As the affiliate and partner marketing channel continues to grow across markets, more brands and advertisers have found a cost-efficient, flexible model to build partnerships with a range of publishers.
In fact, 80% of advertisers consider affiliate partnerships more important than ever in 2023. These advertisers are putting their money where their mouth is, shifting more budget to the channel.
Here, we’ll dig into these trends, as Awin data for 2023 so far is providing some interesting observations as to how advertisers are generating growth. Plus, we’ll share which key areas of channel strategy are yielding the best results.
1. Step change in content creator and influencer opportunity
One key call out from 2023 is significant growth in content creator and influencer performance for advertisers.
Awin data shows these publishers driving 23% more sales than 2022. Advertisers are investing significantly in this area, paying 37% more commission than last year. As cost efficiency grows in importance and marketing budgets are squeezed, the affiliate channel has become a welcome space for advertisers to grow their influencer campaign strategy with flexibility.
Then there’s the influencers themselves, who increasingly use the channel to deliver additional campaigns and work with more brands with ease. Our data shows over half of publishers joining the network in 2023 are content creators and influencers. Then there are the influencer marketing platforms like Stylink, who remain valuable partners operating in the affiliate channel. Their swift expansion into new markets summarizes the scale of the global influencer opportunity.
2. Cashback publishers crucial in driving average order value growth
Incentive publishers have long been viewed as affiliates who encourage discounting, lower order values and generally operating in the lower funnel of the user journey. However, we’ve seen evidence to the contrary.
SingleView is a platform we use to analyze the customer journey better and understand how valuable different websites are in the purchase journey. Recent SingleView analysis shows cashback partners are more incremental and valuable than previously thought. We see they’re driving a growing percentage of solo conversions. When we dig into this to look at their impact on average order value (AOV), we can see cashback partners are delivering the highest average basket boost for advertisers.
Then there’s retail advertiser performance on Awin: cashback partners have delivered on average a 13% increase in AOV – amongst the highest when compared to other publisher types. Whilst the UK remains the largest market for cashback, almost all major European cashback markets are a contributor to increasing AOV. With the likes of TopCashback expanding outside of the UK and iGraal and others also growing in continental Europe, this area of the affiliate channel will continue to provide incremental opportunities for growth across markets.
3. Conversion rates remain a challenge for advertisers
We know one of the key online performance indicators when navigating a challenging consumer landscape is conversion rate. As content partners flock to affiliate technologies, and advertisers drive a larger focus on content partnerships, it’s not entirely surprising to see conversion rate down in 2023.
There are many ways to address this downturn. One of the more underutilised opportunities in the affiliate channel? Technology partners that offer intelligent, brand-aligned conversion optimization solutions. Yes, we have an abundance of smart technologies, that make it easy to implement and run campaigns through the channel. Still though, brands find it difficult to attain sign off from their internal teams and stakeholders. Advertisers that use technology partners are reaping the rewards; on average they improve conversion rates year-on-year by 8%. Global brands that harness this technology are also finding it seamless to implement partners across markets, overcoming various conversion rate challenges along the way.
4. Diversification strategies are the order of the year
The affiliate and partner marketing channel has come a long way. From being principally recognized as incentive first, we now notice more recognition as a channel that can help drive success beyond the last click. We’re noticing client service teams and advertisers building strategies that encapsulate this.
Sportswear advertisers on Awin are providing the template for executing market-leading strategies through affiliate. They do this by pushing partner diversification as a fundamental pillar for growth. Over a three-year period for these advertisers, the share of sales from discount publishers has fallen by 6%. Despite this, these same publishers are driving 21% more sales year on year. Content creators, influencers and editorial partners have seen more collaboration, and more budget allocation. This has helped drive over 50% year-on-year sales growth.
These interactions between advertisers and influencers continues to cultivate an ever-growing portfolio of content creators flocking to the channel. Ensuring a framework is in place to work with them through the affiliate channel has never been more important.
By Bhavesh Patel, senior global account director