“Budget lock is the “black hole” of affiliate marketing, where clicks, sales and commissions disappear. It’s when the advertiser’s account is no longer powered and all links to their store become inactive and potential buyers referred by affiliates end up on a 2Performant error page, instead of landing on a product page and completing an order. Everyone loses – the store, the affiliate, the network and not least, the potential buyer.”

Dorin Boerescu, CEO 2Performant

However, out of 868 advertisers who registered traffic on the 2Performant platform in 2022 – 369 entered budget lock at least once. When Budget Lock occurs on an account, its sales flow suffers a syncopation that propagates throughout the 2Performant ecosystem.

GlewSolutions on the shortcomings of Budget Lock

What drawbacks does it cause in your business when an advertiser you promote enters Budget Lock?

“Campaigns lose their maturity and go into learning after the advertiser’s period of inactivity in the platform and that generally means at least 7 days for us to spend with negative returns to get back to where we were.”

– GlewSolutions, CSS affiliate, 1st place in Corporations in Business League

“It stops campaigns and possibly messes up their optimization in Google Ads.” – Districtconversion, PPC/CSS affiliate, former Affiliate Ranking leader, currently ranked #6 in the Business League, Corporations category.

For other affiliates the situation is even more serious.

“The shortcomings are greater than advertisers might imagine. In most cases, they lead directly to the termination of the collaboration. Why? Because a week’s work and financial expenditure can be canceled out by a day’s Budget Lock.”– M.Catalin, CSS affiliate, former top 10 in Affiliate Ranking, ranked 23rd in Companies at the time of writing this article

The record is 69 days in Budget Lock for 2022 at an average recorded in the platform of 3/4 days.

Even content affiliates feel Budget Lock is a major impediment to running their business.

“Definitely enters the top 3 most frustrating things that happen at the platform level. Budget Lock frequently = one of the strongest negative signals an advertiser can give about continuing to collaborate.” – Repone, content affiliate, ranked 15th in the Companies category, Business League.

“It’s clear that budget lock is a threat that takes a lot of time and focus to prevent and the 2Performant team is often responsible for ensuring that the number of advertisers entering budget lock is kept to a minimum. It’s a constant stress to make consumption forecasts, to pull adv to feed, to make follow-ups with ”there’s 1000 RON left in the account, if we go at this pace, in 2 days the account will close” ..or ”you have 300 RON left…feed in the next 30 min to avoid account closure”. It’s hard to quantify in hours, but I wouldn’t be wrong if I say it can take up to 5h/month for this action on a portfolio of 30 clients.” – Tudor Copaci, Client Service Director 2Performant

Advertisers who are managing their account and have never logged into Budget Lock this year are allocating daily resources to update their account.

“The effort involves checking the budget daily, estimating commissions for the coming period and prepaying an amount to ensure we don’t get locked out.” – Librarie.net, 0 Budget Locks this year, 4th place in the Corporations category, Business League.

In the absence of a constant grooming process, Budget Lock can be entered and this disrupts and decreases ecosystem performance.

“This causes the following harms:
1. the positions we have in CSS are lost to a lesser or greater extent (depending on luck, most of the time), not knowing if we can still recover those positions. This causes huge financial damage in the long run. Positions are lost to other shops (unrelated to the affiliation) or to other affiliates.

2. on a competitive level between affiliates, the person who starts the campaigns faster has an advantage in gaining positions over other affiliates.

3. from what I’ve observed, many advertisers enter Budget Lock without malicious intent on the weekend.” – daria@evomarketing.ro, CSS affiliate, ranked 27th in the Companies category, Business League.

Digital marketing is a universe of reputation and in an ecosystem based on transparency, a Budget Lock recorded in an advertiser’s history makes affiliates lose trust.

“Credibility with affiliates is deeply damaged. It induces a sense of uncertainty and distrust in the business relationship between the two parties. The image of the brand to end customers will be damaged, because the moment a customer clicks on an affiliate link of a program entered into Budget Lock, that customer instead of landing on the desired store, lands on a 2P page with no tool error. There’s also a chance that affiliates will opt out of promoting an advertiser if they consistently enter Budget Lock.”

– Tudor Copaci, Client Service Director 2Performant

“Yes, I always steer clear of advertisers like this as much as I can. As I said above, Google Ads campaigns are not well optimized. Google Ads accounts of advertisers that don’t fall into the budget lock usually perform better and I try with higher budgets.” – districtconversion, PPC/CSS affiliate, former Affiliate Ranking leader, currently ranked 6th in the Business League, Corporations category.

“Yes, I look at history when deciding to promote an advertiser. For content affiliates, it’s extremely unproductive to replace links to another advertiser when they could be using that time to write new content.” – Repone, content affiliate

The 2Performant ecosystem is dedicated to an uninterrupted flow of sales and Budget Lock disrupts it. A lot of time is allocated to avoid this by both advertisers and 2Performant’s support team. And much more could be done in that time to improve the ecosystem.

“In that time, we could allocate resources towards growing the affiliate program such as, creating high performing relationships, reports that are meant to bring overview on the affiliate program or 10 calls of 30 min each in which we understand the business goals of our clients for that month.” – Tudor Copaci, Client Service Director 2Performant

“We plan to make a more detailed analysis of the orders coming from each affiliate and to offer differentiated commissions to those with top results, both in terms of number and yield and quality of referred customers.” – Librarie.net, no Budget Locks this year

Black Friday is approaching and the upcoming period is dedicated to an increased flow of sales and that’s why it’s important for advertisers to avoid entering Budget Lock.

“Very important! It’s just that because of/due to the very high volume of work they would have to put in during that period, they forget/don’t have the account feed in focus. Some advertisers (recent example with BestValue) come as early as October to us to operate account feeds in advance to serve the high volume of sales in that BF period. Others, who may not have the necessary human resources, leave this task to secondary positions. Not out of ill will, but because of lack of resources.” – Tudor Copaci, Client Service Director 2Performant

There are solutions to avoid entering Budget Lock and 2Performant is preparing a new feature designed to streamline the circuit between sales and commissions. But until then here’s one last statistic:

Champions don’t become champions by accident. 9 out of the Top 10 Advertisers in the Business League said No to Budget lock in 2022.

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