Affiliate marketing is now widely recognized in the field of online marketing, and although it seems unavoidable, this hasn't always been the case. On closer inspection, the industry has been around for a long time. The business of bringing in business goes back centuries, and the web has naturally adopted and adapted this method.
Some media, such as 01net, developed affiliated content as early as the mid-2000s, with hardware, software and poker tests, at a time when the French Online Gaming Regulatory Authority did not exist and advertisers in France only had this acquisition channel.
Sites specializing in new technologies, on the other hand, have always carried out product tests to help web users make purchasing decisions. Their need has been accentuated by the gradual shift of purchases to online sites, where there is no longer a "physical" salesperson to advise the customer. In these cases, the medium acts as a trusted third party to provide advice.
In the 2010s, the diversification of product testing (and online purchasing of goods) gradually laid the foundations for content-to-commerce as we know it today.
Indeed, if you can create high-tech hardware tests and monetize them, why not test other types of objects? Some everyday products aren't as compelling a purchase as smartphones or computers, but they still require some thought on the part of the consumer, who will seek out information online before making a purchasing decision.
This observation has led the industry to develop affiliate content for all product categories, in various forms. Here's a comprehensive overview of existing affiliate methods and strategies, with a presentation of the 10 most important players in the French affiliate market.
Players in the high-tech sector were pioneers in the field of affiliation, and today Les Numériques is positioned as the leader in high-tech product testing. The site has gradually expanded its range of tests to include consumer products such as cars, pancake makers and bike locks. Each product is evaluated by a specialist, who analyzes its strengths and weaknesses. It is tested under real-life conditions and compared with any competitors. A score is then assigned to the product.
In this way, Les Numériques content helps Internet users to determine whether the product corresponds to their needs, facilitating their purchasing decision.
Launched in 2011, the site stands out for its versatility, covering various product sectors from appliances to washing-up liquid to clothing. Building on its success, it was acquired in 2016 by The New York Times. Wirecutter specializes in product comparisons, providing detailed results for each category and offering an option to suit every budget: the best choice, the second best, the one offering the best value for money, and even a top-of-the-range product (the luxury solution). The site also adapts its evaluation criteria to the products tested. For example, when testing frozen pepperoni pizzas, the crispness, thickness of the dough and quantity of topping are all evaluated!
At Le Monde, the strategy has evolved over time. It began with a partner in content-to-commerce, the US-based Wirecutter. Le Monde translated and adapted the product tests into English for its site, maintaining the modus operandi described above: comprehensive articles featuring numerous tested products, photos and a wide variety of product tests. Since 2021, Le Monde has been creating its own guides.
Under the name Guide-Shopping, Le Parisien has created a section dedicated to affiliation. This Presse Quotidienne Régionale (PQR) site has adopted a special approach. The site offers both comparisons and bargains. The group, skilfully blending these two types of content, explores pure content-to-commerce and takes advantage of good deals to position itself at key sales moments, thus ensuring a constant volume of publications.
Marmiton is a benchmark cooking site that skilfully exploits its legitimacy to create relevant content. The site takes a serious approach to gastronomy-related product testing. For example, Marmiton is able to present comparisons of coffee makers as well as consumables. Price comparison tables enable Internet users to choose directly from the merchants on offer.
Dealabs is a success story that stands out in its field. There are no product comparisons or tests here: it's all about the price, the deal! An advantageous price, often overlooked, is highlighted by a user. Users vote to "Burner" or "Freeze" a deal. Comments allow the community to ask questions or express their opinion of the product (or seller).
This model, simple as it is, and based on community contributions, generates a lot of traffic and sales on the various partner sites.
Although they belong to a slightly different category, these players nevertheless produce a great deal of content. Global Savings Group (GSG) and Savings United are two companies that work on a white label basis with numerous media sites. Their strategy is to create a network of internal links with sites that are well indexed in the search engines, in order to benefit from their PageRank and move up the search results.
Ouest-France, Le Monde and Le Figaro all offer coupons. For each brand on which they wish to position themselves, a wealth of content is created around the brand, its history, its founders, the evolution of the company, and so on.
💡 White label: this is an agreement between a company with specific know-how (e-commerce, SEO) and a brand that lends it its image and traffic. For example, Libération's T-shirt store is hosted on a sub-domain of myspreadshop.fr.
As its name suggests, Moneyvox is all about money. The site offers a wide range of tools for investment-related topics in the broadest sense (investments, banking, insurance). Coming from a banking background, the creators launched savings calculation tools in the early 2000s, and have since become lead specialists. Bought out by the MeilleurTaux group, the site is now a benchmark in its sector.
A women's pure player that relies on user-generated content. Testers try out products and give them ratings. The site editor cleverly exploits user-generated content to offer useful information to other users. A price comparator complements the reviews posted on the product pages, generating sales with partners.
Previously mentioned as a couponer, GSG leverages its SEO expertise to develop product comparisons. Again on a white label basis, they have teamed up with BFMTV, Ouest-France, Futura-Sciences... The strategy applied is unique in that the comparisons only link to products available on Amazon. The aim is to generate a large number of clicks to Amazon to benefit from its power in terms of conversion.
This top 10 list gives you a good idea of the variety of affiliate marketing strategies available. These companies have industrialized this field in different ways: by recruiting to develop more content, by delegating their PageRank to external companies, or by translating existing tests. All these strategies have one thing in common: they generate a large number of sales for their partners.