Mobile Affiliate Marketing: Thoughts and Speculation

Recently, I posted about a session I attended at Affiliate Summit West 2009 called Mobile Web Opportunities. The speaker was Peter Glaeser from Mobile Space Ltd., and although he offered some good insight into what affiliates, networks, and software providers can be doing to get a piece of the mobile web, the session left me wanting for what publishers could do today to make sure they secure a piece of the mobile affiliate marketing pie tomorrow.

Specifically, I noticed that Peter placed little importance on downloadable apps. I think this misses the fact that through technologies such as GPS, Near Fields Communication (NFC), and Location Based Services (LBS), these are likely to drive both the future of mobile ecommerce and ad-targeting. In fact, these are all areas that Apple, Nokia, and Google have all invested heavily in.

Now, one thing pointed out in that presentation was that the mobile web provides a completely different user-experience then what users are used to currently online. Similarly, it’s going to cause ecommerce, affiliate marketing, and just about anything else it touches to evolve in very distinct ways.

Through technologies such as GPS, NFC, and LBS, the mobile web will close the gap between online/digital and physical interaction, merging digital experiences with physical spaces and experiences. In fact, Web 3.0 may not be the semantic web, but a mobile one that’s part physical and part digital.

One of the ways in which it will likely do this is through downloadable apps, and I think that networks, software providers, and affiliates all need to start considering how those apps fit into the affiliate marketing model. For example, affiliates might build app directories and make a rev-share on every app download they generate.

Also, GPS, NFC, and LBS seem to have the potential to bring mobile affiliate marketing together with offline affiliate marketing. After all, if affiliates can receive commissions for the offline sales they generate, there’s really no reason why they couldn’t make commissions on targeting users with nearby promotions. Of course, even this would require that the user downloads a phone app.

Exactly how mobile affiliate marketing is going to look, I don’t know. But one thing is for sure; it’s not going to be as straight-forward as the current web. Rather, it’s going to require that affiliates and the programs that they promote reach out to users not only where they are, but based on where they are.

After all, mobile targeting is precisely the kind of user-specific relevancy that companies like Google have tried to provide through personalized search: it’s based on location, history, and even your surroundings. It’s important, then, that the industry starts considering how these factors are going to change the way they do business.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over 8 years experience leveraging search and social media to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to both SMBs and enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed. CT has worked with both start-ups and multinational brands alike, including Acquisio, Microsoft Canada, and Luxury Retreats. He is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

Twitter: gypsybandito