Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

  • The Marketer’s Perspective
  • The Customers Perspective
  • The Merchants’ Perspective
  • Why Affiliate Marketing is Dead?
  • Why Affiliate Marketing Can be Alive
Is affiliate marketing dead

Affiliate marketing has been a productive industry for years. Although the idea has existed since the 17th century, it became digitized in 1990 when the likes of Amazon and CDnow decided to bring it into existence. 

After coming into the light, affiliate marketing has changed marketing’s whole definition with its incredible potential. Thousands of affiliate marketers made billions of affiliate revenue during the good days.

These days, Affiliate marketing is being speculated as a thing of the past. Affiliate marketing is being speculated as a thing of the past. However, you can’t write off a $12 billion industry just like that.

So many people still believe in affiliate marketing. There are various arguments and explanations to support their logic, as well. You have to consider every possibility whether you are a starter or professional in affiliate marketing.

In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons to call affiliate marketing dead and why it might be alive still. And only then can we conclude whether affiliate marketing is dead or not.

So without further ado, let’s jump into our prime discussion!

What we’ll talk about:

  1. The marketer’s perspective
  2. The customers perspective
  3. The merchant’s Perspective
  4. Why affiliate marketing is dead?
  5. Why affiliate marketing can be alive

Affiliate marketing is dead: A myth or reality?

Affiliate marketing has been ever-productive for all parties. So this article includes all parties’ perspectives and reasons why affiliate marketing can be alive or dead. So let’s begin with the views from a marketer’s perspective.

1. The marketer’s perspective

Marketers are the true warriors in affiliate marketing. They find out the worthy niches, create plans to promote them, and connect buyers with the merchants. All in all, they are the most significant parts of the affiliate marketing industry.

Since their role is so significant, they deserve something out of their efforts. But changes in several aspects within the affiliate marketing industry is forcing some affiliate marketers to think of alternatives.

On the other hand, the professionals do not agree with the statement, and they have logical explanations to make every change work in their favor. They want to accept the changes and make their way regardless of how hard the road may be.

To do that, they have advised beginners to stay focused, prepare efficient plans, and execute them at the correct times.

So there are mixed opinions among the affiliate marketers about the death of affiliate marketing. However, everyone seems to agree that the strategy makes a difference.

2. The customers perspective

If marketers are the warriors of affiliate marketing, Customers put life in it. They are the reason why the whole industry became so popular.

Previously, Customers didn’t know much about affiliate marketing. They saw a piece of content or email that instructed them to get a product, mentioning that it’s good for them in some ways.

However, with changing circumstances, many affiliate marketers adopted misleading information or black-hat marketing strategies. Besides, some affiliate marketers also promoted low-quality products that weren’t of good value for the customers’ money.

As a result, a lot of consumers lost their trust in affiliate marketers. They started to believe affiliate products are trash, and it would be a waste of money to buy products from affiliate links.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody buys from affiliate links anymore. Every good affiliate marketer still has an excellent follower base. They have built trust, transparency, and are reliable for the consumers. That’s why these consumers don’t hesitate to buy things from their affiliate links.

3. The merchant’s perspective

Although there are mixed opinions about affiliate marketing among marketers and consumers, most merchants will agree that it is beneficial for them. They are probably the only side who still trusts the system and puts their money in it.

According to statistics, more than 80% of US brands invest in affiliate marketing to promote their product. The amount spent is surely astonishing! They have spent over 4 billion in affiliate marketing every year since 2015. 

The number kept rising by 10% each year since then, and by 2022, the affiliate expenditure is expected to reach 8.2 billion, according to Statista.

Next, affiliate marketing is the second most crucial revenue-generating source for publishers after Google Adsense. While Google Adsense may not produce a high revenue due to its uncertainty, affiliate marketing is entirely a performance-based opportunity for publishers. 

Fashion, sports, and healthcare industries are taking full advantage of this performance-based industry, and these brands are making respectively 19%, 15%, and 11% of their total revenue from affiliate marketing efforts.

Hence, affiliate marketing is still a merchant’s best bet for promoting or even selling their product!

