The benefits of affiliate marketing have long been known to those in the space. However, affiliate marketing is now gaining a larger foothold as a staple and an extremely valuable marketing method among more brands and even publishers.
A survey, released last week by VigLink, explored the current affiliate marketing sentiment and expectations for the future. The results showcase how well affiliate services are performing. It also highlights that publishers and merchants plan to increase their usage and spending over the next few years.
Affiliate Marketing on the Rise
According to the survey of 500 publishers and 100 merchants by VigLink, publishers ranked affiliate marketing ahead of display advertising in revenue generation abilities. Large publishers with more than 100,000 unique monthly views made the majority of their money with display advertising. Google AdSense ranked second, and affiliate marketing was third. However, 34 percent of publishers (those with fewer than 5,000 unique monthly views,) rank affiliate marketing as their number one way of generating revenue, the report said.
Overall 77 percent of publishers said revenue they generated from affiliate marketing programs increased or stayed consistent from 2015 to 2016. Merchant respondents said affiliate marketing accounted for 5 to 20 percent of their revenue.
Along with publishers’ increasing their revenue, merchants are reacting by increasing their budgets. Eighty-five percent of merchants stated that their affiliate marketing budgets increased or stayed the same from 2015 to 2016. Ninety-one percent of merchants plan to increase or keep their affiliate marketing budgets the same in the future. And 86 percent of publishers expect their use of affiliate marketing programs to increase or stay the same in the future, the report said.
A 2016 Forrester report (commissioned by Rakuten) said US affiliate marketing spend will increase annually by 10 percent between 2015 and 2020. It is expected to be a $6.8 billion industry by 2020.
“Merchants are looking to get more value from their affiliate channel and the partners they work with,” Rick Gardiner, Founder and CEO, iAffiliate Management says. “As merchants gain better insight into how affiliate fits into their digital marketing mix, they are making strategic decisions around marketing spend and budget allocation, which can drive significant growth for the industry.”
Additional key findings from the VigLink report:
- 84% said affiliate marketing increases sales
- 76% said it increases web traffic
- 67% trust affiliate marketing insights enough to use it to influence overall marketing strategies
- 65% said another top benefit is that affiliate marketing generates additional revenue
- 76% said affiliate marketing makes monetizing their site/content easy
- 45% like affiliate marketing because it does not disrupt the user experience
- 28% reported no drawbacks to affiliate marketing
Additionally, moving forward there is expected to be more focus on user experience and transparency. This opportunity for improvement comes as online media and content landscapes shift. In addition, there has been a significant growth in ad blockers and alternative media consumption platforms.
“We’re going to see changes in how marketing teams approach digital strategy as they become even more consumer-focused.” Gardiner, adds. “For customer acquisition or customer retention–the affiliate channel needs to help the consumer by delivering the information they are looking for at that exact moment to create a cohesive brand experience.”