As consumers continue to flock to the Web and marketers shift their ad budgets to this arena, another change is taking place. More companies are engaging in the practice known as affiliate marketing. And according to the 1124721_we_have_a_dealmost recent survey by Forrester Research, affiliate marketing is set to grow significantly in the next 5 years.

Online affiliate marketing is as simple as placing a link to your site on another site. When users arrive at your site via the affiliate link, your affiliate or partner is due a commission for helping to drive traffic your way. Several large companies have filled this market space with services to improve the affiliate process and this includes Commission Junction, ValueClick and Vertive. And despite the recession, companies in specific industries such as financial services, retailers and online education, are expected to significantly increase their use of affiliate marketing.

Forrester also points out the following key trends that will drive the affiliate marketing industry from $1.09 billion this year to $4 billion in 2014:

  • Improved site content and ‘transparent dialogue’ between affiliates and marketers will generate more interest
  • Affiliate marketers will continue to use search as a key component of the process
  • Both affiliate networks and direct-payment affiliate arrangements will be important through 2014

Interestingly, Forrester does not expect social media to play a significant role in the affiliate marketing sector through the next 5 years. However, as the process becomes easier to understand and navigate, marketers will clearly begin to increase their use of the tool.

[Sources: Forrester: US Affiliate Marketing Spend, Affiliate Marketing Blog, 9.28.09; US Affiliate Marketing Forecast, Forrester Research, 9.25.09]