So what can a merchant do? Here are two examples of how top e-commerce brands have taken a smarter approach.
Tiny Prints’ (part of Shutterfly) award-winning affiliate program has a multiattribution model thanks to technology developed with its affiliate network and our company. Using its model, sites that show up at the very end of the purchase funnel (e.g., within a few minutes of purchase) may have their commissions reduced for those transactions if another content-based affiliate was overwritten and credit is given to the first affiliate. This approach has the dual benefit of making sure the right affiliates get paid and ensuring Tiny Prints isn't overpaying for orders that have a high channel overlap.
One Kings Lane, a flash-sales site for high-end home goods, has taken a different approach to building a high-quality affiliate program. Its solution is to block coupon, loyalty or any other nonbrand relevant sites from its affiliate program. This puts all affiliates on a level playing field, making the program very attractive to those affiliates who drive top-of-funnel orders and brand awareness. At the same time, it preserves the One Kings Lane brand.
It's clear that the last-in attribution model needs a serious revisit as companies take a closer look at multitouch attribution. Not only does appropriate attribution allow companies to value and incent their marketing partners appropriately, it can have huge impact on the bottom line.
Bob Glazer is the founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, a digital strategy and marketing firm focused on driving profitable new customer acquisition.