There’s no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted many lives and businesses around the world. Physical distancing has become the new norm, dining out at a restaurant is now a luxury and suddenly, e-commerce has become an integral part of everyday life. 

While brands have been scrutinising their marketing investments more than ever, a survey conducted by Rakuten Advertising looking at March – May 2020 reveals that it’s been mostly “business as usual” for affiliate publishers. Some even saw stronger performance despite these circumstances, with 42% experiencing an increase in site traffic while the pandemic and restrictions were in full flight.  

Let’s take a look at the results of the survey.  

Site Traffic: Findings revealed that overall site traffic had either increased or remained steady across a majority of publishers surveyed, with only 24% of respondents experiencing decreased site traffic throughout March and April. Furthermore, 61% of publishers that saw increased site traffic said this happened organically. 

Social Media: 42% of publishers surveyed said referral traffic via social channels had increased, owing this to the fact that more people are spending time at home and diverting their attention online. A publisher commented, “We are finding more engagement through social media, especially from those working from home and organisations seeking advice on how to take advantage of technology to its fullest potential during this time.” 

Investments from Advertisers: Affiliate publishers are not immune to budget cuts. Results show that 53% of publishers surveyed have been impacted by retailers pulling back in investment in the affiliate channel and nearly half experienced reduced commission rates from retailers. Overall, only 21% of respondents saw no marked change in investment from advertisers. Despite the reduced investment, 58% of respondents said brands that are actively providing offers in market and promoting these via their affiliate partnerships are seeing stronger performance than before. 

Business Operations: Although a majority of publishers surveyed reported that it has been “business as usual”, this is not true for all affiliate partners. 30% of respondents have made cuts to business operation costs where possible. 24% reduced their own marketing spends and 19% resorted to make staff and salary reductions in order to stay afloat.

Innovation and Adaptation: Publishers surveyed have identified an opportunity to reimagine the way they meet consumer demands, with 27% saying they have responded to the crisis with new inventory or campaigns. 37% of respondents said that they are now providing new services and content to site visitors, while 24% of publishers have invested in different channels to meet new consumer activity. 

Although brands have reduced their marketing investments during this time, affiliate publishers have been able to adapt and drive growth for retailers through the performance model, and their ability to engage with consumers at various stages of their path to purchase,  The cost-per-sale pricing structure places retailers in a low risk environment where they are able to confidently invest and capitalise on increased consumer activity.  

If you would like to learn more about how your brand can benefit from affiliate marketing, visit rakutenadvertising.com and speak to an expert today.