35 Affiliate Marketing Predictions for 2011

Affiliate marketing predictions 2011Following the Online Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2011 post, now I would like us to turn to 2011 predictions related specifically to affiliate marketing.

Below I am happy to bring you 35 predictions from 12 top notch affiliate marketers (caution: long text ahead! …but it’ll be worth your time):

Affiliate Marketing Predictions for 2011

  • My one prediction that I know will come true is that more bloggers will begin to monetize their blogs through affiliate marketing since it’s now “socially acceptable” to do so. …And, the ones that already are doing so, will begin to  expand the topics they blog about and blog even more because they realize that they can subsidize their blogging hobbies by doing so.
  • –Missy Ward of Affiliate Summit & MissyWard.com

  • Networks snapping up contracts to work with publishers on an exclusive basis and vice versa for added benefit.
  • Re-targeting and re-marketing going mainstream in the performance sector, yet coupon and voucher codes remaining strong and critical.
  • More relationships going in-house as agencies and advertisers take the creme of their affiliate base. Networks running the risk of becoming relationship facilitators.
  • Affiliate marketing integrated into a wider and less isolated sector, that being Performance Marketing.
  • Continued consolidation, innovation from start-ups new to the sector and going main stream will performance based mobile activity.
  • –Matthew Wood of affiliates4u.com

  • Continued increase of mobile commerce applications. According to IDC, mobile users are expected to download a total of 10.0 billion mobile applications this year. This number is expected to grow with 76.0 billion mobile applications expected to be downloaded by 2014. eCommerce will continue to be a strong player in this segment.
  • The growth in mobile commerce will give way to a niche market segment of mobile affiliate networks. These networks will enable publishers and advertisers to expand their presence and revenue generation capabilities specific to the mobile market. However, established performance marketing networks will continue to thrive with mobile being just one of their many channels to boost revenue for advertisers and publishers.
  • Lessons learned from the recession will stick with consumers as coupon use continues to rise, especially through mobile commerce.
  • The 2011 Thanksgiving holiday shopping period will again break $1b in online sales and record growth for affiliate networks, marking the third year in a row with larger dollar amounts per person being made through the e-commerce channel.
  • Advertisers will invest more in international e-commerce and cross-border shipping capabilities.
  • –Scott Allan of LinkShare

  • Affiliate marketing will have a good year overall, driven by improved use of social media, video and mobile marketing but especially growth in international markets. Ambitious affiliates should be thinking about finding international partners, if they haven’t done so already.
  • Affiliate and CPA networks are going to have to evolve to survive in a tough environment. In order to succeed in 2011, a network is going to have to provide more value than the dozens of competitors it is facing. That means differentiating themselves through investment in their platform, or by being especially succesful in particular niche verticals, or by becoming a boutique, invitation-only network. If they’re not focused on one of those strategies, they’re going to struggle.
  • –Chris Trayhorn of Revenue Performance

2011 will be an exciting year for performance marketing and see some trends evolving that will change the industry:

  • Media Placements — With the popularity of daily deals (woot-style) the need for placements and technology to push real-time deals across social media, mobile, pay per call and web sites is something new. Merchants will move into more aggressive merchandising, custom tailored to alleviate inventory holdings while targeting marketing strategies.
  • Cost Reductions — With continued pressure on merchants to demonstrate positive ROI, the compression on margins will be felt throughout affiliate networks, agencies and affiliate commissions. Merchants will consider tracking alternatives and direct strategies that will emerge in 2011.
  • Direct to Consumer — With social media exploding, a relationship is being built between brands and consumers thus making the bridge to connect easier. Expect to see more direct coupons and promotions coded to consumers and affiliate partners for one time use.

Overall, the affiliate partner will need to become more specialized in 2011.

–Michael Vorel of Vastplanet.com

  • The first thing that comes to mind first and foremost is the situation with the “affiliate tax” or “ad tax” — I think it’s going to come to a head in 2011. More states will succeed in passing those laws and the industry will have to respond in a big way.
  • I’m also predicting that the FTC guidelines are going to start to be taken seriously by merchants. I’ve already had a couple come to me and ask me to revise my disclosures, and 2011 should see a crackdown on affiliates from the merchants that they work with. Some merchants (I know of at least one so far) will even be willing to drop affiliates who don’t follow the FTC guidelines.
  • –Daniel M. Clark of QAQN.com

  • Networks continue to be absorbed — The industry is flooded with general, consumer based affiliate networks.  Mergers, acquisitions and natural attrition will continue to effect the industry far into 2011.
  • Multi-media performance marketing platforms (ie. Integrate, Impact Radius, Offer Vault) will gain significant traction in 2011 and many more competitors will enter the space.
  • B2B category is poised for hyper growth — Both large and small business to business marketers now fully grasp the value and importance of performance based marketing.  Services, technology and affiliates will support their ever expanding needs in 2011.
  • –Todd Bloch of Partner Commerce, Inc.

