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:

Voice Vouchers

Voice assistants have been on the rise for some time, with home assistances such as Alexa or Google Home growing in popularity. According to eMarketer, the pandemic accelerated the uptake of home-based, voice-controlled devices so much, that in the US, the company adjusted their forecast for voice assistants to accommodate the growth.

Optimising the growth of voice assistants is technology publisher Uniqodo. Uniqodo integrates with voice assistance like Alexa or Google to provide voucher codes for consumers at the time of purchase. To enable this technology, the consumer simply asks for a ‘voucher for x brand’, and the voice assistant will read out a voucher code for the shopper to use at checkout.

Sustainability

Sustainability is an issue that is becoming more important than ever for consumers. 70% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, and 40% of UK consumers are more concerned about environmental issues in a post-COVID19 world.

Fortunately for affiliate marketers, there are publishers already focused on sustainability efforts and aligning consumer shopping experiences with providing a better future. Bravo Savings Group is an excellent example of this. In 2019 they launched their Green Friday initiative in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, working directly with villages and communities impoverished as a result of deforestation and destruction to employ local workers and provide job opportunities. The team pledged to plant a tree for every transaction referred via their network with participating merchants between Black Friday and Christmas Day. The campaign was so successful that over 100,000 trees were planted, and the campaign is successfully running in 2020.

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. Blue Light Card group is an example of a publisher who allowed brands to reach key workers and provide bespoke discounts as a way to say thank you and give back.

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 Publishers? Speak to your Rakuten Advertising account representative or visit rakutenadvertising.com for more information.