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Affiliate marketing: Top 7 must-know trends for 2024

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Affiliate marketing: Top 7 must-know trends for 2024

In 2024, affiliate marketing will see brand-creator alliances rise, TikTok vs. Amazon competition, programmatic opportunities, and more, says Awin’s global head of content, Rob Davinson.

Affiliate marketing mirrors the broader digital landscape, with trends at the macro level resonating in our microcosm. In 2024, we’ll see emergent trends (artificial intelligence (AI), social commerce and retail media to name just a few) that will impact affiliate marketers.

Here we breakdown the key changes (and challenges) that affiliate marketing is likely to encounter this year, and what they mean for the industry.

1. Brand-creator affiliation will rise amidst social media slowdown

With global digital ad spend growth slowing (Dentsu predicts only 6.5% growth in 2024, after a historically low-growth year in 2023), and social media facing a similar slowdown as new user growth plateaus, brands can combat this by directly partnering with creators, as influencer marketing proves more resilient than paid social.

Major brands like The Body Shop and Walmart are two examples that launched large-scale creator affiliate programs in the last year, tying social awareness to controlled marketing outcomes. We see this trend further developing in 2024, as it not only counters platform-dependent risks, but benefits influencers seeking stable incomes,

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Awin’s platform witnessed a surge of registering influencers in 2023 (over 10,000), foreshadowing continued growth in 2024.

2. TikTok vs. Amazon: Affiliate model’s value amid new competition

As major tech giants mature, Amazon transitions from a shopping marketplace to an ad space, while TikTok evolves from entertainment to a product purchasing platform. This encroachment on each other’s territory is likely to intensify competition, with TikTok employing an affiliate-type model, mirroring Amazon’s commerce flywheel.

Both platforms embracing affiliate strategies validates its efficacy. Brands may channel more ad budgets into these tech giants, necessitating a choice between entering new marketplaces or driving traffic to their e-commerce sites.

Opting for the latter requires enhancing the shopper experience, supported by affiliate tech partners, as exemplified by Nike’s livestream shopping collaboration with Contester, enhancing the Cyber period with engaging content on their site.

3. Programmatic challenges will propel affiliate ad spend growth

In 2023, the programmatic ad industry faced serious challenges, as reported in the ANA’s Programmatic Media Supply Chain Transparency Study. Among its findings was the fact that there is $22bn of wastage from the $88bn programmatic supply chain.

Advertisers often grapple with misaligned incentives, prioritizing cost over value, resulting in diminished ad quality. In contrast, affiliate marketing’s performance model, linking ad spend to tangible outcomes like sales, proves more valuable.

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It says a lot that global spend in affiliate marketing last year is estimated to be around $14bn, a third less than was wasted in programmatic. As senior marketers consider their budgets this year, the data suggests affiliate marketing should garner greater consideration for its effectiveness.

4. News and media publishers will leverage affiliate commerce content

In 2024, with a record number of global elections, including the US presidential election and 40 national elections, political interest will drive traffic to news media sites.

Despite heightened ad spend forecasts, news publishers may not see increased income due to past challenges with programmatic display ads. Affiliate channels offer a solution for publishers facing declining ad monetization and brand blocklisting.

Additionally, major sporting events like the European Football Championships and the Olympic Games in Paris promise increased traffic, creating opportunities for affiliate efforts to offset ad revenue challenges and enhance the value of journalism amid growing demand.

5. AI revolution in search will pose a threat to affiliate longtail

When it comes to online, the significance of high Google search rankings has been paramount. As the old adage (meme caption) goes: “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google’s search results.”

Google’s search console, shaping our online information-seeking behavior for two decades, faces challenges from Google’s monetization motives and emerging AI-powered search consoles, like ChatGPT. These AI consoles provide instant answers, diminishing the reliance on external links and altering the traditional internet ecosystem.

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Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) introduces AI-generated responses, potentially reducing organic traffic to publisher websites. Publishers face limited options – allow crawling for SGE or risk exclusion from Google search. SEO adherence to E-E-A-T values becomes crucial for publishers navigating this transformative shift, emphasizing the affiliate industry’s need to adapt and maintain audience-centric effectiveness.

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6. Travel resurgence will inspire pop culture-inspired trips and affiliate growth

While some predicted its near-extinction after the 2019 lockdown, the travel industry is booming as we begin 2024.

IATA predicts that this year will exceed 2019’s travel record, with 4.7 billion people expected to board airlines in 2024. Awin observes a surge in affiliate-driven travel bookings, a trend set to continue as consumer confidence rises, airline capacity grows, and major events drive demand.

Expedia and Amadeus foresee a significant year for experience-based tourism (think set-jetting and music festivals). Affiliates play a crucial role in the complex shopper journey, offering inspiration, comparisons, and personalized options.

