How different will Q4 be for retail e-commerce this year? All signs point to a record-breaking quarter as digital sales become the new normal after months of lockdowns and quarantines. Experts predict that digital will account for 30% of sales during the upcoming holiday season, up from 14% in 2019.
We hosted a webinar around this topic to help companies strategize on how best to protect their brand for the rest of 2020. In this webinar, Helen Southgate, Managing Director of EMEA and APAC at Acceleration Partners and Van Chappell, General Manager EMEA at BrandVerity, had a lively discussion on what brands should expect to see in Q4 and what this enormous digital spike can mean for online brand protection. The full recording of the webinar is available here.
Here are three key takeaways from the webinar:
1. Compliance and online brand protection are more important in Q4 than during any other time of year.
With affiliate managers working overtime to keep up with the holiday rush online, they may not be as focused on whether partners are breaking the terms of service of their agreements. But this is the time of year when there is typically a 20-30% uptick in non-compliant behavior from affiliates and partners.
In some cases affiliates may not be aware of program rules for various brands with which they work. In other cases, bad actors take advantage of the surge in online advertising in preparation for the holidays. Now is not the time to be complacent.
The most common forms of non-compliance are unauthorized brand bidding and ad hijacking, which is when an affiliate tries to impersonate the brand by running ads that look identical to the brand’s own. At minute 18:33 in the webinar, Van provided best practices to help brands, agencies, and networks stay one step ahead . Those best practices are also outlined in this blog post: 5 Tips to Protect Your Brand This Holiday Season.
2. Brands are increasingly interested in transparency and incrementality within their partnership programs.
Helen spoke about how these topics have become especially popular this year. In some cases, especially for Acceleration Partner’s large and global clients, compliance is an essential part of their affiliate programs. As she put it, “Compliance is a given.”
On the topic of incrementality, Helen explained (at minute 32:22) how on the one hand, incrementality is about running compliant affiliate programs and ensuring that everyone plays by the rules. But brands are also keen on incrementality for the further development of their partnership programs. They want to find incremental customers, drive higher average order values, and build smarter and more creative partnership programs with broader reach. Helen mentioned several partnership models that have worked for her clients, such as brand to brand partnerships, big media partners, and influencers.
3. Now is the time to look out for red flags that may tell you something is amiss in your affiliate program.
While an automated paid search monitoring tool will serve as an early detection that affiliate non-compliance is on the rise, there are several telltale signs that you can manually look for. They include:
- Abnormally high commission rates or abnormally high conversions from certain affiliates in your program.
- Unexpected spikes in conversions from certain geographic locations.
- Unknown publishers that have been generating no sales who suddenly jump into the top revenue spot.
Higher than normal CPCs on your branded keywords. As the competition on your branded terms goes up, so will your CPCs.
This is just a preview of the many insights available in the webinar. Watch the full webinar to learn more about how to protect your brand during this unusual Q4.