Top tips: How to Manage a Publisher Programme Migration

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Switching publisher networks can be a tricky task, so how do you make the change without losing valuable traffic and revenue? Owen Hewitson, Client Strategist at Affiliate Window, offers a guide to ensuring the switch happens smoothly.

The vast majority of brands in the UK now operate an publisher programme. Very few brands are entering the publisher space for the first time and establishing a programme from scratch. In contrast to a few years ago, advertiser movement is therefore not into the publisher channel but rather between networks.

Changing networks brings up the inevitable challenge of managing an publisher programme migration, and as programmes become larger migrations become more complicated. This article looks at what advertisers can do to ensure the migration of their programme from one network to another runs as smoothly as possible.

Planning a migration first involves establishing a timeline for it. The notice period to the current network is a key factor in determining this so serving notice early is the start of the process. Communication to all current publisher s on that network that the programme will be moving should follow quickly after, and it is best at this stage to give an anticipated launch date even if it is not possible to be exact.

The list of publisher s on the incumbent network should be passed to the new network so that the latter can begin the process of helping publisher s switch their links. At this stage the advertiser should agree with the incumbent network that the cookie period on the latter will be honoured so that publisher s which register clicks on the last day before the programme closes will still receive commission.

One of the virtues of an publisher migration is that it gives the advertiser an opportunity to perform a mini-audit on their existing publisher base. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity to remove non-performers, it can be a method to re-galvanise previously dormant players. Although the majority of publisher s are likely to be joined to both networks, it might be that the new network is capable of telling the advertiser more about them than the incumbent was. A migration might, for example, provide fresh insight into additional sites an publisher owns or updated stats on the size of their membership or email bases.

In some cases email communication to the entire publisher base is enough to get the word out that the programme is migrating, but in the migration of the top 10 or 20 top performers it is best for the new account manager to make personal contact. This allows any areas of concern (for example, that the commission structure is not competitive) or optimisation (poorly performing creative and linking methods) to be raised and addressed.

Staggering a migration across the timeline will depend on its size, but it is a good idea to focus on the top 10 or 20 revenue-generators in the first few days, followed by the next 50 mid-range publisher s, and then any remaining publisher s that have not already changed their links. Reminders will be always be necessary, but expectations should be realistic: for established and mature programmes numbering thousands of publisher s the prospect of migrating them all before the programme closes is an unlikely one. A migration also has the benefit of aiding in the recruitment of new publisher s. The new account manager can consult their network’s database for publisher s performing well in the sector recruit accordingly.

Parallel to the migration should be a PR and communications by the new network, with a focus not just on current publisher s but the industry as a whole. Booking display coverage on key industry sites for to announce the launch or providing newsletter and blog coverage are tools that can be marshalled in support of a re-launch.

For lead-based programmes or those in the financial sector which require close monitoring a phased or ‘soft’ launch might be desirable. The programme would go live when the top publisher s have been migrated and given with the correct landing pages, customer messaging and commissions, but will remain hidden to the broader network. This gives the account manager time to ensure the requirements of key players are catered for and rectify any problems prior to the programme being opened more generally.

Finally, it is likely that a number of publisher s will still be using old links from the previous network at the end of the migration. The previous network should be able to tell which publisher s are still sending traffic without being able to earn commission, so in the final clean-up phase a list of these should be given to the new network to complete the migration.

In conclusion, an publisher programme migration should not be seen simply as an inconvenient interlude but as an opportunity to renew the programme by bringing fresh insights and opportunities to it. It offers the chance to re-evaluate the fundamentals, to reassess the work of key publisher s, and to contact and re-engage those previously inactive.

View this article live on Netimperative

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