IAB AMC Meeting - 31st March 2011

06/04/2011
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A comprehensive affiliate survey outlining the scope of the industry will be at the heart of the AMC's work in 2011. Last Thursday saw the full Affiliate Marketing Council meeting to ratify the range of projects to be undertaken over the coming months.

As well as the survey a series of best practice pieces, updates on crucial online initiatives and concerted marketing efforts will ensure the Council showcases the full range of affiliate marketing opportunities.

The full presentation deck from Thursday's meeting and comprehensive minutes are below:

AMC Meeting_31stMarch2011

IAB AMC Minutes, 31st March 2011

Helen outlined the revised committee structure with the establishment of two new additional committees, Legislation and Research to work alongside the Marketing committee. In addition the Regulation committee has been renamed as the Best Practice committee.

Following meetings prior to the main Council of each of the four committees, the heads of each laid out their plans for 2011. The agendas had been agreed at the February Council meeting and projects prioritised and assigned during each of the individual committee meetings.

The Legislation Committee - Lead, Helen Southgate

This is currently looking at two areas:

1. The Extension of the ASA's digital remit and the implications for affiliate marketing

2. The revised EU ePrivacy Directive

1. Helen met with the CAP, the body that created and updated the code by which all broadcast advertising has to adhere to. This previous blog post about the CAP explains the changes that came into force on March 1st.

They provided extra clarity about the responsibility of the advertiser, affiliate, agency and network in ensuring all messaging pushed out through the affiliate channel is correct. Helen explained how the general feedback from them is that all parties are jointly responsible for policing the space and guaranteeing they have due diligence processes in place.

They also stated that most issues they investigate are informally resolved, that is resolved without the need for a formal adjudication. The ASA site contains a full list of adjudications.

A document outlining the changes and impact for the channel as well as best practice pointers has been compiled by several members of the AMC and has received favourable feedback from the CAP. The final version is being prepared prior to general distribution via the AMC, networks and agencies.

The Asbof levy has been established and will be communicated by Asbof in due course.

2. The EU Privacy Directive was discussed within the context of affiliate marketing. There was a suggestion that the AMC should be proactive and establish our own universal messaging around affiliate cookies. This could include guidelines for affiliates about messaging they could add to their sites alerting users to how the content may be monetised. This will need to be agreed by the IAB.

There was also a general feeling that we shouldn't ignore the issues being discussed.

Helen is looking to offer clarity to the other IAB Councils with a potential 'Heads of' committee with all heads of the current IAB Councils.

It is also clear we will need to keep abreast of the current state of play with behavioural retargeting as this area faces additional scrutiny.

Helen has agreed to provide a brief overview of the current issues.

Best Practice Committee - Lead, Kevin Edwards

1. Affiliate Payment Protection. Broad desire for education piece on exposure affiliates face when working with networks/agencies/third parties through the channel. This could include listing individual network policies on payment terms, information they make available, affiliate exposure. Project to be coordinated by Duncan Popham.

2. Voucher codes. Was a belief that whilst the processes and results of the six monthly audit need to be publicised there is little additional work that needs to be done in the realm of voucher codes at present.

3. Overhauling the Ethical Merchant Charter. The Ethical Merchant Charter was launched in 2009 and remains a short, best practice document for advertisers about some key fundamentals when running their affiliate campaigns. There was a general consensus that the document needs to be extended and reworked to include new developments such as social media, behavioural retargeting and additional industry trends. Pete Berry has agreed to take on this project.

4. Behavioural Retargeting. Whilst the code of conduct was temporarily suspended pending wider industry discussions there was a general consensus that the principles of the code should be adhered to by networks, specifically cookie hierarchies, whereby post impression or post view cookies are not able to overwrite click cookies. It was also felt a wider education piece on behavioural retargeting would be beneficial. This is to be coordinated by Hero Grigoraki.

