Affiliate Marketing of the Future

We all had an idea of what the “future” would be growing up.  Flying cars, big brother, and food in pill form were going to change the way we all lived.  At least, when I watched the Jetson’s growing up, this was the future I thought we would be living in.  Here we are now, in “the future”  and while we don’t have flying cars, or cheeseburger pills.  We’ve got computers, iphones, and “the internet”, and of course…affiliate marketing.  We’re not in the Jetson’s just yet, but things are changing: we’re using our phones to get online, Google and Facebook are slowly taking over the world, and people are lining up around city blocks to buy an Apple product with a five hundred dollar pricetag that they haven’t even seen in person.  One thing that’s been around since my day’s of watching the Jetson’s (though I didn’t know it) was affiliate marketing, with origins going back to 1994.  The affiliate marketing industry has found a way to sneak into every new online gadget, widget and derivative since its inception.  Though a lot can be said about the affiliate marketing industry and its effect on technology as a whole; because of its track record, ability to flex and adapt – this industry is timeless.  So here we are again, at the doorstep of another future – a mobile future.  Will affiliate marketing survive and flex to meet the changes in technology, audience, and marketing strategies?  You bet it will.

The iphone changed the landscape of mobile technology.  Most importantly, it put smartphones in vogue.  Smartphones became fashionable, they were no longer relegated to businesspeople and blackberry’s.   Regular everyday people started buying smartphones, they wanted to access the internet on the go.  Comscore claims that 30% of smartphone users accessed social networks from their phones in January of 2010, up 22.5% from ’09.  The mobile audience had grown to well over 55 million by June of 2009, and with it came the rise of mobile ad networks.  Affiliate marketers were quick to join in on the fun, harnessing admob and similar mobile networks, placing their offers in mobile applications, and overall cashing in on the mobile revolution.  Just another testament to the affiliate marketing industry and its ability to change and grow.  Though we came out of emails and static banners, we’re on iphones and blackberries.

Here we are again though, smartphones are here to say, and we’ve got tablets on the horizon.  Though it might still be tough to tell if the ipad will boom or bust, it’s a safe prediction that technology is on a road to mobile computing and web access.  It’s up to the affiliate marketing industry to leverage these new content distribution systems and use it to our advantage.  In an industry that seems to find itself on the forefront of every new form of media, I’m not all that concerned that affiliate marketing will continue to grow to become a dominant force in both mobile and tablet advertising.

Beyond mobile computing, the internet as we know it still remains to be one of the largest resources for research, learning, and discovery.  The only way to research, learn, and discover online is via searching – and affiliate marketing has poised itself as a factor in search marketing from the get go.  The moment Google released adsense and adwords, affiliate marketers have clamored to perfect their search strategies and techniques.  Search isn’t going anywhere, It’s just growing (real-time search anyone?)  Affiliate marketing, despite a few road bumps here and there (the dreaded “google slap”) will continue to leverage new search techniques into an effective means for promotion.

The affiliate marketing industry’s latest success is a social one.  Even though the Jetson’s never talked about “poking” anyone on facebook – social media has stormed into the digital landscape and it’s here to stay.  (I know, shocking news right?).  The affiliate marketing industry has always managed to use the best forms of methodology to penetrate any new form of online media.  Social media included.  Though it’s getting tougher for affiliate marketers to get ads on Facebook, this can only work wonders in weeding out anyone with less than moral practices and make sure compliant, competent marketers are the only ones in the space.

With all these changes occurring in both technology and the space, the competition changes.  Affiliate marketers, true to definition, are some of the smartest – most innovative entrepreneurs in the digital space.  Because of their drive, companies all over the space are raising their standards, making their guidelines more stringent, and ensuring best practices.  Advertisers are demanding more out of their affiliate program.  Networks (like BPM) are acting as watch-dog’s, dedicating compliance teams to making sure best practices are in place.   All in all, these changes are great for the industry, a survival of the fittest if you will.

No one’s driving a flying car (yet), but the future’s here.  And in the world of affiliate marketing its either change with the times, or get left behind.

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