According to Forrester, US affiliate marketing spend is expected to reach $4.5 billion annually by 2016. Although it's a large and growing market that helps advertisers connect with buyers, the upward momentum is sometimes tainted by a few bad actors and practices.

However, as investment in the channel increases, serious marketers need to know how affiliate marketing is evolving and the new opportunities it is presenting.

Technology paired with changing consumer behavior is transforming affiliate marketing and creating opportunities for marketers to target consumers more precisely and produce sustainable margin-driven results.

Marketers need to know the following.

All Marketing Is Becoming Performance-Based

You can't manage what you don't measure. In regards to online marketing and the associated spend, if an action can be measured, brands increasingly want to pay partners on a performance metric.

If that were possible, why would a brand want to pay for anything besides performance? We're rapidly moving toward a time when all marketing will be performance-based, and we'll just start calling it "marketing" again.

Affiliate marketing is technically just a subset of the larger performance umbrella. Technology that allows for better data management and tracking is now allowing marketers to capitalize on previously missed opportunities to measure results and optimize their spend the same way they have with search, display, and video.

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image of Jim Robinson

Jim Robinson is vice president of North American Sales for Performance Horizon Group. He previously was Head of Sales and Operations for Google Affiliate Network.

LinkedIn: Jim Robinson