In the age of content overload, product and service providers are finding it extremely challenging to cut through the noise and reach potential customers, which explains the growing importance and popularity of third-party promoters. In 2010, US brands spent $1.6 billion on affiliate marketing, and the amount is projected to reach $8.2 billion in 2022, notes veteran entrepreneur Ardeshir Akhavan. “Since their income depends on commissions earned from merchants, affiliate marketers are constantly exploring solutions to maximize performance in an environment characterized by banner blindness, ad fatigue, and consumer aversion to aggressive advertising. Thanks to improvements in technology and data analytics, these third-party agents are benefiting from a relatively new digital format that some view as the savior of the industry – native advertising (NA). For affiliate markets, native ads have emerged as a top choice when it comes to driving user engagement and boosting retention rates,” the digital marketing expert adds.
As defined by the Native Advertising Institute, “NA is paid advertising where the ad matches the form, feel, and function of the content of the media on which it appears.” The key factor behind the success of NA is the fact that viewers do not feel as if they are looking at regular ads, which has made this format one of the most non-disruptive and thus efficient ways to attract customers and generate new sales, says Ardeshir Akhavan. NA has been found to drive revenues for both brands and advertisers, which explains its surge in popularity and the growing focus of affiliate marketers on the format. Using data from forecasts by BI Intelligence, IAB, and eMarketer, the Global Marketing Alliance estimates that worldwide native ads spending will rise by 213% between 2016 and 2020, reaching $85.5 billion a year and representing 30% of the total investment in advertising.
In recent years, affiliate marketers have also taken note of the steady shift to mobile and have started to adapt their strategies accordingly. While engaging and retaining consumers is of primary importance, it is also critical to prioritize the channels and platforms they favor, as Ardeshir Akhavan points out. In one of its studies, leading market intelligence provider IHS forecasts that mobile will account for 75.9% of total online display advertising revenue by 2020. Notably, native ads will be responsible for 63.2% of the aggregate haul, generating $53.4 billion of the estimated $84.5 billion. In summary, NA is taking centerstage for affiliate marketers because it allows them to address issues such as banner blindness, user churn, weak engagement, and low click-through rates. “Native ads let you access your target audience on numerous websites and ‘find’ the users that can’t be reached via Facebook or other means of advertising,” AdPlexity’s Alex Omelianovych told Mobidea during a discussion of the latest trends in affiliate marketing.
A self-described full-time entrepreneur, Ardeshir Akhavan has amassed close to 20 years of experience in the digital marketing field. Over his long and distinguished career, the marketing industry veteran has helped clients drive sales and increase their return on investment through the implementation of integrated technologies that optimize online traffic and funnel conversion, streamline the user experience, and improve lead generation. A prominent figure in the affiliate marketing space, Ardeshir Akhavan also provides design, testing, and analytics services to e-commerce operations and social media platforms.