If 2020 has taught us anything, it was that with change, come great opportunities. And affiliate marketing is one sector that will always be ready to shift, adapt, and overcome. 

But what can we expect from 2021? To give you a head-start this year, we asked well-known industry leaders, influencers, and affiliate rocktrepreneurs. 

Here’s what we found out…

Read more about it in our in-depth 2021 Affiliate Trends Guide.


iGaming, eCom, Finance, and Nutra are the main verticals this year

The previous year made it clear that personal needs, staying in touch with your family and friends, and finding ways to distract and entertain yourself are the most important things for every human being.

So, should it come as a surprise that for this year, the expected best-performing verticals are: iGaming, Dating, Finance, and Nutra?

propellerads - affiliate verticals to grow in 2021
The Top 5 Verticals Forecasted to Grow in 2021. Read more in our FREE PDF

And we’re not just saying so, the fact is that top industry influencers and entrepreneurs think that’s how it is!  

Servando Silva, a very well-known Affiliate Marketer thinks that “a general vertical for everything related to paid media, eCommerce for sure is the winner and it’ll just keep growing.

TopOffers however considers that “When it comes to rating, we consider Dating, Gambling, and Finance to be the top 3 verticals in 2021”, as Nilu Yusupova, their Head of BD & PR so perfectly put it.

One vertical in particular that might really shine brighter than the rest, is travel – the sector that Manu Cinca thinks will draw a lot of attention with the end of the pandemic.

How do you see this matter? 


The Pandemic Created New Personal-Needs Pain-Points  

With all the changes we’re living on a day-to-day basis, it’s nice to know you can find solace in the one thing that will probably always stay the same: planning your campaigns

PropellerAds - Customer pain points

As always, start by identifying which is the most basic reason behind launching your campaign – what pain-points it’s gonna fix.

To ease your work, we put up a list of useful questions to ask yourself before running a new affiliate marketing campaign this year, and keep up with the trends.

1. What are the main pain-points/opportunities the pandemic, social-distancing, and several lockdowns have created?
2. How do I cover people’s loneliness and lack of socializing?
3. Is dating enough, or should I also focus on leisure?
4. Will Nutra fix the healthcare needs?
5. What about extra money people have: should I go for iGaming or finance?
6. Do I stick to what I know or should I focus on getting into new verticals/formats?
7. What burning points am I fixing with this campaign?

Format wise comfort comes first – Popunders, Push, and Interstitials ensure it

The move towards digital is making way for a new trend. And there has always been a certain comfort in watching the movie, rather than reading the book.

Now we can see the same happening in advertising, where people are more inclined towards watching a video instead of reading. Receiving the offer, with little to no effort.

And this makes sense because digitalization is all about simplifying the workload. Which is why, we’re more inclined to make voice searches and leave voice messages, as opposed to writing. 

So, we can clearly see the focus is shifted to more personalized content. And our formats – Popunders, Push, and Interstitials – are all about that.

Firstly, Popunders are also one of the formats that perform exceptionally, bringing large traffic volumes from all over the world, but also from Asia in particular

Secondly, Push Notifications are a brilliant way of advertising, because of the way they work. And they’re even greater than SMS, since they’re seen as one of the most reliable sources of communication.

And last but not least, Interstitials – one of the most clickable content there is, providing exceptional visibility for your ads. Here, as well, the info is right in front of your users.

At this point, all you need to do is make sure you have a good fit for your campaigns. And you can do it by matching your verticals with inspiring and enticing creatives and formats. 

If you’re not sure how this works, have a quick peek at our Format & Vertical Matchmaker

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise but… during our survey we also uncovered some formats that are expected to have a way better performance than the rest. 

Here’s what is expected to perform better this year: 

“Everything video-related (tik-tok-ads, video-ads, webinars, conferences, etc.)”– Shared opinion of our respondees SMS marketing will see a huge increase in 2021. As much as 98% of SMS messages get read within 90 seconds of delivery” – Amy Cheung, STM Forum’s Senior Moderator;
Pop(under)s aren’t dying – Pops are great!’ – Luke Kling, affLift; Interstitials remain an evergreen format;
Native Push’s on its way out […] and the replacement seems to be the in-page push’ – Luke Kling, affLift;

Performance Marketing stays ahead of Conventional Advertising 

Pretty much everything is shifting online. And affiliate marketing is blooming! Digitalization means that as an affiliate marketer, you’ll have more options. 

You will also face more competition, but when has this not been the case? 

Digital vs Traditional Marketing Spending in the US, 2012-2020
Digital vs Traditional Marketing Spending in the US, 2012-2020

We chose to see what one of the richest GEOs – the US – did, in terms of advertising budgets over the past few years.

As you can see in the chart above, conventional advertising (branding, awareness, and pretty much everything in between) is having a rough time since February 2017. 

And although there is a small improvement from February 2019, who can say if it will ever manage to fully recover, especially now that the focus remains on the online.

