Maturation of Affiliate Marketing Creates Significant Opportunity to Drive Sales for Advertisers and Revenue to Publishers

Independent Survey Commissioned by Rakuten Affiliate Network

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Feb 4, 2016) – Rakuten Marketing today released findings of a survey Rakuten Affiliate Network commissioned to Forrester Consulting on the perception and effectiveness of affiliate marketing programs. Among the results, nearly 90 percent of advertisers said that affiliate programs were important or very important to their overall marketing strategy, and the majority of publishers revealed that affiliate partnerships drove more than 20 percent of annual revenue. Once regarded primarily as a tool to drive consumers to the purchase event, affiliate marketing is now viewed as a powerful channel for consumer discovery that leads to brand engagement and incremental sales at compelling ROIs.

According to the study, the affiliate marketing space has matured into a significant channel for driving sales for advertisers of all sizes. US affiliate marketing spend will increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.1 percent between 2015 and 2020, to an estimated $6.8 billion industry. The platforms that affiliate networks provide for advertisers and publishers are in many cases the engines of sales growth, offering measurement and quality assurance for both.

Key findings Include:

Advertiser and Publisher Investment is High

  • Over 80 percent of advertisers and 84 percent of publishers surveyed ran an affiliate program.
  • More than 80 percent of advertisers devoted over 10 percent of their marketing budget to affiliate marketing.

A Full-Funnel Strategy

  • Marketers use affiliate programs at all stages of the customer journey: 83 percent targeted consumers during the discovery and awareness phase, 79 percent during conversion or purchase and 79 percent to create ongoing customer engagement.*

Measurement is Improving

  • Advertisers increasingly understand how purchase decisions are made: 80 percent of marketers tracked desktop and mobile sales, 66 percent tracked catalog-driven sales and 57 percent tracked those from brick and mortar stores.*

Relationships are Key

  • For advertisers, network choice is crucial to connect with publishers: 83 percent use affiliate network dashboards to recruit partners and 79 percent attend events hosted by affiliate networks.*
  • More than half of publishers turn to network-provided reporting platforms to manage affiliate efforts.

Small Value Divide

  • Publishers promoted themselves based on site traffic and quality, while advertisers value vertical expertise when choosing publisher partners.

*Respondents had the option to choose all that apply

“Affiliate marketing is a high-value, low-risk strategy proven to drive sales and awareness for brands and revenue for publishers,” said Adam Weiss, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Rakuten Affiliate Network. “When done right, it cultivates mutually beneficial and authentic relationships between brands and publishers, and those publishers and their audience.”

Download the full January 2016 study:
Networks Help Drive Affiliate Marketing into the Mainstream.”
Conducted by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Rakuten Affiliate Network:

Forrester surveyed over 150 advertising decision makers at U.S. companies with a minimum of $200 million in revenue, and more than 150 decision-makers with U.S. publishers that either rank in the top 5,000 sites by traffic volume in the U.S., or have 300 or more followers on a major social network platform. Forrester also conducted 10 in-depth interviews with advertisers and publishers to explore the challenges and opportunities affiliate marketing presents.

Click-to-tweet: Forrester Survey commissioned by @RakutenMKTG_US shows >80% of advertisers & publishers embrace affiliate mktg

About Rakuten Marketing
Rakuten Marketing is the global leader in omnichannel marketing, delivering its vision of driving the omni experience — marketing designed for a streamlined customer experience. Offering an integrated strategy that combines consumer centric insights with e-commerce expertise, Rakuten Marketing’s omnichannel services include Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare), Rakuten Display, Rakuten Search and Rakuten Attribution.

Operating as a division of Rakuten Inc. (4755: TOKYO), one of the world’s leading Internet service companies, Rakuten Marketing is headquartered in San Mateo, with additional offices in Australia, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the United States. Follow us on Twitter or learn more at