If you’re in the Affiliate Space, or you’re a digital marketer, you’re most likely aware of Affiliate Summit. But for those new to the industry, it’s the premier conference for affiliate marketers, merchants, vendors – pretty much anyone who promotes or manages an affiliate program or product.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Shawn Collins, co-founder, along with Missy Ward, of Affiliate Summit.
Content & Contests: Where do you see affiliate marketing five years from now?
Shawn Collins: I think there will be an aggressive move into mobile in the near term and into the future. It depends on lots of factors, including how fast the advertisers and networks evolve, but I think we’ll see a significant shift from desktop and laptop browsers to phones and tablets.
Content & Contests: What are your thoughts on the demise of the Google Affiliate Network (GAN)? How has it affected affiliates?
Shawn: I would rate it as an inconvenience for affiliates, as they had to change up links. So many other networks were quick to go after the advertisers that were with GAN, so it has been somewhat of a clean transition. I was surprised, though, as I didn’t imagine they would close down like that. But I never got the impression that affiliate marketing was a big priority for Google, but rather a competitor.
CC: Given the rise of smartphones and tablets, what role do you see mobile playing in the future of affiliate marketing? How can affiliates leverage mobile in a material way to make sales?
Shawn: This ties back to my answer about affiliate marketing in five years – I think mobile will rule in the future. The first thing for affiliates to do right now is to be sure their sites and landing pages are optimized for mobile.
I think mobile will rule in the future. The first thing for affiliates to do right now is to be sure their sites and landing pages are optimized for mobile.
CC: What can affiliates do to use video to build their business?
Shawn: I think the key is that advertisers have to make quality videos available, and then affiliates can monetize the video using platforms like ViewBix or the video widget from ShareASale.
CC: For affiliates looking at content marketing, do you recommend sales pages or product reviews? Can sales pages compete with merchant product listings?
Shawn: I don’t think there is a black and white answer there. But rather the most important thing is that the content is quality, original content, and not syndicated.
CC: Given Google’s fondness for benign, cute animals and the rapid change in its algorithm (Penguin, Panda, etc.), do you think SEO is a viable channel for affiliates? How can marketers best use organic search to create value for potential customers?
Shawn: I think it’s absolutely viable – it’s just that affiliates shouldn’t take shortcuts. I am glad to see black hats and grey hats disappear. Anybody who is trying to game things isn’t adding value. They’re parasites. I’d say the best way to leverage organic search is to create content that people want and need, rather than trying to please Google.
CC: Social media is huge and can serve as a recommendation engine for consumers. However, can Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms really make the “cash register” ring? Can sellers meet buyers through social or are the end users really just “browsers” looking to view pictures of their friends’ latest vacation?
Shawn: I like social media sites as traffic sources. The way to look at it is that you want to get your content or offer or whatever out there to the places where the people want to consume it. Don’t assume they’ll find you – go and find them and deliver your unique value propositions to the places they hang out.
The next Affiliate Summit takes place in Philadelphia from August 18-20 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the agenda here: affiliatesummit.com/13w-agenda .
Or take a look at the speaker previews to get a more up close look at some of the sessions.