Share-A-Sale’s New Leap Frog Feature Good News for Merchants and Affiliates

shareasale's leap frog feature - share-a-saleA little insider information allowed me a sneak peak at Share-A-Sale’s new feature they call “Leap Frogging” which every merchant in Share-A-Sale needs to know about. This is great news for both merchants and affiliates for the reasons described below.

In a nutshell, merchants can now submit tickets to have custom tracking set up that will credit affiliates differently according to different set rules which will significantly help with attribution.

Some of the rules created around the Leap Frog feature could include time on affiliate site, order of clicks, and so on. The “leap frog” affiliate is the one that sends traffic to a merchant first and “leap frogs” over another affiliate who would otherwise get credit for getting the last click.  This makes crediting affiliates much more fair.

Because of this feature, commissions can now either go to the first affiliate or be split accordingly – say 20% of the sale goes to a coupon affiliate who got the last click and 80% goes to the content affiliate who sent the traffic in the first place, as an example.

The features is still very new and Share-a-sale is slowly rolling it out, however they are doing it for a few companies already and it seems to be working beautifully.

Why This is Good News for Affiliates

If you’re a blogger, content site, PPC affiliate and the like, you’re probably used to having some of the high value traffic you send to a merchant be “stolen” or otherwise credited to another affiliate who got the last click, such as a coupon site or someone using a toolbar. With this new feature, you can still get full credited for your hard work if not share commissions according to the merchant’s attribution design. This means a lot more sales for you!

Why This is Good News for Merchants

Because of the last click model that’s been the norm since the beginning, and since online shoppers have changed, many affiliates who are driving high value incremental sales are not being credited accordingly. This is because shoppers often check around before they make a buying decision and possibly even end up on a coupon site half way through checkout, giving credit to the coupon affiliate instead of the affiliate who sent the traffic in the first place. This leaves your best affiliates, the ones who are driving the highest value referrals in the first place, high and dry.

Too many merchants are giving full credit to the wrong affiliates, especially when the affiliate marketing strategy is to drive new customer aquisition. As a result, many merchants rely on coupon and daily deal sites to drive the bulk of their sales. This prevents many programs from effectively growing their sales because the higher value affiliates who are sending the first click are leaving programs they cannot earn from.

With this new feature, you can now keep your best preforming affiliates happy by paying on the first click or by splitting commissions instead of always crediting the last click. This will keep your program growing properly while keeping your highest value affiliates active!

The steps for setting the Leap Frog feature up in Share-A-Sale are: 

  1. Determine the rules for custom tracking
  2. Determine the commission split
  3. Submit request to SAS through a ticket
That’s it! You’re now on your way to a healthier, happier program!

24 Responses so far.

  1. John says:

    Splitting commissions is not good for affiliates, just for merchants. Affiliates can’t see the backend, what’s happening, how their commissions are getting split up by the merchants etc. No transparency for affiliates.

    • Sarah Bundy says:

      That’s a good point John, thanks for the comment.

      I pose the question though, do they know now? How many affiliates know just how much commission they are not earning that they should be because of the last click model?

      This new feature doesn’t force a split commission, it just allows a new opportunity to reward affiliates according to whichever terms the merchant and SAS team program in. This could mean 100% could go to the first click vs a last click or commission split model.

      • John says:

        “do they know now?”
        No, the only thing we can do are test purchases, check out stats etc. This adds on yet another layer of trust for affiliates.

        “How many affiliates know just how much commission they are not earning that they should be because of the last click model?”

        The last click model is the model of this business. It’s one affiliates actually prefer. There are some threads, polls on this at ABW. It’s overwhelming last click.

        “This could mean 100% could go to the first click”

        This first click has just as many issues. You can cookie stuff as well. Get people to your site, load up a cookie. The visitor doesn’t get what they came for. They go to an affiliate site that actually delivers, sends the merchant a sale, closes, but won’t get paid because of that first cookie.

        As far as spitting, again, goes to affiliates having to trust merchants that they’ll do it fairly. And we will have no idea because there will be no transparency.

        It’s who closes.

        • Sarah Bundy says:

          I wonder then if the SAS feature allows for different types of affiliates to be considered in their rules for this. The concern and likely the reason for SAS implementing this is too many affiliates were seeing commissions taken away by coupon, adware, spyware and toolbar sites, which was not so much an issue in 2007 when this poll was taken. This scenario is not discussed often, but it happens frequently:

          Affiliate A is a high traffic blogger (or emailer, or ppc affiliate) who sends traffic to the merchant. The customer enters the checkout and thinks “hey I wonder if they have a coupon” or sees a coupon box that makes them leave the site (which wasn’t as common a practice back in 2007). Customer clicks around to see if they can find a coupon code that works on the coupon site after typing into Google “merchant coupons”, and whether the customer finds one or not, the coupon affiliate got credit for the sale even if they didn’t do anything.

          Obviously this is something merchants will care about because they want to credit the affiliate who added value to the sale, but from the affiliate side, unless you’re the coupon affiliate, this doesn’t make sense either. The last click model is changing for this reason alone, which is why attribution is becoming such an important issue.

          The problem with Geno’s poll is it’s from 2007, when coupon sites and daily deal sites were not as popular as they are today. If affiliates knew about how many sales could be lost because of last click which has accelerated over the last few years, I think they would consider a different model. I wonder if the poll were retaken today, if the stats would be very different?

          Maybe it’s time for another poll and/or confirmation from SAS to see if measuring by type of affiliate is possible. I’ll send a message to both Geno and SAS to check it out.

