As affiliate marketing continues to mature, the stakes will increase. Our industry faces more and more legislation—between state advertising tax laws and federally-mandated marketing regulations. Instead of being seen as obstacles to overcome, these growing pains should be seen as catalysts for affiliate marketers to find news way to build upon their revenue.
One way this might happen? Content. The premium placed on providing actual content will increase with the number of new affiliates entering the industry at any given moment—everyone’s drawing from the same pool of consumers and similar offers. This means that many of the industry’s brightest are in the position to become their own self-sustaining content providers—and while revenue should always remain the bottom line, being able to pull in a dedicated audience will help stabilize that revenue to some degree.
The trick to getting that audience? Top shelf content. More simply: Well-written, well-researched stories. Frequently, this will mean having to find a compromise between content quality and keyword optimization. Right now, the most successful web properties, like Gawker Media for instance, have managed to strike that balance, by publishing provocative stories designed to keep user engagement high. This means they’re netting high pageviews, which in turn translates to high bids for ad space on their media network.
Writing a blog is a lot like testing a landing page: You’re going to have to keep testing until you start approaching desirable results. Currently, many affiliates discount the need for coherent and consistent content, either by outsourcing it to a variety of different cut-rate freelancers or giving it only a scrap of attention. This is a missed opportunity.
Content is and will remain king because no one on the web visits a website because they want to be served ads or because they want to click through to learn more about X, Y, or Z offer. They want to be informed, entertained, and amused and to do that, content providers—which affiliates, especially those who serve banner ads are now precariously positioned into becoming—need to figure out how to up their game.
2011 has already seen a whirlwind of innovation sweep through the internet space and while most of it has ruffled feathers in the social media corner, affiliate marketing is going through its own changes: Affiliate Summit West this year at a record 4,600+ marketers in attendance this year. Our numbers are becoming bigger and while this brings a wealth of opportunity, it also brings a lot of competition.
Most importantly, it puts the pressure on those of us who have been in this space for a while now to figure out how we can leverage our talents to scale new heights. A key part of that ascent? Content.
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