and an Opportunity
Multi-attribution is not a new concept for the affiliate channel. For as long as the industry has existed, affiliates have disputed the "last click wins" policy of awarding commission. Is it finally time to launch a fairer strategy?
The last click wins approach ultimately means that if numerous affiliates contribute to a sale, only the last one is paid. So if I discover a brand or product on a blog, then carry out a search comparison and finally buy after clicking a link on a voucher code site, only the latter receives commission. It could be argued that it was the voucher code partner that ultimately converted me into a customer, but similarly it was the blogger who introduced me to the product in the first place. Who contributed most to that sale? Who worked hardest? Who deserves to be rewarded?
A study carried out by Sky together with Affiliate Window demonstrated that actually 80% of affiliate sales involved only one affiliate touchpoint, which does tend to suggest that a new model would only be relevant for a small proportion of sales. However, it cannot be assumed that this statistic would be true across all verticals, and it's probable (if not likely) that the average affiliate sale in the travel industry involves multiple touchpoints, therefore many affiliates are effectively losing out on commission.
Deciding to reward each affiliate that contributed to the customer journey is only the beginning of the process. The key consideration is then the commission structure. Do we give 50% of the reward to the last referrer, and split the remaining 50% among the first and second clicks? Or does the affiliate that introduced our brand to the customer - i.e. the first click - the more valuable? Finally, if there were 10 affiliate touchpoints do we then award each and every one of them a portion of the reward?
Clearly the topic is broad and open for debate. Central to the success of such a structure is the sharing of data: Remember that the last referrer would have previously earned 100% of commission. Whilst your new structure is designed to be fairer, be sensitive to this and demonstrate why things have changed.