A new generation of affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a very exciting and valuable digital advertising channel mainly because of the pay-for-performance-only business model. But on the other hand affiliate marketing is quite complex and could improve with regards to automation and transparency. At Tradedoubler we strongly believe that being open, transparent and collaborative is good for everybody. We have put together a vision for a new generation of affiliate marketing based on an Open Platform concept and the usage of Blockchain technology.
What is Open Platform and how do we apply it to affiliate marketing?
An Open Platform concept basically means that a company opens up their technology platform via an API (application programming interface) so that third parties can integrate with the company systems in their own applications. In order to apply this to affiliate marketing, we are building global APIs for our publishers and advertisers to access our platform, to integrate with our systems and to use our assets like tracking, data or other functionalities. Partners can create own tools and applications as well as new business streams based on our platform. We offer around 115 pages of documentation, that explain in detail how you can access our systems.
With the help of these APIs you have a lot of possibilities: You can, for example, build customized dashboards to visualize your affiliate marketing activities. You can integrate with our reporting system by pulling your affiliate program data from our system and including it into the overall reporting in your own system. You can build apps with transaction and pay-out data for your users, e.g. for an Apple Watch.
This new concept involves the benefits of enhanced transparency, direct relationships between advertisers and publishers, integration and – last but not least – innovation. We push for innovation, because by opening up our platform to third parties we will see numerous new tools and new business models rising in the future.
New Tradedoubler Interfaces and global API based on Open Platform concept
The very first application that we built ourselves based on this concept and APIs is the new publisher interface that we have introduced on 20th March. It has been developed completely outside of our systems. Data and functionality displayed in this new interface is being pulled via the API from our systems. This gives us a lot of agility and we can very easily build and roll-out new functionality.
Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to work on the publisher API and on the publisher interfaces. You will see new functionalities, like role-based access and a Chrome extension, so you don’t even need to log in, but you can access directly from your browser. And over the course of the year we will complete this global API as well for the advertiser and the agency side. In parallel we’re building a Blockchain solution within affiliate marketing to further support automation and transparency.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is basically a decentralized solution for the storage and the security of data. Data is stored on many different computers with the aim of maximum security and maximum transparency. A very basic example of how this works is money transfer from person A to person B. All information related to this transaction is stored in a block and is simultaneously validated and stored on a number of different computers. The information is then encrypted and added to the Blockchain. Every block is encrypting the previous block, which makes the contained information basically unhackable. A smart contract validates if the transaction is valid and triggers an action, once all the required information is given. In our example of money transfer, you don’t necessarily need the bank as a neutral party any more to execute and approve the transfer. Another example is notary services. Every time you have an independent neutral party needed to record a transaction, this can be substituted by a Blockchain solution, where you have all the information in a secure and encrypted way, stored in a decentralized system.
Tradedoubler’s Blockchain Solution
We think that Blockchain will make affiliate marketing a lot safer and faster and will create a level of transparency that was previously unknown in our industry. All information related to affiliate program transactions – from view and click to conversion – are stored in blocks. These blocks are stored in a decentralized way on many different computers and are encrypted accordingly. As soon as certain criteria of the smart contract, that has been defined beforehand, are triggered, respective action will be executed. For example once the sale is validated, the publisher will be paid for. As all this information is stored in an independent way in the block, all parties involved have access to this information and the information can’t be changed in hindsight. This means advertisers and publishers gain complete transparency on what has happened: where a click is coming from, under which criteria a sale or a click has been approved, how the money has been transferred, etc. In other words, the advertiser on the one hand has total security, that the incoming traffic was relevant, while at the same time, the publisher has the security, that he will be paid for the transaction that he generated.
There are a number of benefits of Blockchain that in our opinion will revolutionize affiliate marketing:
- Better control on publishers – all details about traffic and transactions are stored and encrypted in the Blockchain and all parties have access to the same information.
- Easy access to affiliate marketing – in the smart contracts you define the criteria of approval for sales, leads, etc. beforehand and the automated process eliminates all effort. Due to this new level of automation and efficiency even smaller players can work with this solution.
- Better transparency – fewer frauds.
- Undisputable attribution models – due to the verification of data.
- Direct communication – advertisers and publishers can communicate directly and both have access to the same information.
- Shorter publisher payment delays – payments can be triggered immediately.
- Removal of adblockers – in combination with tracking and ad serving we anticipate solutions to cope with adblockers.
- Increased speed of ad display.
In the last few months we have developed a Blockchain prototype, which is available since end of February. We have started to store data in the Blockchain and are now working to further realize these new opportunities. We are very excited about this journey and are confident it will take affiliate marketing to the next level!