4. Why affiliate marketing is dead?

Though there’s an honest opinion from the merchants, aka the product creator’s view, several facts are indicating the death of affiliate marketing. Let’s discuss those first.

Possible reasons for the downfall of affiliate marketing:

Search engines are among the critical factors of the success of an affiliate business. Since affiliate marketing depends on visibility, SEO plays a significant part in driving people to affiliate websites.

However, with changing algorithms and various other search engine modifications, many affiliate marketers are finding it hard to rank on search engines. Featured snippets, advertisements have taken away the major traffic from most search engines. The algorithm changes also affected many established affiliate marketers overnight.

Besides, there are speculations that the whole idea of SEO might become vanished as search engines may prioritize advertisements more in the future. As a result, the budget-friendly concept of affiliate marketing may also fade away. However, search engines are still SEO-friendly. All it requires is the technical skills to become visible.

Extreme competition

Time and time again, people seem to have rushed towards money. The same happened in the case of affiliate marketing. The more it is getting popular as an industry with money in it, the more people are approaching the industry with no knowledge or skills. Besides, due to various circumstances like coronavirus, the idea of earning at home is also becoming more popular.

Today, extreme competition has flooded the internet with affiliate links all over the places. Consequently, it is putting a wrong impression on the audiences about affiliate marketing. Moreover, more affiliate marketers have to compete over the same audiences.

Of course, competition improves quality, both for the audiences and for the merchants. But the ongoing competition is becoming unhealthy at times, especially for the genuine affiliate marketers. They are putting their best efforts only to get a poor return due to the increasing number of non-skilled and non-experienced affiliate marketers.

If the number keeps increasing the unhealthy way, this beautiful industry might die one day.

Change in affiliate networks

Affiliate networks were meant to be the best friends of both affiliate marketers and publishers. Since they play a significant role in the industry, each change they make will affect the overall industry.

Unfortunately, the major affiliate networks made various changes to many of their policies, such as leaving commissions rates and cookie duration to publishers. 

Larger affiliate networks such as Amazon have also slashed their commission rates by a large margin. As a consequence of that decision, many Amazon affiliate marketers have lost their interest in affiliate marketing.

Paid marketing options

Paid marketing options are getting more popular these days. Google Adsense has been there for a while now, putting the advertisements on top of all search results and taking away potential audiences from affiliate marketers.

In addition to Google Adsense, the rising popularity of mobile applications has also become another excellent paid marketing option for publishers. So affiliate marketers also have to compete against these applications now or adopt a paid marketing option.

Strict content/advertisement regulations

Affiliate marketing used to be straightforward in the past. There were no or fewer regulations for creating content or advertisements for an affiliate website. However, those days are gone now.

Both search engines and affiliate networks have put strict regulations on advertisements and content on affiliate websites. Failure to follow those restrictions may result in a search engine penalty or an affiliate account removal. However, these regulations have added some quality improvements in affiliate marketing too.

No easy earnings anymore

Overall, affiliate marketers have to work hard to generate affiliate revenue now. Compared to the old methods of affiliate marketing, the current industry requires a lot of technical knowledge and experience.

You can’t expect to put up a dozen affiliate links in the hope of making sales anymore. It requires strategy, decision making, and executions. Unless someone understands that affiliate marketing requires a lot of learning even during the implementation of plans, he/she may not succeed anymore.

People do not buy a product with a single recommendation anymore. They judge it by cross-matching and comparing the product with other suggestions. So if you don’t provide them with the correct information as well as the product, you won’t make money with affiliate marketing.

5. Why affiliate marketing can be alive

Affiliate marketing is an industry with a glorious history behind it. It has been there long before the current system was born. Although an industry can never die unless there’s an alternative with much brighter potential.

According to statistics, affiliate marketing is still a highly productive industry. So it would be unfair to use such figures of speech. Aside from the statistics, there are some probable reasons why affiliate marketing can remain alive despite the issues mentioned above. Here’s why affiliate marketing can be still up and running:

Low budget earning source

The world is going through a bad cycle during the COVID-19 situation. While 30% of people in the world are underemployed or unemployed, the COVID-19 crisis may increase the numbers even more.

