What will replace affiliate marketing in the future?

Technology is constantly evolving, and it is bringing some wonderful developments to our world. However, for every technological technology, affiliate marketing advances as well.

Here are some of the ways affiliate marketing may alter in the future as digital technology and AI opportunities increase.

The blockchain may be the future of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the technique or approach in which an individual collaborates with a business in order to earn a commission by sending readers or visitors to a firm’s specific product or service.

A micro-influencer on Instagram or YouTube mentioning or wearing a product could be an example, but it isn’t how word-of-mouth marketing works. In 2019, affiliate marketing entailed building links that appear to be the natural solution to underperforming ads/banner blindness/brand weariness, but in a world with authentic word-of-mouth on the blockchain, affiliate marketing may be more of a thing of the past than a thing of the future.

Visual search and zero-click marketing

Numerous technological developments are occurring in this area of digital technology. With the introduction of new technology, such as smarter phones and voice-activated search, the way we look for and consume content and product information online is changing.

Over half of Google searches are thought to be zero-click searches. Thus affiliate and brand marketing strategies will need to be altered to fit these client preferences. The same may be said about the increase in visual searches. People are no longer just utilizing keywords to find their favorite brands, products, or information; they are now using photographs and screenshots.

Affiliate marketers must keep an eye on developments like these and make modifications as needed to avoid falling behind. For example, now is the time for innovation to seize control of traffic in this region before others do. Similarly, you must ensure that your content is optimized for voice search inquiries. We are transitioning away from standard text searches, and you must prepare your program.

For a brief point in the future, various developments could significantly alter the way we search. Inventors such as Elon Musk are investigating the neuro functions of the brain in order to develop a link between the human brain and a computer. This has the potential to significantly alter the way we search for content.

One day, instead of a typical screen setup, we may utilize heads-up displays in our eyes to browse the internet. This will have a huge impact on our lives, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with the digital world. Of course, this will necessitate changes to marketing and other business operations.

Keeping the privacy

When substantial changes are implemented online, there is always a need to implement a new level of e-privacy. New initiatives are already in the works that will affect both the UK and the EU. Therefore any affiliates with businesses in these regulated industries will need to ensure that they are prepared for these changes.

The new ePrivacy Regulation will apply not only to personal data but also to metadata. This could put some of the analytics that comes with dealing with anonymized data alongside personal analytics to the test. 

This is obviously a critical issue for affiliate marketers to address. Therefore management must ensure that they completely understand and can implement any changes that this may bring to their business. As we transition to a world that is increasingly reliant on the internet, all affiliates and affiliate marketers must do their part to safeguard client data.

To summarize, while technology may appear to make our lives easier for many of us, it will be necessary for businesses to meet the changes head-on and establish systems and procedures that can adapt to these fast-moving changes. Every new development will bring a slew of new changes, and affiliate marketers must understand how to adapt their business and marketing plans to meet these needs.

Keep an eye on the news, especially tech news that could greatly impact your industry. If you can stay ahead of the competition in terms of these advancements, you will be in a lot better position than other affiliate marketers.

Why does affiliate marketing fail to develop and keep trust?

As popular as affiliate marketing is the first route for influencers or bloggers, it lacks authenticity and can erode trust with your direct audience.

While sponsored content on Instagram and YouTube is at an all-time high, as influencer marketing goes to the blockchain, how personal brands boost trust in how they relate to their target audience and customers will also change.

Blockchain will replace the way people perceive a personal brand’s trust.

Affiliate marketing falls short of pure-play word-of-mouth because it is sponsored rather than organic, authentic, and based on genuine referrals or product recommendations.

As influencer marketing scales to the blockchain internet, it’s possible that traditional affiliate marketing will become less aligned with consumer values, particularly those of the Gen Z cohort.

Genuine word of mouth fosters a new type of environment.

The fundamental value proposition of word-of-mouth content is that it consists of genuine recommendations.

Because they are authentic, honest recommendations have greater value for companies, creators, and audiences and create a win-win situation. They are neither leveraging followers for clicks in a numbers game nor are they profiteering from an audience.

As a result, word of mouth based on honest recommendations maintains values that have a home and peak in trust. Brand trust is a hybrid of reputation and purchasing considerations that leads to a long tail of sales and a more real relationship with their target audience.

Affiliate marketing has the undesirable side effect of appearing to be a sham. When influencers and creators are simply motivated to post an affiliate link in order to earn a commission, the creator/recommender or source becomes excessively “salesy” and quickly creates a barrier in the trust-building process. In a nutshell, this is the primary distinction between word-of-mouth content and affiliate marketing content, and in an era of blockchain adoption and the development of influencer marketing, it’s critical that we understand the distinction.

Building the internet as a better place for marketing

Apps, trust, attentiveness, customer interactions, and product recommendations will all alter as the internet matures and grows.

