Affiliate marketing trends 2017

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As we look ahead, what will the affiliate landscape look like in 2017 and what are the key affiliate marketing trends that will shape Awin’s development this year?

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With a presence in ten countries and with tens of thousands of active affiliates promoting 6,000 retailers, Awin has identified eight themes we believe will make a tangible difference to the way affiliate marketing programs are run in 2017.  

Some are specific to the channel, factors that are within our control, which we can react to and then shape programs around. 

Affiliate marketing does not exist in a bubble and is moulded by a variety of factors, some of which we’ll consider in this document. Most affiliate programs are also organic beasts that grow and change in complexion as the digital landscape evolves. Sometimes programs may even contract and occasionally the themes we identify in these trend documents may play a part in the reasons why all these things happen. 

So where do affiliate marketers find themselves in 2017? There is no doubt the industry is in a period of flux with some networks’ fortunes on the wane and Software as a Service companies making a bold play for their business. Agencies too continue to differentiate themselves, with specialists seemingly performing well.  

But networks who are investing heavily in aligning themselves as truly consultative partners are well placed to consolidate their position in the market. 

The world still lacks a truly global affiliate solution that marries technology with service, while offering transparency through enhanced standards. Efforts will continue in 2017 to take the best elements of local market expertise and combine them to raise the bar. 

One area that offers both an obvious threat but potential opportunity is the increasing focus of external eyes on the industry. The General Data Protection Regulation will be enforceable from May 2018 and companies will need to start getting their houses in order long before then, 

Elsewhere localized regulators have for a number of years now occasionally crossed the path of the channel but more concerted and wholesale attempts to understand the affiliate model from a consumer point of view provides industry with the chance to engage with them and help shape a set of market-leading standards. It is difficult to generalize at a Group level. Each country is subject to its own laws and those bodies assessing whether affiliates, for example, should feature disclosure messages that indicate they receive commission payment, will be guided by the level of knowledge and expertise. 

At an economic level 2017 offers uncertainty with political instability causing global jitters. This is more pronounced in certain countries such as the UK which has seen its value against the Euro and American Dollar collapse. For some this will represent an opportunity to expand e-commerce fortunes. 

Turning attention back to the channel the emerging influencer marketing trend is one the affiliate channel should seek to align itself with; many would legitimately argue bloggers and niche content sites are the original influencers. If we are to do that however, we need to ensure we continue to educate advertisers about the variety available through the affiliate channel. It is not one simple route to market, rather digital in microcosm, united by a common payment metric, that of last-click CPA.