Affiliate Marketing Evolution

How has affiliate marketing changed over the years?

Compared to even 10 years ago, the affiliate marketing landscape has changed drastically. But what if we look even further back than that?

In such a fast-paced industry, we can forget how much changes in such little time. That’s why today, we’re turning to four experienced affiliate marketing heads.

Along with our CEO Lee-Ann Johnstone, we also caught up with each of the below.

  • Ian Sims, Founder/CEO of Rightlander; 
  • Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, VP Strategy at Income Access; 
  • Kiril Nestorovski, Commercial Director/Head of Sales for EveryMatrix.

Here’s what they each had to share.

Innovation and adaptation

In the eyes of Lee-Ann, affiliate managers have become a lot better at thinking outside the box. She believes that there is now “a willingness to go further, break boundaries, get clarity and use data insights to propel business and brand reach forward”. 

This isn’t surprising. Compared to a decade or two ago, technology is more advanced. Not only is the internet more accessible to all, but data is also more comprehensive.

Because so much of what we consume is across mobile, as well as desktop, this has led to affiliates needing to optimise for both platforms. As Wolde Gabriel said, merely being present – while important – is not everything. The thought process behind every action is vital: “being able to market intelligently through the use of mobile-friendly content and graphics, as well as track and measure performance is now key.”

Growing trust 

The growing sophistication of information has led to a higher level of transparency in the industry. This is something that could be seen in a recent Pepperjam survey, in which many professionals pointed to having greater peace of mind when utilising affiliate marketing.

Nestorovski backed up this idea and had the below to say.

“Back when we started, one of the main obstacles was the lack of trust going both ways between affiliates and operators as transparency in data was particularly important. Shaving is still a concern, but nowadays with real-time insights, it is easy to find out whether this should be a concern or not.”

A greater emphasis on responsibility and compliance

One particular area to grow in more importance recently is the protection of players. When Sims first entered the iGaming industry, he was “conscious” that the “‘bonus culture’ of using ‘free money’ to attract customers was not something that sat well” with him. This was despite him not “thinking about the social impact of gambling” in relation to “affiliate endeavours”. 

Nowadays, the Rightlander CEO feels that the industry is more aware of problem gambling than it was in the 2000s. When it comes to player bonuses, he would “personally prefer to see the bonus as an incentive removed entirely and replaced with responsible loyalty bonuses designed to reward players who gamble, well, responsibly.”

Speaking about the affiliate space in general, he believes that tighter regulation isn’t such a gloomy thing.

“Although many might look at regulation as restrictive, it also creates opportunities. You just need to think outside the box a little. But that is what this industry is good at and what drives innovation. Affiliates that work this out will come out stronger.”

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