Mobile only publishers could represent a goldmine for brands targeting younger, more digitally native audiences. Jules Bazley, Regional Vice President, CJ Affiliate, looks at how affiliate marketers are more than just traffic drivers.
By now, every retailer should be aware of the importance of having a strong mobile experience. The same statement could apply as far back as 2015, when Google announced that smartphone traffic had overtaken desktop sources for the very first time. In 2019, mobile may seem old news but with tech-savvy millennials now the largest single consumer group out there, new conversations are starting. Mobile-first marketing (now ever-present in numerous sectors) won’t cut it, retailers need to be switching to mobile-only.
We’ve seen Netflix trialling mobile-only plans for customers in India. Social media mobile users grew by almost 3% with more than one million new users from January 2018 to 2019. With 2020 around the corner, this number is only expected to rise and with social networks representing a key growth area for the affiliate channel, mobile optimisation is crucial more than ever. In a period where many consumers are found to be cash-rich and time-poor, the investment in quality, end-to-end mobile experiences could not have come at a better time.
A number of global publishers on CJ Affiliate’s network have reported growth in mobile-only users. At this year’s Fashion Day in Paris, a panel involving several key affiliates went into detail regarding the impact of recent shifts in customer behaviour. ‘Fashionistas’ navigate an average of five touchpoints before making a purchase. YouTube, once a very small cog in the influencer marketing machine, now represents a significant driver of interest and inspiration. Regardless, mobile never strayed far from the picture.
One of the more pertinent views came from Oliver Frost, director of international at fashion aggregator Lyst, who spoke of the favourable treatment given to retailers with strong mobile experiences and conversion rates. Such an approach is almost essential in markets like Italy, where 80% of Lyst’s traffic is from a smartphone. Given its monetisation via cost per action (CPA), the publisher must factor mobile-only users into decisions relating to both its supply chain and algorithm.
Frost’s example embodied the notion that affiliates are more than just traffic drivers. They are partners, whose requirements extend far beyond the realms of product feeds and commission. If fashion houses really want to crack the increasingly demanding millennial market, they will have to replicate the level of mobile readiness offered by their affiliates.
This example also brought questions regarding the perception of low-quality traffic. Every retailer wants to see high-intent users landing on their site. But when we think about the customers that abandon their purchase, do we consider the dichotomy between the first and last touchpoint? Mobile-only publishers could soon represent a goldmine for brands targeting young, digitally native audiences. Even so, what use is their traffic on a poorly optimised site?
According to Frost, publishers are willing to make tough decisions when they spot certain trends in their data. We operate in a market where information empowers businesses. Lyst delivers traffic for global brands like Gucci and Versace in addition to several independent retailers. It has a library of over five million products with 50,000 added each day; not everyone can be given the same treatment. Lyst’s mobile search algorithm must factor in the likelihood of conversion, which offers crucial insight into a retailer’s experience and products.
Satisfying mobile-only users could send retailers down one of two routes. Path A would be to direct the traffic onto a ‘sticky’ mobile app to contain the experience within smart technology. Considering the potential of a user having to download a separate app (highly likely for challenger brands) this could represent more of an obstacle than a facilitator.
The second option would be to enhance the on-site experience, allowing users to checkout through a simple, stripped-back process. While appearing an obvious step to take, Frost has proven this doesn’t always happen.
The first port of call should be to open a dialogue between publishers and advertisers. The increasing influence of mobile users should act as a warning to brands that are not optimised – rather than just prepared – for these types of customers.
If we’re to seize on the opportunities being presented by rapid changes in customer behaviour, we all have to be on the same page. That means both collective and proactive measures, based on a greater understanding of the user journey.
By Jules Bazley
Regional Vice President