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How retail media, influencer integration, and tech partnerships amplify affiliate marketing potential

Affiliate marketing is maturing into a multidimensional, full-funnel channel. But not everyone is convinced of its potential, said Alexandra Forsch, president of Awin Americas. For senior decision-makers, affiliate marketing is “considered a very tactical channel and not a strategic one, and as such, it’s not as attractive,” Forsch said on a “Behind the Numbers” podcast episode.

Despite its “nagging perceptions,” our analyst Max Willens agrees, saying affiliate marketing has broken free from its last-click limitations, becoming a versatile tool for brand engagement across the entire customer journey. That’s thanks to its convergence with retail media, influencers, and tech partners.

The power of two: The rise of retail media is allowing affiliate marketing to evolve.

  • Brand-to-brand partnerships facilitated through affiliate channels are democratizing the space, giving smaller brands opportunities for targeted reach and new income streams.
  • “A new [brand] partner can drive value and reach customers in areas where a brand may not [be able to] reach [them], and do it in a way where it is surrounded by user affinity,” Forsch said.

The creator’s role: Consumers turn to influencers and review sites for product discovery, research, and consideration, especially when they are cautious about discretionary spending.

  • Instead of a flat fee based on the influencer’s following, Forsch sees a move toward performance-based models.
  • With a data-driven approach, “you can actually work with the [influencers] that you see supporting a transaction, and then compensate them on a [cost-per-action] basis,” Forsch said.
  • In 2023, 56% of US creators will earn income from affiliate partnerships, according to Mavrck. In 2021, it was 47%.

Tech solutions: Innovation in affiliate marketing has opened greater opportunities to convert shoppers into buyers.

  • Tech partners are offering on-site optimization services, personalized product recommendations and couponing, and customer experience enhancements.
  • Trial options allow brands to become more comfortable with new tech, easing the adoption curve.

Listen to the full episode.


This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.