Affiliate Marketing Statistics for Publishers (2021)

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Affiliate Marketing Statistics Publishers Should Know


By the Numbers: Affiliate Marketing Statistics Publishers Should Know


Affiliate marketing statistics show how this industry has exploded in the past decade. American merchants have spent almost four times more on affiliate marketing in 2021 than they did in 2010.

Established online publishers are cashing in on this growth. Affiliate marketing has fueled revenue for everyone, from legacy names like The New York Times to new players like Buzzfeed and Vox. 

As online shopping becomes more popular, affiliate programs will continue to serve as a reliable form of revenue for publishers of all sizes. Rakuten intelligence data shows that online sales grew almost 50% YOY in 2021, alongside a 73% increase in traffic to content websites.  

This sets the stage for even more opportunities for both seasoned affiliate marketers and new affiliates. Let’s look at affiliate marketing statistics that show the growth and potential of this field. 


Growth rate of affiliate programs 


Affiliate marketing was in 2020 estimated to be worth $15 billion globally, with the largest markets in the U.S. ($6.8 billion), Japan ($3.3 billion), and Germany ($1.3 billion). 

According to Precision Reports, the industry is expected to grow by 15.8% globally every year until 2026. This means that within five years, the affiliate market is projected to surpass $17 billion. 

Based on the same report, the U.S. will continue to lead as the largest affiliate market. Significant opportunities lie in Asia, where affiliate marketing spend is estimated to reach up to $4 billion in countries like Japan. 


More merchants are launching affiliate programs


According to a 2019 study conducted by IAB, over a third of merchants and agencies spend over 10% of their marketing budget on affiliate marketing programs. Although the study was based in Australia, 56% of participating companies operate affiliate marketing internationally.

Because it takes so long to build a following through blogs, social media, and video channels, merchants have an incentive to pay established publishers and creators rather than create those channels themselves. 

Case in point: over half of the companies in the IAB study reported that their affiliate program drove 20% or more of new sales. 

Many of these programs are listed in affiliate networks such as CJ Affiliates, Rakuten and Awin. However, several merchants launch programs directly on their websites. 

As the benefits of affiliate marketing become clear, more merchants are launching affiliate programs. CJ Affiliates, the largest affiliate network in the U.S., doubled the number of merchants on its platform to 3,800 in the last 3 years


Affiliate Marketing Post-COVID


As we emerge from lockdowns and travel restrictions, it’s worth it to keep an eye on which industries are offering new affiliate opportunities. 

According to CJ’s Lookback Report, the affiliate market for industries like tech and retail grew rapidly during the 2020 pandemic. Tech purchases increased by 83% YOY and retail purchases increased 30% YOY. But the travel and financial industry saw the opposite effect, decreasing by 82% and 10%, respectively. 

The silver lining for affiliates is that engagement with affiliate programs increased by 40% from 2020 to 2021. With the sped-up adoption of content consumption and online orders, the industry is primed to continue to grow in the next decade.

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