Remember my Competitive Intelligence at the Service of Affiliate Program Managers article at Search Engine People which appeared there back in May of this year? If you didn’t see it yet, that would be a good place to start before continuing reading this post… If, however, you did read it you know that — when spying on competing affiliate programs — among the “affiliate program & related performance” things to analyze I recommend looking at “best-performing creatives” and “wording of text links”.
Affiliates, don’t turn away from this post! You need this too. After all, by understanding what works best for other publishers in any given affiliate program you can better optimize your own campaigns.
Well, things aren’t that straightforward with banners and text links. Savvy affiliates and program managers know that not all banner (or text links) statistics should be taken at face value.
Here’s a perfect example I’ve recently spotted:
See the significant EPC difference between banner #1 and banner #2? No, it’s not because the first banner performs that much better. In fact, they are nearly identical (they’re animated banners, and the second frames, which you don’t see, are just a little different). The reason for this overinflated banner EPC is as simple as this: the first banner is higher on the list and easier for affiliates — who don’t necessarily want to use the banner itself but just need to quickly pick up an affiliate code!! — to use. Same often applies to text links (unless you’re comparing deep-linked ones).
As mentioned above, this is an important factor to grasp both for affiliates (not to make wrong conclusions), and for affiliate program managers (who, while engaging in competitive intelligence tasks, may make wrong conclusions as well). Do analyze what works best for others, but do keep in mind that not everything you see there (i.e. with banner and text links’ performance stats) it to be trusted as 100% accurate analytics.