ValueClick’s Commission Junction affiliate marketing division is expected to launch a new program today to reward top-performing affiliates, and to help its clients recruit those publishers into their programs.
Through the CJ Performer program, top-performing publishers get access to enhanced support and resources, and recognition within Commission Junction’s network as a premier publisher. The company expects to invite about 200 of its more than 70,000 affiliates to join the program, including long-time affiliate partners Upromise, Shopping.com, and Mezi Media — the parent company of Coupon Mountain, Smarter.com and MoreRebates.
“This is the latest step in the maturation of the affiliate industry,” Elizabeth Cholawsky, VP of marketing and product development at Commission Junction, told ClickZ News. “Affiliate marketing has gotten to where any online marketer considers it to be part of the mix.”
Publishers accepted into CJ Performer are assigned an account manager who works with them to improve their results and to develop relationships with advertisers in the network. CJ Performers also get expedited responses to technical inquiries, free access to product catalog data and customized reporting.
CJ Performers will be clearly distinguished, making it easier for advertisers to identify those publishers within the Commission Junction Marketplace, or to set rules specific to CJ Performers. Merchants might allow publishers in that group to be automatically accepted into their programs, for example.
In addition to rewarding existing top-performing affiliates, Commission Junction will try to use the CJ Performer program to lure away top merchants from competitors’ programs, such as LinkShare or DoubleClick’s Performics. Last month, Commission Junction convinced Buy.com to switch its large affiliate program from LinkShare’s platform.
To be eligible for CJ Performer, publishers must have an established account with Commission Junction; have met minimum commission and advertiser relationship thresholds; and be willing to work with additional advertisers. All CJ Performer applicants are subject to approval by the Commission Junction network quality group, which reviews publishers’ business practices for compliance with Commission Junction’s code of conduct.
To support the new initiative, Commission Junction has expanded its Publisher Development account team to 15 people now responsible for servicing publishers, and expects to grow the team to 20 by the end of the year.
In the past, affiliate marketing had been saddled with a bad reputation because of affiliates’ use of unscrupulous techniques — including email spam, search engine spam, and pop-up ads — to get credit for consumer purchases. Cholawsky said those problems are still present — not just in affiliate programs, but everywhere online. She added that safeguards now in place let providers quickly detect and remove offenders from their programs.
“There’s been a real education in the marketplace. Issues that were once considered affiliate issues are now seen as online issues that everybody has to deal with. We’ve made maintaining the quality of our affiliates an ongoing issue,” Cholawsky said.
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