It is an honor for me to acknowledge that the legendary Todd Crawford, the co-founder of Impact Radius, has spoken at every single U.S. Affiliate Management Days conference to date, keynoting this year’s show of ours too.

In 2015 he’ll be back at our San Francisco show to speak on “Everything You Need to Know About Attribution & Affiliate Marketing” as well as to appear on our keynote panel on “The Affiliate Industry Evolution.”

Todd was kind enough to dedicate some time to my interview with him, which I am happy to bring to your attention below.

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Question: If you were to emphasize one important issue that every affiliate manager should be paying more attention to, what would it be and why?

Todd Crawford: Including their key performance indicators (KPIs) into their affiliate program analysis and metrics. Advertisers are trying to squeeze out as much as they can from their affiliate partnerships and it is critical that they utilize as many data points as possible in order to optimize each partnership towards what is most important to their company.

Question: What do you see as the main areas of opportunity for online, in general, and for affiliate marketers, in particular, in 2015 – 2016?

Todd Crawford: I believe attribution still has a lot of promise for online marketing and can be very instrumental for affiliate managers in determining the true value of each affiliate partner.

Question: Between the fact that “affiliates are 7x more likely to be overwritten by another channel than another affiliate” and the fact that “30% of sales start on one device and finish on another” [source] how can an advertiser build a truly affiliate-friendly program, yet one that doesn’t cannibalize the merchant’s own marketing efforts?

Todd Crawford: Here again, attribution is critical to understanding not only which affiliates are providing the most value but also which affiliates are support conversion credited to other channels. As an example, if a certain affiliate is contributing a lot of traffic that is getting credited to another channel, an advertiser might consider increasing that affiliate’s commission rate to compensate for the lost conversions or move them to a CPC structure.

Question: In which ways can affiliates be adding value for the merchants they promote? And where does the “value” reside (new customer acquisition only or something more)?

Todd Crawford: This is dependent on each advertiser and can change over time as well. The best thing affiliates can do is to have open conversations with their top advertisers to learn more about what they are looking for from affiliates and marketing in general. In some cases, advertisers are looking to increase new customer acquisition. In other cases it may be geographic or demographic focused. Some advertisers are focused on new products or services launches. So it is critical to discuss their goals in order to understand what’s working and what are they focused on.

Question: What is the biggest challenge faced by affiliate managers, and advertisers with affiliate programs, today and what would you recommend doing to overcome it?

Todd Crawford: Having a complete view of the marketing ecosystem and understanding where/how affiliate fits into the mix.

Question: Why do you think affiliate managers should attend Affiliate Management Days?

Todd Crawford: I think it is some of the best content in the industry – the speakers always deliver great insights and practical information. You also get a chance to network with your peers who are challenged with many of the same issues you are.

SNEAK PREVIEW – Please tell us a takeaway that you will provide during your presentation at Affiliate Management Days.

Todd Crawford: My presentation will help affiliate managers better understand the role of attribution and how they can avoid some common mistakes and also leverage the data to optimize their affiliate partnerships.

Question: If you were to leave online advertisers, merchants and affiliate managers with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Todd Crawford: Attend AM Days this spring!

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Don’t miss Todd’s presentations at the upcoming Affiliate Management Days in San Francisco! Register while the Super Early Bird pricing is still available (through December 20, 2014).