The Crunch: Managing an affiliate marketing network can be daunting with a vast number of publishers, advertisers, and offers to juggle. When you think about an ad campaign that transcends borders, complete with multiple languages and currencies, it’s clear the promotional process can easily get pretty complicated. Webgains began with the idea that every campaign needs to be managed from a local point-of-view as part of a global operation. The Webgains platform offers tools like the Powerfeed 24/7 digital assistant, a robust Voucher Code Tool to control coupon usage, a Transaction Inquiry Tool to simplify the process of resolving missing transactions, and the Agency Dashboard to provide real-time insights into the details of affiliate activities. These tools are all part of the Webgains Publisher Studio, which helps publishers streamline communication and keep campaigns moving forward.
You’ve heard the saying, “Think locally. Act globally.” At Webgains, it’s more than just a saying; that’s how the company operates.
Launched in the U.K. in 2004 by a group of entrepreneurs experienced in affiliate marketing, Webgains was created to do things differently. The first market was built locally with the intention of going global, says Ryan Gilbert, the Director of Webgains USA.
In essence, affiliate marketing is made up of a network of advertisers (companies that have products or services for sale) that reward publishers (companies that promote these advertisers) for driving traffic and increasing conversions.
Webgains has a suite of tools that simplifies what can be — and historically has been — the complex tracking of transactions across multiple affiliates, channels, and countries. Through a local presence in markets around the world, and a development team focused on continuous innovation with the creation of custom tools for advertisers and publishers, Webgains has filled a unique niche in the affiliate marketing space.
Ryan is responsible for the design and implementation of the Webgains business strategy in North America. He’s been with the company since its inception and recalls the early challenges and opportunities of bringing practical solutions to affiliate advertisers and publishers.
“One of the biggest issues we were having at the time, before 2004, was how networks were managing transnational transactions,” he said. “Whenever an advertiser would roll out to a new country, there would be currency, language, and delivery issues, so we built the platform from scratch with the intention of solving these problems.”
The platform makes it seamless — and painless — for clients to introduce affiliate programs in the countries it enters. And the process is scalable.
“If we’re rolling a client out across 12 countries, we’ll have essentially 12 programs that all track together in a group but are separated in their currency and language,” Ryan said. “That gives us a good, unique advantage over our competitors.”
It’s the localization that Webgains offers through managers and teams based in each country that helps it address the unique needs of each market.
“Each of these countries is managed with their own team of local people,” he said. “These teams manage the advertisers and publishers in each country.”
The model has worked. Webgains now has about 2,000 advertisers and retailers that are supported locally in countries across the globe, Ryan said.
Webgains Publisher Studio Has the Tools to Get the Job Done
Webgains was created with the idea of harnessing technology to simplify the complexities of an affiliate marketing campaign that extends beyond borders. The continuous updates to the Webgains platform are driven by feedback received from associates in multiple countries in various industries and sizes.
“The vast majority of our technology is client driven,” Ryan said.
A comprehensive publisher suite is full of tools to help affiliates promote advertisers in a variety of ways based on their unique needs and preferences, whether through text links, banners, video, or some combination thereof. Customized reports on transactions on an hourly, daily, monthly, quarterly, or annual basis keep advertisers informed of results.
Exhaustive testing keeps the publisher suite up-to-date with the latest in performance marketing.
Powerfeed — A Potent 24/7 Digital Assistant for Affiliate Marketing
Powerfeed acts as a mobile digital assistant in the affiliate marketplace. Through a single login, users can monitor campaign information and bridge the gap between publishers and advertisers. Communication is at the core of Powerfeed, further bridging the gap and allowing one-on-one or larger group interactions.
“Powerfeed is basically an advanced communication tool that is very much driven by data on the back end of our platform,” Ryan said.
Advertisers can use Powerfeed to see which publishers have joined their programs, monitor performance, and decide which publishers are driving numbers.
