It is the end of 2016 which was a good year for LinkConnector and our technology. So, it is time to look forward to 2017 and the technology challenges and opportunities it will present. Instead of simply taking a parochial view of LinkConnector’s technology, I thought I would look at the technology challenges facing the performance marketing industry in the next year. Let’s dive right in:
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
Our industry is not alone in facing these threats as there were several episodes that occurred this past year including the Dyn DDoS attack that occurred on October 21st and the less publicized attack on the Rio Olympics.
DDoS attacks cripple the websites that experience them which for performance marketing means not serving ads or tracking user activity. Without promotion and tracking of essential performance metrics, commissions can’t be recognized and revenue for affiliates, merchants, and networks is lost. Even a minimal disruption can cause the loss of tens of thousands in revenue depending on who is affected and for how long.
Most networks have effective DDoS mitigation, but it is an uphill battle that we are constantly fighting.
Another revenue reducing technology impacting performance marketing is ad blocking. Ad blocking removes ads from a web page on behalf of users, so they won’t have to see them. Unfortunately, since the web has grown up primarily as an ad-supported system, the blocking of ads makes it likely that much of the “free” content will either convert to a subscription-based model or disappear entirely from the web.
Perhaps the best known ad blocking solution is Adblock Plus, which has come under fire for taking money from companies in order to un-block their ads. As you can imagine, this has many Adblock Plus users upset; however, this blocking of ads can have a severe impact on our industry’s revenues.
Depending on who you believe, at any given time between 5% and 20% of users are actively using ad blocking software in their browsers. This means that networks cannot effectively promote and track to as much as 1 out of every 5 internet users. In dollars and cents this can equate to a 20% reduction in revenue, not just sometimes (like during a DDOS attack), but all day, every day.
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
IPv6 is the most recent version of the IP standard which has vastly expanded the available IP addresses. IPv6 was devised so that ultimately every internet enabled device (even your refrigerator) can have its own unique IP. Many of us have become accustomed to what our IP address is as the IPv4 version looks like this – 126.96.36.199. Heck, some of us have probably memorized our computer’s IP, but try memorizing this ‘2607:fb90:2903:2272:0000:004f:f547:a001’. That is the format for the IPv6 standard.
Why is this new standard a challenge for our industry? Well, the size of the data means we need to store this into larger database fields, but data storage is cheap, so that isn’t a real concern. What is a more pressing concern is using that data to determine click origination information (like location, source, etc.). When you are accessing your favorite network’s reports that show you that you had 3 clicks from Moscow that turned into 2 sales, that all doesn’t happen by accident. Networks need to convert IP information into locations to make all that magic happen.
Reporting is only one use of IP in most network technologies, and frankly, it is one of the simplest. IPv6 presents a real challenge as its utilization increases (we’ve recently seen it surpass 6% of all the IPs).
There are some very useful tag management solutions out there including free ones like Google Tag Manager and LinkConnector’s own Universal Tracking Solution. The challenge with tag management as it relates to performance marketing is choosing a robust solution and implementing it correctly, so that affiliates are appropriately rewarded for their promotion.
If you are a merchant in multiple networks tag management is a necessity as it provides merchants with a dynamic pixel firing solution, so you never have the problem of paying double commissions for a sale. Double commissioning can make your affiliate program cost 15-40% more than it should.
So, why is Tag Management a challenge? Well, it used to be simple. Set a Last Click cookie and call the network the cookie indicates. It just isn’t that simple anymore. Last Click isn’t the only attribution model now used. We have First Click and Coupon Attribution and Shared Attribution. Also, a good tag management solution makes it easier to add partners such as Upsellit to the mix. Last, cookies aren’t the only means of determining affiliates involved in promoting a product. There are offline signals (like Naked Coupons) that might trump cookies causing the tag solution to call a different network partner.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the challenges of 2017. Our motto at LinkConnector has always been “Redefining Affiliate Marketing One Technology at a Time” and we welcome the opportunity to attack these challenges because they inevitably lead us to new and exciting technologies we can make available to you. Happy New Year!