The affiliate industry has changed significantly in the last 5 years. Wind the clock back, and the affiliate channel sat on the periphery of the traditional marketing mix – and if you worked in the channel, it’s likely that explaining what you did to friends and family was met with blank faces. But recent advancements to affiliate technology and performance has fast tracked affiliate adoption and made it an increasingly integral tool for customer acquisition and retention. 

Rakuten Advertising APAC has been a member of the IAB Australia Affiliate Working Group since 2016 and has worked with its industry peers to help educate the market on affiliate marketing, and understand how brands and publishers are utilising the channel. In 2016, the IAB Affiliate Working group released the inaugural Affiliate Marketing Handbook, incorporating results from an industry survey. The most recent, updated version (and survey results) has now been released, and the 2020 IAB Affiliate Marketing Handbook is now available for download.

Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing, or an old hand, it’s a great resource for understanding the basics of the channel, as well as the details and considerations around affiliate data, technology, tracking and privacy. The handbook also explores the future of the industry, and what opportunities there are for advertisers and marketers as the channel continues to evolve.

Some key areas that the report covers are:

Types of affiliates: From cash back and loyalty partners, to content sites, to influencers and browser extensions, there is a significant breadth of publisher partners today that allow marketers to tap into consumers at various stages of the path to purchase.

Affiliate technology & tracking: With the rising use of ad blockers, increasing levels of mobile and in-app traffic and declining reliance on cookies, there are many factors for marketers and brands to consider when setting up their affiliate tracking. The handbook outlines current solutions and best practices when implementing and updating your tracking and reporting, as well as recommendations for how affiliate marketing performance should be assessed.

Affiliate data: Performance data is crucial to tracking, measuring and optimising affiliate performance, and the detailed and granular data available via the affiliate channel is unique in that it can be used to align commissions with consumer behaviour. As affiliate innovation continues, networks and platforms are investing in tools and technology that makes it easier for advertisers and publishers to make data-backed decisions. Publisher and advertiser matchmaking, audience targeting and personalisation capabilities are now actively available and bringing efficiency and scale to the channel.

Affiliate best practices: As the channel continues to advance, affiliate best practices must be considered to safeguard the longevity of partnerships between brands and advertisers. The handbook explores best practices around communication, commissioning, assets, validations and tracking to help drive effective performance.  

Consumer data, privacy and regulation: Affiliate marketing has traditionally relied on third party cookies to track consumer activity, and significant updates to tracking prevention across multiple browsers has prompted new tracking methods. At the same time, affiliate marketing is not immune to consumer data and privacy regulations that are being implemented globally. The handbook addresses key information on how these updates relate to affiliate marketing, and what considerations brands and marketers need to make in light of increased regulation.

The future of the industry: Where to from here? The affiliate space continues to mature, and the handbook looks at how further innovation, automation and tracking advancements will propel the channel and industry forward.

For more information, and to access the full report, please download the IAB Australia Affiliate Marketing Handbook today, and reach out to your Rakuten Advertising representative with any further questions.