On the flip side, Ryan says, publishers are alerted when coupons are added to an affiliate program and notified when there are commission increases. It’s a fully automated monitoring process that cuts through the complexity that can add time — and significant cost — to the affiliate marketing process.
Robust Voucher Code Tool Allows Advertisers to Control Margins
Webgains’ Voucher Code Tool allows advertisers to completely control coupon usage within the affiliate channel and even its use online. Typically, if an advertiser wants to run a 10% coupon to its customers and it’s paying a 10% commission on each sale, it’s losing 20% of its margin.
“That’s historically been an issue,” Ryan said. The Voucher Code Tool allows advertisers to use coupons as retailers would while managing their margins with publishers.
“Our technology is enabling retailers to use coupons but also to control the margins so they can still work with publishers and not eat too much into profit.” — Ryan Gilbert
The tool allows advertisers to effectively manage both online and offline promotions. For example, if a publisher is spending money on promoting a code in a television ad to be redeemed online, the tool ensures that the same coupon is not incorrectly tracked through affiliate channels.
For publishers who have often dealt with instances of online coupons being picked up and posted on other sites, the Voucher Code Tool allows for promotion through exclusive coupons without the need to continually police other sites.
Transaction Inquiry Tool Automates Cashback for Publishers
Webgains’ automated Transaction Inquiry Tool allows cashback publishers to communicate missing transactions to the advertisers’ accounts where they can automatically approve the transactions.
Cashback websites, such as Ebates, allow consumers to receive cash back for their purchases across a wide range of product categories. The problem for these sites is that, as you might imagine, the ability to accurately track all of the transactions can be challenging. Some invariably get lost, which translates to time-intensive backtracking and checking.
The Transaction Inquiry Tool was developed to save time and ensure publishers receive the commission they’ve earned.
Agency Dashboard Improves Efficiency for Account Managers
Webgains’ Agency Dashboard cuts through the clutter by providing sophisticated proprietary tracking that includes what device purchases are made from, what operating system they came from, and other useful information.
Imagine the myriad details that an account manager of a large affiliate program has to deal with — the number of promo codes that are passing back-and-forth between large numbers of advertisers and publishers through various mediums. Publishers then need to be rewarded with commissions for every transaction they initiate. It’s a lot to keep track of.
“There are about 120 different data points,” Ryan said. The data helps account managers easily manage what can be an extremely labor-intensive process.
Acquisition by Ad Pepper Media Helped Webgains Go Global
Initially self-funded, Webgains achieved early success, but its founders wanted to expand more rapidly around the world. In 2006, the company was sold to Ad Pepper Media, which has remained its parent company. Based in the U.K., Ad Pepper was formed in 1999 and has worked in more than 50 countries.
The sale allowed Webgains to grow to about 100 employees with the lion’s share centered in England. Thanks to increased staffing and funding, Webgains was able to more rapidly achieve its goal of rolling out its powerful platform to other countries, starting with Germany, France, and Spain, and then expanding into Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Poland, Italy, and other nations.
The focus was on identifying the top e-commerce trading countries. Webgains placed an emphasis on going where its clients needed the platform to exist. So, when a major client — like Nike, for instance — wanted to expand into Italy, Webgains was able to pave the way.
A Client-Focused Affiliate Marketing Network that is Still Evolving
Webgains has leveraged the think locally, act globally approach to its affiliate marketing business, meeting the unique needs of customers operating in multiple markets around the globe.
Aided by powerful technology, Webgains’ local account managers keep their ears to the ground to share insights and client perspectives with the company’s development team. The in-house dev expertise helps Webgains’ clients continually stay on top of the latest opportunities with a more streamlined process.
“Our goal as a company is to become one of the largest affiliate networks in the world,” Ryan said.
Thanks to its strategic alignment with Ad Pepper Media, Webgains has a powerful partner to provide the resources to fuel fast, strategic growth for its company. It’s similar to the way Webgains works as a partner with — not a supplier for — advertisers and publishers to help drive campaigns that reward both sides. That focus sets Webgains apart and contributes to its clients’ success.