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Sheep Road Block

Photo courtesy of user “goingslo” (Flickr, Creative Commons License)

The AvantLink “How To” series is an ongoing series featuring best practices and strategies for affiliates and merchants with actionable, practical information to improve your affiliate marketing efforts.  

Let’s start this article by talking about a subject that is rarely brought up in the affiliate marketing space: advertising on TV.

After all, the differences in target markets, ad content, and the distribution channels couldn’t be more different between TV and affiliate marketing and there’s generally not a whole lot of overlap. So it’s a rare occurrence when a tactic that has been tried and true on one channel can be just as effective on the other.

Think back to the pre-DVR days when you were forced to flip to different stations when your favorite show went to a commercial break. It’s likely that some of the channels you flipped to were also on a commercial break airing the same commercial that was playing on the first station you left to begin with. Flip to another station on commercial break and that same advertisement is there as well, and on the next station, and the next station, and so on. And as quickly as this happened, the ads may cease to exist on any commercial break 30 minutes after the first time you started seeing them. Coincidence? Hardly.

Blocking The Road

This massive influx of the same advertisement appearing across the commercial-break board is a veteran TV advertising tactic called “roadblocking”. The tactic is based on the idea that if you can push out the same messaging for your brand at all potential touch points with your audience during a specific period of time- every commercial break on many channels in this scenario- then the likelihood of potential customers viewing your ad is far higher and will likely be much more effective. In more simple terms, TV roadblocking is running the same commercial on any and all channels for a concentrated period of time.

With Great Roadblock Comes Great Responsibility

Maybe you haven’t seen this. Maybe you’ve never had that weird moment where all commercial breaks on all stations are playing the same advertisement. Despite the fact that roadblocking is generally effective it can also be overused and lose that effectiveness in a hurry. When roadblock is used its sparingly and often in conjunction with big events for whatever company the ads are representing. Is Macys having a huge year-end blowout sale? Will Best Buy be doing their Black Friday door busters? These type of major events that are often tied to seasons and occur only a few times a year are what make roadblocking effective. It’s blunt, repetitive advertising across all possible touch points promoting something special that’s only available for a certain amount of time.

And This Applies….How?

If you know anything about AvantLink, you know we pride ourselves on the dynamic aspect of our tools. This also applies to banner ads and gives merchants the ability to dynamically update the images displayed in the banners. To understand just what dynamically updating your banner ads is and the impact it can have on your program, take a look at this 7 minute demo tutorial video on the subject (if you’re a merchant or program manger take 7 minutes- trust us, you’ll want to know this):

So dynamically updating your banner ads- cool and incredibly useful, right? Now, merchants, do you have a big promotion coming up? Will you be launching super sales and massive savings events during the upcoming holiday season through the fourth quarter? The six following steps detail how you can harness the power of TV roadblocking in your banner ad campaigns using dynamic updating:

  1. Prepare creative specific to the big sale or event.
  2. On the day of the event, or using our “Scheduled Version Change” tool, have all of your current active banner ads dynamically update to the new creative to reflect the sale/event. This image will dynamically update to all of the affiliates already using those banner ads on their site automatically.
  3. Run this internet roadblocking campaign for the duration of the sale/event.
  4. The moment the sale/event ends, revert back to the previously used ad creative (or new ongoing creative, should you prefer).
  5. Check to make sure the above step is done, on time and for every ad.
  6. Double check the above step. Seriously.

If you follow those steps, you will have successfully completed an affiliate marketing roadblock for a specific amount of time promoting a specific event or sale. It cannot be said enough that to remain effective, you’ll want to use roadblocking only during your most noteworthy events and make sure that you dynamically revert back to the prior ad creative the moment the sale is over.

Looking At The Numbers

So roadblocking is a hot new strategy that has worked very well in the TV world and shows massive potential in the affiliate space, but requires a lot time to develop new creative and constant vigilance during the campaign by a program’s manager. Sounds good, but it begs the question: does it really work?

Let’s take a look at Leslie White, a contributor to this blog and an in-house program manager at AvantLink. Recently, a program she manages ran a large one-day sale and she decided to employ the roadblock tactic and dynamically update all banner ads that had more than 2 affiliates using them. The sale was the merchant’s single biggest event during the year and was expected to bring in a 400% increase in sale. Leslie queued the dynamic update for all banner ads with the new sale-related creative to show for the one and only day the sale would run and scheduled them to be taken down immediately after the sale ended. Average daily sales for the program were $4,200 and with the projected 400% increase, the daily total for the day of the sale should have hovered around the $17,000 mark. But it didn’t. After the sale was over and all dynamically updated ads had switched back to their original content, the final sales count for the day was…..


That’s a full 860% increase over the average daily sales total in just one day, nearly all of which was a result of Leslie’s brilliant implementation of roadblocking to create the same messaging across all banner ads on an affiliates page.

Now, an 860% increase in sales probably won’t be typical across the board, but it does demonstrate just how powerful the concept of roadblocking can be when paired with the ability to dynamically update all current banner ads in an instant. And with the major shopping season around the corner and the seasons biggest holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday around a month away, roadblocking could be the tactic that takes these events to an entirely new level this year.

If you’ve had success with roadblocking in the past, let us know in the comments below- we’d be really interested to hear about it!

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