Special Report Affiliate Marketing
Cooking.com understood it was time to revamp its approach. The retailer set two goals as part of that process: 1) Create a closer relationship with its affiliate partners; and 2) Improve the cost side of the program. "We [realized we] probably could be in a structure that was going to allow us to be more responsive, rather than be three layers removed," says Sales. "In some cases, we went through the management group, through the network to the affiliate." The extra management layer also had increased costs.
A Change of Plan
To implement its new affiliate strategy, in April of this year Cooking.com removed the third-party affiliate management layer and switched from network provider LinkShare to marketing solutions provider Commission Junction (CJ).
The revamp has brought its own set of challenges, as well as rewards. "It takes a lot of work by the affiliates themselves to set everything up and change links," says Sales. "It's taken longer to go through the transition than we expected, but now we're happy with the results. We're on forecast," says Sales. "Our costs have been pretty good too, and we've been able to take some of that extra spend that was going to the management group and either provide better offers or more incentives to certain groups to try to see if we can drive sales within a category."
The New Direction
Because Commission Junction works both with advertisers (marketers) and publishers (affiliates), Cooking.com also has been able to forge more effective relationships with its affiliate marketing partners. Dave Gaeta, director of marketing for Cooking.com says, "Commission Junction has been very significant in bridging the disconnect between the two relationships."
Additionally, the retailer has benefited from CJ's measurement and reporting capabilities. Being able to pull up information quickly and efficiently by date, provider, affiliate or sales, and to do so consistently, has made an impact. Now the retailer is able to evaluate how an offer performed, whether it got incremental sales and if the company got pay back for its spend.