Data feed aggregator, FMTC, has been a staple in affiliate since 2007 when they set out to solve a big problem they saw in the industry.
Publishers spent so much time cleaning up the coupons and deals they were collecting from affiliate programmes that they barely had enough time to focus on their bread and butter - driving traffic to their own sites. Since then, FMTC has grown to aggregate content from 14,000 merchants across 23 affiliate networks, making it easy for publishers to automate the way they share advertisers’ coupons, deals, and products.
We caught up with the CEO of FMTC, Brook Schaaf, to talk about the current ecommerce and affiliate landscape and the exciting tools his team is working on to help tackle a new set of problems for publishers and advertisers presented by this historic time. Our favourite? One new tool (just put into beta) will help publishers match de-monetised Amazon links with same or similar products from other retailers—huge news considering the recent developments with Amazon's affiliate programme.
CJ: Tell us about your company/business model. What makes your brand unique?
Brook: We connect ecommerce merchants and online publishers, making it easier for both sides to earn more money with deal and now product feeds. We're the only provider of our kind.
CJ: What problems does your business solve for?
Brook: Merchants often have inaccurate, inconsistent, and otherwise unusable deal and product links. We aggregate, test, normalise, and distribute affiliate deal and product data for publishers so their visitors are more likely to become customers. This means publishers save time with a single point of access they can trust.
CJ: How does affiliate fit into your business model?
Brook: FMTC charges its publisher customers a subscription fee. We integrate most merchants for free, though we also have enhanced offerings for merchant and agencies that can be paid through a CJ bonus.
CJ: We know this is a challenging time - how can publishers and advertisers best leverage the affiliate channel now?
Brook: With the exception of travel, entertainment, and a few other categories, CJ's own COVID-19 report shows that clicks and actions are up double and triple digits year over year. This makes sense, as people are buying more from home, often with more research, which takes them to affiliate sites.
However, FMTC's own data (gathered in partnership with the reporting platform Trackonomics) shows that hundreds of programmes have decreased or zeroed out commissions compared to the dozens that have increased them. Amazon in particular has given publishers a rough time with lowered commission rates and slower delivery times, so there’s a clear need to diversify income streams. This also means that merchants have an opportunity to win market share. Of course, you can’t win if you don’t play, and if you do play, you want to play well.
CJ: Amazon recently backed away from affiliate—what is FMTC doing to fill that gap?
Brook: Here are some of the ways that FMTC is working on helping merchants get new and returning customers into their shopping carts through publishers:
- FMTC processes merchant deals and product feeds. Very soon, we'll offer an upgrade to merchants to push their deals, including vanity codes, to any affiliate, not just to an existing FMTC subscriber.
- FMTC will be launching a brand-new tool to help publishers match Amazon product URLs to merchant product URLs. So far, we’ve integrated almost 80 merchants across multiple categories. We'll be offering merchants an opportunity to sponsor these matches with their product links. We can also help publishers identify brands that merchants sell.
- FMTC has partnered with recruitment tool Publisher Discovery to help merchants and agencies find new publishers.
CJ: Given all the uncertainty, where do you see the future of affiliate?
Brook: I'm quite optimistic for our future. Affiliate kept growing after the dot-com crash of 2000 and the economic crash of 2008. I do admit that I was initially stunned by the commission decreases we’ve seen, but I think these are in part due to panic inside the merchants. In most cases it makes no sense to throttle a channel that only gets paid on performance. Whatever the post-COVID world looks like, people will probably be transacting online more than before, which means opportunity for publishers to engage through merchants via affiliate.
CJ: What are next steps if a brand wants to partner with you in the CJ network?
Brook: Reach out to me and I’ll personally connect you with the right person on the team - email@example.com