women shopping using voice voucher publishersThroughout 2020 publishers and brands have had to adjust to continually shifting consumer behaviours as the world moved in and out of lockdown. Brands looked to make up for lost sales due to store closures and new consumer priorities and turned to publishers for innovative ways to maintain a positive consumer experience.

Similarly, consumers began seeking inspiration for products and discovering new brands and products via new sources. They also shifted their focus to brands that showed compassion to the situation unfolding globally.

At the end of 2019, we commented that the affiliate industry was at an inflection point, ripe for change and innovation. The challenges presented this year have accelerated the industry forward, and at the forefront of all the change has been affiliate publishers. Quickly adapting promotional calendars and opportunities to help brands and consumers connect and providing innovative new ways to create positive experiences to replace those missing from visiting the high street.

As we move into 2021, publishers will continue to drive innovation forward through the way consumers engage with brands and the experiences created. Here we look at the innovative publisher models we’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2021:

Concierge Publishers

Concierge publishers help fulfil orders on behalf of their customers, particularly if the retailer is based overseas, by providing localised product information, payment options, customer service and return assistance. This model is particularly popular in China and Korea where local payment methods such as Alipay and Naver Pay are preferred but not always offered on international sites.

As 66% of consumers across Asia-Pacific having made an online purchase from an international retailer this year, affiliate marketers can consider leveraging concierge publishers to expand into new markets in 2021. Our publisher partners such as Korea’s leading luxury shopping platform, CATCH Fashion, can help advertisers place their products in front of Korean consumers. CATCH helps retailers translate product feeds and order updates, and also offers local payment methods. With no start-up integration fee, international retailers can easily partner with CATCH without upfront investment in a low-risk environment.


Sustainability is an issue that is becoming more important than ever for consumers, especially in Asia-Pacific. 77% of Australian households are concerned about environmental issues and recycling has become the norm in this part of the world.

Fortunately for affiliate marketers, there are publishers already focused on sustainability efforts and aligning consumer shopping experiences with providing a better future. Thriving Planet by Avid Collective is a great example of this. The content site delivers practical tips on how to help the environment and inspires Australians to make changes towards a sustainable future.

Sustainability isn’t only focused on environmental efforts. It’s also about human health and well-being – something that has been a significant theme throughout 2020. Consumers shifted their attention to brands who are seen to be doing good and showing compassion this year, and many wanted to be able to give back. ShopNate is a publisher that enables Australian consumers to make a donation to their nominated fundraiser every time they shop online through the ShopNate site. Similarly, RewardHub also allows Kiwis to feel good while they shop. The publisher pays a commission to a charity of the consumers’ choice when a purchase has been made.

In 2021, publishers that help brands align with the values of their consumers will provide new ways to engage with audiences.

Tracking Advancements

OK, so this one isn’t a new publisher model, however, tracking advancements will continue to play a large focus in the affiliate industry. Whether it be the continued drive for in-app tracking, which allows brands to quickly partner and optimise campaigns with mobile-first publishers or affiliates who offer card-linked opportunities for a seamless consumer experience regardless of where someone shops. Tracking advancements will be vital to enhancing affiliate performance in 2021.

Keen to partner with our 2021 Rising Star Publishers? Speak to your Rakuten Advertising account representative or visit rakutenadvertising.com for more information.