Report: Affiliate marketing yields buyers, not browsers

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Affiliate marketing delivers consumers who shop more and spend more, buying rather than browsing, according to a study commissioned by Performics, the performance marketing division of DoubleClick.
Performics, Chicago, partnered with comScore Networks to examine consumer behavior and compare the performance of the affiliate channel with that of other forms of online traffic. ComScore's consumer panel tracks the online behavior of 2 million individuals.
"The first goal [of the study] was to compare performance metrics impacting affiliate programs across groups of comparable merchants, including several Performics clients who will receive specific data regarding their programs," the report said. "Second, to gain a better understanding of affiliate shoppers' demographic profile within the affiliate channel compared to that of the total Internet population."
The research found that 47.2 percent of affiliate channel shoppers have a household income of at least $75,000, compared with about 40 percent for the average Internet shopper. And 47.8 percent of affiliate shoppers are ages 45-64. These consumers are likely to have a larger household, as 73 percent come from a household with two to four people.
The average order size in the affiliate channel equals or betters the Internet average, according to the report.
"Promotions, deals and discounts are critical tools in affiliate program optimization, with affiliate publisher sites in the deal and discount category representing a significant portion of overall volume in the channel," the study said. "As a result, the affiliate channel customers are often mischaracterized as 'bargain hunters' who may not provide unique value for merchants."
Affiliate traffic produces transactions at a higher percentage than does total online traffic, the report said. By contrast, visitors who navigate to a merchant's Web site by typing directly into a browser's address bar or using a bookmark yield transactions at a lower percentage.
"Conversion rate is a very important metric in affiliate marketing and one that is affected by all aspects of the affiliate marketing chain," the report said. "It is up to the merchant to 'convert' traffic into sales, and affiliates value most highly those merchants who convert at the highest rates.
"However, affiliate publishers can also impact conversion rates by sending the most qualified traffic possible," it said.

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