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  • Alison Piroe

2023: An Affiliate Year In Review




As we bid farewell to the rollercoaster that was 2023, it's imperative to reflect on the year's impact on the dynamic landscape of affiliate marketing. In an era dominated by digital transformation, shifts in consumer behavior, and relentless technological innovation, affiliate marketing emerged again as a resilient and adaptive force within the marketing realm. 


From the rise of influencer partnerships to the integration of AI, it was a year of shifting sands for affiliates. As we delve into this comprehensive review of the year, we'll unravel the trends, triumphs, and challenges that have shaped the affiliate marketing landscape in 2023, offering insights for both seasoned industry players and those navigating the affiliate marketing terrain for the first time. 


It’s AI’s World, We’re Just Living In It


There were two letters on everyone's lips, and this is backed-up by Collins Dictionary announcing last month that AI is in fact their word of the year for 2023. Multiple researches have shown that generative AI has been the dominant conversation this year, and the affiliate marketing industry is no different. 


As an affiliate, there are two ways to approach AI. The first involves spending time chasing down AI solutions and trying to implement them into workflows and product solutions. This approach could result in you being the first to get on board with useful tools, giving you an edge over your competition. 


The second approach is to simply let AI innovation come to you. Searching for and testing AI tools in a bid to optimize your workflow and find efficiencies can be very time consuming and could ultimately prove unproductive. Take ChatGPT as an example. If a generative AI tool is good enough, it rises to the top and will come across your desk anyway, whether you go looking for it or not. 


Here are some examples of where AI is already helping out affiliates:


Partner recruitment and onboarding

AI can be used to identify and recruit potential affiliate partners, as well as to onboard new partners and provide them with the information they need to be successful.


Content creation

 AI can be used to generate content that is relevant to both the affiliate partner and their audience, creating everything from ad copy to images, code writing to voiceovers.


Performance tracking

AI can be used to track the performance of affiliate partners and campaigns. This data can then be used to optimize campaigns and improve results.


Fraud detection 

AI can be used to detect fraudulent activity, such as click fraud and affiliate fraud. This can help to protect both advertisers and affiliate partners.


AI in Dating

The dating vertical proved to be an exciting vertical for AI. If you are running dating offers, then 2023 should have seen you experimenting with AI more than most. Erotic chatbots are here and dating offers touting AI girlfriends are already making a splash. It might seem a bit dystopian, but if it makes money then it’s here to stay.


Small Influencers Had A BIG Impact


Traditional advertising methods are increasingly being met with skepticism from consumers who value authenticity and personalized recommendations. This has led to the rise of micro-influencers, individuals with smaller but highly engaged followings, who wield significant influence within their niche communities. 


Affiliate marketers have embraced this trend, leveraging the credibility of micro-influencers to promote products and services to a more targeted audience. Affiliates have become more discerning in their approach to influencer marketing, demanding measurable results and a return on their investment. 


This shift towards performance-based influencer marketing has incentivized influencers to focus on generating quantifiable outcomes, such as sales or leads, rather than simply building reach or engagement.


Some marketing platforms and agencies, like Everflow, are bringing First Impression Attribution (FIA) to the fore. It’s seen as a fairer way of rewarding influencers for their efforts. FIA recognises that an influencer may generate a warm lead at the beginning of the funnel, but may not reap the benefits when the sale is made at the end. 


This in turn encourages influencers to create better content as they are finally getting their efforts recognised monetarily.


Be careful when picking the right influencer to work with, it can be trickier than you think. Check out our guide on how to vet influencers to make sure you get the perfect fit for your campaign. 


You Had To Make Things Personal


Personalized marketing is nothing new, but it was essential for affiliates in 2023. Consumers are now expecting brands to provide them with personalized experiences. In fact, a study by Salesforce found that 75% of consumers expect companies to use their data to personalize their experiences.


Consumers are now more aware of their data and are more willing to share it with companies in exchange for personalized experiences. Technology has also made it easier than ever for companies to collect and analyze data about their customers. 


People want and respond to ads that are catered to them. Make sure your content fits and is received by the correct demographic, use customer data to segment audiences and implement dynamic retargeting.


Personalisation is a benefit across the board. It leads to increased engagement, satisfaction, loyalty and sales. Studies by Epsilon, Accenture and Abode respectively have shown that:


  • 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers them personalized experiences.

  • 77% of consumers prefer brands that recognize them and know their purchase history.

  • 72% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with marketing messages that are relevant to them.


Can’t ask for much more than that!


Regulators, Mount Up!


A trend that has not been so welcome this year has been regulators, in the EU in particular, cracking down on social media companies and how they gather and use customer data.


In response to EU regulations, Meta launched a subscription-no-ads (SNA) platform option for its users, where users could pay a fee of roughly €9.99 a month to use Instagram and Facebook ad-free.


Stricter rules in the EU have limited Meta’s ability to use customers' data to show them targeted ads without their consent, so users were given a choice. Either agree to their data being used or pay for an ad-free site.


This is just one example of how data privacy is being taken more seriously every year by those who make the rules. It’s not something that is affecting affiliates for the time being, but does suggest that regulations may begin to tighten up in years to come. 


Affiliate marketers have to stay abreast of evolving regulations to ensure they are handling consumer data legally, responsibly and protecting privacy.


Cybersecurity Was A Safe Bet


The annual revenue of cybersecurity software exceeds $40 billion. If you weren’t thinking about entering this vertical, I bet you are now!


During the pandemic, everything moved online. Ecommerce went through the roof, everyone began working from home and overall internet usage grew by 70%. An obvious result of the surge in internet usage is that online security became even more in demand than it already was.


Even just taking working from home as an example. People were pulled away from the secure servers they had in their office buildings and were now forced to work with sensitive files on their run-of-the-mill home wifi. A tempting scenario for hackers looking to upset any apple carts.


And so cyber security became a fruitful vertical this year. Affiliate networks like Advidi recognised this trend early and have been reaping the benefits in 2023. 


A Final Goodbye


When you see people sharing their Spotify Wrapped playlists on social media, that’s when you know the year really is drawing to a close. We’ve seen AI infiltrate every conversation, the rise and rise of the micro-influencer, personalisation becoming key, regulators regulating, and cyber security becoming a real powerhouse in the affiliate game.


Like every year in affiliate marketing, it’s been a crazy one, but with far more ups than downs. Here’s to hoping 2024 can be more of the same!


Like what you read? There’s plenty more where that came from. Check out our Editorials or Latest News stories so you don’t just stay informed, you stay ahead!

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