New Directions for Affiliates That Arise from Web 2.0 / 3.0 Changes

by Sherry Gordon


In the article Web 2.0/3.0 Shifts That Affect Affiliate Marketers, I listed some trends that have recently been affecting affiliates as well as affiliate program merchants.  Here, let's look at some of the ways that affiliates might respond to these changes so as to stay on top of the wave...

In general, I would say that the "Web 2.0" milieu (social networking, participatory, more democratic, helpful sharing) has simply underlined the importance of that old standby, content:  helpful, useful, honest, accessible content.  Who can be sorry to say goodbye to screaming banner ads and cookie cutter websites?  

What about Web 3.0?  If you've seen The Affiliate Marketing Primer homepage, you have some idea what I mean by "Web 3.0":  in brief, greater inclusiveness and all-in-one-place usability - greater community (along with the cool new applications as they come)... creating an environment in which advertisers are more in concert with other participants.  And why not? - good advertising is the sharing of information (which is only a twist away from "good content").

The majority of people want just a few things, at base:  solutions to problems; helpful information; fun and inspiration.  Oh, and they new expect a lot of this to be available to them for free. ...And it is - if not on your site, then on others'.  So there's got to be a clear rationale for your asking for payment for something - that is, you or your affiliate merchant partner asking (and a good rationale for your recommending - "pre-selling" - it).

Web 2.0 or Web 3.0, people's true needs don't change; and I believe that what will characterize Web 3.0 is even more emphasis on truth and service and we're-in-this-togetherness ("so don't just sell to me").

Sure, there will continue to be some routes and niches that grab (especially un-web-savvy) people's attention with far less altruistic promotions and appeals to money-making and baser instincts.  And people are still shopping! - so straightforward selling often does make sense (pay-per-click and mobile advertising come to mind).  But there's an awful lot of competition online now, and those who differentiate themselves by providing excellent content (in whatever form that may be) will be positioned to reap rewards no matter what format changes come along.

It used to be that affiliates simply thought in terms of setting up websites.  These were either designed to promote specific products or product lines, or the affiliate products were an afterthought.  Now there are many more avenues that affiliates are successfully taking to make money from other people's products (or their own):
  • Blogs (well, and microblogs - i.e., Twitter)
  • Participatory social networking sites
  • Social bookmarking sites - where you can list your favorite websites/blogs under a given topic
  • Similar user-engagement features on other sites, such as's "Listmania" lists (sharing titles of note in certain topical categories)
  • Article marketing - placing articles into online article directories (or informational sites, such as eHow, composed entirely of submitted articles), and/or onto other people's websites/blogs (perhaps even through syndication)
  • RSS/Atom feeds (another form of syndication)
  • Discussion forum participation (on other sites, or setting up a forum on your own)
  • Submitting reviews to other sites (and, of course, providing review on your own is seen as very helpful
  • YouTube videos (so easy to make into viral promoters, if only just by putting a frame at the end that gives your domain name)
  • Photo-sharing sites (less directly "advertising-enabling")
  • CPA (= cost per action - not just pay-per-click) advertising on search engines
  • CPA advertising on mobile device networks
  • Utilizing free online stores such as "Lemonade Stands" and Amazon's "aStore" (which are really just elaborate affiliate tools offered by the merchant)
  • Offering books (perhaps published on demand) or CDs/DVDs from online sellers, or ebooks (for sale or for free, including links to affiliate products inside)
  • Offering autoresponder ezines (usually for free, from your own site), or ecourses (for free or not, and perhaps listed in ecourse directories)
  • Offline promotions
It's interesting, isn't it?, that many of the things on that list are interactive, or at least responsive to other people's content.  "Web 2.0" was originally coined to describe the technologies that enabled participation - but it also now describes the culture of participation itself.
There are a couple of other issues it would be well to mention in this context:
  • "The long tail" (often defined as the many, many not-so-popularly-used keywords that people search on - i.e., mostly synonyms of more popular, and therefore more expensive and competitive, search terms): 
This is applicable to both SEO (search engine optimization of webpages) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising, largely on search engines); but it also applies in the case of selection of "tags" for social networking and social media sites.  So, making good use of long-tail keywords requires some sleuthing about in the places where they're used, so as to determine which are likely to "fly under the radar" like this.  (For help with search term/tag selection, see my website

One heartening thing about longtail keyword searches is that they tend to contain more words and often get more specific... which leads to a higher click-to-sale ratio.  This is especially true for product searches:  the more specific the search term, the closer the searcher is to buying (e.g., "latest iPhone" versus "mobile device").

Here's a quite useful article about the (many and varied) characteristics of a long-tail (and perhaps "fringe" and underserved) market - a bit of a different focus from my original definition involving keywords.
  • Further about mobile devices:
While many mobile devices (cell phones, Blackberries, iPhones, etc.) do access the Web, there are also websites set up specifically targeting mobile users, and there are companies that are set up to broker ads to them.  ( is an example pulled off of a Google search:  it caters to advertisers, and it operates a Google AdSense-type network for mobile website owners to monetize their sites.)  

Mobile advertising is supposedly far superior to regular online advertising in terms of click-through and action/sale rates per viewing.  Perhaps the higher quality of such ads - in trying to overcome the perceived in-your-faceness of being marketed to over your own phone,  for heaven's sake - is largely responsible for this.  But there is also rather a lot of interesting geographic and preference targeting, opt-in, and interactive marketing going on with this type of advertising, still in its early years but growing robustly. 
(And by the way, this sort of location targeting spreads the range and depth of a marketer's reach - that's pretty "long tail" right there:  getting down to the specifics.)  Here's a very informative article about the emerging mobile marketing industry.  This stuff is "techie Web 3.0", big time - and it's coming fast!

Mobile marketing is and probably will continue for some time to be experiencing a huge expansion.  In time, mobile advertising will become "older hat", and perhaps even regular affiliate merchants and affiliate program networks will offer up ways for their affiliates to more easily partake of such opportunities.  In the meantime, think in terms of what people might wish to learn about via their mobile devices (i.e., when they're on the go - here's a thought-provoking article about that) - and do some brainstorming on how you might address those needs/wants with an appropriate affiliate offering.  (It's link could be masked under your own domain name.)  And/or you can participate in one or more of the burgeoning CPA mobile ad networks.  See the sales page for
MobileSuccessBlueprints for an intro to this newer marketing field and a means of determining the most lucrative niches to target.)

The new directions you might take will certainly have to be informed by your own wishes and time available.  But do acknowledge that there are many means other than websites to promote affiliate products and services - and consider how you can best serve both your desired audience and yourself with some of them.  (And be looking out for others as they inevitably arise!)

Gordon Pioneering - Copyright 2-2010



You are very welcome to reprint this article in its entirety, including hyperlinks, if you'll also put this resource box at the end:

Sherry Gordon is the learn-it-and-pass-it-on creator of "The Affiliate Marketing Primer", at


Many thanks for your interest! 

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