One of the oldest forms of online commerce is affiliate marketing. Today, when mobile is the major avenue for online commerce, a great number of businesses from many business sectors have affiliate programs to drive additional revenue stream with mobile users. These companies range from giants like AirBnb, Uber, Lyft to small businesses that take advantage of this well-known marketing channel. Mobile affiliate marketing is driven by multiple business models such as CPM (stands for Cost-Per-Mile), CPC (stands for Cost-Per-Click), CPA (stands for Cost-Per-Action), and others. Offer types cover really diverse spectrum such as apps, casinos, dating, gambling, Forex, eCommerce, travel and more.
To help publishers navigate this year and see what trends will shape affiliate market throughout the year, we’ve reached out affiliate marketing professionals from affiliate networks to share their thinking. In these quotes there are several common trends that were mentioned frequently:
- The rise of voice search will change the landscape because both new opportunities and new challenges will get themselves revealed.
- Ads blocking built-in capabilities introduced in browsers recently will create challenges to affiliate marketers
- European GDPR regulation will continue correcting the way how affiliate programs collect, store and use people’s online data.
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Affiliate Marketing Thought Leaders
“Affiliate marketing tends to be more whitehat in general. As the systems and channels are getting better and better, it becomes extremely hard to win with blackhat. We recommend affiliates to stay as close to whitehat, or at least greyhat promotion, as possible. It allows to build long term relationships with offer owners, traffic sources, networks etc.
Another big deal of 2020 will be In-house products. The key players on the market are well-known inside the community. Everybody knows whose offers are there and who are the partners. But in addition to that, you need to add your exclusives too. Meaning to create new products.”
“Traffic platforms will advance concerns over where their users land and, consequently, affiliates will show greater concern over the quality of the brands and products they work with.
A return to high-growth in install traffic as the use of machine learning and browser fingerprint technology removes and eliminates bot traffic.
Growing global regulatory concern over the oligopoly of traffic platforms.
Affiliate marketers and other complementary groups coming together to create economies of scale.
Growing use of black-hat media tactics and strategies being applied to eCommerce – in particular to the wild west of media from Amazon”
“Through the whole of 2019 we have seen strong growth in CC submit sweepstakes and VOD offers, and we consider that this trend will continue in 2020. The reason behind this growth is because a lot of mobile content advertisers have switched to this vertical due to the recent changes in the regulations coming from the carriers. Affiliates have been able to promote these offers successfully on multiple traffic sources like push, pop, Facebook and on SMS traffic in a fairly stable and scalable way due to the wide range of GEOs available and high payouts.
Sweepstakes lead-gen offers have always been a strong and stable vertical for us, and we expect it to continue to endure. Users’ data every year is more and more valued, yet not every data will work, correct age targeting is certainly key when setting up the right angle and campaign targeting, as young audiences are hard to monetize and advertisers cannot sell those leads.
Undeniably in recent months, we are seeing a peak in browser extensions. As a vertical, it has been always there but recently more affiliates are requesting extension offers as alternatives to app CPIs. They also work remarkably well with SmartLink traffic when a good prelander is used, as the flow is rather easy.
Push traffic is still in its early stages so as the base of users will grow, the inventory is going to grow proportionally as well. This ad format is pretty friendly, for this reason we see a lot of affiliates becoming more and more skillful with this new format, also because it works well across several verticals like Sweepstakes, Dating, CC submits among others.
SMS traffic performance has also been really good with CC Submit offers. For instance, we are seeing the highest CRs, especially on SMS traffic. The inventory is still small in certain GEOs and definitely the legislation of each GEO, in this case, is important to take into account using SMS traffic, to be able to work with this type of traffic in the right way. Affiliates are also becoming increasingly interested in being able to monetize e-mail users and creating their own databases. Doing it with the right flow this ad format can be highly profitable, especially in the long-term. “
Despite 2020/2021 presenting exceptionally challenges to the digital marketing world due to lockdowns, it also created new opportunities for online retailers and marketers. User-centered design became more important, and affiliate marketing has enhanced the creation of brand ambassadors as a key strategy in connecting consumers with brands. Consumers want to hear from real people recommending, reviewing and giving advice on the products that they are interested in, so I believe that influencer marketing will continue to grow in importance within the marketing mix.
In terms of niches and considering that the economic recovery is advancing, e-commerce, software, home improvement, fintech, surveys, video streaming, online education are all strong growth areas for offers throughout 2021.