Brand partnerships, where one advertiser promotes another complementary one as part of the customer’ booking experience, thrived in 2023. Travel brands are well set to capitalise on this growth with lots of potential match-ups from other brands keen to tap into consumers’ resurgent appetite for travel.

7. As cheap fashion challenges sustainability efforts, green affiliates will emerge

Despite Cop28’s pivotal agreement to shift from fossil fuels, inertia persists around climate change. In 2024, the rise of ultra-fast fashion platforms like Shein and Temu, fueled by the TikTok trend of buying cheap dupes, contributes to growing landfill fashion.

Even impacting Amazon, Teemu users spend nearly double the time compared to Amazon, prompting the e-commerce giant to lower fees for clothes under $20. However, some affiliates continue to promote mindful consumer choices innovatively. Examples include Refoorest, planting trees for site visits, and Axon Mobile incentivizing eco-friendly commuting. And another new promising solution for 2024 is spearheaded by Birl, who are introducing the circular economy to e-commerce through their smart resale system.

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Visit Awin to discover more market insights and trends.

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Samsung: 6-Day Workweek For Execs, Company in Emergency Mode

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Samsung: 6-Day Workweek For Execs, Company in Emergency Mode

Four-day workweeks might have all the buzz, but one major tech company is going in the opposite direction.

Samsung is implementing a six-day workweek for all executives after some of the firm’s core businesses delivered lower-than-expected financial results last year.

A Samsung Group executive told a Korean news outlet that “considering that performance of our major units, including Samsung Electronics Co., fell short of expectations in 2023, we are introducing the six-day work week for executives to inject a sense of crisis and make all-out efforts to overcome this crisis.”

Lower performance combined with other economic uncertainties like high borrowing costs have pushed the South Korean company to enter “emergency mode,” per The Korea Economic Daily.

Related: Apple Is No Longer the Top Phonemaker in the World as AI Pressure and Competition Intensifies

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Executives at all Samsung Group divisions will be affected, including those in sales and manufacturing, according to the report.

Samsung had its worst financial year in over a decade in 2023, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that net profit fell 73% in Q4. It also lost its top spot on the global smartphone market to Apple in the same quarter, though it reclaimed it this year.

Though employees below the executive level aren’t yet mandated to clock in on weekends, some might follow the unwritten example of their bosses. After all, The Korea Economic Daily reports that executives across some Samsung divisions have been voluntarily working six days a week since January, before the company decided to implement the six-day workweek policy.

Entrepreneur has reached out to Samsung’s U.S. newsroom to ask if this news includes executives situated globally, including in the U.S., or if it only affects employees in Korea. Samsung did not immediately respond.

Research on the relationship between hours worked and output shows that working more does not necessarily increase productivity.

A Stanford project, for example, found that overwork leads to decreased total output. Average productivity decreases due to stress, sleep deprivation, and other factors “to the extent that the additional hours [worked] provide no benefit (and, in fact, are detrimental),” the study said.

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Related: Samsung’s Newest Galaxy Gadget Aims ‘To See How Productive You Can Be’

Longer hours can also mean long-term health effects. The World Health Organization found that working more than 55 hours a week decreases life expectancy and increases the risk of stroke by 35%.

The same 55-hour workweek leads to a 17% higher risk of heart disease, per the same study.

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John Deere Hiring CTO ‘Chief Tractor Officer,’ TikTok Creator

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John Deere Hiring CTO 'Chief Tractor Officer,' TikTok Creator

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Agriculture equipment company John Deere is on the hunt for a different kind of CTO.

The brand on Tuesday announced a two-week search to find a “Chief Tractor Officer” who would create social media content to reach younger consumers.

One winning applicant will receive up to $192,300 to traverse the country over the next several months showcasing the way John Deere products are used by workers, from Yellowstone National Park to Chicago’s Wrigley Field and beyond.

“No matter what you do — whether it’s your coffee, getting dressed in the morning, driving to work, the building you go into — it’s all been touched by a construction worker, a farmer, or a lawn care maintenance group,” Jen Hartmann, John Deere’s global director of strategic public relations, told AdAge.

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To kick off the search, John Deere tapped NFL quarterback Brock Purdy (who will presumably be a bit busy this Fall to take the job himself) to star in a clip in which he attempts to set out on a road trip in an industrial tractor.

Suited up in the obligatory vest, work boots, and John Deere hat, Purdy’s progress is interrupted by teammate Colton McKivitz hopping into the cab while a string of messages floods in from other athletes and influencers expressing interest in the job.

The clip also represents the first time that the 187-year-old company has used celebrities to promote itself, Hartmann told AdAge.

According to the contest rules, entrants have until April 29 at midnight to submit a single 60-second video making their pitch for why they should be the face and voice of the company.

In addition, entrants must live in the 48 contiguous states or DC — sorry Hawaii and Alaska residents. Interestingly, any AI-generated submissions are prohibited, too.

