2017 Affiliate Marketing Forecast

Ecommerce is exploding.

The latest numbers from the holiday season are hot off the press and it’s once again great news for online business channels.

The holiday season of 2016, which ran from November 1 through December 31, totalled online sales of $91.7 billion* which is an astonishing 11% increase from 2015. (*According to Adobe Insights).

This is more evidence that ecommerce, which was once called the retail model of the future, has become the retail model of the present. Further, nearly all of the growth in the retail sector now takes place in online sales.

The Amazon Effect

Have you heard of the term The Amazon Effect?  It’s Amazon’s skillful ability to grab market share from department, apparel, sports, outdoors, and other brick-and-mortar stores. It’s crippling the big box stores who are trying to keep up in ecommerce.

Just ask Macy’s who just announced the closing of 68 stores employing around 10,000 people.

Macy’s is only the beginning. Retail sales for Kohl’s, Sears, Kmart, JC Penny, and Nordstrom also plummeted last year. In fact, Sears just announced today that they’re selling their flagship Craftsman brand to Black & Decker in order to raise cash to stay afloat.

In short, internet retail sales are booming while brick & mortar store sales are in a free fall. But what’s bad news for brick-and-mortar is great news for us in ecommerce. According to eMarketer data ecommerce sales are on their way to nearly $700 billion by the year 2020. 

The Affiliate Marketing Segment

In the first quarter of 2016 I wrote an article referencing an affiliate marketing sales forecast done by Rakuten Marketing commissioned to Forrester Consulting. 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. 

Nearly $7 billion. That’s our share.

What it means is that not only is affiliate marketing here to stay, but is still a long ways from reaching its potential. This is great news for us. Wouldn’t you like to get your small slice of the $7 billion dollar pie? Affiliate marketing is still a level playing field meaning anyone can succeed at it.

2017 Affiliate Marketing Trends

Now that we know where this market is heading, and relativity at what rate, what’s expected to happen this year in my opinion?

1. Influencer Marketing Will Continue To Lead: What makes influencer marketing so vital is one simple fact: 47% of online consumers now use ad blockers. Influencers don’t get stuck behind the ad blocker gate that kill most sales messages before they’re delivered. In fact, in a recent Forbes article I read that influencers will eventually lead a ‘shift from social media to social marketplaces.’

If you’re not an influencer in your market you should be working toward that goal by creating and building your personal brand, your unique message (USP), and your audience. If you don’t differentiate yourself in your marketplace your road to success will be that much harder.  

2. Quality Content Will Continue To Fuel SEO: Yes, content is still King and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The only data I have as proof is my own experience with SEO. With the exception of guest posts and paid content, I write 100% of the content on my site. I’ve never participated in linking schemes, gimmicks, tricks, tactics, or anything else that is frowned upon by the search engines.

Instead I write original content that I know the search engines such as Google will find relevant to the topic and pleasing to my the visitors who read it. For what its worth, in the past year or so I’ve noticed that the search engines seem to favor longer, more authoritative posts (1000-2000 words), than they do shorter (500-750 word) posts.    

3. The Emergence Of Chatbots In Affiliate Marketing: I believe that chatbots will continue to infiltrate the affiliate marketing arena this year. We all know that AI is coming soon and chatbots augment the buying process almost flawlessly. Chatbots are already being used by sites such as JD.com (Jingdong in China) and on Slack.com (their bot is called Kip). 

In fact, I’m very interested in this topic personally and am presently looking for a technical JV partner (who’s a chatbot expert) to help me with a chatbot project. If you think you would be a good fit please contact me. Serious inquires only. Please. 

4. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile: This one is so obvious that I listed it last on purpose. We all know virtually everything is going mobile. Experts predict that the mobile devices sales segment will account for nearly $200 billion in sales by 2020. The key is making sure your websites, emails, and social media content are all mobile-friendly so you’re not missing out on this exploding segment. If you’re not sure, test it.

As mobile devices continue to evolve and improve make sure you keep up with any technical changes that may affect your communication with your audience.

Those are just my observations and predictions. Here are a few snippets of some other opinions on this year’s affiliate marketing trends from ecommerce insiders, affiliate marketers, and industry experts:

  • “In 2017, I predict the affiliate marketing industry will see a continuation of the mergers & acquisitions which we saw in 2016”. – Eric  Nagel, affiliate marketer
  • “As more and more consumers tend to move between different devices on a daily basis, the importance of cross-device tracking has become clearer. This really is one of the most important affiliate marketing trends you’ve gotta watch out for!” – Xavier Santana from academy.mobidea.com
  • “Monitoring and compliance automation will gain further tractionBrands will be penalized for not meeting regulatory requirements”. – David Naffziger from Brand Verity
  • “I believe that 2017 will bring continued advances in the performance marketing channel. My top three picks that will have the biggest impact for the performance marketing industry are cross-device tracking, cross-channel insights, and non-traditional partnerships.” – Todd Crawford from Impact Radius
  • “Affiliate companies can be expected to focus on the ‘Refer-A-Friend’ model which will not only help them tap into a larger customer base but also reduce cost per acquisition.” – Rohan Bhargava – Co-founder – Hiring VP Engineering and Other Tech Roles


While ecommerce (including affiliate marketing) is still very much in its embryonic stages, it has proven to be a formidable weapon in retail sales. In fact, so much so that it’s literally strangling to death some of the department store retail giants who’ve struggled to adapt to this new way of selling to consumers.

I believe that we are still early pioneers in ecommerce and have only scratched the surface of its potential. To those of us already on board, it will surely be a wonderful ride!

And if you’re still not on board… Now is the time to jump on!

What are your thoughts? Please comment below. 

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  1. Karan


    Thanks for the sharing these post..
    it’s really very informative article..

    • Bill Burniece

      Thank you Karan. 🙂 Sincerely – Bill

  2. Vikas

    Yes, small slice 😀

  3. Mike Sonpon

    Thanks for the information. it’s a very good news for Affiliate Markers