The volume of active users on social media has increased rapidly over the recent years and enhanced during the lockdown. This has led to a closer connection between customers and brands. Therefore, I expect that brands and retailers will continue to invest in social platforms to find their targeted audience. Video advertising will continue to grow as many marketers are aware of how engaging the format can be to drive conversions. Also push traffic continues to be a key driver with increasing inventory. With the latest Google algorithm updates, SEO is more important than ever, so I think that every marketer should have a great SEO strategy. “
“Voice search will explode next year. Amazon is shipping more and more products in its Echo series along with voice devices from Google and Apple, we can expect to see more purchases of these devices over the 2019 Christmas season. Grocery shopping already accounts for more than 20% of voice-based orders, 25% of the queries on Android devices are voice-based, 55% of teenagers are using voice search on a daily basis.
According to ComScore, over 50% of the searches in 2020 will be from voice search and voice-based shopping is expected to jump to a market value of $40 billion by 2022. This raises two important ways to drive consumer search and purchase using voice: 1. Paid for recommendations of related products when a voice search for a type of product is said. 2. Traditional digital ads driving voice search purchases for example, a banner ads call to action: “search for these shoes using voice and get a 20% discount with the words SHOESALE.”
“Though there are numerous mobile affiliate marketing trends we could touch on for 2020, four in particular stand out.
The first, and possibly most widely discussed, trend, is the 5G network that will become available to mobile users over 2020. The 5G network’s wider coverage area means marketers can expect an increase in new leads, and its faster speeds will allow for ads with higher-resolution and greater interactivity.
The second trend mobile performance marketers need to watch is voice search. With the popularity of voice-activated apps such as Alexa, Google and Siri, mobile performance marketers will need to optimize their app for not just conventional search methods, but voice search methods as well. As the use of voice search increases, we will likely also see a rise in voice-activated ads.
Third on the list is App Store Optimization. With Apple and Google’s predicted algorithm updates, we’ll see an even greater push towards ASO in 2020. A larger focus will be placed on newer apps, giving them a better chance of success against the incumbents. There will also be a greater focus on long-tail keywords as app store search auto-completes become longer. For the fourth, and final trend, we recommend keeping an eye on AI in 2020. It may not be as heavily talked about, but as AI continues to improve, we’ll have more data at hand than ever before. This data is crucial for increased partner transparency, and for making better affiliate marketing decisions. “
“Through 2019, affiliate marketing remained somewhat predictable based on previous trends, however, I expect the new decade to present some interesting changes. With 2020 comes an election year and the cousin to GDPR, the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) – both of which are sure to create industry change. Earlier in 2019 I wrote an article talking about the move towards lead gen transparency and I still think this will be a top trend in 2020. Lead generation for verticals like Insurance products (Auto, Health and Life) will continue to be in high demand for both source placements (Affiliates) and Advertisers wanting to purchase the lead. One form of capturing leads that I believe will uptick more in 2020 in addition to traditional form offers is Pay Per Call. With compliance tightening up and regulation increasing, the appeal of Pay Per Call’s simplicity and high ROI will increase its demand.
I also believe 2020 will provide increased opportunities to work with bigger brands, everything from physical products (e-comm) to services (leads). As businesses grow, their marketing teams will continue to look for innovative ways to beat out the competition, and affiliate marketing will provide just that. By leveraging a network’s resources, they can reach an entirely new segment of potential consumers overnight. I expect to see more brands that you typically may see using more traditional marketing methods, like TV, start to show up in affiliate channels as well. “
“Voice controlled services (e.g. Alexa Skills) will be something pretty interesting to keep an eye on.“
“Video content (because of influencers) are still going strong and even on the rise in various verticals and channels.
Social Proof has been the ‘it’ thing for a couple a years now, and this have both cemented itself as well as continue to grow, due to influencers gaining the same grounds. Or to be specific; “Everyone is a influencer these days” which in turn means that even Affiliates can and do utilise any type of platform and channel wherein these are allocated.
Good examples are TikTok, OnlyFans and SnapChat.”
