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Generative AI Democratizes Affiliate Marketing

- Updated Jan 17, 2024
Illustration: © AI For All
As the affiliate industry continues to mature, marketers on both sides face challenges, such as the need for advertisers to create incrementality and drive better conversion optimization, and the need for content creators to create relevancy and be discovered by consumers and their target audiences. 
For both publishers and advertisers, this is where artificial intelligence can come in handy. AI and machine learning are revolutionizing aspects of affiliate marketing, providing ways to address many of today’s challenges and even out the playing field. 
Let's take a look at some of the most effective ways to apply AI.
AI & the Affiliate Industry
Accelerating Publishers’ Content Creation
Publishers are harnessing AI to streamline and speed up content creation. With the advent of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude, and others, even the smallest aspiring content creators can use AI to develop high-level prompts. These can describe target personas, content pillars, and goals, and automatically generate draft posts and articles tailored to those specifications. 
This functionality allows publishers to develop content at scale across their site around themes designed to attract and engage audiences in their niche.
Expanding Affiliate Relationships
Monetizing the content with affiliate programs is the next step. But AI can help with that too. 
To monetize content via affiliate links, publishers must first establish relationships with relevant brands’ affiliate programs. The more affiliate programs publishers belong to, the more opportunities to promote to consumers, and thus the greater opportunity for driving sales.
Until AI-driven tools to find new advertiser programs are available, publishers can use the search functionality within the affiliate networks. But with a little creativity, publishers can leverage generative AI to deliver partnership suggestions.
AI output is more accurate and detailed when it’s “fed” more details and context. An example prompt might be: 
“I run a blog about [subject] targeted to [target audience - demographics, interests]. I am looking for brands to become an affiliate publisher for, so I can include their product links and promotions in my content to help monetize my content and help them generate more sales. Please generate a list of potential online advertisers who have affiliate programs, for me to consider.”
Using specific prompts, and with a little manual intervention, publishers can cultivate a list of prospects. Taking it a step further, when publishers find a couple of relevant advertisers, they can ask the AI tool to iterate on that list to find more.
Monetizing Publisher Content
Tools are emerging that leverage AI to analyze a publisher's site and provide recommendations on how/where to better integrate affiliate promotions to boost performance, or even to produce revised content with affiliate links already incorporated. 
Unfortunately, these are still early-stage products with limited availability, but when available, such tools will further help smaller publishers make smart decisions about integrating affiliate ads.
Another way publishers can more efficiently monetize their content is by looking at running native ads or automatically incorporating relevant affiliate-enabled links into their sites. 
Tools such as RevContent and Taboola allow publishers to add native advertising widgets simply and easily into their sites and will likely integrate AI to deliver the highest-performing ads shortly. Native ads can complement affiliate links well since they don’t have to be clicked on to generate revenue from content.
Affiliate links can drive significant engagement and revenue for publishers since they occur contextually within the content a user is reading or watching. Tools can automatically detect and add tracked affiliate links to product mentions or recommendations in content, which is ideal for AI-generated content produced at scale. 
Because brands and publishers don’t have to manually forge relationships with advertisers for products named in content, and the affiliate links follow a simple enough format that they can be generated by any LLM, it can save a tremendous amount of time and further level the playing field for smaller affiliate marketers to scale rapidly.
Helping Advertisers Find Productive Affiliates
AI is solving one of affiliate marketing’s classic problems for brands- finding new partners to promote an advertiser’s products. A high-performing affiliate marketing program should consist of a broad portfolio of many different types of publishers.
Like any good investment portfolio, a diverse publisher portfolio helps advertisers hedge against being over-represented in any one vertical or with any one publisher. Plus, increasing the network of relevant publishers in an affiliate program can help drive incremental growth from broader offer distribution.
Until recently, finding new relevant publishers for a program has been a somewhat manual process and even harder for small brands with new programs. Now platforms like Partnerize’s Intelligent Partner Discovery offer publisher discovery tools that leverage AI, streamlining the process for advertisers to find new publishers by using machine learning to help brands identify and automatically invite new publishers to their programs.
Affiliate Program Performance Optimization
AI is also being applied to optimize ongoing affiliate campaign performance. Machine learning algorithms can analyze the combination of publisher, offer, creative, and channel to drive conversions and identify the highest-value partnerships and approaches. 
These insights allow even brands without deep analytical talent to fine-tune their promotional configurations to maximize ROI. AI-powered tracking, attribution, and reporting provide transparency into which affiliates are creating the most value.
Fighting Fraud
Finally, AI has tremendous potential as an effective tool against fraud. AI can analyze millions of transactions quickly and identify patterns that indicate fraudulent ones. 
In this way, AI can help advertisers be sure they are not paying commissions to fraudsters and save small brands money and time. Cybersecurity firm CHEQ estimated that in 2022, 17% of traffic coming from affiliate programs was fake and the industry was expected to lose over $3.4 billion in fraud. 
Fraud affects many brands in the affiliate marketing industry, leading to wasted spend, a loss of confidence in performance marketing, and misguided strategies based on poor data, according to Fraudlogix.
AI Transforms Affiliate Marketing
Together, these use cases demonstrate how AI is transforming affiliate marketing to be smarter and more efficient while opening up new opportunities on both sides of the equation. 
Publishers can tap into AI to grow and diversify their income through new partnerships while creating content tailored to their niche at scale. Brands can leverage AI-powered discovery and optimization to expand their roster of relevant publishers driving measurable conversions.
As AI continues to grow more sophisticated, it will become an even more critical enabler allowing affiliate marketers to overcome content creation barriers, maximize the value of affiliate partnerships, and make productive performance marketing a reality for both brands and publishers.
Written by Tristan Barnum, CMO at Wildfire
AI for Business
Generative AI
Machine Learning
Author
Wildfire's enterprise platform embeds social commerce, rewards, coupons, and shopping companions into existing services, enhancing user experiences and loyalty while driving new revenues. The patented suite rewards online shopping and harnesses digital word-of-mouth. Wildfire drives incremental sales for more than 50,000 merchant programs in 50+ countries. Wildfire’s newest platform, RevenueEngine, monetizes generative AI-powered e-commerce transactions by turning product and brand mentions into commissionable links. Founded in 2017, Wildfire is based in San Diego. For more information, visit wildfire-corp.com.
Author
Wildfire's enterprise platform embeds social commerce, rewards, coupons, and shopping companions into existing services, enhancing user experiences and loyalty while driving new revenues. The patented suite rewards online shopping and harnesses digital word-of-mouth. Wildfire drives incremental sales for more than 50,000 merchant programs in 50+ countries. Wildfire’s newest platform, RevenueEngine, monetizes generative AI-powered e-commerce transactions by turning product and brand mentions into commissionable links. Founded in 2017, Wildfire is based in San Diego. For more information, visit wildfire-corp.com.
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