Partnerships, or what not is there...

Earlier this year, I wrote why I find it super important that networks try to invest in their relationships with both stakeholders in their industry. It appears that my article hasn’t made a lot of impacts (or just not enough people read it, but that is okay and within my expectation). However, I want to share some personal experiences because some networks and partners are screwing up really badly.

Termination... communication...

Advertisers can make the choice to move their contracts to other networks or to terminate their whole affiliate program altogether. I should not judge the strategic decisions made by advertisers, we also all know it is part of the industry. When it does happen, we need to take care of it. This includes removal of content, URLs and more. 

Considering most big affiliate publishers run their businesses like any other commercial and professional organisation, it is important for them to get big announcements about changes and/or terminations with a reasonable notice period. It is really disturbing to get an email informing me that programs are shutting down that exact day or that the cooling down period starts tomorrow (Imagine having to replace 500 links on 400 different pages…) 

In my eyes a 1 month notice + cooling down period is fair. Responsibility here lies with the advertisers and the network. Don’t let messages about termination sit in your inbox for too long. A good example here is a network that took 10 days to inform me about the termination of a program after I heard about it myself from the advertiser directly.

Kudos to TradeDoubler & Flixbus who announced in November 2018 about the closure of a program at the end of March 2019. 

Ignorance, lack of time, communication....

I have a few practical examples to outline the crap you get as a publisher:

In 2016, I set up a lifestyle deals platform in the Netherlands. It was based on curated deals that were shared with followers in editorial content. In my opinion, a strong value proposition for most users & advertisers. When our website was finished, our social channels were up and running, it was time to reach out to partners. This time; it was not in travel but in the lifestyle & retail vertical.

Although we got our platform confirmed to join the AWIN network, getting advertisers to work with us was a real pain. I often got declined without any reasoning and upon sending a ticket I often got no response. There is one example of a conversation between me and an advertiser I want to share though:
Me: “Hey, **pitch of our platform**.”
PABO: “Thanks, nice story. How many sales do you think you will do for us?”
Me: “Well, we are just starting up so not too many in the beginning but we are planning to do 20k visits per day in a few months so it would be great to have your products in our portfolio”.
PABO: “Good luck, call me when you reach that point”.

Do you need an explanation of the above story? It strikes me with what tone I was talked to. I guess not using my own name didn’t help here. Please, BU (PABO), not only invest in selling dildo’s but also in your partnership management, please.

I have another one because unfortunately, these occurrences are not exceptions but appear to be the standard. Our brand name contained the word “Korting” (discount) but was very very clearly not a discount code platform. We not only clearly shared this in every message we sent, I even made a nice presentation explaining what we did, and what we NOT did (rank for discount codes nor sharing them). 

So after getting declined for various requests to join the program, I send out an email to the publisher manager at AWIN. After sharing we were not a discount voucher website, sending the presentation and repeating once more we were not a discount platform I got an answer: “here is a list of advertisers that are willing to work with voucher websites“.
My reply wasn’t even answered anymore. 

Okay, a few more! 
I have a nice UK platform in the travel vertical; a proven and known concept throughout the travel affiliate industry so this shouldn’t be a challenge for anyone to accept. I signed up on AWIN and got rejected by the compliance team with the following message: “Your application has not been approved as it does not meet our quality requirements for approval.
I did some googling but the quality requirements aren’t posted anywhere nor is the compliance team reachable by phone. Interesting… Do you want to make some money or what?

Okay; more examples from a different project: I got rejected for various programs even-though my concept fully fits within the guidelines as described by the advertisers. The funny automated message you then get reads “We regret to inform you that your application was not approved for this program. This is not intended as disapproval of the quality or value of your Web site. Each advertiser determines how many and what types of publishers they will accept in their program for various reasons“.

Guys….. how about picking up the phone, giving me a call or at least make sure the automated messages actually contain some relevant info so I can fix any issue that there might be…

So, what to do?

I’ve said it before and will say it again: “Advertisers & Networks should not forget their publisher partners. Make sure to have enough time to talk to them all, make sure to have enough people to answer their questions, problems, challenges and give someone the benefit of the doubt. 

Networks go crazy to please their advertisers; making sure they keep the contract in but they forget the other side of the business. Without publishers, you also lack traffic en thus revenue and you’ll go out of business. So stop pulling in contracts for 0,05% network margins and providing crap publisher support and start supporting both sides of the business.

Advertisers; if you get a message from a publisher, take it seriously and invest in them. That’s what they will do to you too. That’s what a successful partnership is; both sides working together to achieve a common goal. If it works; the feeling is amazing, so I urge you to give it a try and it won’t disappoint you!

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About Ingmar Bruinsma

Ingmar Bruinsma is an entrepreneur in the travel industry. He also provides consultancy services in the field of marketing, business development to clients in travel & aviation. He blogs about topics in tourism, travel, aviation, digital marketing.


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