Affiliate Marketing – Current Trends


Affiliate marketing is still worthwhile for both publishers and advertisers. In 2019, both sides recorded sales increases and this development is expected to continue in 2021. Find out which trends will shape affiliate marketing in the near future and where special challenges have to be mastered.

Successful cashback, voucher and price comparison portals

It has become a habit for most online shoppers to compare prices or look for coupons before placing an order. Cashback portals that pass on part of their affiliate commissions to customers are also popular. This creates specific financial advantages for the users, which explains the popularity of corresponding offers.

It is to be expected that the importance of these publisher models in affiliate marketing will increase. Since increasing competition is to be expected in this lucrative area, the affiliates must pay more attention to the functionality and service orientation of their portals.

Influencers as affiliates

Whether via YouTube, Instagram or blogs, influencers have already become more and more important for affiliate marketing in recent years and this trend will continue in 2021. Advertisers benefit from the high reach of influencers in their target groups and the great influence they have on them.

In order to be able to use these advantages properly, it is important to find the influencers that match your own offers for long-term cooperation. The growing importance of these affiliates will lead to increased competition and professionalism in this field.

Content pages still matter

Despite the increasing popularity of the publisher models already presented, content affiliates have not lost their importance. Whether with advice articles, test reports or entertaining content – quality, user orientation and SEO form the basis for success. The presence on the social media channels that match the target group is also becoming increasingly important for publishers. In this way, your own content reaches a larger audience and, in the best case, goes viral.

In addition, it is increasingly important for content affiliates to respond to the current interests of their own target group with the published content. For this it is worthwhile to observe reactions and discussions in the community and in social networks.

New tools and opportunities for affiliate marketing

New technical solutions will also influence developments in affiliate marketing. This includes, for example, tools that allow current price comparisons on content pages. It is also possible for publishers to add buttons to their content that can be used to buy products directly on the affiliate site. So users who were inspired by a guidebook to buy, carry it out without detours.

Another interesting new option is Amazon’s Onsite Associate Program, which publishers can only participate in by invitation. Their content can be found both via Google and via the product search on Amazon, which opens up new affiliate income opportunities.

Targeted placement of affiliate links

Google is a major competitor for affiliate publishers. Because if you are looking for a specific product or a solution to a problem, you will usually get an answer on the search results pages, through SEA ads, featured snippets, Google Maps and similar functions.

As internet users get used to these quick results, the success of affiliate marketing depends more and more on the targeted placement of the links. Publishers need to analyze where they can best reach their target audience. The interaction of the various online marketing channels is also becoming increasingly important in this context.

More sales from mobile devices

Mobile internet usage continues to gain in importance. This also has the consequence that the sales potential of affiliates is shifting to the area of ​​mobile traffic. Cookie tracking reaches its limits, because customers often use different devices to find out about offers and ultimately to complete the purchase.

If, for example, a user became aware of a product through a blog post he read on his smartphone, but orders it via his desktop PC, no connection can be established to the publisher and they will not receive any commission. This is why cross device tracking, which enables users to be identified across devices, is becoming increasingly important.

Tracking and data protection

The allocation of commissions to the individual affiliates has so far mainly been done via third-party cookies. In contrast to first-party cookies, these are not set by the page that the user is currently visiting, but by a third party. In affiliate marketing, this is the advertiser’s side. However, some browsers are now restricting the storage of third-party cookies for data protection reasons. For this reason, new solutions have emerged for affiliate marketing, such as first-party tracking via subdomains or master tags.

The planned ePrivacy Regulation is also expected to impose stricter requirements on tracking. In this context, cookie consent systems, which website visitors can use to decide individually for or against certain tracking methods, are gaining in importance. These tools automate processes required by data protection law so that both publishers and advertisers are on the safe side.

Read more about the topic of data protection here:

GDPR & Online Marketing – Tips about the General Data Protection Regulation

New commission models

The commission per purchase is often between 5 and 10 percent, depending on the industry. In the future, however, the importance of alternative compensation models will increase. This includes hybrid payments that combine different billing models. Another example is advertising subsidies. The publisher receives a fixed amount from the advertiser for each publication as a supplement to the classic affiliate income.

So far, only the last cookie that was set on the customer was often decisive for the remuneration. This means that other publishers received nothing, although they also promoted the purchase decision with their contributions. New commission models therefore analyze the customer journey in order to identify various actions of the customer during the purchase decision process and assign a value to them.

Conclusion: trends continue

The trends from the past few years will continue in 2021, with affiliate marketing becoming more professional overall. The importance of influencers as well as voucher and cashback portals is increasing. Mobile traffic is becoming more and more important and tracking has to be adapted to new challenges.

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