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Lee-Ann Johnstone and Roo Wright: The growing influencer market and adapting to change in the affiliate market

Over recent years, influencer marketing has grown to become a global marketing phenomenon, taking both social media and the rest of the digital world by storm.
AffiliateINSIDER founder, Lee-Ann Johnstone discusses the growing influencer sector for affiliates with Wag.io Founder and CEO Roo Wright in Wright’s self-titled podcast.
The pair discussed how affiliates have adapted the ways in which they engage with customers, especially the younger generations who have grown up in a very different digital age. Brands have been pushed to learn about how to reach wider audiences using different devices, new places and new channels, a learning curve that Johnstone stated to be very important.
Johnstone noted: “I think that affiliates are going to start thinking of themselves more as mini-influencers. They are not going to be looking at how their brand converts, they are going to be looking at how they influence customers to convert to brands.”
In 2017, Instagram influencers alone were worth an estimated $1.07 billion, however this figure is expected to skyrocket to over $2.38 billion by the end of 2019.
An influencer, by definition, is a person who has established credibility in a particular industry. In the case of marketing, this credibility is then utilised to promote a particular brand or product in return for an agreed fee.
Wright added: “As the younger demographic comes through, they are beginning to look at different ways to access their information to the ways that affiliates have traditionally done it. But unless they move with the times as well, they will go the way of the dinosaurs.”
The marketing strategy has been the method of choice for many brands to improve their connectivity with tech-conscious millennials. Reaching out to this audience has often proved difficult for brands to achieve, with many resorting to using celebrities to endorse their brands.
Whilst affiliates also promote a particular brand or product, the differentiating feature is the channel in which they choose to exert such influence: websites are the channel of choice for affiliates, whilst social media or other online channels are used by influencers.
Unlike influencers, affiliates only earn from a product being sold. Influencers are paid regardless of whether sales are achieved, with people such as Kylie Jenner or Selena Gomez charging hundreds of thousands of dollars just to feature a product. The main aim for influencers is to gain exposure for a particular product or service, often done by sponsored advertising.
The uptake in the influencer market has provided massive opportunities. Wright explained: “ I think the uptake in that space for one is a massive opportunity and in some respects is a threat to existing affiliates who might be consolidating and buying more sites.”
The influencer market has previously been scrutinised for the ways in which brands have been promoted, with some influencers coming under fire for promoting betting products to an audience of which a large portion were under the age of 18.
However, as the strategy continues to gain traction, it is clear that more people are gravitating towards this kind of marketing rather than advertorials. The fast-paced disruptive nature of the affiliate sector is adapting to this change, and will continue to explore new avenues.
Johnstone said: “I think those are the opportunities that we’re looking at in the next two years. It is going to be disruptive and it is going to be fast moving but I think that’s what we’ve seen coming into this channel.”
For more expert affiliate insight, sign up to the AffiliateINSIDER Bootcamp 2019. This targeted event will help you make the most of your affiliate business and keep ahead of digital trends. Listen to the full podcast here.

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