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Rakuten Marketing Blog

Network Trends: Increase in 2017 Content Clicks Highlights Importance of Attribution

Posted on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 @ 13:03 PM by Daniel James

We took a look at the US click and conversion trends on content to identify what consumers were telling us with their habits, what it means for advertisers and publishers, and how to leverage this trend in the affiliate channel!

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Network Trends: Increase in 2017 Content Clicks Highlights Importance of Attribution

We're officially two months into 2017 and trends are already starting to emerge. One of the biggest predictions for this year was that influencer marketing and content would become a priority for consumers, and this left marketers in a tough position. How does a marketer capitalize on this newest trend without fully understanding the role that content and influencers would play in the customer's path to purchase? Likewise, what ways would content creators and influencers demonstrate their value to advertisers in order to secure partnerships that benefit themselves, the advertisers, and their visitors? 

Before we begin answering these two questions, let's first take a look at some year-over-year (YoY) trends that took place during January and February. We compared the sum total of clicks in five popular verticals from 2016 to 2017 and compared the results, seen below (click to enlarge).

Right away, we notice a few things:

  • Clicks are up. Way up. Especially from January.
  • Of these popular verticals, only Consumers Electronics took a small decline in a YoY analysis. However, considering that this data was pulled a few days prior to the end of February, and the fact that the difference was small in the analysis, this is not much of a concern.
  • Beauty and Personal Care outpaced Apparel and Accessories, however briefly, during January 2017.

There could be various explanations for these growths and changes (for example, post-holiday shopping deals were much more popular this year in the US network), but when you look at the way shoppers are trending with more trust in influencers and content, the surge in clicks becomes almost expected. 

However, let's look at another trend - conversions on content sites:

Right away we see a downward trend for these five verticals - they were strong in January '16 but by February of this year, they'd all decreased. 

Though the idea that conversions have gone down may feel alarming, there are two reasons why this isn't worrisome:

  1. As clicks increase it's only natural that conversions will go down.
  2. The difference may seem much bigger than it is. Department Stores and Beauty and Personal Care both had the biggest drops in this comparison, but even with those drops, the conversion rates weren't too dramatically different.

This trend, rather than being concerning, actually points to an important trend for marketers to take advantage of in 2017: attribution. 

We know that influencers and content are successful with identifying potential customers for advertisers early in the path to purchase, providing them with insights and advice they need to make an informed decision, but then the customer typically moves on from the content publisher or influencer, evaluates for a few days, and then finds a deal elsewhere - usually through a coupon mall, a loyalty/rewards site, or a cashback program. What content publishers and influencers do early on is vital to getting a customer to that last step, but they themselves are not the "last click" in the path to purchase. What attribution tools, such as Cadence, can do is identify what influence these content publishers had on the customer during their path to purchase, and when the content publisher came into play. The increase in clicks is an early signal that not only could content publishers be contributing to more than what meets the eye, they're becoming more essential to the customer as they click on more products and discover more brands through content publishers.  Additionally, attribution data can reveal the number of new customers that content publishers drive, as well as attributed revenue and AOV by influencer. 

It's still very early in the 2017 year, but these trends highlight the importance of attribution and, by extension, content publishers' role in a customer's journey to buying a product. Use these trends to enhance your own affiliate strategies by adopting attribution tools and identifying the traffic you're driving to your content sites. And continue to check the blog for more Network Trends in the future.

Tags: Attribution, Content Marketing, Network Intel & Trends, Affiliate Marketing

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