I’ve been seriously rethinking affiliate advertising.
From a business perspective, it feels like a wash, as sales are made one way or another. I’ve been toying with canceling my own affiliate program with Live Theme, as I’ve seen esteemed WordPress theme developers cancel their own–like 8BIT and WooThemes.
To fully consider ending my own affiliate program, I decided I would test things out from the affiliate point of view. After all, ChurchMag has a far bigger reach than your average website and I get multiple affiliate requests from business every month.
Here were my findings:
The Truth About Affiliate Ads
Since placing ChurchMag on Site5, I decided I would sign-up for the affiliate program and try it for one entire month. Most of our audience is interested in solid web hosting, so it was a natural fit:
After an entire month of running the ad, I converted:
Zero. Nothing. Niente.
Did I serve up some decent traffic to Site5?
Who knows how many sales Site5 will render from this one month of free advertising, as that’s how it all ended.
So why didn’t it work?
Chris Ames from 8BIT explains it like only Chris can–like a magical unicorn breathing softly in the morning light:
Yes, your friend really did learn about Standard from you. Yes, he remembered to click through your affiliate link. But when he got to the checkout page, he saw this:
“Hmmm…” your loyal reader thought at the last minute. “I wonder if there are any coupon codes available? I’ll just Google real quick.” And when he did, he found something like this…
The moment your friend clicks the Reveal Code button, your affiliate code is removed and a new one is put in it’s place. Simple as that. Your commission has been hijacked, and in a sense, you’ve been robbed.
I know this isn’t always the case, but it happens.
In the case of my Site5 test, if you’ve ever considered Site5 and visited their website, you can forget about the affiliate link working, too–even though it was my ad that pushed you over the edge for a sale.
It’s Like Radio Advertising
I can tell you from my radio days that radio advertising has similar hurdles. Some business wanted the ad to say something like:
“Tell us you heard about us on WXYZ and we’ll give you 10% off!”
Truth of the matter is, most people don’t remember or feel weird about saying it. This is an awful way to measure advertising success. Besides, reach is just that. It’s reach. The impact of advertising can have its effects months–sometimes years–after its made an impression on the audience.
And this is why affiliate advertising doesn’t work.
What Should You Do
I’m sure there are many of you who have placed an affiliate ad on your blog or website. You figure, why not?
I’ll tell you why:
Your space is worth something.
If you really want to place some ads on your website, use a service like Buy Sell Ads or Beacon Ads. The minimum is usually around $10, so you only earn about $7 after they collect their portion. But at least it pays!
You may also want to consider giving some space to causes you care about. Seriously. If you’re going to give your ad space away, it might as well be for a good cause.
As for all of those businesses that inquire about ChurchMag becoming an affiliate, these are some of the technical reasons why I won’t sign up. The real reason why I won’t, is I respect my real advertisers–those that appreciate the value of the ChurchMag community.
And that’s the truth about affiliate ads.