Let me take out my Oracle’s sphere and gaze into the future for you.
There are some a lot of trends and ideas in Affiliate Marketing that I am seeing pop up again and again; Below, I believe I have identified a few that are going to be significant in the future of Affiliate Marketing, they’re definitely the ones I’m focusing on. They are:
- Development of Influencers
- Reporting Transparency
- Test and learn everywhere
Development of Influencers
Influencer Marketing has been around for a while, people started to test working with influencers as early as 2004; however, it really took off around 2015. With the birth and growth of Social Media the reach and engagement influencers hold over targeted segments of the population gives them value in marketing.
As influencer marketing develops further I can see an opportunity where influencers are working on a hybrid model of upfront and commission payments. In fact, we are already seeing this model implemented on sites such as YouTube; Audible and Skillshare both operate in a model relatively similar to this, offering an upfront payment and a tracking link for further commissions to be paid.
Where influencer marketing itself is going, I believe is a totally different topic, which requires its own post. However, I think affiliate marketing and influencer marketing will continue to see overlap in the future.
Gone are the days where an advertiser can keep their cards close to their chest and simply pay affiliates a commission. Increasingly partners would like access to non-identifiable information, such as the coupon that was used, the product which was purchased and the time taken to convert.
The more data that can be provided in a meaningful way, the more informed decisions an affiliate partner can make. Ultimately, I believe that sharing this data gives both advertiser and partner opportunities to grow their relationship, opening up opportunities for more targeted advertising by the partner and better understanding of why certain tracked actions may be non-commissionable.
Over the next few years I can see networks and SaaS platforms jumping into this space, whoever can provide actionable insights from the non-PII data provided by advertisers will give both partners and brands a competitive advantage in the performance marketing industry.
Test and learn everywhere (and everything)
Test and learn is not a new concept, fundamentally it relies on the principle that the best way to find out what works best is to launch two (or more) versions of that thing and track performance. Ultimately deciding to continue with the thing that performs the best.
Test and learn on brand sites is not new, advertisers are always optimizing their eCommerce platforms to maximize conversion. However, I am starting to see a growth in partners testing, for example, two different layouts for their site, two different versions of copy, different call to actions and many other variants. Further to this, networks are starting to become more flexible to this, allowing some creative to A\B test between two different landing pages.
I can only see test and learn continuing to grow in the industry, there are opportunities with the data sharing mentioned above, which can be fully leveraged with a good test and learn strategy.