Industry

Our Predictions for 2022 Affiliate Marketing Trends: How Did We Do? [Part 1]

Dan Buontempone

Earlier this year, my colleague and I made some predictions about the biggest trends we would see in the affiliate marketing industry in 2022. Now that the year is almost up, we are revisiting those predictions to see if our visions into the future were clear or cloudy. So how did we do? In the meantime, here’s my original post on 2022 affiliate marketing trends, and below is my (maybe too honest) analysis of how accurate they turned out to be. And don’t forget to check out Part 2 from Matt

1. Brands Will Shift Dollars Toward the Performance Model 

How’d I do?
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: This is absolutely true! Guaranteed dollars from brands have continued to dwindle, and the affiliate industry is projected to grow nearly 10% year-over-year.

“(The affiliate) pay-for-performance model will mean that available dollars will shift from less accountable media to our channel.” Grace Murray, Fohr’s VP of Strategy, told Marketing Brew that she estimates about 20% of Fohr’s clients — which include companies such as Estée Lauder, Sephora, and Kohl’s — at least considered reallocating some of their paid social spend toward influencer marketing.  

2. Publishers Will Beef Up Their Performance-Driven Editorial Teams 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Publishers like Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Capital One, and the New York Post have all created their own performance-driven shopping channels like Buzzfeed Shopping, Capital One Shopping, NY Post Deals, and Buy Side from Wall Street Journal. As the expert from Durée & Company says, “Everyone from NBCU, Turner, Hearst, Conde, Bauer, Meredith, have all been on board for years at this point.” Watch for this to grow exponentially in 2023! 

3. This Year Will Be a Death Knell for PR and Earned Media 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Earned media definitely still exists, but I have personally spoken to over a dozen PR agencies this year — and almost all of them have come to us with clients that are either exploring or launching new affiliate programs. Alyson Dutch for Forbes says, “Today, 40% of reporters my company pitches simply will not report without an affiliate program. Some reporters will kindly say, ‘We need an affiliate link to include you,’ but most will just maddeningly ignore your pitches. If you are lucky, they will forward your pitch to their publication’s e-commerce department, a new set of contacts every publicist must build.” While this is not happening quickly, I do still believe that it is an ongoing trend that will continue in 2023 and beyond.  

4. There Will Be Ongoing Editorial Integrity Struggles 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: The magicians behind blending honest reviews and paid advertisements are now called E-commerce Content Managers (or similar). Advertorials, listicles, and reviews all come across as authentic when content creators are — you guessed it — authentic, as well. 

5. Snackable Content Will Grow Exponentially 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: TikTok has absolutely blown up in 2022, growing 72% this year. TUNE Connect partner Find Your Influence reports that Gen Z is utilizing TikTok as their primary search engine, funneling tons of revenue to brands that have a presence on the social platform. Now is the time to jump on this! 

6. Programmatic Will Shift More Toward Performance 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Programmatic actually grew roughly 16% this year. Programmatic might still take a hit in the near future, with cookies and current attribution methods becoming a thing of the past. While programmatic may eventually shift more towards performance, it seems that this may not happen for a while. 

7. Influencer Marketing Will Integrate into the Performance Mix 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: The line between influencer and affiliate is nearly non-existent. It’s acceptable to call both content creators, with no limitations to the creativity that can be involved to tie brands with the audience of said creators. Just look at how seamless Delish.com’s campaign with Instacart looks!

8. The First-Party Data Takeover 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Data drives decisions, it’s as simple as that. Find out here what Prodege did to get more access to their first-party data, instead of relying on limited third-party data — and the result was growing 20% month over month! 

9. Branded Promo Codes Will Be on the Rise 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Branded promo codes help content creators bridge the gap between their audience and brands. 93% of shoppers will use a promo code at least once this year, and it is a great way to attract new consumers to your brand. With TUNE, you can even track influencer campaigns without the click!

10. Brands Will Learn to Embrace the Full Partner Ecosystem 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: In order for brands to grow, they need a healthy mix of ALL different partner types, and not just rely on coupon or deal sites, influencers, or bloggers. Brands diversifying their affiliate portfolios allows them to engage with customers at different points within their digital path to purchase. Even podcasting can be a great affiliate play, as Athletic Greens showcases here.

11. Loyalty and Referral Programs Will Flourish 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: Loyalty programs initially started as mere discounting, but they have evolved into so much more — particularly for new customer acquisition! 

According to Acceleration Partners, “Today’s shoppers, especially in the height of Q4, have their go-tos, visiting those sites (like Rakuten, Honey, or Coupon Cabin) or clicking on an email as a way to discover new brands.”

12. Companies Will Continue to Consolidate 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: This continued to happen, from The Wall Street Journal buying Amobee, Global Savings Group acquired Coupons.com, NerdWallet acquired On the Barrelhead, ironSource merging with Unity, and many more. Yahoo and Taboola even teamed up on for a creative native partnership. Watch for more non-performance brands purchased affiliate companies for 2023 and beyond! 

13. The Cookieless Future is Now 

How’d I do? 
Nailed It! / The Jury is Still Out / Whoops! 

End of Year Thoughts: While Google pushed back their phaseout of third-party cookies until 2024, the cookieless future is definitely upon us. If your brand is not quite there yet, there is still time to set up your tracking for long-term success. The quicker you act, the more accurate your tracking will be

What other affiliate marketing trends do you think we will see in 2023? Let us know in the comments below! When you’re ready for Part 2, click here to head to Matt’s post.

Author
Dan Buontempone

Dan Buontempone has been in the partner marketing space since 2006, spending time on the brand, publisher, and agency sides of the business. Dan’s affiliate career has always revolved around connecting some of the best brands and publishers in the industry, and he continues to do that as TUNE’s Business Development Specialist. Nothing excites Dan more than a pixel or postback firing when it’s supposed to! Dan is forever a Long Islander and currently resides in New York’s Hudson Valley, about an hour north of the greatest city in the world.