5. Auditing Affiliates. Following general concern about advertiser attitudes to removing or auditing affiliates it was agreed a best practice guide would be beneficial. Kevin Edwards to coordinate.

6. Datafeeds. Following the excellent start by FusePump in 2010 in initiating this project, FusePump agreed to complete it by working on additional guidelines for the Travel and Mobile sectors.

7. Cashback / Loyalty & Reward. Rather than a designated code of conduct for loyalty and reward sites it was suggested a guide to best practice and an outlining of the checks and balances they have in place to ensure advertisers are not exposed to fraudulent or unethical activity would be a good way forward. The committee agreed this would be a project that could be undertaken by a cashback or reward site. As none were present at the meeting this is as yet unassigned.

Initial drafts to be completed by end of May 2011.

Research Committee - Lead, Ewan Darby

Bruce Clayton presented on behalf of the committee. The key areas of focus for this committee are:

1. Revisiting the PwC spend survey

2. Gathering current case studies and current research for wider distribution via the AMC blog.

1. There is a general feeling that the PwC adspend survey doesn't serve the affiliate community well with little understanding or appreciation of our channel. Affiliate marketing is also included in the 'Display' section which doesn't accurately reflect its activity.

In light of this the committee wants to embark on a piece of separate research backed by all members of the Council.

The research will take the form of a survey that will be pushed out primarily by networks. This will ask a series of questions regarding current and anticipated spend by advertisers currently running affiliate programmes.

It will also provide sector breakdowns, hopefully in turn showing a buoyant and growing channel for advertisers. This will enable us to have some really positive numbers to talk about and will also provide the Marketing committee with a great set of statistics to PR.

The final set of questions is yet to be confirmed but it was stressed that the survey will only work if it's fully supported by networks. All networks present agreed to back the work.

2. The second area of focus was seen as a quick win, collating any research or case studies already carried out that can be added to the AMC blog.

Should anyone want to contribute work to the blog please contact us.

Marketing Committee - Leads, Julia Stent / Sanj Atwal

1. External communication to focus on industry and sector press with the intention of potentially running a press event that could present the findings of the Affiliate Survey being carried out by the Research Committee. The Committee is looking to source any relevant press contacts.

It was also felt any affiliate marketing activity that could tap into both social media and mobile would be more likely to be picked up by the press.

Referring to affiliate marketing as performance marketing was discussed. Several members of the Council expressed concerns that our USPs would be lost as performance marketing is less distinct. It was agreed that the use of expressions such as 'publisher' instead of affiliate and 'advertiser' instead of merchant would be done so on a case by case basis.

Additionally the idea of producing a promotional video was discussed. This could feature key decision makers advocating the channel and explaining how they use it to drive incremental sales.

It should also be the intention of the AMC to ensure it's involved in as many external conferences and meetings as possible.

Other ideas include a focus on recruiting new publishers and a survey of key decision makers

2. Internal communication should focus on the work of all the committees and the general AMC. The blog is the most obvious avenue for this.

Voucher code audit

The six monthly audit completed by the nine networks of the Council was completed in March. This focused on c.25 affiliates heavily using voucher codes.

There were several breaches but they were mainly soft breaches.

Helen stressed it was important that the Council be seen as a catalyst for auditing and checking affiliates but it was very much the responsibility of the networks, not the Council, to ensure compliance. Therefore it is not the role of the AMC to regulate the space.

The current process is time consuming and has issues around coordination amongst so many networks. It is currently under review.

It was also agreed the audit and processes should be published on the AMC blog.

Finally it was suggested welcome emails from networks should include links from the AMC including the current code of conduct. This could also include links to forthcoming work from the various committees.

The AMC blog

Since launch the blog has had:

20,000 views

8,000 visits

4,500 absolute unique visitors

Kevin Edwards requested additional content and guest articles as well as links to the blog.

The next full Council meeting will take place on 26th May. Please email Helen Southgate to raise possible agenda points or with any other queries or suggestions.

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