Interview: Ben Edelman on Affiliate Marketing Opportunities

November 20th, 2014 by

In 2012 Ben Edelman, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School and one of the top names in affiliate marketing fraud detection, keynoted our inaugural show in San Francisco.

In 2015 he is going to be back to open up our seventh show with a speech on “A New Code of Conduct for Affiliate Marketing.”

While our next show is still four-and-a-half months away, the agenda is already live and the registration is open; and we are already starting to interview some of our presenters, including the keynote speakers. And it is Ben’s interview that opens up this series. Enjoy it below.

* * * * *

Question: If you were to emphasize one important issue that every affiliate manager should be paying more attention to, what would it be and why?

Ben Edelman: I always encourage affiliate managers to redouble their efforts on catching rogue affiliates. Ideally, affiliate marketing is the most accountable form of online advertising – paying advertising fees only when products are actually sold. But that’s by no means guaranteed; sneaky affiliates manage to get paid for sales that would have happened anyway. Affiliate managers need to keep those shenanigans out of their affiliate programs in order to make sure the programs live up to their potential.

Question: What do you see as the main areas of opportunity for online, in general, and for affiliate marketers, in particular, in 2015 – 2016?

Ben Edelman: At this point the challenges in buying traffic from Google are pretty well-understood – extreme costs, competition from competitors with similar costs and revenues, such that almost all the profit flows to Google. So when I talk to online advertisers, my main goal – and theirs! – is to find advertising strategies that are truly cost effective, that don’t end in an auction where Google gets all the profits, and yet are significant and sustainable. It’s not an easy challenge.

Question: Between the fact that “affiliates are 7x more likely to be overwritten by another channel than another affiliate” and the fact that “30% of sales start on one device and finish on another” [source] how can an advertiser build a truly affiliate-friendly program, yet one that doesn’t cannibalize the merchant’s own marketing efforts?

Ben Edelman: I certainly agree that attribution is difficult and only getting harder. Recent technological changes, including multiple devices and mobile, put all the more pressure on historic attribution models. Ultimately advertisers need to think explicitly about attribution, and most advertisers need models and tools to help apportion credit among the multiple factors that combined to cause a sale.

* * * * *

Don’t miss Ben Edelman’s keynote presentation, A New Code of Conduct for Affiliate Marketing? Join us for Affiliate Management Days while we’re still in Super Early Bird registration period!

Leave a Reply