Food delivery app Deliveroo has long wanted to justify spending more on affiliate marketing, but the tech to measure affiliate incrementality just hasn’t been there, says Tiziana Bacchilega, Deliveroo’s global affiliates lead for performance marketing.
“There’s no doubt about the value of this channel,” Bacchilega said. “We just need some backing to be confident in what we’re doing.”
Proving incrementality has become an even bigger imperative with the massive growth of online food delivery during the pandemic. Deliveroo’s advertising largely centers on specific offers and incentives, and there’s no point in offering discounts to users who would have placed a food order for delivery anyway.
But avoiding that waste has been a challenge. Until recently, Deliveroo’s partnerships team manually managed its entire affiliate program in-house, from onboarding partners and tracking to reporting and invoicing.
That system has made it tricky to track the impact of specific offers and to gather insights at statistical significance across fragmented networks of publishers, said Rob Berrisford, managing director for the UK at mobile commerce marketing company Button.
Deliveroo is testing a novel approach developed by Button for measuring incrementality at scale. Rather than blanketing every user with the same offer and trying to figure out which sales were actually incremental, Button’s personalization API can determine which offer is likely to yield the best results for specific users.
Button’s API also allows brands to dynamically test target holdout groups across publishers to measure the incrementality of orders coming from both new and existing customers.
That setup is more convenient for publishers, Berrisford said, because they don’t have to maintain their own content management system in support of their affiliate program, and it’s better for advertisers because they’re able to personalize their targeting. High-value users might not need to see an offer at all, whereas a user who’s about to churn most likely really does.
“A big part of the aim here is building trust and credibility for this spend within the marketing department,” Berrisford said.
But understanding the incremental value of a channel, whether that’s for affiliate or any other performance marketing tactic, can also generate insights that apply elsewhere in the marketing mix.
“It’s about having a number and not just an assumption,” Bacchilega said. “But there are actually a lot of asks beyond just incrementality.”
In addition to setting up an always-on testing program for affiliate marketing, Deliveroo also eventually hopes to use what it learns to tie different cohort groups together, test the elasticity of different offers, figure out which offers are optimal for certain users and be more efficient with new customer acquisition.
To start, Deliveroo is using Button to run incrementality tests for its affiliate partnerships in the UK, France and Spain with plans to expand into additional geos in Europe throughout the year.