What are your two or three key performance marketing-related predictions for 2016?

(1) Deeper advertiser focus on incremental value, (2) more mergers and acquisitions, (3) more innovations on the affiliate/publisher side of things.

Are big brands and agencies right to worry about fraud in the performance marketing channel?

Not only big ones, but agencies and advertisers of all sizes and verticals must take fraud very seriously and never rely on their policies and Terms of Service (TOS) to safeguard them from anything. The rules and policies that we set in place for our affiliate programs never guarantee compliance. They give us the grounds to police and enforce it, but it’s an ongoing task to be performed. Also, when it comes to “fraud” specifically, external/outsourced affiliate management agencies (or OPMs) need an active collaboration on the advertiser’s part, due to the commonplace lack of access to the brand’s e-commerce platform backend.

Large well-funded shopping and comparison sites seem to be taking an increasing proportion share of affiliate marketing dollars. Which verticals should a small, independent affiliate look at for sustainable income in the future?

Whether you look at Affiliate Benchmarks reports or Affiliate Summit’s AffStat reports, you will see that the most-coveted type of affiliates are content producers. Whether it is user-generated content (UGC) or your own — be it your blog, video channel, social media efforts, or anything else — content is still king and should be an integral part of every affiliate’s strategy.

As for the “verticals,” AM Navigator’s recent research shows that more than 70% of the top-paying affiliate programs may be placed into only ten categories: Fashion, Sports & Outdoors, Health & Beauty, Travel, Home & Garden, Computers & Electronics, Education & Training, Business, Financial & Insurance, High-End & Luxury Stores. Pick the vertical that’s most suitable for your audience; but always stay open to experimenting with new niches and advertisers. You never know what can become your next goldmine.

When you are pitching a new advertiser/client, what is the objection you most often hear and how do you answer it?

Objection: “We don’t work (and don’t want to work) with couponers. Therefore, there is no room for an affiliate program in our marketing strategy.”

Answer: Who told you that affiliate marketing is synonymous with couponers? There are at least seventeen other types of affiliates that can drive business your way. There are content producers and emailers, datafeed-driven websites and charities, mobile-oriented affiliates and video marketers, pay-per-call publishers, paid search affiliates, content monetization tools, ranking websites and many other types. If you don’t want to work with any type of affiliates, spell it out in your TOS, and filter them out on the application phase, working with those that can truly complement your own marketing efforts.

About Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov

Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov is a recognized affiliate marketing thought leader, founder and CEO of AM Navigator affiliate management company, and founder and Chair of Affiliate Management Days conference.