          • John says:

            “The concern and likely the reason for SAS implementing this is too many affiliates were seeing commissions taken away by coupon, adware, spyware and toolbar sites, which was not so much an issue in 2007 when this poll was taken”

            That kind of stuff was actually worse back in the day, not so much for SAS since they never allowed that type of stuff in the first place, for the most part. Adware, cooking stuffing by sites has gone down over the years. So there’s no way it’s happening more.

            Usually the only people I see liking the split commissions or first click, are more merchants or somebody with a product that deals with that kind of thing. I know for myself, I would automatically drop such a merchant that didn’t go by the industry standard of last click.

            It would be interesting for a new poll, I suspect if it was one just with affiliates voting, it would go the same way as the one in 2007.

          • Sarah Bundy says:

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts, John. All great feedback for merchants to consider. I think Geno’s working on something now. We’ll just have to wait to see what! 🙂

    • Brent Elias says:

      Helps working with Merchants you can trust.

  2. Ken Schultz says:

    I think the problem also lies in segmenting affiliates, splitting them into 2 groups: Normal traffic (content, PPC etc.) and ‘quick’ traffic (coupon, toolbar etc.).

    Both the last click and first click model leaves some affiliates without the commission they deserve.

    Why should a coupon site get the same commission as a high quality content affiliate?

    By offering lower commissions to coupon sites etc. you can offer higher commissions to other affiliates thus compensating them for the commission that the ‘quick’ affiliates take from them.

    • Sarah Bundy says:

      Thanks for your thoughts on this Ken. We’ve seen a few merchants lowering commissions on coupon sites as well and then increase them when additional placement or value is given. It will be interesting to see what happens as the understanding of affiliate attribution continues to grow, and how deal and coupon sites adjust to those changes.

  3. Tricia Meyer says:

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Clearly attribution is becoming one of the biggest topics in our industry recently. Google had a whole session on it at their Client Summit last month, Lisa Picarille has written about it for the PMA, and the networks all mentioned it in their Ask the Networks panel at ASE12. As a reward site owner, it is definitely going to create a lot of headaches for me, but it’s just a necessary part of adapting. It will be interesting to see if my content site conversions increase with it.

    • Sarah Bundy says:

      Totally agree. Will be very interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years as this rolls out more. Thanks for sharing your two cents on this, Tricia !

  4. Thanks for the writeup Sarah – there are so many uses for technology like this is it easy to think of all the upsides and potential downsides… but the important thing for our group to try to focus on is that no one affiliate program is the exact same as another. Each has different needs. While coupon-related attribution may be an issue in one program, it isn’t in another.

    This feature also helps us in one very important way – allowing more coupon sites to flourish in programs that they otherwise would not be a part of. In other words, if a program manager had previously removed all coupon sites because they were not comfortable with them (happens a lot) – they are now able to bring them back and actually see the results within the data… a big win for both Affiliates and Merchants.

    John – I definitely hear your concerns but I think you are over simplifying an issue that has thousands of angles. This feature doesn’t turn a program into a “first click” program – it works off of very specific conditions that a Merchant creates… and the program has transparency (Affiliates are notified) and must be included in a program agreement to be approved by ShareASale. I agree with you that last-click is a preferred method to start from – that isn’t changing.

    Tricia, I can also see how it would affect rewards sites but along the same lines as above, it isn’t something which is involved in every transaction. If you communicate clearly with your Affiliate Manager what your concerns are, this could help you a great deal actually. While you are talking to them – you may even suggest that they use this to reward you further for your “best” new-to-file customer referrals, as that is also something that is involved in the technology.

    In other words – this isn’t “first click” technology… it is a set of rules that allows for very specific conditions to either alter, increase, decrease, or otherwise change a very specific transaction commission.

    • Sarah Bundy says:

      Thanks for your additions to the article Brian. I know there are a ton of affiliates who are excited about this new feature and even more merchants and affiliate managers. I think it’s a great addition to an already great affiliate network. Well done.

    • John says:

      “I definitely hear your concerns but I think you are over simplifying an issue that has thousands of angles.”

      That’s a lot of angles. In the end, do people think a merchant wants to pay more, or less if they can? The more confusing you make it, like Brent did with the CSN program, the harder it is for affiliates.

  5. Brent Elias says:

    This really helps good affiliates get credit and keeps crap sites out of the click stream or with a very reduced commission AND they don’t overwrite the good cookie set by the good affiliate. It is a no brainer for me. Thanks for creating this technology Brian, it is industry changing for people that understand how click streams work.

  6. Sarah – I was re-reading some of your post… and wanted to comment on this part.

    “I wonder then if the SAS feature allows for different types of affiliates to be considered in their rules for this.”

    This feature is definitely not a one-size-fits-all, it is very specific to certain affiliates. You set up tags/groups for your Affiliates… and the rules only affect those very specific affiliates and transactions. You could setup an entire rule only for one Affiliate if that was what was needed for your program, or set it up for all.

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About Sarah Bundy

Sarah is a recognized digital marketing leader who is ranked in the Top 40 Digital Marketing Strategists and Top 25 Affiliate Marketing Bloggers of 2012, and is recognized by the New York Times as an expert in performance marketing. She has won over a dozen awards, is an international speaker and contributes to periodicals such as Feedfront Magazine and Small Business Trends. Sarah is the Founder & CEO of All Inclusive Marketing, a leading digital marketing agency known for delivering innovative, experience driven results that reach, engage and convert buyers online. Their clients range from e-commerce start ups to leading retail, travel and SaaS brands such as Norton Symantec, Southwest Vacations, and Dropbox, who want effective digital marketing strategy from innovative thought leaders.