Comparison of Affiliate Creatives and Importance of Assortment

When setting up an affiliate program, each merchant/advertiser gets to a point when they need to decide which creatives to offer affiliates to use for the promotion of the merchant’s products/services.

If I were to rank merchant creatives in order of importance (to affiliates), and it were a retail-oriented web merchant (employing a pay-per-sale remuneration model), my list would look as follows:

  1. Text links
  2. Data feed (or individual product links)
  3. Banners
  4. Widgets, search boxes, etc
  5. Video
  6. Flash

Interestingly, it isn’t unusual to see an affiliate program without any text links at all. That’s no good. Historically, text (i) have a significantly higher CTR (clickthrough rate) than banners, and (ii) they almost always convert better. Why “almost”? Well, apparently much depends on the type of an affiliate program.

Here’s some interesting data I’ve just collected for merchants (and affiliates) to review and compare:

Performance of Affiliate Links
(PPS affiliate program / retail merchant)

Performance of affiliate links - pay per sale program

Performance of Affiliate Links
(PPL affiliate program / insurance vertical)

Performance of affiliate links - pay per lead program

So, in a B2C affiliate program of an e-tailer we see that:

  1. Product links have the highest CTR (as expected)
  2. Text links outperform all other links (I’ll comment separately about Flash below) on CTR and CR (conversion rate)
  3. Banners have the lowest CTR of all other creatives in the program
  4. Flash links show a surprisingly beautiful CTR, and an excellent CR of over 7%, but, in all honesty, the sample is too small to make any final conclusions on this one

In a B2C affiliate program of an insurance company we see a very interesting picture (one that is somewhat different from the above-described one):

  1. On the CTR front text links outperform banners with a truly impressive lead (60% vs 0.3%)
  2. But on the CR front banners seem to be significantly more effective than text links, having a 7+ times better conversion (5.28% vs 0.74%)

Conclusion: By all means, practice an assortment strategy when it comes to affiliate creatives. Cover all of the above, and beyond (see below), and let affiliates experiment with different kinds of links.

It is unfortunate that we weren’t able to compare video creatives to the above-mentioned ones (the network that these programs are on doesn’t allow for video ads yet). Just yesterday, eMarketer has published results of a study which revealed video that ads have an 83% higher dwell time than non-video ads (57 seconds for video, and 31 seconds for non-video creatives). It would’ve been really interesting to see how their CTR and conversion rate compares to text, banners, and other types of affiliate links.

Additionally, we haven’t been able to include widgets, search forms, and other types of creatives in the above comparisons.

If you have any additional creative comparison information, or any other thoughts on the subject, please share them in the “Comments” are below.

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