Throughout 2019, one of the topics most often spoken about was the changing tides of consumer experiences and expectations. As an industry, we know that consumers want seamless experiences, regardless of where they shop. For brands, this means bridging the gap between online, mobile and offline sales. It also means investing in innovative technologies that not only reach and engage consumers but do so in a fun and exciting way.
For many brands, this can be a daunting and costly challenge to tackle. Unless of course, they do so using the affiliate channel.
The affiliate marketing channel is at an inflection point, ripe for change and innovation. And while players (like Rakuten Marketing) are transforming the traditional notion of affiliate with automation and advancement in tools for advertisers and publishers alike, innovative publishers are enhancing the affiliate channel and making it possible for brands to meet changing consumer expectations.
As 2019 comes to an end, we look forward to next year and the publisher models to keep an eye on in 2020.
Mobile – Image and Augmented reality
It’s the year of the mobile. Mobile sales are on the rise. Mobile is set to overtake desktop as the device of choice.
In the world of advertising and marketing, it’s been the year of mobile for the past five years. The power of the device as a tool for consumers hasn’t gone unnoticed, and in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, it has in fact overtaken desktop as the most popular device. The new challenge for brands is finding ways to reach new consumers and keep engaging existing shoppers.
Visual search is on the rise, and according to AI-powered visual search provider ViSenze, 62% of shoppers aged 18 – 34 seek the ability to search using images. The integration of visual shopping lens into smartphones and apps like GOXIP known as “shazam for clothes” bring this technology to both brands and the everyday consumer.
This technology allows brands to create unique experiences with shoppers. An exciting way for consumers to find new products and discover new brands. And for brands, this is accessible via a standard affiliate relationship, no technical integration necessary.
O2O – Truly connected consumer experience
Loyalty and reward platforms continue to experience significant growth as more consumers cotton on to the idea of being rewarded for the purchases they make. But as the space continues to gain momentum with people shopping online, the expectation of the consumer increases and the demand for rewards regardless of where a person shop grows.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed from those operating in the loyalty and rewards space and in 2019, we saw a rise in the number of publishers offering online-to-offline (O2O) solutions. Andrew Banks from Plastiq.it described the space as “a way for progressive merchants to connect with consumers driving the new mobile economy”. And that is precisely what O2O does.
O2O solutions create a frictionless experience for consumers. Rewards are received regardless of if they shop in-store, or via desktop or mobile. Some players are even going as far as to offer geo-location technologies that serve real-time offers to consumers when they’re shopping in-store.
True Influencers – Bloggers, Editors, Content in a post #ad era and growing content commerce
As the affiliate channel shifts, so to do the publishers dominating the industry. New players are entering the market and thanks to changes in tracking technologies that now enable brands to employ multi-touch commissioning strategies, more content players are emerging.
There has been an emergence of content, commerce and deal personalisation coming from some of the world’s biggest publishers. Elle Korea, Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, Hypebeast, Pedestrian Group and News Corp are just a few of the content powerhouses now leveraging the affiliate channel.
Whether it be holiday gift guides or the top 10 books to read over summer, as the landscape surrounding ad sales evolve, publishers have recognised the importance and benefits of monetising using affiliate links. The content is curated in a way that feels organic to the site; is natural to the author; and relevant to the audience.
Personalised Offers – Automation, Audience targeting and innovation from the publisher side
Traditionally the affiliate challenge hasn’t allowed for audience targeting or personalisation, this is something that is also changing within the industry.
Using Rakuten Marketing’s Consumer Graph technology, publishers can access a suite of APIs that provide unique insights from consumer browsing and shopping data. This then allows publishers to make smarter content-serving decisions in real-time and create more personalised experiences that target shoppers based on their purchase history.
AI-powered coupon technology publisher RevLifter is an excellent example of a publisher that is optimising consumer graph technology to target consumers. RevLifter allows brands to offer personalised incentives to consumers that are both timely and relevant.
It’s evident that innovation in the affiliate channel is ripe, and the industry is evolving to help brands and publishers meet ever-changing consumers expectations. For brands, utilising the affiliate marketing channel, partnering with a broad variety of publishers allows them to efficiently overcome challenges that shifting consumers expectations may present.
Keen to partner with the rising stars of 2020? Visit rakutenmarketing.com and speak to an expert today.