In the last two years, the number of affiliate partnerships with influencers has soared. Within CJ Affiliate’s network, advertiser annual revenue from relationships with influencers and content publishers has had 30% year-over-year growth and influencers’ earnings from affiliate relationships has grown 43% in the last year.

Influencer marketing is undoubtedly one of the biggest trends in affiliate marketing in 2018. With their established social media followings on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, influencers provide marketers with an opportunity to reach niche audiences and build relevance at scale. As the practice grows and evolves rapidly, marketers need to do their research and stay on top of new developments in order to effectively tap into influencer marketing.

There are three key areas in which influencer marketing’s relationship with affiliate will evolve in the next 12 months.

Sponsored influencer placements will continue to be prominent

For each influencer, there are hundreds of brands vying for their attention and partnership. As long as brands are willing to put up cash for sponsored content placements, they’ll move up to the front of the line and paid influencer content will continue to be popular. That’s not to say brands with smaller budgets can’t get involved; there are ways to structure partnerships that can benefit both parties and create efficiency. For example, advertisers can request a package of multiple placements at a better rate for each placement. When working with influencers who are affiliate-savvy and can build revenue, another approach is to negotiate a lower rate with a higher per sale commission. It won’t work for everyone, but it can be a useful tool for certain partners.

Brands will take an omni-channel approach to influencers.

In the past, influencer marketing has primarily been viewed as a PR or social media channel, but that’s evolving. SEO and affiliate can bring additional value to influencer partnerships that a brand may not look at on its own. Instead of working in siloes, the brand’s entire marketing team should come together for a more holistic approach to influencers. With multiple marketing disciplines aligned around one budget and strategy, brands can make optimizations in their influencer relationships, ultimately yielding a higher overall ROI for the company. My first question for brands interested in engaging influencers is around whether their teams are already doing anything in that realm. If they are, it makes sense to look at their current stable of influencer relationships and develop an ongoing omni-channel program around that.

Social media will remain volatile

Recent changes in social platform algorithms will have a profound effect on the visibility of influencer content. Facebook’s new algorithm, which prioritizes content from friends and family in the news feed, will significantly impact who and how many users see brand and influencer content. For brands, this means you need to consider whether it makes sense to include influencers in your paid social strategy and be subject to the whims of the algorithm, or if it’s best to simply amplify an influencer’s social efforts. Adding a little bit of budget to boost an influencer’s post can go a long way in gaining more visibility, building engagement and driving acquisition.

Influencer marketing will continue to grow as affiliate brings much-needed measurement and insights to programs. Brands need to identify their priorities, messages and metrics in order to optimize in this channel. Here are questions to consider in order to do so:

Sponsored content: What are the current goals of sponsored placements and how could those goals be expanded? What additional metrics could provide more insight into these placements? Would working through different channels or using different tools or platforms provide more data?

Omni-channel approach: How can teams share knowledge to identify an omnichannel approach and classify each partner’s value regardless of channel? How can teams use existing resources in different channels?

Social media: Which platforms are the most important to the brand and which are the least important? Where are internal social media accounts most (and least) effective and how can influencer social accounts amplify them?