As it was earlier announced in this press release, and then reemphasized both by Shawn Collins and Scott Jangro, a new kind of an affiliate marketing platform was born yesterday morning, and given the name Impact Radius.
I have interviewed two of the co-founders of Impact Radius, Todd Crawford (TC) [bio | Twitter] and Lisa Riolo (LR) [bio | Twitter], and am hereby posting my interview.
First of all, congratulations on the launch! I remember you teasing me with the “upcoming project” tweets back a few months ago. So, it has certainly been good to see/read the press release today. Happy Birthday to Impact Radius!
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From the press release it is clear that we’re witnessing the birth of the first ever multi-channel platform that makes it possible for the affiliate marketing performance-based model to work “across TV, radio, print and online media channels from a single platform.” It certainly does sound like “the next ‘BIG’ thing in performance advertising.” While some affiliate networks are introducing pay-per-call models, I don’t know of any platform that integrates affiliate marketing with TV, radio, and print. Taking these three channels as examples, could you please elaborate on how exactly the integration will work, and what payment models/setups will be employed?
LR: One of our goals for Impact Radius was to act as a catalyst for industry growth. Starting out, we quickly learned that the traditional media channels, while actively doing performance-based deals, didn’t have the same tools and technology that is commonplace online. And if we could bring traditional and online companies together, in one place, for the first time — the opportunities for growth and new partnerships would be tremendous.
Here are a couple of examples of how new types of partnerships can be formed between advertisers and media partners:
Advertisers, that today only work with traditional media, can integrate their existing call centers and web shopping carts with Impact Radius and then, using our electronic insertion order, to establish relationships with online media partners (e.g. bloggers, email marketers, or a loyalty services). Similarly, broadcast television or radio networks can work with new advertisers that may be partnering with online media on a performance-basis but not “offline.”
So, a broadcast television network could show a direct response ad from an e-commerce company with a unique toll-free number and unique url dubbed in for tracking. The advertiser could complete customer orders in the call center or in the online shopping cart. Impact Radius would track all the converted sales and credit the broadcast TV network.
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Sounds like there are several tracking options available. Without going into the technical details, could you outline, in layman terms, the different ways that the tracking can work for offline advertising channels (like TV or print)?
TC: Tracking “offline” activity can be done by unique toll free numbers, unique promo codes and/or unique urls. These various unique values are assigned to specific media partners and only track back activity they generated.
LR: In addition to the tracking values, Impact Radius also supports and automates all the processes for customizing and trafficking ad creative. As a result, a podcast host can run a voiced-over ad with a unique toll-free number as the call-to-action. If a listener responds and places an order, the podcast host will receive credit for the sale.
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I’ve meant to blog about the topic of “affiliate data as network’s proprietary information” for quite some time already, and it looks like it is another major area where Impact Radius wants to differ from networks like LinkShare, Commission Junction and many others. When you say that you believe in “direct negotiations and open communication”, I immediately picture thousands of merchants/advertisers nodding, but not all affiliates/publishers feeling exactly happy about becoming easily accessible. How exactly are you going to ensure that both parties are happy at all times, and affiliates are not overflooded with offers that they don’t want? And also: what publisher information is going to be made available to merchants (all, or just the ones they choose to disclose it to)?
TC: Everyone that participates on the Impact Radius platform has the option to not be listed in the directory, if this is what they want. If someone does decide to list in the directory, they can control which pieces of information they want to make available and can even control this information down to size of company. The benefits of being listed in the directory far outweigh any of the preconceived negatives. Our platform empowers the media partner (aka affiliate) in ways that other network type solutions do not, in particular because the relationships are direct and negotiations result in optimal deal structures.
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I see Twitter-centered performance-based platforms springing up nearly every week. Are you planning on encouraging advertisers to employ the Social Media channels, and for those that do, what guidance/help are you going to give both advertisers, and publishers on staying compliant with the new FTC’s rules?
LR: A feature of the electronic insertion order is the ability for either the advertiser or media partner to establish additional terms that outline guidelines such as acceptable search or email practices, or promotional restrictions that might apply to social media channels. This approach ensures that both parties participate in the process of establishing acceptable advertising practices for that specific relationship.
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I like the ability to create master accounts to be able to manage multiple accounts. What other OPM-friendly functionalities do you have to offer?
TC: As you pointed out an OPM agency can use a single account to access multiple advertiser accounts. They can also control which of their employees can access which account — preventing confidential data from being exposed to every employee. Agencies also get macro level reporting across their clients. So the more business they manage on the platform, the more data they have access to, to grow their business.
LR: We also feature agency listings in the Impact Radius Directory which is another great way for OPMs, both large and small, to promote their services to an ideal target audience.
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Have I missed any other solutions (or features) that you feel are important to emphasize?
TC: Advertisers and media partners contract directly with each other via our electronic insertion orders. Impact Radius is not a party to these agreements.
Also, all data on our platform is confidential — even Impact Radius cannot access specific accounts without the account owner granting us permission. For example, we cannot see custom deal terms that get negotiated or sub-ID data passed by media partners. Media Partners can pass up to 4 sub-IDs in their tracking urls.
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Finally, are there any setup/starting costs that advertisers should be aware of (I take it, it’s free-to-join for affiliates), and how exactly will Impact Radius be compensated?
TC: Advertisers pay a $250 account fee and an additional $250 campaign approval fee for each campaign they launch. Impact Radius charges a monthly minimum fee of $100 per campaign or our actual transaction fees which uses our Radius Pricing fee schedule. Radius Pricing bases our fees off of the value of each individual relationship — the larger the relationship, the less of an effective rate we charge.
And, yes, media partners participate with no charge from Impact Radius. Nor are there additional charges to agencies.
Thank you for the good interview, Lisa and Todd.