“2020 will see a major focus on the consumer journey across verticals and platforms. We already see industry changes designed to improve the consumer’s experience through the marketing funnel for a more consistent and smooth journey to the products and services they need. This is exciting because it means campaigns will be even more honed in on driving high quality traffic, which is great news for affiliate marketers and advertisers alike.“
“In terms of offers, I believe some niche verticals will develop and thrive, like Home Improvement, Astrology and Finance (just to name a few) and this is a very important point to avoid having the users very saturated. In terms of business model, in our case, I see that emailing is becoming more and more common as well as Social. However, Social now is not only Facebook anymore. Push is being more and more explored but I believe several publishers are still figuring out what works better here, in terms of offer and in terms of approach. We see other social platforms having more and more success, like Instagram for example, which is very good. This also gives our publishers new audience, which is very interesting.“
“2019 in affiliation was exceptionally interesting, but 2020 promises to be even more exciting. The numbers will certainly increase, although the affiliate marketing industry will have to deal with problems caused by the trend of having as much privacy as possible. Here are my trends and predictions.
Money at your fingertips. Expenses for affiliate marketing are continuously increasing. They grow by about 10% each year and with high probability will reach a significant $ 6.8 trillion in 2020. The publishers are aware of that and they feel completely free in this industry. According to research, as much as 94% of them earn in more than one affiliate network (source: Rakuten).
We love mobile devices. Every day, US users spend an average of 5 hours on a mobile device, and 5.11 trillion people worldwide have smartphones. In 2018, as much as 64% of searches came from mobile devices, and that number has certainly increased in 2019. Statistics say that in 2020 as much as 40.77% of all global Internet traffic will be generated through mobile phones, 56.8% in 2021, and even 77.49% in 2022 (source: Statista, 2019). This leads to the conclusion that affiliate marketers should continue to focus on mobile devices.
Voice assistants. Voice assistants are growing all the time. As for today, 1 in 6 Americans use it, and presumably by the end of 2020 as much as 50% of searches may come from the use of voice assistants (source: Whitepress, 2019). To a large degree, it changes the approach to SEO and phrases, as it will require phrases that the positioners hadn’t focused on before. Applications for voice assistants are also likely to develop. For example, Google provides the Action tool which allows you to build simple programs without programming knowledge. Of course, the possibilities are much more extensive, and voice assistants producers will certainly devote more and more time to them. Besides, the number of languages will increase and, as a consequence, will allow entering even more markets. A lot of new products have been announced on CES 2020, and all of them will have an impact on affiliate marketing.
Content is the king. Content marketing, together with affiliate marketing, is a classic combination. Expert content, next to transferring knowledge, is used for generating sales and profits. It is increasingly crucial in the fight for position in Google. The Mountain View giant regularly raises the bar, but in 2020 unique and qualitative content will be more significant than ever. This is because the number of people using ad-blocking software is regularly growing. In 2019, as much as 51% of generation Z blocked ads (source: Millward Brown, 2019), and this trend will only grow. Content marketing is, therefore, an excellent alternative to traditional ads, which often irritate, without giving the desired effect. I expect that affiliates are going to use it more and more willingly.
Will privacy be bad for affiliation? 2020 seems like a year of privacy. A negative sign for the affiliation industry was the information that some Internet browser manufacturers intend to increasingly block cookies (or at least to manage them more readily), on which affiliation relies heavily. At present, Firefox also gives the possibility of so-called private browsing. The browser does not save any data and can also block all possible tracking systems. Fortunately, this option is disabled at the start.
Hard time for push notifications. In 2020, the number of push notifications is likely to drop significantly. Firefox in version 72 has started blocking the requests for permission to receive push notifications. The option to obtain permission exists, but it requires the customer to click on the bubble next to the web address of the page, and this will reduce push notifications’ effectiveness. A very similar solution will be found soon in Google Chrome (as announced in February), and there is a good chance that other browsers creators will join the trend. In the next months, Google will try to convince web developers to indicate which cookies are necessary for the site to work, and which collect data about our activity. As a result, affiliates that have their own websites will have to spend a little more time preparing it.
Tracking even more difficult. An additional problem for affiliate networks in 2020 might be the use of the so-called “fingerprint”. It is one of the evaluation systems to estimate if leads acquired by the publishers can be frauds or leads generated by themselves. Firefox in version 72 began to block it (this option is enabled at the start) and during I/O 2019, Google announced that they intend to introduce identical solutions in Chrome. All this means that tracking the traffic directed to affiliate programs will become more demanding.
Affiliation is still a perfect way to make money. All the mentioned aspects do not change the fact that affiliate marketing is still a great way to earn online. It gives freedom, convenience, and primarily, the opportunity to gain a lot of money. Besides, it is an incredibly modern and extremely fast-growing industry. Changes always require the creation of new solutions and there is no doubt that new tools will appear. Tools that will even more effectively reach the customer. “