Most will be familiar with affiliate marketing. As a form of performance-based marketing, it allows businesses to reward one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts. The commission is only paid when the desired conversion occurs, so it’s very beneficial and cost-efficient for businesses looking to broaden audience reach, boost reputation, and scale traffic and sales quickly.

As we recently discussed in this blog, the pandemic has thrown new challenges at marketers over the last year. However, digital marketing naturally changes rapidly and the affiliate channel has once again proven its resilience. It is valuable for marketers to have an ecosystem of partners and affiliates they trust for relevant marketing and ad campaigns, especially with the likes of Apple and Google phasing out third-party cookies.

So what could the next year have in store for affiliate marketing? In line with the recent developments, the rules for using cookies to track conversions are changing and this is forcing advertisers, affiliate platforms and publishers to reimagine the way they track performance without cookies.

At the end of 2020, global affiliate marketing network Tradedoubler saw a big increase in the number of technology partners joining affiliate programs. This means that the affiliate channel is likely to become more diverse going forward. Derek Grant, Country Manager UK at Tradedoubler, said that “partnerships will be even more important this year as Advertisers look to strengthen relationships with key partners, but also introduce new ones as they look to diversify their affiliate programs. […] In general, the affiliate channel will become even more diverse as advertisers utilise affiliates across a number of different channels, from app installs, voice search to campaign-specific activity.”

Perhaps the most known form of affiliate marketing, influencer marketing is not a new trend. However, Tradedoubler has seen huge success with their own influencer platform Metapic, and the company is seeing a greater interest in influencer marketing from advertisers. In addition, back in October, Tradedoubler announced it became a certified partner of TikTok Europe. This will be beneficial for their clients looking to increase brand awareness and website traffic, as they now can connect with TikTok’s 800 million monthly active users.

Ultimately, brands are always seeking the most effective and cost-efficient ways to communicate with their target audiences and with limited physical engagement at the moment, online strategies have become more important than ever. Going forward, we will most likely see global influencer marketing spend grow significantly.

However, if the last year has taught us anything, is to expect the unexpected. What we do know is that digital marketing can be agile, it has already changed more times and more rapidly than any other sector in marketing. It’s an exciting time for the industry who will once again find ways to evolve and adapt to consumer behaviour and industry developments.