Affiliation is growing fast in the United States, England... France is lagging behind, but it's THE trend, with sales growth expected to reach +80% by 2027 (and already +240% since 2014).
The media business model used to rely exclusively on advertising, both display (banners) and OPS (brand publishing, SEO infiltration...). Content creators' revenues are now tending towards a progressive balance between advertising and affiliation.
Brands are increasingly attracted to affiliate marketing because, with this model, they pay according to the sales generated by the traffic they bring in, rather than on an indiscriminate basis. It's a counter-measure to years of sometimes borderline practices by broadcasters, with campaigns that were broadcast but hidden, low-quality traffic buying, robots bought to click and fudge the figures, and so on. These practices are no longer possible with affiliation. As a result, priority will be given to media that are reliable, prescriptive, useful to their readers and generate exclusive content.
Affiliation is a form of partnership between an advertiser and an affiliate, involving the association of a product or service mentioned in a piece of content with the platform(s) from which it can be obtained. It's a direct link to the sellers, rather than referring Internet users to Google (which earns money on it, by the way), and by this means a means of remuneration via the attribution of a commission based on the price spent.
Although this practice first emerged on websites, it has now spread to all media, from portals to blogs, video platforms and social networks. Whether you're a professional or an amateur, affiliation is easy to set up. Content producers, whether they create humorous or didactic videos, are able to generate engagement within their community thanks to a simple text link to the advertiser's site. In return, they are remunerated according to the sales generated by their contribution.
Today, it's interesting to note that 80% of brands have an affiliate program, testifying to the effectiveness of this method for generating qualified traffic and sales.
Over the past decade, affiliation has established itself as an essential acquisition lever on the web. As far back as 2010, Alain Weil, then head of 01net and BFMTV, had already understood the potential of affiliation, declaring:"Audience monetization now goes through affiliation"(source). Since then, the cards of online monetization have been redistributed, gradually abandoning display-only monetization in favor of content-to-commerce. Advertisers have been proactive in supporting the various content producers, while the media have been able to adapt to this new situation. Today, whether it's merchants or affiliates, no one is ignoring this form of monetization.
💡 Content-to-commerce involves creating content that meets the needs of web users when they're in the research phase before making a purchase. This approach is highly effective in capturing users' attention at the right moment and getting them to make a purchase. The best content-to-commerce publishers have made this business model their main source of revenue.
In 2014, the affiliation market represented 5 billion euros(source). By the end of 2022, analysts predicted that this market would reach 12 billion euros(source), representing growth of 240%. These figures testify to the growth potential of affiliation.
CPA-France, the professional organization for digital marketing players, regularly publishes barometers with KPIs by category for France.
In 2022, the average shopping basket is worth €93.53, and merchants earn an average of €17.48 for every euro invested. For further details, please refer to the summary list below:
(Themes 👉 Earnings per €1 invested / Average basket / Conversion rate)
Ready to wear 👉 12,66€ / 56,00€ / 2,40%
Shoes, bags and accessories 👉 14,32€ / 66,00€ / 0,49%
Sports equipment 👉 16,43€ / 81,00€ / 2,78%
Beauty, hygiene 👉 15,75€ / 74,00€ / 1,80%
Health 👉 25,40€ / 135,00€ / 0,89%
Travel 👉 16,75€ / 124,00€ / 1,43%
Home, garden 👉 22,69€ / 133,00€ / 1,96%
Domestic appliances 👉 23,06€ / 122,00€ / 1,68%
High-tech 👉 4,02€ / 68,00€ / 1,61%
Telecoms 👉 23,16€ / 82,00€ / 1,77%
Games, toys 👉 19,65€ / 63,00€ / 1,66%
Cultural products 👉 19,73€ / 87,00€ / 2,49%
Leisure 👉 20,97€ / 74,00€ / 3,14%
Flowers, gifts 👉 13,41€ / 109,00€ / 0,53%
Drive alimentation 👉 14,18€ / 129,00€ / 2,01%
The outlook for affiliate marketing is promising. According to estimates, the market will continue to grow, from 15 to 27 billion euros between 2021 and 2027(source). Much of this growth will be driven by social networks.
Over the past ten years, the diversification of social networks has opened up new areas for affiliate marketing, accompanied by the increasing professionalization of content producers and the industrialization of affiliate marketing through specialized agencies.
In 2023, social network traffic figures were staggering(source).
(Social network 👉 Monthly users / Age group / Distribution ♀︎-♂︎ / Daily use)
Facebook 👉 2,91 billion / 25-34 years / 44 % ♀︎-56 % ♂︎ / 30 min
Instagram 👉 2 billion / 18-24 years / 48 % ♀︎ - 52 % ♂︎ / 30 min
Tiktok 👉 834 million / 18-24 years / 54 % ♀︎ - 46 % ♂︎ / 45 min
Twitter 👉 238 million / 18-29 years / 34 % ♀︎ - 62 % ♂︎ / 35 min
Linkedin 👉 930 million / 30-39 ans / 43 % ♀︎ - 57 % ♂︎ / NC
Pinterest 👉 450 millions / 25-34 ans / 76 % ♀︎ - 17% ♂︎ / 14 min
Snapchat 👉 750 millions / 18-24 ans / 51 % ♀︎ - 48 % ♂︎ / 30 min
Youtube 👉 2 billion / 15-35 ans / 51 % ♀︎ - 48% ♂︎ / 45 min
On a more functional and technical level, trackers are evolving. Various international regulations and the massive use of privacy protection tools, such as advertising blockers integrated directly into browsers, are forcing the industry to review its methods. Today, sales tracking relies essentially on cookies, but the aim is to do without these tools, notably by developing cookie-free tracking methods, known as "cookieless". Server-to-server (S2S) technologies have thus been developed, enabling anonymous tracking of Internet users for sales attribution purposes.
The affiliate marketing market has come a long way over the past decade, and has now reached a certain level of maturity. Most merchants have understood the potential of this acquisition channel, which continues to grow every year. Advertisers' efforts to educate content producers have paid off. With a well-developed and solid ecosystem, it would be a shame to deliberately ignore affiliate marketing and miss out on an attractive return on investment.