Ten affiliate marketing trends for 2017

15/02/2017
Blog posted by Kevin Edwards
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Kevin Edwards, Global Strategy Client Director at Affiliate Window, explains the key affiliate marketing trends will shape the network’s development in 2017?

A shift towards qualitative, value based measurement will underpin success in the affiliate channel in 2017 according to a new whitepaper from Affiliate Window that assesses topics likely to influence the industry in 2017. 

In the network’s annual trends’ release a variety of themes, some specific to the channel, such as the need to incorporate traditional publishing businesses within affiliate marketing’s broad church and some broader in focus, such as to the impact of macroeconomic factors on the performance of retailers’ UK programmes are considered.

There are topics that broadly reflect the strengths of the channel but also highlight the challenges. There is a general feeling among practitioners for example that a redoubling of efforts to enforce self-regulatory standards is required in order to solidify the foundations established a decade ago.

Here in a nutshell are the network’s trends for 2017: 

1.   Opportunities also require new thinking. Affiliate Window recorded its first £1m smartphone ‘power hour’ between 7 and 8am on Black Friday which offers a time for reflection; are affiliates with significant handset traffic well served by the channel?

When this is layered with multi-device insights the impact of their early funnel, exploratory traffic is further exposed. New thinking will be required in order to devise payment models that adequately reward their efforts. 

2.   This leads neatly into whether there is a case for splitting affiliate activity generally labelled as content creation from the consumer empowerment sites such as cashback and voucher code portals who have a direct conversion mechanism built into their business models.

3.   Underpinning all these insights will need to be a robust data architecture, shared by all parties and easily accessible through new reporting suites. This will help build a stronger case for defending affiliates against commission erosion by advertisers that can often be based on little to no insight. 

4.   Another area that requires fresh thinking is how best to incorporate influencer marketing within affiliate marketing’s walls. One of the hallmarks of the channel is how it is able to assimilate a multitude of digital disciplines, so this should be a challenge the industry is well placed to tackle.

5.   Extending this topic further, the diversity of the channel is an undoubted strength but it also shoehorns everything into a payment on a performance metric. Is it time to separate the longtail content affiliates from the expert conversion affiliates we see who offer cash and voucher incentives to consumers?

6.   Beyond the direct control of the channel and looking at wider themes, the threat of external regulation and the challenges posed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will need to be both addressed and better understood.

7.   Another macro factor that will play out in 2017 is the impact of Brexit and whether this will force more and more advertisers to look outside of their natural borders for continued growth. Or could we see the lean and results driven affiliate channel escalate in importance as advertisers look for more bang for the buck?

8.   Looking beyond the UK’s borders, the rise of the global consumer is having an increasing impact on the channel as a greater proportion of overseas shoppers flock to buy British. Buoyed by the devaluation of the pound and coupled with the UK’s world-beating e-commerce infrastructure, this offers hope to retailers nervously contemplating the full impact of Brexit.

9.   So who will be driving these sales? 2016 witnessed the rise of traditional publishers looking at additional revenue channels and affiliate marketing offers the perfect place for newspapers and magazines to start. After several false dawns over the past decade, some are starting to make impressive inroads.

10. The whitepaper ends on a philosophical note and contemplates whether 2017 will be a breakthrough year for the wider results-based industries, as more and more advertisers apply performance metrics to their advertising and marketing efforts.

To read the whitepaper in full, click here.

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