Affiliate marketing may seem "old school" in this day and age of big brand content marketing and social media advertising, but smart affiliate marketing still has its place as a key marketing tool for the right companies.
To assist marketers in determining which way the industry is heading, we present (in no particular order of importance) some of the top affiliate marketing trends of 2019 and beyond.
Building trust between publishers and affiliates
The number one thing you can do to destroy your affiliate network is to violate the trust you have built up with your promoters. You do this by not paying people on time and lacking transparency with your processes.
As an affiliate network or as a brand manager running an affiliate program, reporting transparency is vital to building long-term relationships with publishers and affiliate marketers. Leverage affiliate link-tracking software such as HitPath and ImpactRadius to ensure you only pay for what is generated and your affiliate partners are being paid appropriately for what they have generated.
Some of these transparency requirements are due to the EU's GDPR privacy regulations. Make sure you are following these rules to build and maintain trust with customers and affiliates.
Getting a static report about your affiliate promotion success a month after the fact is not going to cut it anymore. Affiliate marketers, especially the "big guys", are starting to demand real-time reporting that can better track advertising campaigns quickly and accurately.
To find out more about the latest marketing trends and how to overcome the biggest challenges, visit the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in New York on March 26–27, 2019
More video and voice
While is still a vital component of affiliate programs, but video is gobbling up more and more online bandwidth. Affiliate marketing will be done more through streaming and live video. YouTube influences have exploded over the past few years and 2019 will be no exception. These influencers generate millions of views for the products they promote.
Voice is also getting bigger, especially with the phenomenal growth of voice-assisted and activated devices such as Alexa.
Native advertising is still big
Native advertising is, in some respects, a misleading word. What we really mean is sneaky advertising that does not appear to be an ad. This "sneaky" approach is critical today in a world of ubiquitous ad blockers.
Native advertising that is truly successful is often fueled by quality content marketing. That means creating useful content that appeals to consumers and has value in and of itself.
Beyond Google and Facebook
While Google and Facebook continue to dominate due to their duopolistic presence, consumers are starting to look beyond tech giants. Increasing dissatisfaction with their growing power, as well as concerns over privacy and censorship, are leading people to alternative social media platforms.
For example, Mike Adams, founder of the popular alternative medicine website Natural News , started an alternative to YouTube, REAL.Video, after frustration over censorship. Such platforms will become attractive for niche product marketing, especially for items such as natural remedies, which appeal to alternative demographics.
And, as Adams points out, the future is decentralization. As technologies such as the blockchain evolve, more affiliate marketing will be done on alternative platforms in the future.
Affiliate marketing is here to stay
While the ways in which affiliate marketing is handled will evolve over time, it is going nowhere. Staying on top of the latest technology trends and consumer moods can help you best leverage your affiliate network for sales success.