The Past, Present and Future of Affiliate Marketing

Performance based marketing such as affiliate marketing has been around for a number of years. How has this funnel changed over it’s lifespan and what does the future look like for this type of revenue stream?

The Past

The concept of affiliate marketing existed long before the internet was around. Many offline versions of affiliate marketing still exist today, like Avon for example. Any referral program in which the referrer receives a commission for driving new business, is an example of affiliate or performance-based marketing. The internet simply revolutionised this concept. Amazon was one of the first companies to launch its associates programme in 1996 and by 1998 the first two affiliate network’s hit the scene; commission junction and clickbank. By 2012, in the UK, affiliate marketing represented 6% of the country’s online economy (this is according to the information provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau).

The Present

Right now, in 2017, affiliate marketing is playing a huge role in the marketing strategies of many businesses, large and small. Just as social media marketing and SEO are crucial to many brand’s success, affiliate marketing is equally as valued. This wasn’t always the case, but it certainly is now. Even organisations that traditionally wouldn’t consider this type of model, are finding ways to make affiliate marketing work for them. CPL (cost-per-lead) offers are on the rise.

For publishers, affiliate marketing is providing more individuals with a second income, or even a full-time income thanks to the increasing popularity of bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers. Everyone wants to be ‘instafamous’ our make it big on YouTube. With the internet the way it is now, heavily driven by social media, more and more people are finding ways to make a living and grow a following to become influential publishers.

The Future

Affiliate marketing isn’t going anywhere. That’s the first fact to get down, those who thought affiliate marketing might not stand the test of time, have clearly been proven wrong. It’s a model that makes perfect sense for both merchant and publisher. As an advertiser, it’s a risk-free marketing funnel for your business. As an affiliate, it’s a way to generate an income stream with little to no set-up costs, without the need to deal with any physical goods.

The future looks bright and as the world of the internet develops with new social media platforms, new tools and new ways of collecting data, affiliate marketing will only go from strength to strength.

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