“AI is going to change the game! Affiliate marketing is about to become easier than folding laundry!”

We’ve heard rally cries like this for the past year, and there’s certainly truth in them, but they don’t paint the entire picture.

Yes, artificial intelligence can streamline and optimise your workflow, but this crucially depends on how you use it, and what you feed it.

That is: success lies in the quality of your data and the way you leverage AI tools. 

Well, what does that look like?

Rakuten Advertising's Reporting API has recently been integrated into affiliate.ai's offerings, so we spoke with both companies to learn more about how marketers can make the most out of AI and avoid making a mess.

Check your data!

Ensuring your data is clean and fully integrated is essential for making informed decisions and driving growth. Importing shoddy, unmanageable data will get you shoddy, unmanageable results.

It’s a bit like hearing about a recipe for an amazing new burger and then using ingredients from your food waste bin and cooking it in the microwave. The quality of your data and the way you process it is essential for getting the most out of AI.

Rob Berrisford, Founder of affiliate.ai, states, “If you believe data is core to your business then it is important that you treat it as important. We see too many affiliate network integrations that have substandard data, either they are still not tracking server side, or they are not passing all of their transactional data into their network.

“If you don’t trust the data you have in your network then all of the AI in the world isn’t going to help you analyse it.”

Having incomplete or inaccurate data undermines your ability to trust your analysis and make effective decisions. It's paramount to ensure that all transactional data is tracked and integrated correctly. This means moving beyond basic tracking and incorporating comprehensive server-side data collection. Only then can you rely on your data to provide accurate insights and drive your affiliate marketing efforts.

It will also assist with software developments down the line. Meytal Markman, VP, Product at Rakuten Advertising, comments, “You can get much more value from your data if you have more of it integrated (e.g. making use of additional transaction fields). The value goes beyond dynamic commissioning. Being optimally integrated also sets your affiliate programme up for future success. As technology and platforms evolve and more features become available, you’ll be well-positioned to test and adopt new capabilities.”

OK, so what next?

Once your data is cleaned up and integrated, the ‘easy-peasy’ process we hear people talk about will come into play.

Rather than scrolling through pages of data and manually building reports, AI tools will instead allow you to ‘talk’ with your data.

Markman explains that one of the benefits of integrating AI is that you will be able to ask  ‘real business questions’ to natural-language interfaces and then simply watch as a combination of AI and automation creates reports for you, removing a lot of manpower from the “download-and-pivot” type of work we’re used to.

To help illustrate one of many potential uses of this natural-language interface, she gives the example: “Imagine that you're looking for ways to expand your programme globally and you want to know which publishers are driving traffic from other countries or regions. A platform with AI and automation capabilities could allow you to pull a report with those attributes and read it; or you could ask AI to further synthesize report output and have a list of publishers presented back to you - maybe even with some qualifying data, as if you had an assistant who went off and did all that report-running for you and neatly presented it back.”

The value of this? More time to do the human, dare-we-say fun tasks of managing affiliate programmes.

Berrisford comments, “We have seen our agency partners take a step change in efficiency by outsourcing their Monday morning reporting to affiliate.ai. We pull and analyse their data getting it into their inbox before they even wake up. Less time spent on reporting means more time spent on growing their clients’ affiliate programmes.”

The verdict

Clean data and AI tools are indispensable for modern affiliate marketing. By prioritising data quality and leveraging the power of AI, marketers can unlock new levels of efficiency and insight. 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, those who embrace these practices will be well-equipped to thrive and drive sustained success in their affiliate programmes. Now is the time to ensure your data is integrated and to explore the transformative potential of AI in your marketing efforts.

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