In fact, most of the specialists we asked where the Affiliate Marketing industry is headed in 2021, agreed with Ian Fernando, Digital Marketer at IANternet Media which said:

“Affiliate marketing cannot die; it just always improves which allows others to enter the industry in an easier manner.” 

This idea is also backed by the data gathered by Statista, based on which they forecast the 2021 Ad Spending to reach $398,762 millions:

ad spend worldwide

So it’s pretty much safe to assume that performance marketing is one of the safest industries to be and invest in. The impressive rise expected over the next 4 years stands proof to that. 


Diversification is the New Affiliate Marketing Safety Net 

Now that you know which verticals are more likely to come out winners from 2021, do you stick to what you know, or do you try to diversify?

Most of the specialists we talked with agree with Nilu Yusupova, which said: 

Focusing on multiple verticals, however, is the perfect choice for the companies to keep their heads above water during the Covid-19.

And in fact, strategy-wise, when you go for more verticals, you can ensure stability and cover more ground. 

Here are some great offers from Zeydoo to go with your new campaign.

Moreover, diversifying makes a lot more sense. You don’t catch your users’ attention by exposing them to a single vertical, instead, you get more chances to convert or reconvert them through similar verticals

Basically, diversifying you reach new and different audiences, and at the same time it doubles as a great risk management strategy. 

Just think about all the affiliates that before the Pandemic were only focused on the Travel vertical. In case you lived under a rock, here’s how bad the pandemic potentially hit the Travel industry:

“the trade group representing major global travel companies, projects a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1 trillion in revenue.” – National Geographic

You probably understand now why working with a second or several other verticals, could not only save your investment, but in a similar case, possibly your business as well. 

In other words, if one vertical is not going so great, you can always count on the others. Doing so, you ensure a constant work and cash-flow.


The Internet allowed consumers to become more ‘self-sufficient at home’ 

In fact, over the past few months, we clearly see a shift in consumer behavior. 

Deloitte was saying less than a year ago:

“The consumer is changing. They are more capricious and less loyal. They have less time but are more conscientious […] and prefer experiences over products. Today’s consumer is an entirely different animal”.

And they hit the jackpot with that last part. Because, by having to spend more time indoors, the consumer became comfortable and now is more focused on improving their ‘stay-at-home life’.

“Impulse shopping usually drives 25% of overall holiday spending, according to The NPD Group. This year (i.e. 2020), it’s expected to drive only 18% to 20% — a potential loss of $5 billion to $7 billion in sales”, as quoted by CNBC just before the holiday season.

However, the surge from November during several spending days, leads us to think otherwise. Online spending has taken the place of not only traditional grocery, but shopping in general.

Sorry stores, eCom’s really hot🔥 right now! (But we’ll still love you after the Pandemic.)

And if we’re to reason based on what happens during other events, like various matches and sporting events, we’re safe to assume that everything that’s online really does amazing.

So, yeah… The real question now is: Were consumers really forced to adopt the digital, or did digital just become the ‘new normal’?

Here’s what Deloitte’s year-long research unearthed: 

“The consumer hasn’t fundamentally changed, but to the extent they are changing is because the environment around them is evolving, characterized by economic constraints and new competitive options.”

Pretty impressive, right? Especially if you think about how Affiliate Marketing will prosper over the coming years.


Asia takes the lead in hot upcoming GEOs 

The main GEOs you’ll want to target this year, are the ones that are set to grow. The GEOs that have more permissive regulations, but are also easier on the pocket. 

From this point of view, Ksenia Kostina, Leadgid & Webvõrk’s Owner thinks that “Asia and Africa will continue to develop and become more localized”

In fact, despite the pandemic, here’s S&P Global’s pretty amazing forecasts for the Asia GEO:

“Digital advertising […] will recover in 2021 to grow 12.5%, with a CAGR (i.e. Compound annual growth rate) 2019-2024 of 7.3%.

The medium — which includes desktop, mobile, social media, and online video ads — will account for about 63% of Asia-Pacific advertising spend in 2024, according to the data.”

apac advertising

Now, considering Asia’s impressive advertising budgets during the shopping season and how big they are in the eCommerce market, that’s one GEO you don’t want to miss.

In addition, even Manu Cinca says he’ll keep his eyes on “countries with a higher growth rate in terms of the internet – India, Brazil, Indonesia, LatAm, and the Middle East.”


Now, these are some real deal-breakers. So if you think you have your 2021 budget and campaigns all sorted out, head on out to the Propeller Dashboard, and get started!

For anything else, don’t forget about our Help Center and Telegram Chat

All in all, the new year surely looks promising! Just make sure to be more like affLift’s, Luke Kling and think:

🎉“Affiliate-wise, we’re gonna be ready for it!”👊

Author

This copywriting enthusiast has an experience of over 8-years in creating engaging online marketing content for various verticals and formats. Out of passion for copy, she devoted 4 years to master the art of sales. Her journalisms-instilled active listening, combined with the sales-bound charm give her the superpower to break boundaries and establish emotional connections with the users.