The Importance of a Good Feed. Part 1 of 2

Last year it was flagged as being possibly one of the most neglected areas of affiliate marketing by the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council, since then what has changed in the data extraction and feed marketing arena?

Google_PandaGoogle Released the Panda
In early April this year (6 weeks after the USA) Google unleashed one of its more significant new search engine ranking factors, originally named as the “Farmer Update” and later called Panda, this change was unofficially designed to target websites displaying both scraped content and poorly written copy (generally spun).  Along with the existing duplicate content ranking factor(s), affiliates will need to utilise product data even more intelligently than ever before to gain a foothold in the search engine results pages (SERPS).  Richer data will become ever more important allowing affiliates to chop the information up and combine it with their own original content their user bases. 

Data Addiction is a Growing Trend
Despite continued issues with quality control from some advertisers, and Google pushing long tail affiliates using feeds lower in its index one of the main points to note is that the number of publishers utilising advertiser product data has never been larger.  Beyond the traditional price comparison affiliates you have publishers such as Found that can use feeds (that consider stock levels) to programmatically pause elements of their ppc search activity.  Whereas Skimlinks, with its soon to be augmented Skimwords functionality will display price comparisons for products in a text link hover over.  Some publishers have taken matters into their own hands running their own extraction routines to ensure they have the data they need and when.  This is not ideal from an advertiser perspective, many publishers crawling an advertisers site generates costs for all parties and misses the opportunity to utilise the distribution infrastructure that affiliate networks such as affilinet provide.

Low_Fat_StrategyLow Fat Strategies
Many large advertisers are pushing forward with strategies which maximise efficiency; significant ingredients in this mix are granular product reporting and commissioning.  Affilinet’s new basket tracking solution enables advertisers to set higher or lower commissions down to a publisher level per SKU.  This can be used to tactically drive sales of old stock, or products which have lower margins.  As advertisers adopt this new technology, publishers will be able to utilise affilinet’s API to see what products they have sold well they can then weight the visibility of products from date feeds within their marketing.  

How can Merchants Provide a Better Quality Product Feed?
There are a number of limiting factors with regards to affiliate data feeds.  Technically is the merchant able to:

1. Output product data on a regular basis (if travel data it really needs to be real time)
2. Keep out of stock items out of the data
3. Strip or encode HTML entities

Technically is the affiliate network able to pass merchant specific schema elements? (affilinet has a set structure with flexibility to pass custom data on a per advertiser basis)

If any of the above limiting factors apply to an advertiser it may be worth them getting in touch with one of the growing number of feed marketing specialists which have gone to market over the last 2-3 years.  Key examples of these businesses include Fusepump, FeedSpark and Golden Feeds, we will be reviewing the offerings of all 3 in the second part of this two part post.

Catch you later!

Paul Brown

Paul Brown has over 7 years in online, 6 of those in affiliate marketing.At affilinet Paul is a Senior Strategy Manager and also the UK office’s Product Champion. Paul has an extremely high level of technical know-how and was responsible for developing our Pay Per Call technology and retargeting solution. He has spoken at several industry events, including ad:tech, Affiliates4U Expo and the IAB Affiliate Forum. Previously Paul was Affiliate Executive at Carphone Warehouse and Affiliate Manager at Alliance and Leicester.
Out if hours Paul is at his happiest drinking wine, eating cheese, travelling the world, playing sport and discovering new music and film.

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