  • Affiliate integration with Mobile — MCommerce has had a banner year. Between apps, QR codes and mdot sites there has been a lot of traffic and interest generated through this channel. Affiliates are an innovative bunch that will want to more seriously enter the game in 2011. The trick is deploying links that can easily be tracked for affiliates through these new transaction methods.
  • Affiliate integration with Social — Companies are no longer asking themselves whether or not they need a social presence. I predict in 2011 they’ll be asking themselves how to optimize and extend their sales effectiveness through this channel. Affiliates will continue to build exciting consumer experiences to drive sales, and play a bigger part in that equation alongside the retailers themselves.
  • –Chelsea Osoling of CowBoom.com (Best Buy company)

  • The affiliate community will considerably improve upon its ability to police itself. It has to. We have to do a better job of enforcing our own ethics before the government steps in even more.
  • We will overturn at least one “affiliate tax” in one state and block any others from being passed. The Republicans taking over the overwhelming majority of state houses and governors mansions makes this possible.
  • 2011 will be a record year once again for the industry in terms of sales. Perhaps this is a safe bet, but I am guaranteeing it nonetheless.
  • –Matt McWilliams of Legacy Learning Systems

  • Affiliate/Social Media integration — Whether it’s Facebook ads or the new Twitter advertising, I predict affiliates will market via social media more than ever.
  • More “Groupon” style affiliate sites — Group buying discount sites may be the next type of “coupon” affiliate.
  • I also like Jill Swartwout’s FeedFront article [my comment: see Jill’s article on page 27 here] on training your kids for more parent-child affiliate teams and hope that it happens!
  • –Sharon Mostyn of SharonMostyn.com

  • More Bye Byes — We’ve had to wave goodbye to a number of affiliate networks and affiliates in 2010 and, as the recession really begins to bite, there will be many more closures in 2011.
  • CPM & CPC to CPA Migration — For better or for worse, the whole of marketing is migrating to a performance model, and major website owners who used to turn their noses up at CPA advertising will begin hosting affiliate ads. More advertisers will also expect their PPC to be carried out on a CPA rather than percentage ad spend metric.
  • The Battleground Moves to Continental Europe — With North America and the UK being saturated with affiliates, affiliate networks and agencies, the major players will have their crosshairs aimed at continental Europe in 2011.
  • –Nadeem Azam of Azam Marketing, Inc.

  • We will see stronger demand for split commission feature. The trend of this year will continue and more affiliate programs will reward all affiliates referring same sale (not just last affiliate) — slowly the traditional model (last gets all) will be outdated.
  • Number of installations of new in-house affiliate programs will grow by next 20-40%. This trend we expect from growing number of sales of in-house affiliate software (even during crisis was installed 40% more affiliate programs as year before).
  • Everyone is talking about Groupon or similar localized deals of the day sites and we believe, that during next year will be higher demand for ROI tracking of such deals. Merchants will need to measure the new marketing channels and compare performance with traditional ways of marketing.
  • –Viktor Zeman of Quality Unit

Thanks go to all of the above ladies and gentlemen. I highly appreciate you taking the time to express your opinions on what 2011 may mean for affiliate marketing.

Of course, as always, readers’ comments are warmly welcomed.

15 thoughts on “35 Affiliate Marketing Predictions for 2011”

  1. One of the things I’m doing more and more as an affiliate marketer is being extremely transparent about my relationship as an affiliate. Not just the standard affiliate label on my links. I will tell you my review videos that I make a commission on your deal.

    I also agree with Daniel M. Clark about affiliate taxes. I think the honeymoon is over and with governments bursting at the seams financially, they will be looking for new avenues to collect tax.

    1. Brad, I like that (move towards more transparency). Whether because FTC requires it, or on reasons other than this, affiliate marketing will (let’s hope it will) become more transparent in 2011.

      Re Daniel‘s prediction about the “affiliate tax”: yes, 2011 will be another hard year in this regard.

  2. Awesome roundup Geno. I have to say, I pretty much agree with almost all but the affiliate tax points. Especially the Mobile, European growth and mobile predictions.

    I think you should bring this up at the end of next year as it will be a fantastic reminder of how right the contributors were 🙂

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  4. An affiliate tax on top of the current tax regime would be unworkable. I do think governments are going to try and resolve issues about low tax rates in some parts of the world to equalise their business options.

    I also think the public’s awareness of companies that avoid tax where they can will spread to those online companies not yet targeted.

  5. Yes, the affiliate nexus tax law is going to be a very big issue in many states, probably more than last year. They’re getting clever too. In California, there are 3 different proposals, one of them gives the Board of Equalization (one of 2 tax collection agencies), the authorization to decide who does and doesn’t have nexus. This arbitrary, broad reaching power is going to force the same results: out-of-state merchants will terminate affiliates to avoid any interpretation.

    We’ve beaten it back in 12 states last year with our secret weapon: the affiliates. I know people are tired of hearing about this, tired of dealing with it and tired of sending letters. But if we don’t have affiliates involved in our grassroots efforts, we’ll lose.

    The FTC Do Not Track is another big threatening issue. As the IAB said, if passed as written, the entire Internet would have to be redesigned, and the consumer experience would be seriously diminished. We have a group of members who are preparing a response to the FTC (they’re accepting comments until January 31st). The response will be a combination of challenges (do-not-track options, affiliates considered 3rd party and subject to broad opt-outs, restrictions to use of cookies, deep packet analysis and legacy data, and anonymous/unique identifiers versus personally identifiable information), and support (industry-endorsed disclosure standards, making it easier for consumers to understand and marketers to display).

    Geno – great post, the vision statements are great!

    Rebecca Madigan
    Executive Director
    Performance Marketing Association

    1. Rebecca, thank you for chiming in with your input. Good to have someone bring up the “Do Not Track” concept. Yes, this one will be a major one to watch in 2011.

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  7. Awesome round-up, thanks Geno!

    I definitely agree with the first point – I think AM is going to become completely mainstream, and I think we’ll continue to see more start-ups with innovations in the space. If we look at how developed the display advertising market is – with a plethora of startups innovating and providing optimization technologies – I suspect the same will happen in AM, bringing technical sophistication to what has been an industry laden with relatively stagnant technologies.

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  9. Thanks for the great insight. I think that we are really going to see 2011 be the year that B2B affiliate marketing really opens up. That is one of the reasons that we at Atlantic.Net have unveiled a completely uncapped and unlimited commission plan on our Cloud Computing offering. Those merchants that do not get out in front of this coming trend will get left behind.


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