Anna Gidirim, the Head of Admitad Partner Network, discusses the affiliate marketing trends she expects to see progressing, as well as SMB opportunities and efficient cross-cultural management.

It’s clear to see we’re facing challenging times- what do you think the affiliate marketing industry can expect from the end of 2022 going into 2023?

Right now, every business head can mention something like “high-level fortune telling using coffee grounds” as a professional skill on their CV. We can only expect marketing budgets to be allocated more wisely and meticulously!

I’m sure brands will start calculating their marketing costs more precisely, and finding out exactly what their ROI is won’t be done for fun anymore: the numbers speak for themselves even louder in times of economic instability!

I don’t think there will be any high-risk campaigns launched in the future. Having said that, I strongly believe affiliate marketing will attract more attention from brands again – it’s hardly possible to overpay while working on a CPA model.

The partner and affiliate marketing industries have been developing for a couple decades already, and watching them grow and open to new business segments is riveting. Every year it adds more value for advertisers and publishers: the ever-developing trend of “one-window access to services” doesn’t spoil. Being able to manage all your campaigns from one account – even the ones run in different affiliate networks – is no longer a practical necessity, but a privilege.

Why is affiliate marketing a good choice for all businesses of all different sizes and scales, including SMEs?

The current trend for lowering the threshold for different-sized businesses, including SMB (small and medium businesses), is more relevant today than ever before: equal opportunities for all ambitious companies! Affiliate networks offer special financial conditions for publishers and provide advertisers with agency-type services covering all their possible needs via the affiliate channel. 

For small and medium businesses, working with affiliate networks is, first of all, about saving money – it’s unbearably expensive for such companies to launch their own partner networks, even if they outsource the tracking services. It might not be clear at first glance, but using affiliate marketing channels is purely about constant development: affiliate networks are always tuned into novelties and trends, so they come up with new collaboration models and mechanics while being eager to maximise the efficiency of their channel for both brands and partners.

It’s necessary to acknowledge that, in the end, affiliate networks, brands, and publishers are in the same boat: the more attractive your offer is, the more relevant traffic publishers will bring. The higher a publisher’s commission is, the more affiliate networks earn and can spend on hi-tech tools and further development. It’s a clear win-win-win scenario.

For SMB-segment clients, affiliate marketing provides an opportunity to test the channel itself and increase its reach to customers, all while keeping ad costs at a relatively low level (subscription fee + commission for the completed sale). Some clients still live with this wrong perception of the affiliate channel as a magic “HIGH SALES” button, but you need to work with this marketing channel as much as any others. This is also true for small and medium businesses, who may even need to invest more effort compared to the big e-commerce giants. It’s worth it though.

Getting the hint is vital: you “sell” your product to publishers first, before they sell it to the end consumer. Persuading someone to buy your unknown craft lemonade instead of the well-known Coke is far from easy! It will take time, effort, and discussions with the affiliate network about how to better launch the affiliate programme or which traffic sources to allow. I honestly recommend listening to the professionals in this space – they’re in the same boat as you, aiming for the same goals.

Lots of people are making career changes this year – why do you think doing the opposite and staying in the same company for many years is a win?

I’m of the opinion that when you stop learning and developing within a company, or lose trust – it‘s time to leave. None of that has happened to me yet! As long as I’m motivated to leave no stone unturned to help the company grow – I’m in.

At Admitad, we constantly adjust our corporate structure to make sure the whole company works as one organism – thanks to the transformational studies provided by the Adizes Institute. These changes give us the opportunity to look at the company development from different angles: it might seem like we’re coming back to something we’ve done before – but keeping the spiral development model in mind, you understand that it’s just a higher helix level.

You manage nine teams across the globe – how do you manage them successfully whilst keeping cultural differences in mind?

It might sound trivial, but what truly helps is to travel a lot and actively engage with different cultures. Managing a team spread around the world (Poland, Germany, Brazil, India, USA, and other countries) with different languages and their own unique culture isn’t a piece of cake. It’s important to teach your colleagues to work together, regardless of distance, time zones, and cultural differences.

The advice that I can give here is as old as the world: we’re all human, and our behaviour can always be grounded. You might not agree with certain actions, but it helps to maintain tolerance and accept our differences!

An example from my life: long ago, I started reading “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer to try to get a grip on different cultural behavioural patterns. Trying to remember all the scales mentioned in the book and visualise them wasn’t easy, and at some point I called it a day. I opted to concentrate on gaining my own experience: practice makes perfect! I decided to reread the same book a couple of years later and found proof of my practical observations. That’s when the puzzle took its final shape.

What trends have you noticed so far this year?

The list of affiliate marketing trends this year is really long, but I’ll try to name my favourite ones. 

  • Marketing tools are being unified under one platform. This trend will stay with us for a long time; the pool of techniques and approaches is so wide and diverse, it gets extremely difficult to control all of the channels simultaneously. The combination of tools will be based on either traffic channels or business segments, but it’s hard to narrow it down right away. I see different scenarios.
  • Further growth of websites with discount coupons/promo codes, loyalty programs as well as price comparison platforms: inflation is going to keep increasing worldwide, the economic recession will negatively impact the buying power of consumers all over the globe – and people will look at every potential opportunity to optimise their purchases and get more while spending less.
  • Financial products and BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) services will be on the rise too – a logical outcome of the economic crises. 
  • Online sellers/brands will look more at developing countries where internet consumption is still growing, because the competition to enter the e-commerce markets and get a big piece of the pie isn’t that high yet.

Do you think the impending recession will affect Q4 sales?

It definitely depends on a number of factors, I’d say, mostly on the market(s) where affiliate networks operate. I do not expect the same growth as last year – most likely it will be much slower, but the affiliate market is growing organically every year, (approximately +50% for the past five years), and by the beginning of 2023 it is likely to hit the $15 billion mark.

The competition among the existing affiliate networks and newcomers to this market is getting brutal, that’s true. How to win the race? Just find out what your clients and partners truly want – and provide them with these solutions. To me affiliate marketing is like a beauty contest: all participants are worthy, but only the one who exceeds the expectations and finds a key to the heart of the judges will win.

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