We feel that there is a significant need for an environment based on honest recommendations, blockchain, and word of mouth, as opposed to more shady and aggressive ad-mechanisms that are more akin to monetization pyramids and attention-manipulation than pure-play peer-to-peer referral platforms.

Building a more trustworthy internet necessitates a more trustworthy ecosystem in which it is not only about sponsored content, how many followers you have, or which affiliate marketing technique to use. Instead, the question is how to monetize authenticity and real recommendations. The WOM Protocol is the solution to this problem and the need for a better internet based on trust rather than ad-spam.

What Can Marketers Do Now That 3rd Party Tracking Cookies Are Dead?

July 2021 update The tracking cookie is still crumbling. Firefox and Safari already block tracking cookies by default, and Google’s Chrome browser has not only entered the third-party cookie-blocking fray. But the search giant has also stated that it will not implement alternative user-level ad identifiers to replace third-party cookies.

The main concern on everyone’s mind is what marketers and advertisers will do in the absence of third-party cookies. Should you abandon marketing in order to pursue your dream of painting koala bears enjoying ice cream? You can put your paintbrushes away for the time being. While change is on the way, marketing as we know it will continue to exist without third-party cookies, and alternatives are already in the works. Can you smell it? It is the marketing of the future.

Cookies were always a shady practice.

When something you appreciate is taken away from you, the first natural thing to do is to rationalize its loss by claiming it sucked anyway. In some senses, this is true of the omnipresent tracking cookie. Cookie synching, also known as cookie matching, is a technique used by demand-side platforms (DSPs) and data management platforms (DMPs) to sync cookies data so that they know when they are interacting with the same user. It’s actually quite bad in the area of data-driven marketing.

Unifying data is crucial for providing individualized experiences to consumers, but it must also be done correctly to avoid aggravating the ever-loving snot out of everyone. When you consider the vast quantity of data that has to be synced up across the ad ecosystem, this is where cookie-based targeting tends to go apart. 

When a cookie from one website is not transferred to an ad tech platform, a piece of the puzzle is missing, and an appropriate match is not made. This occurs frequently, and as a result, cookie match rates range from 40 to 60 percent. 

This is why, when you search for red Nikes on Zappos, you may be retargeted with advertisements for black lingerie, which can lead to additional unanticipated problems for consumers at home. However, poor targeting based on fragmented cookies is a huge waste of money and frustrates people with useless adverts. 

Furthermore, because cookies are device-based, they cannot assist you when someone moves from desktop to mobile or switches computers or browsers, further fragmenting the customer journey.

Furthermore, the vast majority of tracking cookies are already rejected by browsers. In the fourth quarter of 2017, an ad-serving agency examined 20 advertisers and more than 5 billion impressions and discovered that 64 percent of their tracking cookies were either banned or erased by web browsers. 

The rejection rate on mobile devices was greater, at 75%, compared to 41% on desktop. As a result, advertisers may be wasting half of their budgets on missed opportunities by not reaching out to potential customers and having cash go toward superfluous impressions to those who would convert regardless.

How Can Digital Advertising Function Without Cookies?

Okay, there has been a lot of discussion about the future, but cookie blocking is now available. What can you do to replace the tracking cookie while remaining in touch with your audience? Here are a few strategies to help you break your cookie addiction.

The New Cookies are Contextual Advertising (and Content).

What was once old has become fresh again, and contextual advertising is making a comeback. We don’t expect a drop in ad revenue or traffic; we expect a reallocation and movement of budgets. Any keyword or keyword contextual-based advertising is the next best choice to cookies-based behavioral targeting.

Years ago, everyone dismissed it, and we moved away from keyword targeting, but now we’re going to have to go back to it.” Contextual advertising refers to advertisements that are related to the other content on the screen. 

It’s similar to beer advertisements in a bar: go where your customers are. From the perspective of the average non-marketer consumer, contextual advertising is more relevant and significantly less scary than cookie-based behavioral retargeting. Consider the following:

With behavioral targeting, you may see adverts for tech platforms, ad agencies, and the like wherever you go on the internet. However, as a regular consumer, you are more interested in knitting. It doesn’t make sense for you to see Marketo advertisements when you’re on Knitterly discussing your latest pattern, which may happen if behavioral targeting is used.

The adverts you see with contextual targeting are dependent on the content you’re looking at rather than your general activity profile. So, when you visit your knitting blog, you’ll see advertisements for knitting needles, and while you’re researching how to increase the click-through rate on your email newsletters, you’ll see ads for appropriate email automation platforms.

The return to contextual targeting will also entail a return to developing and delivering relevant content. According to the content marketer, content is the new cookie! 

This is easier said than done, as it will require more collaboration between advertisers and publishers to make it work at scale.

This Marketing Land article highlights the four important steps that publishers and advertisers must take to implement this alternative to cookie-based behavioral targeting. A wonderful conclusion is that content-as-advertising works, mostly because consumers dislike commercials, but they like to be informed and entertained while doing so, and they value relevant offers while doing so.

