Today we continue our recap of our contribution to the most recent issue of iGB Affiliate, which you may have picked up at last week’s London Affiliate Conference. In part one, which you can read here, we looked at advertising models, operator partnerships and more. In the second and final part, we look at results pertaining to marketing activities, trends in tech and mobile optimisation.

Marketing & Tech

One of the questions that we were most eager to ask affiliates is what they anticipate as being their most valuable marketing activity heading into 2018. While the responses provide some diversity, the most essential of such initiatives easily make their way to the top.

The most popular response, by a wide margin, is an evolving SEO strategy (38%). This figure highlights the fact that while SEO is nothing new to the affiliate industry, it still demands sustained diligence and self-education. The second-most popular response was the 26% of respondents who say that undertaking some form of website redesign would be their most valuable marketing activity. Rounding out the top three marketing activities for 2018 is the implementation of a revamped content marketing strategy (21%).

Respondents were also asked to predict what they thought would be the most significant industry-wide tech focus in the coming year. While the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) over ad development was expected to be mo popular, 26% say that recommendation engines will be the year’s most significant tech focus. Not far behind is the propagation of marketing technology and data streaming platforms (19%), followed by push notifications and real-time marketing at 15%. The influence of AI finished tied with voice search optimisation (VSO) and programmatic/automated media buying at 11% each.

One of the survey’s more one-sided outcomes concerns mobile optimised sites. 87% of respondents claim to already have one in place. Only 10% of respondents say they have neither a mobile site or a mobile app, while 14% are set up with both. This is one of several responses that supports the widespread view that affiliates are at the forefront of both technology and strategy, encouraging operators to also push boundaries and adapt to industry evolutions.

2018 Outlook

When asked what their expectations are regarding the evolution of the affiliate marketing channel, our respondents offer a variety of answers that range from bullish to cautiously optimistic to somewhat doubtful.

Some affiliates give a more strategic assessment, positing that “affiliate marketers will need more diverse and engaging content” and that mobile and social media will continue to see their respective stocks rise. Others are warier of the future, citing expected changes in regulation as well as the impact of “brand mergers and less creativity in marketing materials for affiliates”.

Most revealing was the final question, where affiliates were asked what will be the most important question they will ask of themselves and their team heading into the New Year. Respondents touch on a range of topics, including mergers and acquisitions, regulation, big data, mobile, relationship building and more. While these are all expected to be significant talking points throughout the year, there is one answer that plainly encapsulates the mindset with which many affiliates seem to be approaching 2018: “How can we stay ahead of the competition?” Based on our findings and ensuing conversations, the answer to that question will take a different shape for each affiliate that strives to address it.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading our contribution to the most recent edition of iGB Affiliate. What are your thoughts on our survey results? Do you agree that recommendation engines will be the biggest tech focus of 2018? Are you one of the affiliates that will be redesigning their website this year?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.