A brand new year is upon us so we reached out to 5 individuals who we consider to be giants in the affiliate marketing space and asked them what their predictions are for affiliate marketing in 2017.
Here are their responses:
Prediction 1: Rewarding affiliates based on customer journey attribution
Mainly thanks to the available technology, in 2017 affiliate marketing should finally be able to move from its last cookie counts focus into rewarding affiliates based on customer journey attribution. Having said that, I think we should replace the word affiliate with partner. If I look at adidas in particular, I see that the brand and e-commerce departments are merging and will need to learn from each other. Just mentioning the word affiliate frightens our brand colleagues already.
But I think it’s not just a word; it’s a strategy to work with partners instead of affiliates. Advanced tracking and attribution technology have taught us that the incremental value of each marketing channel is much more complicated than looking at the last click before a sale.
The biggest challenge for 2017 will be to find out what every affiliate is contributing to the customer journey of all different types of customers. Once we have figured that out, we should create an attribution model that rewards our partners based on the long-term incremental value of the traffic they send us.
At the same time, brands should not only ask for transparency from their partners, but they should also offer transparency to their partners by showing them how they value the traffic that the particular partner is sending them. In order to achieve all of this in 2017, all networks, technology providers, advertisers, agencies and affiliates must do their part. I’ll promise you that at adidas we’ll do ours.
Jelle Oskam, adidas
Prediction 2: Cross-device tracking, cross-channel insights, and non-traditional partnerships
I believe that 2017 will bring continued advances in the performance marketing channel. My top three picks that will have the biggest impact for the performance marketing industry are cross-device tracking, cross-channel insights, and non-traditional partnerships.
As more and more consumers transact on mobile devices it will be vital that all affiliate programs track across devices to ensure accurate measurement and crediting. Cross-device tracking is no longer an option, it is a mandatory capability and anyone that isn’t able to track across devices will be at a distinct disadvantage.
Cross-channel insights are vital to understanding how affiliates are interacting with other channels. Being able to see when affiliates are supporting other channels or when other channels are supporting specific affiliates is critical to understanding the true value of each affiliate partnership. It is so important that once an affiliate manager has access to this information, they are reluctant to ever manage a program without it again.
Finally, we will see advertisers broadening the affiliate channel by including more non-traditional partnerships under the “performance marketing umbrella”. Advertisers are leveraging new partnership with influencers, content sites, B2B, and small to medium business development opportunities to grow and diversify their channel.
Todd Crawford, Impact Radius
Prediction 3: More companies will ask about the incrementality of their affiliate spend
In 2017 I think that more companies will be asking about the incrementality of their affiliate spend as I think that is the logical next step once you’ve settled on an attribution philosophy. If you feel confident that you understand who is driving you traffic and what that traffic is worth, you will arrive to asking how much you really needed to spend to drive the associated sales. The real challenge though is how to get to that answer without either disenfranchising your partners or putting significant strain on program performance while you conduct pre/post or A/B tests.
That being said, as more and more advertisers reach maturity and affiliate isn’t the high growth channel that it was in its infancy, the insatiable demand that affiliate marketing has for advertising dollars will come under great and greater scrutiny, and forward-thinking channel owners will need to defend their programs, partners and actions. Being able to show the incremental value of advertising spend is the counter argument when the value of affiliate is inevitably questioned.
John Toskey, eBay
Prediction 4: The shift from traditional Affiliate to Partner Marketing will reach a tipping point
For the first time, organizations through the advent of technology will be able to fully integrate the Partnership channel into their omnichannel strategy. The companies that successfully make this transition will achieve record-breaking results and will be met on the other side by a large number of partners and publishers that have been waiting for them to make this leap.
Adam Martin, Performance Horizon
Prediction 5: Affiliate Marketing will reincarnate into true partnership marketing
Affiliate marketing, as with all digital media channels, is evolving in a big way; maturing and becoming more capable, more efficient, and delivering more productive results by testing, targeting and engaging with specific customer segments with relevant content, community and engagement. Affiliate marketing, best known today for coupon and loyalty partnerships, has the greatest opportunity of all the digital channels to reinvent itself and to reincarnate into true partnership marketing, where both parties are aligned in bringing value (not necessarily price reductions or savings). Couponing and price savings will remain an important segment of the broader Partnership Marketing channel, which can be defined as managing partnerships of all types to appeal to various customer segments including loyalty, coupon as well as content, media, value add and joint partnerships, depending on which is most effective in engaging the target audience. Think today’s affiliate marketing integrated with business development and sales partnership marketing.
Elaine Rubin, Digital Prophets Network
To learn more about nontraditional partnerships and how to leverage them to grow your affiliate program, download our free eBook, Performance Partnerships: Growing Your Affiliate Program with Nontraditional Partnerships.