Contextual advertising

Google AdSense has facilities for contextual keyword advertising, which allows you to display pictures, videos, and text adverts on the pages of participating websites. This allows you to display dynamic content to folks who aren’t necessarily looking for you. This Disruptive Advertising article explains how to get started with contextual advertising.

Contextual advertising is less creepy from a consumer standpoint since they don’t give you the impression that you’re being followed throughout the web. They only see ads that are related to the content they are now seeing, making them more relevant and, as a result, more likely to feel invited to the party.

You will not be harmed if you run an affiliate marketing business, either promoting affiliate products or running your own affiliate network.

However, the ramifications are severe:

  • Advertisement personalization, 
  • targeting, and 
  • retargeting 

It must be done differently.

What do the future of cookies, tracking IDs, and internet privacy hold for us? And how does this affect marketers? In today’s blog article, we’ll go over it in terms of ten questions.

Cookies are data files. A website that a user has visited stores them on his device. They are classified into two types: first-party cookies and third-party cookies.

First-party cookies are typically used to improve the functionality of websites. Consider a function that allows you to continue logged in after shutting your browser, browsing a website in dark mode, or unchecking a box to disable a specific notification. They are not used to monitor people on the internet and can only be viewed by the website where they have been put.

First-party cookies are exactly the types of cookies used in affiliate marketing, and they will be unaffected by this new change.

Cookies from third parties can be used to profile and track individuals. These are not inserted by the website but are supplied with embedded content. Scripts from third companies, for example, that you have integrated into your site. Consider the HubSpot form or the LinkedIn Pixel.

First-party cookies are installed by the website where the user is browsing the web and are used to track the operation as they move from page to page.

They enable necessary website functionality such as authentication, shopping cart management, website preferences, and login information. Without first-party cookies, the user would have to check in to each page and, for example, would not be able to put an item in the cart and continue shopping because very few websites save this data on their own servers.

In short, without first-party cookies, the website experience will be poor, if not impossible. They are not frequently subject to the wrath (and banning) that third-party cookies receive because they only monitor behavior on the site that someone actively visits.

Will data tracking and retrieval become impossible?

Data mining and tracking are also possible without the use of third-party cookies or tracking IDs.

It’s not just a legal issue; it’s also a technical tug of war. These most prevalent approaches are becoming less effective, but digital technology always provides the option of tracking users. People devise inventive techniques to circumvent computerized tracking.

The GDPR mandated that practically every website now seeks proper authorization for tracking. Visitors frequently click away from the notifications as quickly as possible by clicking the most prominent button: “I agree.” This is known as ‘default prejudice,’ and it will almost certainly be addressed legally at some point.

Apple and Google are now making it even more difficult by prohibiting specific ways. Meanwhile, the next approach is regaining popularity: fingerprinting.

This entails gathering many technological blueprints of a visitor in order to create a unique profile of that person. This profile can then be recognized on other sites because your browser version and screen dimensions are unlikely to change in the meantime.

This tracking strategy is also strongly opposed by “privacy warriors,” but it is much more difficult to implement because websites require data to function effectively.

The use of first-party data is becoming increasingly crucial. This means that you monitor what a user performs within your own platform. This is possible with a Customer Data Platform. Based on self-collected data, you (as a website owner) provide the user with a relevant experience.

You can get a lot of value out of it, and more and more businesses realize it.

Because they rely on advertisers, newspapers, news websites, and online magazines already rely increasingly on first-party data. However, everyone who wants to provide users with a tailored experience will eventually focus on this, preferably across all channels.

This is a requirement for an effective omnichannel marketing plan.

Offering paid accounts is an alternative to having third parties collect a large amount of data (so that you may earn money from adverts). However, this means that only the wealthy have access to high-quality content, which is a pity.

It is a matter of striking the correct balance between privacy and unrestricted access to the internet.

Conclusion – What will the future of affiliate marketing look like?

The affiliate marketer is usually transformed into a marketing architect. Systems and AI technologies do some of the work: they collect data and use powerful algorithms to automatically update and customize products or pages.

To understand data or change algorithms, affiliate marketers will increasingly need to be mathematically literate. They must also grasp how to smartly connect numerous platforms and do advanced content management. Consider configuring different content or landing pages for each visitor segment in the latter situation.

Government laws are also becoming increasingly prevalent. Perhaps in the future, you will be unable to establish a website until it has been reviewed by an impartial party (just like you cannot build a house unless you get it approved). Who can say?

However, for the business being, these cookie changes will have no effect on affiliate marketing businesses.

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Elizabeth Sramek
Elizabeth is a Senior Content Manager at Scaleo. Currently enjoying the life in Prague and sharing professional affiliate marketing tips. She's been in the online marketing business since 2006 and gladly shares all her insights and ideas on this blog.
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