Digital marketing is progressing at quite a pace, with new approaches, innovative tools and technology advancements introducing new terminology all the time. Making sense of the new opportunities is no easy task, it is difficult to know what is important and understand the value behind the hype.

We have broken down the key latest buzzwords to help you navigate the minefield that is modern affiliate marketing.

Native advertising

My favourite definition of native advertising comes from Demian Farnworth’s, Copyblogger Media’s chief copywriter, 2014 native advertising report : “Native advertising is paid content that matches a publication’s editorial standards while meeting the audience’s expectations”.

The display market has grown enormously over the past few years, but it seems that web users are getting tired of seeing ads all around their content – 16% of them use adblocking software according to research from Ebuzzing. So consumers need something new and less intrusive.

The reason for the hype around native advertising is because it does exactly what Demian Farnworth says, it meets the audiences’ expectations and the user does not feel like they are being sold something. A good piece of native advertising should feel like it is a part of the content itself, and should build brand awareness through interactions such as views, shares, likes, etc. Native ads themselves can either be written up by the advertiser or publisher – publishers like the Onion write a lot of their own content for example – but the font, messaging and general feel of the ad should not be disjointed. It is also important to make it clear to the consumer that the piece of content is paid for – IAB guidelines below:

So what does a good piece of native advertising actually look like? Well, view the below example from IBM on

This native ad ticks all the boxes:

  • It is relevant to the content.
  • There is no clear call to action.
  • The look and feel of the ad is not disjointed.
  • It is clear to the consumer that the content is paid for i.e. ‘sponsored content’.


Omnichannel is probably the biggest buzzword going at the moment, but it does have clear distinction within our industry. Omnichannel is completely different to multichannel, it is actually an evolution of the multichannel approach.

Multichannel was born out of businesses using every channel available to them –social, PPC, SEO, print, stores, display, call centre, affiliate, email – to reach an audience and drive an interaction. The issue with the multichannel approach is that it is disjointed, as every channel is acting on its own accord to hit their objectives. This lack of cohesion can actually have a negative impact on your brand.

The beauty of omnichannel is that it addresses this issue, it focuses on providing the same brand experience to every potential customer, no matter what channel they come through. A simple illustration of this is below:

So in this example you have three channels – mobile, local and social – driving sales for one business. In the multichannel example, each of the 3 channels are driving a disjointed experience (highlighted by the black circles), so a customer coming through each of those channels in being treated differently. In the omnichannel approach you can see that there is a unified strategy and each customer coming through, regardless of the channel, is receiving the same experience.


Programmatic, and programmatic buying, is not anything particularly new in the industry, but it has been all the talk in 2014. It is all built on algorithms and intelligent systems which are always learning, based on real-time data, and optimising. Retargeters – such as Criteo, Struq, etc – have built their businesses around this programmatic approach, by understanding the value of every single web user and serving them an ad based on their propensity to perform an action e.g. a click with a CPC retargeter or a sale with a CPA retargeter. If the algorithm says that the consumer is not going to interact, then why target that consumer with an ad?

Algorithms themselves are not anything new either; think about industries such as the financial sector and the gambling sector for instance. They are industries which have been built purely on risk vs reward, and to understand the true value of the risk and the reward you need to compound a huge amount of variables – too many variables for the human brain to handle in fact. That’s why you need algorithms!

Programmatic facilitates real time trading, so being able to target a specific consumer within milliseconds of them hitting a certain page on a certain site, through real time bidding (RTB) exchanges. According to IAB research, programmatic already accounts for 28% (£500m) of display buying and is forecasted to account for 75% of the display industry by 2017.

Generation Z

A recent mashable article kicks off by saying ‘Millennials are so last year’, so what is this new consumer type that brands really need to understand?

Well it is the social media loving generation Z of course! But generation Z are not just your standard Facebook and Twitter users, they lean more towards modern social platforms such as Snapchat where information can be gathered quickly. In terms of their make-up, generation Z are currently classed as anyone born in the mid-nineties through to the noughties (age 19 and under). But in terms of their value, there seems to be a huge amount there for advertisers – estimated at $44bn a year in the US:

The other main traits of generation Z are as follows:

  • They are do-gooders – 60% of them want to make a difference in the world.
  • Attention span of eight seconds i.e. they like to get information quickly.
  • Use five screens for multitasking.
  • Prefer visuals to text.

In summary

Hopefully this overview of the newest buzzwords in affiliate marketing is useful. As with any industry that is moving, developing and growing, staying on top of what is new is hard enough. Understanding why they are important and how you can get the best value from new approaches is what will lead to success.