Digiday+ Research: Publishers, especially small ones, see affiliate commerce as an area for growth
This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →
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Publishers are well on their way into navigating an uncertain 2023, and, according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 112 publisher professionals, affiliate commerce is gaining more interest as a revenue source — especially among small publishers.
Overall, the percentage of publishers who get at least a little revenue from affiliate commerce is on the rise: 62% of publisher pros told Digiday they get some revenue from affiliate commerce as of Q1 of this year, compared with 52% six months ago. And that percentage could rise even higher in the coming months. Seventy percent of publisher pros said they will focus at least a little on their affiliate commerce business in the next six months, compared with 59% six months ago.
Currently, the largest number of publishers who make money from affiliate commerce make a very small portion of their revenue from that business (one-quarter of respondents to Digiday’s survey fall into this category), followed by those who make a small portion of their revenue from affiliate commerce (18% said this).
Meanwhile, of those who said they will focus on their affiliate commerce business in the next six months, the largest percentage (19%) said this part of their business will be a moderate focus. Six months ago, those who said affiliate commerce would be a very small or small focus accounted for the largest percentages of those who planned to focus on affiliate commerce at 16%, and a year ago, those who said affiliate commerce would be a very small focus made up the largest percentage, with 22% of respondents in this category.
It could be a product of the shaky economy pushing publishers to try whatever they can to grow their revenue this year, but at any rate, publishers’ interest in affiliate commerce revenue is clearly growing.
Digging a bit deeper into Digiday’s survey data, it seems that small publishers (or those who made less than $10 million in revenue last year) are looking for the most growth when it comes to affiliate commerce. This makes sense, considering the fact that most small publishers don’t actually make money from affiliate commerce — yet, anyway.
To be exact, only 39% of small publishers make at least a very small portion of their revenue from affiliate commerce. But a much larger 58% told Digiday they will put at least some focus on building this part of their business in the next six months, which highlights the growth opportunity of affiliate commerce for small publishers.
Of the small publishers who pull in any money from affiliate commerce, the vast majority make only a very small or small portion of their revenue from this part of their business (22% and 14%, respectively). But 17% of publisher pros told Digiday that building their affiliate commerce buisness will actually be a large focus for them in the next six months. And 19% said building up affiliate commerce will be a very small focus.
Affliliate commerce’s growth potential is not as dramatic for large publishers (or those who made more than $50 million in revenue last year), but this group also appears to be eying growth for this part of their business to some extent.
More than three-quarters of professionals who work for large publishers (76%) told Digiday they make at least a very small portion of their revenue from affiliate commerce. That’s already a large percentage. But an even larger 81% said growing their affiliate commerce business will be at least a very small focus for them in the next six months, indicating room for growth for this revenue stream among large publishers.
Currently, of the large publishers who do make money from affiliate commerce, the largest percentage (29%) make a small portion of their revenue from this part of their business. But that could change as the year progresses, especially because the largest percentage of large publishers (32%) said building their affiliate commerce business will be a moderate focus for them in the next six months.
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