Why Affiliate Marketing is the Channel to Master in 2024

Jan 8, 2024

Affiliate marketing has matured into a dynamic and inclusive field, opening doors for individuals from a broad range of professional backgrounds. AppLovin’s Simon Baptist interviewed three industry leaders at PI LIVE in Europe, one of the world’s leading affiliate and performance marketing conferences. The panel, Winning Together: How to Thrive in Affiliate Marketing, highlighted the career paths of the three speakers, Kate Knight, Marthe Berlin, and Clementyne Lavender. Their discussion shed light on the evolving world of affiliate marketing – and the opportunities it holds for marketers, publishers, and advertisers.

In affiliate marketing, skills and experience are valued over academics

The journey to a career in affiliate marketing seems to be different for everyone – and non-traditional for most. Marthe, Director of Publisher Development at, notes that most of the professionals she has met “didn’t grow up with a goal of becoming an affiliate marketer.” In fact, this is true of all the panelists, each of whom found their way into the affiliate world from another field or profession. “The industry has really built its own talent pool,” Marthe adds. “The roles within affiliates and partnerships are so varied that they lend themselves well to a variety of skill sets and backgrounds.” 

Kate, Group Director of Publisher Development, EMEA at CJ, suggests that while many affiliate marketers haven’t attended university, others have, but they may have focused their studies on subjects unrelated to marketing. “It’s a unique industry in that all these skills can be applied.” She continues, “I have seen a shift in the level of talent that now comes into the industry. Graduates and entry-level employees I’ve hired over the last few years have a much better understanding of the partnerships industry and are so much more knowledgeable and capable than I was when I first started.”

Non-traditional paths seem more common than not. Affiliate marketing, according to the panelists, is evolving quickly. There is an increasing number of opportunities for those without traditional university degrees, as well as those entering from other professions, reflecting a broader shift towards valuing skills and experiences over academics.

The field is expanding, maturing – and gaining the respect it deserves

Decades into its lifespan, there is a growing understanding and appreciation of what affiliate marketing is and the opportunities it holds. Where traditional affiliate marketing, a subset of performance marketing, was a bit of a “dirty little secret” amongst well-known brands, it’s now taking its rightful place among trusted marketing tactics because it is such an efficient way to drive leads and revenue. This shift is partly fueled by the rise of influencer and creator marketing. Instagram stars, podcasters, YouTubers, and other leading publishers have proven that affiliate partnerships can be a powerful way for advertisers to expand their reach, build trust, and ultimately increase profitability.

As a result of this influencer-driven renaissance, the future of affiliate marketing is highlighted by the emergence of new partnerships and a shift in mindset around the roles of affiliates. As Clementyne, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation at Awin, states, she’s seeing “a multitude of really interesting and innovative partners coming to us that traditionally would not have – in any way – fit into the affiliate landscape.” However, she recognizes that it’s important to “open up your eyes and your brain. Just because they don’t fit the traditional view of publisher or advertiser, that doesn’t mean we can’t manipulate things to work to their advantage.” 

Kate sees an opportunity for publishers to rethink their role in the landscape and the value they can deliver. She encourages them to leverage their “Publisher Superpowers” – their unique strengths in data, technology, and audience insights. “What we really need to do in the channel is get a lot closer to the advertisers’ marketing strategies. Understand what the CMO’s challenges are,” she advises. “Whatever the CMO’s vision is, that’s what they want to push out across the rest of the business. And that’s where the budgets are.” 

“There’s been a real steer into the diversification of the channel,” Clementyne asserts, offering the example of Awin’s current work with several MMPs. “That wasn’t a partnership that existed historically.” To her, it signifies a departure from the isolated approach of the past. She’s pleased that the industry is “carving out the paths for diversification and trying to make the affiliate landscape far less siloed. I think we’re doing a better job of that.”

Considering a career in affiliate marketing? Tips from the experts

With no experience required and no degree necessary, it seems like affiliate marketing is a greenfield for smart, creative self-starters – and perhaps those seeking a career change. For those interested in making their way into the field, Marthe stresses the importance of understanding your strengths and passions. “I have learned that actual progression means that you find and build a career based on your unique talents and skills, and most importantly, build a path that you find enjoyment in for the long-term,” she says. At the same time, have the presence to recognize when something isn’t the right fit and to learn from each experience.

Kate’s advice is to stay curious and to build a wide network. Ask questions and actively listen to learn from others. She suggests, “I think as you get older and find yourself in more senior roles, you lose that magic and curiosity and you risk becoming a little jaded and biased in your viewpoints.” Embrace the perspectives of the newer generation in affiliate marketing – they bring fresh ideas and approaches.

The opportunities for professionals from all backgrounds continue to open up as the affiliate space evolves and extends beyond traditional channels. As that evolution continues, new perspectives, new ideas, and new technologies will be essential to successful growth.

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