Is There Value in Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing continues to be an effective practice for advertisers/merchants, but how much value is really brought by performance-based marketers (affiliates)? 

A recent survey from the Rakuten-Linkshare affiliate network indicates that despite the well publicized challenges, affiliate marketing spend is on the rise and is forecasted to keep pace with other areas of digital spend through 2016. 

According to the study the affiliate channel is best for producing "new-to-file" or previously unknown customers and generating incremental customer acquisition. The customers acquired through performance marketing also tend to spend more than the average online shopper and are ultimately profitable for advertisers. Perhaps the most important revelation was that promotions in the affiliate channel have a positive impact on an advertiser's brand reputation and loyalty.

Forrester, which conducted the study, forecasts U.S. affiliate marketing spending will increase by a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 17 percent between 2011 and 2016, growing to $4.5 billion.