The Death of Affiliate Marketing: What I Learned at Affiliate Summit West 2017

Becky Doles

affiliate summit west

Last week TUNE attended Affiliate Summit West in sunny Las Vegas. #ASW17 brings together more than 6,000 digital marketers from over 70 countries.  

After attending this show for 4+ years I have witnessed the word “affiliate marketing” start to die, being replaced with performance marketing and mobile marketing.

Affiliate marketing is an industry that continues to evolve, and it is being driven by the rise of mobile marketing and global advertising distribution. And the reason the terms are changing, is because mobile is based solely on performance. Advertisers only pay for performance (installs, engagement, action, etc.) on mobile, and as mobile opportunities continue to grow around the globe, so has the market.

So how can affiliate marketing evolve to fit this growth and the changing market dynamics?  I have come to realize it is because in every performance marketer’s DNA, is the ability to constantly change and have a laser focus on performance. Affiliates only get paid on performance and it is this mentality that has allowed the industry to mature and grow.

I had the pleasure of presenting on the first day of ASW17 on the topic of Winning the Mobile Moments. The session focused on how advertisers, publishers, and ad partners can focus on winning the mobile moments. A mobile moment is a point when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what they want immediately and in context. It is the right message, to the right person at the right time.

The audience was very eager to share their perspective and also ask some great questions, which we were able to debate. I will share that discussion and other themes below:

Mobile Growth

Mobile continues to dominate the discussion and many people don’t know how to effectively market to these groups. The mobile marketing funnel differs from the traditional marketing funnel, and simply copying your existing marketing practices over to mobile won’t help. If you are interested in some resources that explain this, check out our Mobile Marketing 101 webinar.

Performance Marketing Goes Mainstream

Affiliate marketing continues to move into the mainstream, with advertisers from REI, AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, Liveperson, FlipKart, and others joining Affiliate Summit West this year. Unlike years past, where advertisers would avoid these types of events, now they embrace them. The feedback that advertisers whom I spoke with shared was as the world continues to become global, affiliates, influential marketers, and other niche ad partners add tremendous value to the industry. This is because these entities can give them accesses to audience that Google, Facebook, and the social platforms fail to reach.

Advertisers Dislike Walled Gardens

Another interesting realization I had is that the performance marketers and other ad partners are all much more keen to share their data with advertisers, which they appreciate. The advertiser and ad partner relationships exist on a mutually beneficial communication process by which ad partners share data with the advertisers (costs, clicks, impressions, engagement, etc.) and both parties can work to optimize based on this data. This issue has come to full light with the recent issues around Facebook’s overstating of video metrics and Twitter’s video ad inflation debacle.

Mobile Web Continues to Grow

As the mobile web continues to grow, we will start to see the emergence of the convergence of mobile and web apps. One question I was asked during my presentation was, “Everyone talks about mobile apps, and making mobile apps more engaging. Why don’t people focus on the mobile web? Traffic to my properties from mobile devices continues to grow, but people don’t talk about how to increase performance and conversion here…” This is where the next iteration of innovation will occur. Technologies that allow advertisers to deliver relevant content, based on the origination of the user. Deferred deeplinking was the first attempt to cross this chasm, but it still leaves much to be desired.

I am looking forward the rest of the affiliate and performance marketing events coming up throughout the year, to continue to see how the market evolves. Hopefully I will see you there!

Like I said, affiliate marketing is dead, but not performance marketing.

Long live performance marketing!

Like this article? Sign up for our blog digest emails.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

7 responses to “The Death of Affiliate Marketing: What I Learned at Affiliate Summit West 2017”

  1. Dave B says:

    finally! JK the term affiliate was out of vogue way back in 2010 when I jumped into the industry. It was ‘publishers’ then it became ‘partners’ now we layer in ‘influencers’ and trad agencies talk about ‘performance’ but they just really mean focussing on ROI to installs. Ok enough with the ‘ ‘. However Affiliate Summit which is the main event globally moved into performance marketing 4 or more years ago with the advent of marketing. It’s not so much that affiliate is a misnomer for the industry it’s just that with major publishers and spend now being purely performance based it’d be odd to call Twitter mopub an affiliate traffic provider when the majority of their advertisers spend is CPI backed out to eCPM. I am really pleased that HasOffers has kicked off this conversation and I look forward to seeing how we can all grow the industry together – which rocks. Long live Performance Marketing. Amen.

  2. Brian Fox says:

    Nice piece here Dr. Hancock… As it relates to mobile web, it is growing but no where near the same speed as in-app and for that reason doesn’t get talked about and more importantly people aren’t innovating around it. It does open the door for players to take advantage of such opportunity but it will just be a big piece of a MUCH smaller pie.

  3. Amit Sharma says:

    Great Article JK .
    What are the thoughts about Native Application VS Mobile Web Application ?
    As Google Instant apps shows a mid way .Where we have application like experience along with freedom which browser provides .
    I think CPI will be next paradigm of business which will see decline with time .

  4. 6000 marketers from 70 countries- this is huge. The marketing strategy always changes with the passage of time. So, there is nothing to worry about just marketing is changing its route from affiliate to performance and mobile marketing.

  5. Aksa Sahi says:

    this is really rock stars

  6. Hey this is great piece man, native advertising is already taking up the market now. Everything is native now

  7. ajay says:

    Nice piece of content

Leave a Reply