It’s Time to Debunk the Affiliate Marketing Misconceptions | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

It’s Time to Debunk the Affiliate Marketing Misconceptions

By Hector Pantazopoulos

What connotation does "affiliate marketing" carry for you?

The popularity of this marketing format is on the rise again. In fact, recent data suggests that as many as 88 percent of consumers have been inspired to buy a product based upon an influencer recommendation. However, many marketers face trepidation when considering if adopting affiliate marketing is right for their brand.

To put it simply, affiliate marketing has a bad reputation. In the ever-changing marketing industry, several popular solutions have come and gone. As a once-shiny new avenue to increased conversions, this format evolved alongside the internet at large. Unfortunately, this preliminary iteration of affiliate marketing is often the one that sticks in marketers' minds.

Affiliate marketing has evolved massively since its early inception, much like online advertising on the open web. Thanks to verification companies and advances in technology, gone are the days of widespread bad actors and unclear attribution models. Today's affiliate marketing solutions are a sleek, innovative, and cost-effective way to promote your brand.

Lack of Control

Marketers love control — and in the early days of affiliate marketing, that was not always something that could be guaranteed. Forging new affiliate partnerships ran the risk of losing control of your brand image. Furthermore, many could not be certain which of their affiliates were driving actual conversions, and which may be hijacking their system. Because of this rampant uncertainty, many marketers abandoned their affiliate marketing attempts.

However, affiliate marketing has evolved in their absence, becoming a more streamlined, accessible, and efficient process overall. In the meantime, walled garden solutions have grown oversaturated, not to mention massively overpriced — particularly for smaller D2C brands.

Affiliate marketing on the open web, meanwhile, can provide a targeted and cost-effective way to promote your business and find new sources of online traffic. In examining these affiliate marketing solutions, a bit of education goes a long way.

Lack of Measurement

Affiliate marketing has streamlined itself into an efficient and effective process. Metrics are as standard in affiliate marketing as they are in tracking any digital advertising performance. Many marketers mistakenly assume that they might not be able to track conversion rates for affiliate marketing as efficiently or as accurately as a walled garden solution.

However, today's affiliate marketing solutions actually have the ability to precisely monitor their traffic and to provide constraints for marketing teams to input, ensuring that important elements of their campaign such as budget and brand image are under control and accurately measured.

Fears of Fraud

Of course, regarding affiliate marketing, many marketers fear fraud. At the outset of digital marketing, unscrupulous individuals could refresh pages, or use software to spam affiliate links to drive fake sales. This fear led to the creation of a subset of the fraud prevention industry centered around protecting marketer's media-spend.

There is more content on the internet than ever before, but we now have an entire sector of verification companies that have made the internet a safer place. However, these fraud-prevention solutions are often cost-prohibitive to smaller businesses. Because of this, along with the other preconceived notions about affiliate marketing, smaller brands may still shy away from affiliate marketing. However, today's internet and the open web is more structured than ever.

Many affiliate marketing platforms have fraud prevention tactics built into their site experience, to ensure that marketers are reaching genuine audiences through their affiliates. With verified affiliates, marketers can be confident that the traffic is coming from actual humans, and they may even reach a unique audience that they couldn't reach through the big online platforms.

Redefining Affiliate Marketing

While affiliate marketing may have a lingering and misdirected negative reputation, it can provide a valuable opportunity for smaller businesses to gain an edge in the overcrowded and expensive online marketplace. With its ability to track conversions in real time and give advertisers access to campaign constraints, these solutions are a refined and budget-friendly way to maintain consumer outreach, ultimately driving increased conversions.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Hector Pantazopoulos is the co-founder and CRO of SourceKnowledge.