Videos will be judged against four categories — originally, creativity, quality, and brand knowledge — after which five finalists will be chosen and notified after May 17.

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How to Capitalize On This Thriving Talent Pool to Drive Your Company’s Growth

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How to Capitalize On This Thriving Talent Pool to Drive Your Company's Growth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As business operations shift, executives and entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to an on-demand workforce that is simultaneously empowered by technology and drawn to purpose-driven projects.

Consider Upwork, whose 2020 Future of Workforce Pulse Report revealed that nearly 80% of hiring managers engaging freelancers feel confident about doing so. These hires provide coveted expertise — on a project-to-project basis — that entrepreneurs need to scale their operations without incurring long-term overhead costs.

This new market paradigm also promotes dynamism, with 79% of businesses agreeing that freelance talent enables greater innovativeness. Perhaps most telling, 84% of hiring managers utilizing it feel more assured about adapting to future disruption, compared to just 69% of those relying solely on full-time staff.

By capitalizing on freelance marketplaces, entrepreneurs can amplify employer branding, augment capabilities and future-proof organizations, even amid turbulence. As nearly 60% of hiring managers plan to increase engagement with freelancers over the next two years, the time is now for executives to realize their inherent potential.

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Related: Navigating the Great Reshuffle: Why Your Employer Brand is Key in Recruiting Talent

The job market continues to shift

After a season of massive hiring, we’re back to seeing layoffs and downsizing. Companies are feeling the bloat—from unused office spaces with rising rent to oversized employee structures — and are shifting focus to hiring only the most essential positions. This leaves a critical talent gap needed for complex projects and specialized tasks. Highly skilled and specialized independents can fill this void.

A few key benefits to engaging them:

Access to niche experts: Platforms like Toptal and Guru provide access to elite professionals from leading Fortune 500 companies and innovative startups. Whether the need is for a machine learning specialist, growth strategist or financial modeler, entrepreneurs can now curate on-demand teams that boast specialized skillsets, enabling them to focus investment on projects with the highest strategic value.

Enhanced agility: Leading corporations increasingly “rent” skills by tapping freelance experts for initiatives involving new technologies or while entering unfamiliar markets. With niche contributors available to plug knowledge gaps, owners can explore ideas that once seemed unrealistic due to internal constraints—unlocking inventiveness and first-mover advantage.

• Stronger employment brand: Blending full-time employees with project-based freelancers signals a commitment to modernization and work-life balance. Offering both engaging work and flexibility will help draw exceptional candidates and help you compete with corporate giants for top-tier talent.

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Related: Can Retirees Thrive in the Gig Economy? Navigating a Changed Workforce

Tips for capitalizing on gig talent

Having explored the forces reshaping work, executives may wonder how to effectively leverage freelance platforms. After all, how can you know you’re getting your money’s worth if a hire isn’t physically present full-time?

• Define projects clearly: Contract hires thrive when expectations and deadlines are established upfront. So, clearly, detail needs around deliverables, success metrics, required skills and projected time investments. Staying ahead when it comes to communication and expectations will help avoid headaches, including delays.

• Build loyalty with talent: The best independent professionals have options regarding the projects they accept. Study their profiles to discern passions and incentives. Offer interesting work, flexibility and strong communication to motivate interest and improve results.

• Manage collaboration: Provide steady context, feedback and guidance at each project stage, but also foster autonomy, even while directing efforts toward strategic goals. A dynamic balance of these qualities drives optimal outcomes.

• Continue expanding your talent pool: Add proven freelancers to an internal database for repeat engagements, and notify talent about new initiatives for which their expertise would provide an edge. Uncovering additional ways, freelancers can enhance the business deepens the relationship.

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Related: Fill Your Talent Gap by Sourcing Candidates From the Veteran Community

Top platforms for connecting with talent

Now comes the hard part: finding contractors who bring fractional expertise sets. There are a growing number of platforms, of course, but I’ve found that the following stand out as leaders:

Fiverr: Ideal for execs seeking design, digital marketing, writing, video and admin support. Known for affordability and ease of posting jobs. It taps a global talent pool, too.

Upwork: A flexible platform that spans more than 150 skills. Used by everyone from small businesses to global enterprises. Strong at IT, development, design, finance and consulting.

Toptal: Focuses exclusively on the top 3% of talent. Best for expert software developers, designers, project managers and finance experts. All contributors are extensively vetted.

Contra: A growing independent platform that vets and connects both job candidates and hiring companies. Best of all, it doesn’t take a commission from projects.

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Related: 3 Strategies to Optimize Your Hiring Process and Find the Best Employees

The numbers speak for themselves: businesses engaging freelance professionals report greater confidence and competitiveness, as well as the ability to withstand turbulence, yet legacy beliefs can still cause hesitancy among those keen to hire. Supported by such specialized collaborators, companies can explore new horizons unencumbered by a one-time narrow view of staffing models.

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