Content publishers are a highly sought after commodity, rated the second most valuable type of affiliate in this year’s IAB UK Affiliate and Partnerships Buyers’ Survey.

They are also the most prevalent – by far, around 60% of new publishers joining Awin’s affiliate network fall into the ‘content’ classification. Although this seems like a recipe for success, the reality can be a little different. Turning a fledgling publisher account into a successful, money making operation requires hard work and time; content creation, user acquisition, marketing, not to mention the technical preparation and understanding required to create trackable links and find suitable partners and products to promote. For a typical content publisher who lacks a technical background, the latter usually presents the biggest hurdle.

In a previous age of affiliate marketing this wasn’t too much of a problem. The links used by Awin, like other networks, have a logical structure, once understood, creation is fairly straightforward.

Making affiliate marketing easier is a mantra many in the industry have pursued to make the channel as accessible to as wide an audience as possible. In time Awin created additional link-generating tools to automate the process. 

While this type of linking is still valid, the introduction of Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in 2017 set the industry on a new course regarding user privacy and tracking techniques. 

With Chrome and Firefox following suit and the rise of privacy-centric browsers like Brave, the affiliate industry saw a technological boom as service providers had no choice but to adapt to the tracking changes or die. Previously, the last significant tracking milestone was cross-device tracking, in 2014. This in turn boosted those affiliates with large mobile-first audiences, typically social media and content affiliates.

The future?

However, in just the last few years tracking technologies have been continuously and more frequently updating and evolving to stay viable in this developing environment.

The future of affiliate tracking technology is being secured through plug and play solutions that remove the reliance on cookies, or more complex server to server (API) tracking which bypasses browser technology entirely. 

Naturally, these advancements require a deeper integration with publishers; Awin’s latest tracking, for example, is only available through our master tag solution which requires JavaScript to be added to a website’s template files. There are obvious benefits from these deeper, more complex integrations however, as not only do they track more but they decrease page load times for consumers, which in turn boosts conversions.

The Publisher MasterTag is not just a conduit for tracking, however, but enables the affiliate channel to rethink the scope of affiliate partners and solutions available to them.

The growing ecosystem of tech partners and solutions is morphing the affiliate channel into its next phase of development. 

Rather than the publisher to network to advertiser relationship flow, a new layer of technology solutions is transforming how affiliate marketing is positioned beyond last click cost per acquisition. Think technology that increases basket revenue or recommends products, empowering publishers and advertisers alike to optimise their traffic and customer journeys.

Aside from third-party companies, new network tech can be switched on and plugged in such as disclosure tools and automatic link generators. 

As we move to this greater scope for tracking, we find ourselves needing to ensure affiliates are able to navigate the technical waters to take advantage of all the available solutions. 

If you want to know more about these types of solutions, we’re launching three tutorial websites specifically focused on publishers using the Squarespace, Wix and WordPress platforms, with instructional webinars this month.