Finding a “match” in Commerce Advertising: what publishers and advertisers need to know

Commerce Advertising partnerships between publishers and advertisers are very much like online dating: You have an almost unlimited pool in which to find the right partner – although certain red flags should provide early warning. An initial face-to-face meeting is always a good idea, and, once the right partner is found, communication and honesty are key to a long-term relationship. We can’t help you find the love of your life, but we can match publishers and advertisers, and remind both parties what to look out for.
Felix Witte • mrge
18. April 2023
5 min read

Key Take Aways

Executive summary: 5 key take-aways for quick readers

  1. Personal contact and good chemistry are essential
  2. Rapid responses and agile activity establish trust
  3. Three criteria help you choose the right partner 
  4. Defining goal and context will sharpen the selection 
  5. Glancing at the website reveals possible red flags

What does a Commerce Advertising partnership look like?

For advertisers, Commerce Advertising is about placing digital advertising in environments that are contextually appropriate to their offering. The goal: Reaching potential customers during the purchase-relevant phases of the customer journey, and ideally achieving measurable conversions. They do this in the environments of suitable publishers, for example product and price comparison sites, as well as coupon or cashback offers. Based on the billing model, publishers are paid a commission.

Five factors for a successful partnership between advertisers and publishers

  1. Fostering connection: Good chemistry between the people involved is the foundation for any good partnership. Commerce Advertising is no exception. To foster trust and transparency, a regular fixed meeting is a must. 
  2. The right billing model: From cost-per-click to cost-per-order, there are various options for compensating publishers, and advertisers should choose one that suits their campaign goal. When selecting the billing model, make sure that it’s also fair and transparent for both sides, especially since many advertisers like to use dynamic models. 
  3. Agile activity: Here, the social aspect factors in again. From time to time, opportunities or problems arise for one partner at short notice – issues that require the other partner to act quickly. A short response time is essential in order to avoid unpleasant situations and prevent a loss of trust. For this reason, both sides need to name a contact person right from the start. 
  4. It’s not (only) about the commission: Here, again, transparency plays an important role – as do expectations. Many advertisers who generate low sales rely on performance marketing to boost their numbers, so they offer the publishers high commissions. But that usually backfires, since most publishers look for a good conversion rate. Advertisers should work to improve this area first. Once they have higher conversion rate, they will quickly find a partner – even with a lower commission. 
  5. Reliable fraud detection: Do you know whether sales numbers are actually valid – and not generated by bots, for example? Commerce Advertising platforms such as mrge can support precisely this type of fraud detection. Using a different approach may not result in mutual success and, at worst, could harm the trust between parties.

Three criteria for choosing the right partner

  1. What do I want to do? Of course, all advertisers should ask themselves this question when planning a campaign. Regardless of whether they want to create awareness, generate leads, or sell products directly – the right channels and measures can be defined based on their own goals. 
  2. Context is king: Advertisers can narrow down the number of potential partner publishers simply by choosing the right environment. It makes no sense for an online bicycle store to consider a blog specializing in smartphones. The same applies to the publisher, who would earn less money due to fewer conversions.
  3. The initial conversation: Before partners decide to join forces, it is important to meet in person and see whether the chemistry is good. In addition, open questions and the general conditions of the partnership can be clarified face to face: Where are the challenges? Where are the opportunities? And how can these be harnessed within the partnership?

Pay attention to these red flags

Just as there are signals for potentially fruitful partnerships, there are also warning signals that should immediately alert both sides. Often, a closer look at the website in question is enough: Does it look professional? And if not, does the owner nevertheless boast six- to seven-figure clicks for the site? This, in turn, could be a sign that the visitors are not real people but bots, for example.

You should also check the website’s legal notice (in Germany: Impressum). In other words, potential red flags could include incorrect or missing information, or a legal notice that appears to be a clearly pasted image.

What other stakeholders can provide support?

In the relationship between publishers and advertisers, other players are usually involved in the middle. A Commerce Advertising platform like mrge can help match up partners, for example. To return to our dating metaphor: In this case, mrge is a kind of matchmaker that uses specific criteria to find partners who are perfect for each other – and can set up an initial meeting.

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Nikolaus Spitzy
General Manager & SVP Advertiser
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