Is Affiliate Marketing Dead in 2024: Latest Developments

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Competition and Changes: The rise in online competition and stricter rules on affiliate links have made traditional affiliate marketing methods less effective.
Shift in Strategy: Affiliate marketing, while still viable, now plays a supporting role in content marketing focused on value and trust.
Audience and Quality Content First: Success in affiliate marketing hinges on building a significant audience and providing high-quality, educational content.
Long-term Commitment: Achieving success in affiliate marketing is a lengthy process, requiring patience, realistic expectations, and a commitment to best practices.

The Evolution That Rendered ‘Old School’ Affiliate Marketing Ineffective

Over the past 10-15 years, significant changes have reshaped affiliate marketing:

1. Exponential Content Growth on the Internet

Today’s internet sees about 7 million blog posts published daily across over 600 million blogs.

In comparison, there we only 7.8 million blogs in March.

This explosion in content creation means intense competition for consumer attention.

The internet’s expansion has raised the barrier to entry in affiliate marketing, rendering methods from 2005 less effective.

2. Restrictions and Disdain for Affiliate Links

Previously, the internet had fewer affiliate links, and regulations were lax.

Now, affiliate links are either disallowed or frowned upon.

There’s a sort of soft ban on excessive affiliate linking, often leading to bans on various platforms.

3. Decline in Organic Reach on Major Platforms

Platforms typically experience three stages of organic reach:

  • Vibrant Stage: Content consumption exceeds production, encouraging organic sharing.
  • Stagnant Stage: Content production catches up, and platforms introduce advertising programs.
  • Decline Stage: Platforms prioritize their advertising programs, reducing organic reach.

The decrease in organic reach significantly impacts affiliate marketing, which relies on visibility.

4. Increased Sophistication of Search Engines and Audiences

Google now often downranks content heavy with affiliate links.

Audiences too prefer educational and informative content over sales-oriented material.

With intense competition, content quality has risen, while slots for organic search results have diminished, leaving less room for affiliate link-focused content.

Is Affiliate Marketing Still Viable in [year]?

Yes, affiliate marketing is still effective in [year]. In fact, according to Google Trends, affiliate marketing has never been more popular as a topic than today.

However, it has transitioned from a primary business model to a secondary monetization method within content marketing.

Content marketing focuses on creating value-driven content that fosters brand authenticity and trust between businesses and consumers.

In such an environment, affiliate marketing thrives when you recommend products that genuinely solve your audience’s problems.

In this trust-based setting, affiliate marketing not only survives but excels.

Will the Removal of Third-Party Cookies Impact Affiliate Marketing?

The removal of third-party cookies will not affect affiliate marketing at all, neither for companies overseeing affiliate programs nor for affiliate marketers promoting products.

Affiliate marketing primarily depends on first-party cookies, ensuring its core functionality remains unaffected.

First-party cookies are fundamentally different from third-party ones.

They are only accessible to the website that created them, unlike third-party cookies, which are set by third-party scripts authorized by website owners.

These third-party cookies enable advertising giants like Google and Facebook to build user profiles for targeted advertising.

However, due to privacy concerns, third-party cookies are being phased out.

Is Affiliate Marketing a Waste of Time?

Affiliate marketing might seem like a waste of time until you reach a certain milestone.

Starting with affiliate marketing right off the bat in a new niche website isn’t effective.

The key reason is straightforward: no audience means no clicks on affiliate links.

Considering conversion rates, a significant volume of traffic is essential for affiliate links to be effective.

I’ve detailed when to monetize with affiliate marketing in an in-depth article.

Initially, the focus should be on creating content. Aim for 30-50 quality articles to establish a solid foundation for your site.

Once you’ve built this base and done things correctly, traffic should follow.

For an understanding of the time frame involved, refer to my article on blog articles’ peak Google SERP rankings.

Why Do Affiliate Marketers Fail?

Several factors contribute to affiliate marketers’ failure.

A common issue is impatience and prematurely quitting.

Achieving significant success in affiliate marketing often takes years.

Many are misled by unrealistic expectations set by “get rich quick” schemes from self-proclaimed gurus.

These courses either underestimate the time required or overestimate potential earnings, leading to a skewed perception of affiliate marketing’s realities.

Another pitfall is the search for shortcuts. In reality, there are no shortcuts.

The most effective “shortcut” is adhering to best practices in affiliate and content marketing.

Seeking non-existent shortcuts can result in years wasted, whereas investing time and effort in proper methods can yield meaningful results over time.

Mastering Affiliate Marketing

Success in affiliate marketing is attainable through a pragmatic approach.

It’s crucial to understand that it’s not a “get rich fast” scheme but a legitimate aspect of content marketing.

The cornerstone of success in this field is consistently creating quality content over time.

While there’s more to it, starting with content that addresses and solves user problems is a solid foundation.

Embracing the journey, knowing it could take years to achieve success, and being comfortable with this timeframe is liberating.

Small, consistent steps will eventually compound into significant achievements.

Don’t be misled by the allure of quick riches, like the idea of being “only one funnel away” from making thousands monthly.

Chasing instant results is often a fruitless pursuit.

The Timeline to Affiliate Marketing Success

Given the context of this article, it’s clear that becoming a successful affiliate marketer takes years.

Rather than being disheartened, view this as a positive barrier to entry.

Your perseverance will allow you to surpass many who try and quit early.

Adopt the mindset of a marathon runner rather than a sprinter in this field.

Sprinters lack the endurance needed for the long-term journey of affiliate marketing.