This is chapter 5, Affiliate Manager Guide to Creative, of Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants.
This chapter was originally called “Choosing Your Program Model.” I wrote this book a long time ago, and I don’t recall why I would have used that title, but I’d say it should more correctly be called something along the lines of Affiliate Manager Guide to Creative.
Anyhow, affiliate program creative can come in all shapes and sizes. As far as the types of creative to provide to your affiliates, I would suggest polling your affiliates on what they want and need.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) provides guidelines on ad units. You should consult with this list of ad sizes to be sure you are conforming to the standards.
One complaint I hear frequently from affiliates is that there are only animated banners available through an affiliate program. Be sure to make static options available, too.
In addition to providing banners and text links to your affiliates, there are a number of other creative types that may apply to your affiliate program.
If you have a line of products, you should have a data feed. The various affiliate networks have their own formats for data feeds, but there is not a universal format.
Video as affiliate creative is gaining in popularity. If you’re running an affiliate program for a brick and mortar company and have some existing commercials, you might want to make those available to affiliates.
Otherwise, you might consider investing some funds into creating some video for your affiliates.
As we get more progressive with smart phones as marketing vehicles, mobile affiliate creative will an area worth focusing some attention.
A few years ago, CAN-SPAM had a significant impact on the number of affiliate programs offering solo e-mail creative, but this is an area that’s bouncing back. Companies such as LashBack and UnsubCentral enable advertisers to control and safeguard the process.
You should also have policies in place for search engine optimization and affiliate bidding practices on pay per click search engines. State whether affiliates can bid on trademark terms, as well as if you permit them to use trademark terms in title and meta tags.
Content can be a great type of creative, which affiliates can use in newsletters. Generally, you will want to warn affiliates off of putting up content from an affiliate program on their site, in order to avoid duplicate content issues with the search engines.
Earlier, I mentioned the guidelines for ad units from the IAB. These apply to “traditional” sites, but won’t necessarily work for blogs. The format for some blog templates or themes is suited for ad sizes unique to blogs. Don’t wait for affiliates to ask for these odd sizes – ask them if there are sizes they want that you don’t current offer.
Lastly, let your affiliates know how to create redirect files, such as meta tag or .htaccess redirects. This is helpful for your affiliates to be able to create short versions of affiliate links for text newsletters.
Go back to the Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants Video Book.