Shoptalk 2024: 7 Key Affiliate Marketing Learnings for the Industry

Apr 3, 2024
Written by CJ

Shoptalk, the retail industry’s largest commerce conference, recently commenced in Las Vegas (March 17-20). This event focused on strategies for navigating market force changes, including economic uncertainty, evolving consumer behavior, and the continued rise of technology.

CJ deployed our many thought leaders who attended Shoptalk to hunt out the trends, share them with you, and identify any strategic opportunities for the affiliate channel.

Looking to dive even deeper into trends from Shoptalk 2024? Check out the Publicis Commerce Shoptalk Trends Report 2024 to get 13 unique perspectives from thought leaders across Publicis agencies, including CJ's Tucker Gitlin.

Here are some key findings on the ways the affiliate channel can respond to retail’s new retail realities:


1. Performance is Needed from All Channels

Economic uncertainty has made brands more cost-conscious, leading to a rise in performance-based marketing models. Affiliate marketing, with its focus on measurable results, is well-positioned to thrive in this environment.

This requires a shift in how brands allocate budgets and a prioritization of partnerships that demonstrably drive sales and conversions. Influencers and content creators will also need to adapt, focusing on measurable results alongside high-quality content.


2. Affiliate Marketing Evolves: A Broader Definition

The lines between traditional affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are blurring. Brands are recognizing the value of a wider range of content creators, from established coupon sites to niche micro-influencers. This broader view of affiliate marketing allows brands to leverage different creators for both brand awareness and conversions. This trend democratizes marketing opportunities, allowing smaller brands to compete more effectively.

For the affiliate channel, this means collaborating with brands to test new partnership models. Brands can utilize established affiliate publishers to reach new audiences, while smaller content creators can leverage affiliate marketing tools to drive conversions alongside brand building.


3. Authenticity Reigns Supreme: The Rise of Micro-Influencers and Community Building

The growing popularity of micro-influencers and community-focused platforms like Discord reflects a shift towards prioritizing authenticity and relevance in marketing, especially with younger demographics. Brands that cultivate genuine communities and engage authentically are likely to see stronger loyalty and advocacy.

This trend presents an opportunity for the affiliate channel. Affiliate publishers, with their established audiences and brand voice, can be a valuable asset for brands seeking to connect authentically with specific customer segments. Affiliate marketing allows brands to leverage the publisher's voice alongside their own, creating a more natural and relatable message.


4. Adapting to a Cookieless Future

Google's phasing out of third-party cookies by 2024 poses a significant challenge for marketers. Affiliate marketing offers a potential solution. Affiliate publishers often have naturally occurring audiences within specific demographics or with purchase intent. This allows brands to access these valuable customer segments in a privacy-compliant way.


5. Short-Form Video Takes Over

The dominance of short-form video content on platforms like TikTok highlights the need for engaging, bite-sized content that resonates with consumers' fragmented media habits. Brands must become more agile and creative in content production, focusing on storytelling that captures attention quickly.

The affiliate channel can play a role here as well. Publishers with audiences interested in short-form video content can partner with brands to develop engaging content that drives brand awareness or conversions.


6. The Power of AI and Big Data (with a Cautionary Note)

There's a growing interest in AI and big data for more personalized and efficient marketing strategies. However, while the potential is significant, most brands are still in the early stages of adoption.


7. Collaboration is Key: The Need for Cross-Functional Teams

Shoptalk emphasized the importance of fostering cross-functional teams internally and with external partners like affiliate marketing agencies. This "general manager mindset" encourages a holistic understanding of business challenges and opportunities.

For the affiliate channel, this translates to ensuring your affiliate team (both internal and external) is integrated into broader marketing discussions. Breaking down silos will allow affiliate partners to identify where their inventory can address needs in other channels and contribute more effectively to the overall marketing strategy.


By embracing these trends and adapting to the changing landscape, the affiliate channel can remain a powerful tool for brands to connect with consumers and drive results.

Topics: Events,
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