Affiliate marketing can be the perfect platform to solve the unemployment issue. It doesn’t require any sort of educational qualification, and on top of that, it’s a low budget earning source. You can start your affiliate marketing business with as little as a $1000 investment. 

Affiliate marketing is for those who are devoted to learning and making technical, research-based efforts to promote quality products. Although paid marketing can replace organic marketing efforts one day, it’s still the best strategy if applied correctly.

A consistent source of earning

Once you have started gaining a good amount of organic traffic, nothing can stop you from earning. Affiliate marketing is a consistent source of income.

Let me elaborate on that. One of the critical steps of affiliate marketing is to earn visibility. Whether you are doing that through email marketing, social media marketing, or by your ranking in google, you can enable online traffic to find you. The organic traffic will keep discovering you from the internet.

As long as they keep finding you in organic ways such as your social media pages or from the Google search, you will be making sales. In other words, you will keep earning affiliate commissions.

Changes in affiliate networks, overflow of paid marketing, or other circumstances may limit your earning. But if you can figure out how to make things work in your favor, affiliate marketing can provide a consistent flow of money.

Work from home

The freedom of working from home is an apparent reason why affiliate marketing may never die. Most people would take up the chance to work from home over working from an office. Issues of working outside, such as the long travels to workstations, constant pressure from the bosses, and a tiring 9-6 hours at the office, can be eliminated by taking a single step of working from home.

While more people will realize these benefits during the COVID-19 crisis, affiliate marketing can be a perfect platform for working at your home. The industry is so open that anyone with some technical knowledge and marketing skills can become successful.

Therefore, people will keep ignoring the strict regulation or restrictions for working at home. Afterall a personal business is always better than a job.

High affiliate marketing expenditure by publishers

Affiliate Marketing Expanditure

Premium stats from

Despite some significant changes to the functionality of affiliate marketing, more than 90% of product creators, manufacturers, and brands trust affiliate marketing. According to Statista, $6.4 billion was spent in affiliate marketing in the US in 2019! 

Experts predict that the numbers will cross the $8 billion mark within two years. No wonder affiliate marketing is a $12 billion industry with unlimited potentials. 

No limit on earnings

Beginners often ask how much they might earn from affiliate marketing. In reality, there is no limit on how much you can make. 

The affiliate marketing cycle is performance-based. That means you get paid for the number of sales you make. Companies and brands pay a small portion of the purchase. The product price includes the profit and the commission that will be paid to the affiliate.

Product creators would never want to limit their sales in such a cycle. The more sales they will be making, the more profit they will be making. That’s why there’s no limit on how much an affiliate marketer can earn and probably the most important reason why affiliate marketing may never die!

Final verdict: is affiliate marketing dead?

There have been some alarming changes. Affiliate marketing isn’t a piece of cake like it used to be. With the new regulations, barriers, and competition, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly harder.

Besides, the evolution and ROI(Return Over Investment) of paid marketing have also put a question mark on the profitability of affiliate marketing. However, paid marketing is an option for all. Even affiliate marketers can take advantage of paid marketing with their technical expertise.

For now, the affiliate marketing model is not dead. The death of affiliate marketing will remain a hoax since there is no or minimal risk involved for affiliate marketers and publishers.

But one thing is clear. Affiliate marketing isn’t the thing it used to be. It is now more research-based, technical, and skill-focused. Affiliate marketing will be rewarding for those who have the willpower, knowledge, expertise, and patience for competing in a multi-billion dollar industry.

So that concludes it. We can say that affiliate marketing is not dead; it is only a bit different. The industry has experienced significant changes, but the general model hasn’t changed at all. Affiliate marketers have to adapt to the changes to make money.

Before you go, check out our blog for more affiliate marketing articles. We have a large database about affiliate marketing that will surely help you in your journey. Also, check out AzonPress if you are an Amazon affiliate marketer. It is the best Amazon affiliate marketing plugin exclusively crafted for the highest conversion rates in Amazon affiliate websites.

Nazir Himel

Nazir Himel leads the marketing team at FluentCRM. He specializes in content marketing, email marketing, and SEO. If he isn’t busy writing, you’ll probably find him exploring the city.

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