Supported by some sellers of ‘solutions’, the deduplication of conversions by advertisers doesn’t solve anything and is starting to challenge the e-commerce ecosystem. It’s a short term vision that will cause an erosion of traffic and therefore of sales. Never fear, there are other solutions…
Deduplication is a word that you won’t find in the dictionary. It’s a word invented to respond to the needs of e-merchants to find a way to optimize their investment in online marketing by rationalizing the allocation of payments to the various players involved in a sale, when buyers use several levers before making their purchase (e.g. search engines, affiliation, price comparison, etc.). What’s wrong with that? If we do a bit of etymology, we see the root ‘duplication’ meaning ‘the making of a copy’ and the prefix ‘de’, which has the meaning of ‘removal’ or ‘taking away’. So, to summarize, deduplication means ‘removing the copies’. That’s a good thing, isnt it? But what exactly is a ‘copy’? Do we consider that a search engine is a copy of a price comparison website or an affiliation link on an editorial website? No we don’t, really! These channels are complementary because they intervene at different points in the buying cycle and one does not replace the other. Unless you believe that a single channel is capable of offering, seducing and selling to the buyer and all in one click! It is an illusion, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Deduplication is not a bad thing…
Of course, it is highly desirable for e-merchants to optimize their investment in online marketing and to control the payments that they allocate. It’s even rather sensible and reassuring to their service providers. We might even call that deduplication if we want to. Now that the word has been invented, we might as well use it. That said, things are slightly different in practice. We should look a little deeper into the definition of the word ‘deduplication’, which is always a good idea with an invented word, because we can give it whatever definition we please. Beyond the simple etymology lies the reality of the usage of the word. In this case, in its current usage, ‘deduplication’ could be defined as ‘removing copies, in an arbitrary, unilateral manner in order not to end up paying for affiliation’. This is a longer definition but more in line with reality! Because that’s what it boils down to, in fact, deduplication.
Deduplication doesn’t mean not paying!
A growing number of advertisers rely on deduplication, believing that affiliates and their platform, not having had the last click, have no right to any commission, whereas Google Adwords and retargeters are always paid. We can see that this is unfair and it’s not victimless either, because it represents a net loss of 20 to 30% in turnover to the affiliation sector.
There is also within the practice of deduplication, as it is currently carried out, the first signs of withering of the e-commerce ecosystem in the short and medium term, because affiliation has several advantages to the e-merchant. Firstly there is the advantage that it offers an alternative source of traffic and the creation of a stream of new prospects, as opposed to the search engines, price comparison websites and retargeters which mainly generate traffic comprised of users who already know the brand. It also offers access to heavy traffic at a perfectly manageable cost. Deduplication, in its current form, is blithely leading us up a blind alley, synonymous with an inexorable impoverishment of traffic for e-merchants. It is also about the notions of prescription and performance, upon which much of e-commerce is founded, which are now being undermined by an over simplistic practice, which, when I think about it, reminds me of something Paul Valéry said: “Everything simple is false. Everything which is complex is unusable.”
Moving from a system of attribution to a system of contribution
We need to rapidly put this sterile and counter-productive debate behind us in order to promote the purchasing methods of the future. Advances in tracking tools now allow us to precisely identify, and thus to develop, levels of user engagement with a brand. Therefore, it is entirely possible and even recommended, that we move from a system of attribution to a system of contribution. We must abide by this sacred principle: the advertiser should pay all of the different channels involved in a purchase…even the affiliation! It may seem crazy, but it’s logical when you think about it. The advertiser has several choices in how the payments are allocated: pay the actors involved less, but pay everybody, or pay the contributors differently to the export channels, etc., but still pay everyone, etc. The choices are many and the possibilities are endless. All we need to implement these solutions is the volition and the concentration. I would like to call it ‘volentration’. Yes, I wanted to invent a word too!