Trends forecast for Affiliate Marketing in 2018

In terms of affiliates, India ranks on the top. Spurred by the fast growth of mobile users and hence internet users, there are millions of websites, apps, WAP-sites and blogs using affiliate marketing to monetise their traffic

e4m by Anam Khan
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 8:55 AM

The affiliate marketing industry is poised to touch $7 Billion in revenues within five years. The competition in this market is becoming intense as spends on affiliate marketing are growing at around 27 per cent CAGR globally. 
In terms of affiliates, India is at the top. Spurred by the fast growth of mobile users and hence internet users, there are millions of websites, apps, WAP-sites and blogs using affiliate marketing to monetise their traffic.

As consumers add more devices and their shopping experiences increasingly become digitally-led, there will be a great deal of innovation in affiliate to keep pace with evolving habits and behaviours of customers.

Here is a look at some trends of affiliate marketing in 2018:

Mobile Affiliate Marketing

The proliferation of mobile devices is definitely changing the marketing industry. The game is going from desktop to mobile, opening up a whole new reality and allowing the biggest brands to reach potential customers in any corner of the planet. Marino Gualano, General Manager and Co-founder, MainAd, said, “I see a great potential in the next three years. M&A aggregation will continue to evolve and educate the market while technology wise, more transparency will come into the scene.”

“The mobile will take the large part of the transition, so we will be sure that the cookies dropping issue (typically a pain in the back for the industry) will be over. India will be more visible in the APAC region as it has already started to be and investors and e-commerce players will be convinced this is the time for them to land in India,” added Gualano.

IPL and AI tools for Affiliate Marketing

There is no doubt that technology wise, India is still emerging and marketers are not missing a single chance to utilise the opportunity. Currently, India is witnessing one of the biggest events (IPL) and it is the best time for marketers to build their brand.

Focussing on the current season of IPL and how it has been one of the revolutionary trends in affiliate marketing, Shaan Raza, Deputy Managing Director, Optimise India, said “Entertainment and Games are another hot category. They both point to the increasing user needs of leisure and the target is to squeeze spending from users. Personalized entertainment like TV on mobile has become such a big and successful industry. Amazon Prime, Netflix and all major TV channels have their apps and they are promoting it through affiliate channels. This season IPL has broken all the past records of viewership on mobile.”

“Brands are going digital only or using digital for the multiplier effect. Among the obvious categories, we noticed a rise of fantasy cricket as a category in this IPL season. Many of them are start-ups and are using affiliate marketing to make people come to their platform, get registered and start playing fantasy cricket as the nation is gripped by cricket fever," added Raza.

The idea of using AI is lucrative because ultimately it reduces resource cost (it’s a machine led logic that is capable of doing a person’s job for a fraction of the price.) “The technology that is currently in the works would use AI to determine the affiliate’s effectiveness, traffic sources and then allow them to predict their future potential earnings using simple algorithms. Optimise is coming up with this technology by end of this quarter,” said Raza.

AI is a relatively new territory, even for tech giants like Google, so it’s not surprising that progress may be slow on this front. Some of these technologies have been in development for years now, with each new update getting them closer to the end goal. Some practical applications of AI, such as chatbots working to sell new offers and promotions in B2C roles, are being looked upon as options by marketers.

Consumer Value and Acquisition and Personalized Offers

As per the survey conducted by senior marketers, more budgets will shift to affiliate in 2018 and will recognize the value of affiliate consumers.

“As e-commerce is flourishing, along with it, a new concept of a brand online shop is also catching up fast. That leads to demands for the low acquisition of customer and affiliates provide that option, with programmatic growing,” said Ajeet Bawa, Head Digital Marketing and e-commerce, VLCC. He added that brands are getting aware of online shops affiliate marketing which is a major channel to exploit but with a great level of UI perspective.

One-to-one marketing to individuals at scale is considered the “Holy Grail” for every marketing channel and affiliate is no different. This year advertisers dipped their toe in personalization waters, but there’s a lot of work ahead and technology needs to be built to do it right. As with most innovation, there has been a fair amount of hype and misleading claims about delivering personalization in the affiliate industry.

Cash-backs and discount coupons are other examples of providing personalized offers by a marketer. “Cashbacks will make a major part of a new discount strategy for brands to avoid channel conflict and still to make sales online which require an extra discount to sell. Cashbacks also make a perfect substitute for upfront discounts,” added Bawa.

Content and Influencer Publishers

“Content” has been hailed as the future of affiliate for a few years now, but 2018 will be the year when content publishers (i.e. bloggers, influencers and tastemakers) begin to make up a significant portion of affiliate marketing programs.

For context, in the last two years, the affiliate network participation from content publishers soared 175 per cent and sales revenue driven by content publishers have risen by 240 per cent. Given the influence and reach of these publishers throughout the shopper’s journey, more advertisers are realizing how powerful a combination of influencer marketing and affiliate can be and are looking to make those publishers a bigger part of their program. However, to be successful, content publishers need the right tools and guidance to integrate with advertisers in a way that’s cost-effective and efficient for all parties involved. As more content and influencer publishers continue to enter the affiliate space, the successes will build on themselves as they increasingly engage in affiliate partnerships.

“In an age where consumers prefer to make their own purchasing decisions, influencers are quickly becoming the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool for brands,” said Swati Bhargave, Co-founder, Cashkaro.

Discussing how influencers can have an extremely high impact on marketing campaigns, Bhargave added, “Influencers are trusted among their followers and how they are not limited to one subject area, thanks to the content they create. They can be found across a range of different verticals that can impact a customer’s decision including food, travel, beauty and health. Therefore, by reaching out to the right influencers you can arrange shout-outs and collaborations; which essentially amounts to advertisements for your website from people relevant to your niche.”

Talking about how influencer marketing helps to drive traffic to the affiliate website, Bhargave elaborated, “Building backlinks and driving traffic to affiliate website can be tough sometimes. Influencer marketing becomes a great source for driving quality traffic too. Some micro influencers who have less than 10,000 followers are powerful for direct-to-consumer sales because they are more attainable to the consumer and engage at a more intimate level. As a result, a majority of consumers turn to the people they know for referrals, above any other source, generating twice the sales of purchasing through paid advertising.”

Other Trends That Marketers Need To Keep An Eye On In 2018

Affiliates have a love-hate relationship with Facebook Ads. The love comes from the amazing targeting abilities. The hatred comes from all the bans that affiliates must try to escape from. Facebook Ads is super dynamic, which means it’s always a trend to pay attention to.

There’ll be a growth of voice search. With voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home being integrated by third-party, the shift in search habits will impact affiliate marketers.

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