Eighteen months ago the mobile picture for affiliates looked rather bleak. There were few advertisers with mobile optimised sites and an even smaller number were tracking affiliate sales through their handset platforms.
Rise of Mobile Activity
With the rise in traffic that was being generated through mobile handsets there was a significant disconnect between traffic and sales – clicks tracked and transactions were missed. As mobile traffic ramped up month on month this was becoming even more of a problem.
Fast forward to today and we are seeing an increasing number of brands embracing the shift in consumer behavior towards mobile devices. We have seen a flood of mobile or responsive sites launch with tracking added as a default rather than merely an afterthought.
Education on the benefits of adding tracking to mobile sites has been a constant challenge. Without tracking in place, advertisers were missing out on a number of opportunities through the performance channel. Those that embraced mobile early and added tracking from the offset were able to benefit from opportunities that presented themselves through a number of publishers.
To ensure advertisers were tracking mobile sales and publishers were being remunerated for the sales they were driving, Affiliate Window launched a technical fix. For advertisers that did not have tracking in place, traffic was identified as coming from a mobile handset and a redirect was put in place to force this through to the desktop site – ensuring handset sales would track.
A continual education piece is required to ensure more advertisers are optimising for and tracking mobile.
While this did not lend itself to a seamless mobile customer experience, it meant publishers were being fairly rewarded for the sales they were driving through mobile handsets. With traffic exceeding 12% of the total network traffic in recent months, it was increasingly important to ensure sales were tracking correctly.
As soon as any advertiser had the solution in place and added tracking to their mobile site, all handset traffic was once again directed to the optimised version of the site.
Advertisers tracking through mobile handsets
A number of big brands now have mobile sites complete with tracking in place. John Lewis is one of the latest to ensure their partners are rewarded for the sales they generate through mobile handsets.
It is important to note sales through handsets will track in one of the following ways:
- Optimised mobile site complete with affiliate tracking
- Optimised mobile site running off and tracking through the same domain
- Non optimised mobile site, so sales track through desktop site
With the addition of the mobile tracking solution we have implemented, some of our advertisers will also track in a fourth way; by diverting mobile traffic through to the desktop site that has tracking in place.
Across the network. we are now seeing in excess of 90% of our advertisers tracking through mobile devices. This is significant progress from eighteen months ago yet we strive to bring this up to 100%. A continual education piece is required to ensure more advertisers are optimising for and tracking mobile.
Benefits of a mobile optimised site
Advertisers with optimised sites for mobile are reaping the rewards through the channel. Having analysed performance across a number of sectors, conversion rates have significantly improved where a mobile optimised experience is in place.
Additionally, consumers are spending more on average when presented with a mobile version of the site versus what they were spending when landing on the desktop version through a mobile handset.
With the rise of m-commerce it is becoming increasingly important for networks to provide as much visibility to publishers as possible, allowing them to make informed choices on which advertisers to promote and who to give the greatest exposure to.
This visibility extends to mobile reporting. By allowing publishers to see the split of mobile sales they are generating as well as the devices these sales are coming from, it enables them to optimise their mobile activity and understand the devices their visitors are using.
Our priority has always been to ensure that sales through mobile devices are tracking. As an affiliate network, it should be the primary focus – to ensure publishers are rewarded for the sales they are driving – irrespective of the device being used by the consumer.
As we approach full mobile tracking, our attention needs to turn to contextualising the opportunity, showcasing the full range of new and innovative mobile publishers who are set to transform the space. Similarly we can push additional products such as app downloads and in-app purchases, alongside call tracking and mobile lead generation.
The new mobile performance eco-system is set to evolve over the next few years and we intend to be at the forefront of this revolution.