This article appeared in issue 46 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2019
In a 2017 article Richard Dennys, CEO of Webgains, predicted that AI-enabled insights are set to transform affiliate marketing. Over the past year we have seen an increasing use of AI and machine learning being applied across the advertising industry, helping to manage and derive additional insight from big data.
Applications include creating intelligent conversational chatbots during ecommerce transactions, improving audience targeting and, more broadly, in gaining insights into trends. This technology is being applied in several areas by networks such as Webgains and Tradetracker, among others. Partnerize have been using AI for over two years, helping clients learn from trends to help understand and predict future sales performance.
This article focuses on the application of a specific AI driven app for affiliate discovery and recruitment. As any affiliate manager will tell you, finding and recruiting new affiliates is one of the most time-consuming tasks in affiliate management and takes many hours each week to do effectively.
To tackle this, Publisher Discovery worked with the Affiliate Future network in the UK to develop a way to quickly analyze the affiliates using Cloudfind™ technology and provide advertisers with meaningful suggestions on who to recruit onto their program, something that usually takes considerable time and can act as a bottleneck.
The Cloudfind™ app uses multiple AI techniques to calculate the relevance of content, affiliate transactional data, and engagement to show the best potential affiliate partners. The app continuously learns which type and category of affiliates are preferred or ignored and further improves its recommendations on a user by user basis.
The tool sits natively on the affiliate network and gives account managers and merchants a detailed view of the best affiliates within that network to recruit. Account managers have reported saving up to five hours per week on recruitment time, as well as getting additional and valuable insights into affiliates. The technology also analyzes affiliate links across the entire web to show affiliates outside of the network. This can be used for looking at competitor activity as well as auditing a campaign.
Stephon Anthony of Master of Malt, an Affiliate Future merchant, explains that this has enabled him to discover new bloggers and content affiliates he was previously unaware of, recommended by network value and relevance, both in the UK as well as from the US and Australian markets.
Further applications of AI are now being seen, from affiliate validation to reducing timescales in analysis of customer data. This adds certainty that the move towards automation in all areas of the affiliate industry will continue.
As Dennys says “The introduction of AI into Webgains’ suite of technology isn’t about making jobs disappear. Just the opposite.” AI and machine learning will automate those difficult tasks leaving marketers free to interpret and implement the results and drive further growth into the affiliate channel.
Chris Tradgett is co-founder and CMO of Publisher Discovery.