Affiliate Marketing Trends 2021


2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. The Global pandemic has had a major impact on the economy,  businesses and our daily routines. Despite such obstacles, the affiliate channel has once again shown its resilience in the face of adversity and has been the go-to channel for marketers.

Already 15% of the whole digital advertising revenue is generated by affiliate marketing and 80% of the marketers use affiliate marketing as one of their major sales channels.¹ Taking into account that new companies under the influence of the pandemic are entering actively and consciously into e-commerce, it seems that the development of the affiliate marketing channel is further emerging.

We interviewed key Tradedoubler spokespersons to identify key trends in affiliate and performance marketing for 2021!


Soraya Garcia Merino, Country Manager Spain

Digital Transformation – 2021 will be the year companies will be immersed in digital transformation projects, as a way to stimulate economic recovery. According to the report “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Digital Transformation” the investment in digital transformation will grow more than 15% between 2020 and 2023. This will mean an increase in digital platforms, more digital interaction with consumers and the reinvention of business models. More companies, mainly start-ups and SMBs will invest in online marketing as a priority.

CPA models – As confirmed during the Black Friday period, advertisers are investing in CPA models because the risk in the investment is low, not only in channels that traditionally work on CPA but also others such as Programmatic Buying and Influencer Marketing.

Lead Generation – An important strategy for 2021. Companies will be interested in renewing their database of contacts to apply strategies such as Email Marketing.


Lukasz Szymula, Country Manager CEE & Poland

Affiliation development in the B2B channel – More and more companies are reporting readiness for affiliation activities in the B2B channel, which makes it necessary for affiliate networks to acquire more competence in this area

The very fast growth of the grocery channel – The segment of the market which records the highest growth of online shopping is food products. Global sales of food products from online shops and restaurants will reach USD 136 billion in 2020. E-shopping of food will grow by 25% annually in the following years.

Increasing cooperation of affiliate networks with marketplaces – The greater part of global sales in the network (50-85% of sales, depending on the market) is done through digital marketplaces belonging to digital giants such as Aliexpress or Amazon. In Poland, Allegro is dominant and cooperation with Tradedoubler is a great example of combining the competencies of a marketplace with the knowledge of experts of an affiliate network.

Private partnership programmes for dedicated groups – We can see an increase in customer interest in this form and I assume that in 2021 there will be more of these solutions.


Sara Centemero, Country Manager Italy

Omnichannel commerce & Conversational Commerce – Active use of messengers or chatbots in promotional communications is part of the global trend of conversational commerce. Every facilitation of product delivery, payment methods, or advertising will be made a merchant’s life easier and increase the conversion.

The crucial switch to mobile – The most recent advancement to the shopping experience is shoppable posts. Introduced by Instagram, followed by YouTube, these posts or videos allow its users to add products they see in social media straight to the checkout. No need for visiting a dedicated website and searching for products there.


Derek Grant, Country Manager UK

At Tradedoubler we’ve seen all channels other than Travel perform significantly better than in previous years and looking ahead to 2021 we expect this trend to continue as budgets continue to be invested in the channel and online in general.

Diverse Partnerships – Partnerships will be even more important this year as Advertisers look to strengthen relationships with key partners, but also introduce new ones as they look to diversify their affiliate programs. We’ve already seen a big increase at the end of 2020 in the number of technology partners being accepted on to affiliate programs and driving volume. In general, the affiliate channel will become even more diverse as advertisers utilise affiliates across a number of different channels, from app installs, voice search to campaign-specific activity.

Growth of affiliate channels – Maintaining and finding new, loyal customers will continue to be of high importance as the online battleground for this becomes even more crowded and the affiliate channel will play a much bigger role in assisting Advertisers with this. Aligned to this is the growth of social commerce and the shift of budgets to the affiliate channel which is has already working with partners such as TikTok to help drive awareness and sales. We could see several ‘social only’ stores pop up in the channel soon.

Machine learning and AI will be adopted more by the networks as they look to automate admin heavy tasks but also to assist client service teams, clients and partners more efficiently.

Hope – Incredibly, despite the lockdowns and restrictions, many travel businesses have weathered the storm and survived. My big hope for 2021 is that travel makes a big resurgence and we all get to go on holiday with family and friends…and if Travel is open again, then the affiliate channel is the perfect place for advertisers in the sector to turn to for sales in 2021.


Federica Postorino, Country Manager France

New Ad formats – Interactive and word of mouth. People are too stimulated by advertising and they become less receptive. After the trend of hyper-personalized advertising now the ad formats are becoming interactive using AI or simple advice from influencers or media website. The advertising will become more and more intrusive and integrated into the content.

Cookieless as the new way of tracking – In 2021 the rules for using cookies to track conversions will change in France. It will force affiliation platform, advertisers and publishers to re-invent the way of tracking performance without cookies

Self Service and Private networks – The advertisers want to have even more control of their affiliation program. We launched this year our self-service platform to give the possibility to the SMBs to create their own affiliate program to sell their products and services by our network. We also see even more big advertisers who want to internalize their affiliation program and create a private network. This allows them the control of the whole user journey and to have a clear vision of the contribution of each contact point.

Company Social Responsibility (CRS) – The importance of CRS is growing year by year and this covid crisis pushes companies to accelerate it. Every company, even the affiliation platform, must define which are their commitment to behave and conduct the business ethically and with sensitivity towards social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues.


Kristoffer Klockare, Regional Director Nordics

Influencer Marketing – A not so new trend as I wrote about it in 2019. But with the huge success with our own influencer platform Metapic, we think 2021 will be a very good year for performance-based influencer marketing. Overall we see a greater interest in influencer marketing from advertisers and we think that global influencer marketing spend will grow significantly next year. Brands and advertisers are always searching for the most effective ways to share their message to their target audiences online while offline, physical engagement is limited.

Micro or nano influencers aren’t new either, but they’re continuing to grow at a fast pace. With smaller follower bases, these influencers are small but can arguably be more influential, as their engagement levels tend to be higher. Given that micro-influencers create their own content and manage their accounts directly, their posts have a more personal tone that resonates with followers, and brands can more easily connect with them.



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