Affiliate Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2022

It’s hard to believe it but for more than a decade, AM Navigator has been publishing affiliate marketing predictions for new years. It started with my personal predictions for 2010, followed by ten years of me compiling predictions of other experts besides myself, and for 2021 I published this one on LinkedIn Pulse.

For 2022 (which is going to be here in less than two days), I’ve once again reached out to a number of my industry friends and long-time affiliate marketing veterans, and today I bring you the list of their thoughts for the year to come.

The “Comments” area under this post is wide-open to your thoughts and comments. Don’t be shy, and let the industry know what you think. In the meantime, enjoy the below:

2022 Affiliate Marketing Trends and Predictions

As more merchants embrace e-commerce and, consequently, affiliate marketing, there will be more opportunities for smaller niche affiliates and influencers. As larger affiliates and influencers are commanding bigger placement fees and hybrid payment models, there will be an opening for small businesses on both sides of affiliate marketing to work together more. Small merchants will need to leverage third-party tools and network/platform capabilities to find them, but they will find these smaller affiliates eager to work with them when they offer favorable terms in regard to commissions, cookie lengths, and exclusive deals. Without as much administrative red tape as larger companies, the merchants and affiliates will be able to broker deals quickly to take advantage of market trends, pop culture, and pandemic era anomalies.

Tricia Meyer, Owner, Sunshine Rewards (former Executive Director, Performance Marketing Association)

It’s been a bittersweet year with so much of the accelerated growth of affiliate being a legacy of Covid. Conventional wisdom holds that the gains of e-commerce shall be consolidated with more to come after travel and events fully recovers. This seems correct.

As more and more partners enter the space, the networks’ collective inability to deliver all program information by API will continue to strain smaller merchant players, who will have to seek workarounds.

Barring unpredictable circumstances, impact going public will mark the end of another chapter in affiliate marketing’s history with its second unicorn after Honey. As is typically the case, the full vestiture that comes with an exit will free up some of the channel’s top talent for other ventures.

Finally, the programmatic advertising camp will start to take more potshots at affiliate marketing in an attempt to keep the budget for itself, so affiliate needs to make a better case for itself.

— Brook Schaaf, CEO, FMTC

We will continue to see partnerships grow and evolve in 2022. New partnerships growth will be a key driver for the industry.

We will see even more content commerce type partners as well as new distribution channels — all helping to create more authenticity and value for consumers.

Over the past 24 years, I have never been more excited or bullish about this industry than I am now.

Todd Crawford, Co-founder & VP Strategic Initiatives,

With an omnichannel approach more important (and challenging) than ever for e-commerce merchants in 2022, affiliate marketing will be a growing and vital asset for online retailers to meet their potential customers in as many places as possible. One segment of affiliate partners that I expect we’ll see notable demand for and growth from is the nano and micro social influencers — those with a smaller yet engaging number of followers. These partners are a powerful source for merchants to build brand intimacy, stand out from their competition and increase revenue through trusted product recommendations. Merchants investing in these social influencer relationships as part of their affiliate program will not only benefit from increased brand reach but also from increased bottom-line results.

Tara McCommons, VP Sales and Marketing, LinkConnector

In the last decade, tremendous progress has been made by networks and SaaS platforms in policing affiliate behavior to ensure an even playing field for all affiliates and partners in paid search. However, it continues to be a game of whack a mole, with the same bad actors moving their devious techniques from place to place where they can most easily avoid detection. In 2022, I believe that we are going to see the first efforts to systematically root out bad actors in a way that keeps them from continually appearing elsewhere in the ecosystem. While achieving that end goal won’t be complete in a single year, the steps taken in 2022 will put us in a position to achieve the holy grail of compliance — a clean ecosystem — in the years to follow.

Van Chappell, General Manager, BrandVerity

As mentioned above, if you have your own predictions to make, please be my guest and do so via the “Comments” area under this post. No comment will be left unanswered.

4 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2022”

  1. 2 more.
    1. 2022 will be the year customer ambassador programs go mainstream. These programs are too powerful to ignore and the playbooks that Goli Nutrition, Pura Vida, HydroJug among a few others others have deployed, are available to scrappy, e-commerce brands that need to diversify and build new scalable customer acquisition channels. The tools/platforms that exist to facilitate these programs still need a lot of work, but they will catch up.

    2. Better payout models and tools will emerge to unlock more paid social and display affiliates in the broader ecosystem. There are more paid media agencies than ever in history – it only makes sense for them to add affiliate marketing services to compliment their media buying and content creation services. And why wouldn’t they? If you’ve cracked the code on building profitable paid campaigns, why would you not amplify that success using affiliates for scale? It also makes sense for affiliate and paid media departments within companies to converge and not be siloed.

    1. Matt, thank you for your comments. Fingers crossed ambassador programs finally take off. I’m all for it! And yes, the time for healthy convergence between paid vs affiliate departments within the same company is well overdue too! I would also love to hear more about the “better payout models and tools” that you’ve alluded to. Would you mind elaborating?

  2. Geno, I well remember your launch of these “Predictions” and have followed along ever since. You are certainly on the money far more often that not. I recall first meeting you on a bus in Miami at the 2007 Affiliate Summit – and you being surprised that I could pronounce your surname correctly.

    For me, I have had a great run for over two full decades, having had my first affiliate sale in March of 1999. My personal prediction for 2022 is to fully retire from the affiliate marketing realm and to enjoy life at the beach, travelling and my life-long interest in landscape/seascape photography. My online sales of art photography have eclipsed what I have done in affiliate marketing over the last couple of years so it is time to change focus, so to speak. I am now in charge of my own “products” and no longer need deal with the vagaries of networks, merchants and affiliate managers, who do not always (usually?) have the interests of affiliates at heart.

    Of course, I will keep watching your predictions…

    1. Bill, it’s always great to hear from you! Crazy how quickly the time flew by, and hard to believe that it’s already been (nearly) 15 years since that Affiliate Summit and our first meeting!!

      Full retirement sounds like a great prediction/plan! I promise that I, in turn, will keep standings on guard for affiliate interests while you enjoy the beach, the traveling, and the photography.

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