Affiliate marketing: the links between media and driving holiday sales

With Diwali, Black Friday, Hannuka, Thanksgiving and Christmas all crammed into the next few months, tis’ the season of holiday roundups and gift guides dominating the media. Editors become gift buying gurus who impart their wisdom through in-depth reviews and aesthetically pleasing staging to help us make the most savvy shopping decisions. 

In recent years, the eagle-eyed may have noticed a new introduction line kicking off most of these roundups: “we may earn a commission through products bought via links” – but what exactly does it mean? 

If an article includes a link to a particular stockist of a product, the media outlet receives a commission on any sales conversions made through the links. Affiliate partnerships are popping up all over the place, with the revenue of the industry estimated at $12 billion USD. E-commerce platforms and media have started pairing up over shared audience demographics giving both sides the potential to cash in on the gift giving spirit. 

The exact percentage of the commission is open to negotiation, based on the media outlets dominance and insights of their audience demographic. Some deals have resulted in exclusive takeovers such as The New York Times purchasing Wirecutter back in 2016 for around $30 million in return for their pre-built loyal and trusting readers relationship. 

Media have become a valuable part of the sales funnel, offering a wider more in-depth context around a product to help inform purchasing decisions. Direct links offer a strong call to action within a review allowing for high conversion rates for products aimed at both niche and mass audiences alike. 

This new marketing model shifts from the traditional cost-per-impression to a more results based payout. As we blindly click “accept all cookies” we are allowing technological tracking, this means even consumers who initially click the link but don’t buy immediately can still be traced back to the media outlet’s influence for around a 30-day period. 

The lines between editorial and advertising may be feeling blurry at this point, however, media outlets are careful about not saturating their sites with overly positive reviews. Many partnership contracts have clauses stating that if a consumer returns a product, the media outlet returns the commission! 

Affiliate marketing is estimated to generate 15% of all digital media revenue. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, the media is needing financial support, where income from print advertisements have dried up. Going hand in hand with this, links are the new window displays of shopping, with more consumers predicted to stay safe online rather than hitting the streets. Deloitte found that 51% of consumers are anxious about shopping in-store due to COVID and 65% prefer shopping online to avoid crowds

So with media needing to stay truthful and authentic in reviews, with products that are most relevant to their target audience, PR’s need to continually ensure they are only pitching clients that are a match for publications readers and are always including the right stockist links. Similarly, for brands, one million USP’s might be nothing without a priceless money-making link. 

Here at Gallium we can help with those all important conversations in kicking off a strategy, from retailers to media. From all our team we wish you an early merry commission-mas!

Celia Forbes
Celia Forbes