Evolution of Affiliate Marketing: A Decade of Transformation

In 2012, when we were founded, affiliate marketing was considered by many to be a side hustle for digital entrepreneurs. In the last decade, the industry has undergone a remarkable transformation and is now a multi-billion dollar world, and at Advidi we’ve been at the forefront every step of the way.

When we started in this game, it was a little rough around the edges. We imagine it was something like being one of the first prospectors to arrive during the California Gold Rush in 1848. Exciting and lucrative for those willing to work hard and chase it, but with an uncertain and ambiguous future.

Now, ten years later, both the industry and Advidi have transformed. This is demonstrated most dramatically by the fact that in 2012 the industry was worth around $4 billion, and in 2023 it’s estimated to comfortably surpass the $14 billion mark.

The rise of the internet, changing consumer behaviors and advancements in technology have reshaped affiliate marketing and Advidi, and the landscape looks a lot different now to how it did all those years ago.

The Social Media Takeover 

The rise and rise of social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok have obviously been hugely influential. We can harness the power of these platforms to engage with our target audiences directly. These platforms have also become valuable channels for promoting products and services authentically, resulting in higher trust levels among their followers and increased conversions. This approach has revolutionized how our affiliate marketing campaigns are executed.

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Mobile Became King 

The ubiquitous use of smartphones has significantly influenced affiliate marketing strategies. Mobile optimization has become a critical aspect of affiliate marketing campaigns. We recognise that simply everything we do must be optimized for mobile. That’s everything from websites to promotional materials. It must be mobile-friendly to cater to the growing number of users who browse and shop through their smartphones.

Data Analytics and Personalization

Here at Advidi, we use the most powerful and up-to-date data analytics tools that allow us to gather insights into detailed consumer behavior and preferences. This data-driven approach has enabled us to personalize our feedback on affiliate campaigns, delivering more in-depth knowledge on sources and consumer behavior.

Personalization not only enhances user experience but also boosts conversion rates. With each passing year and each new software breakthrough, we can get a deeper and clearer picture of who the target demographic is and how to reach them most effectively.

Compliance Is Critical

As affiliate marketing has grown, so has its regulation. Governments and regulatory bodies have implemented stricter rules to protect consumers and maintain transparency in the industry. This has led to more stringent compliance requirements for affiliate marketers.

For example, that extremely annoying little pop-up you get every time you enter a website for the first time asking you to accept cookies. We’re sure by now you know they are not offering you a delicious treat.

This pop-up is the website asking for your permission to track and store information about your online behaviors, which they have to do due to the EU’s GDPR, which came into effect in 2018 and is probably the most influential and famous online regulation of the last decade.

Explosion of eCommerce 

Depending on sources and methodology you use, eCommerce made up between 14% and 20% of overall retail sales in 2022. This might not seem like much, until you compare it to the modest 5.2% share online retail had in 2012. The brick-and-mortar store still reigns supreme, but every year eCommerce is taking a bigger slice of the pie.

This is a double edged sword for affiliates. More people engaging with eCommerce means more people online and more possible leads and conversions, but it also means that people are becoming more tech literate and internet savvy. People are perhaps becoming more wary of online ads and more suspicious of the traditional channels affiliates used to reach them.

A recent study across the US, UK and Australia with over 36,000 respondents indicated that only 8% of people believe what they see in advertising to be true. This same figure was a whopping 33% in 2012. I think every affiliate would kill to still live in a world where 1 in 3 people believed the ads they saw online.

Back in 2012 a well put together ad on Facebook was something that was reasonably reliable, but these days more than 70% of people in the UK are instantly skeptical of the information they receive on their social media feeds.

So as an affiliate you had to innovate. Maybe instead of Facebook ads you tried to reach your demographic through product-review-style advertorials. Maybe you shifted from Facebook to Youtube/Instagram. You have to be constantly switched on, not only to what is working now, but what will be working in 3 months time.

The shark analogy may be overused in this industry, but that’s because it’s so accurate. Like sharks, affiliates must keep moving forward in order to stay alive, exploring new waters, finding new answers.


Diversification of Revenue Streams

The affiliate marketing world is now more competitive than ever, and to keep moving forward you must adapt and diversify. In the last decade, we have diversified our revenue streams beyond traditional affiliate programs. We now explore opportunities in Dating, eCommerce, Nutra, Sweepstakes, iGaming and Antivirus affiliate programs. This diversification has allowed us to adapt to changing market trends and consumer demands.

Supercharged Workflows

Affiliate platforms that aid Advidi in staying ahead of the competition have evolved to offer more sophisticated tools and features. Platforms like Everflow and Voluum help us to make our workflows much more efficient. With better tracking, reporting, and management capabilities it is much easier to scale our affiliate marketing efforts.

There are also more resources available if you are starting off or want to grow in affiliate marketing these days. A decade ago, it was definitely not the case. As the industry has grown, educational resources and training programs have become more readily available. This has helped affiliate marketers like ours become more skilled and knowledgeable.

Affiliate marketing is no longer a niche field but a dynamic and essential component of the digital marketing ecosystem. Through the last decade we’ve seen booms and busts, not to mention a pandemic, but we, like the industry, keep moving forward and pushing boundaries.

The success and growth of the industry is mirrored in our own company. We have outgrown our old office and recently moved into a brand new one. It’s at the same address in the heart of Amsterdam and is now big enough to comfortably house all the fresh additions to the Advidi family.

Competition within the industry is now more fierce than ever, but this is something we welcome. We are still growing every day, getting smarter and working harder to ensure we stay agile and embrace whatever the future holds for this high-speed, ever-evolving industry.

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