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Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? 3 Things The Gurus Don’t Want You To Know

February 22, 2024

No, affiliate marketing is not dead in 2024 because there are more opportunities for publishers with the latest digital marketing trends, such as AI and machine learning applications. New technologies are also allowing affiliates to create content fast. In addition, Interest in affiliate marketing has had an upward trend since 2019, as shown by Google Trends. It had 100 searches on January 1-7, 2023, and the number slightly dropped to 67 on December 31, 2023-January 6, 2024. This February, it currently has 61 searches.

ZipRecruiter’s data also shows that as of February 5, 2024, the average annual pay in affiliate marketing in the US is $82,015 a year or $39 per hour. Top affiliate marketers have reached over $2 million net worth, including Pat Flynn (estimated $3 million in net worth), Matt Diggity (estimated $3 million in net worth), and Nate O’Brien (estimated $2.7 million in net worth). 

However, while affiliate marketing is a popular business model, it has a low barrier to entry, which makes it hard for new publishers to acquire clients. Joey Babineu, founder of Power Affiliate and an affiliate marketer since 2012, highlighted in a November 2023 video that newcomers could find affiliate marketing harder due to increased competition and rising costs of advertising. 

This article covers the statistics that show why affiliate marketing is not dead in 2024, the different opinions about affiliate marketing in Quora and Reddit, and 3 things gurus aren’t telling you about affiliate marketing. Lastly, discover why local lead generation is more alive and profitable than affiliate marketing this 2024.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing where publishers earn commission from referrals via affiliate links. You can promote both physical or digital products in affiliate marketing. You don’t need to keep product inventory or find suppliers. According to Statista’s report dated February 13, 2024, affiliate marketing spend in the US from 2010 to 2022 has grown from $1.6 billion to $8.2 billion.  

The business model comprises four steps that include:

  • Niche selection. Niche selection involves selecting a niche that isn't too competitive but still has an active online community. Use tools like Google Trends or Ubersuggest to find high-volume search queries and keywords. Choose a niche that you are interested in.
  • Joining an affiliate network. By joining an affiliate network affiliates can connect with brands or merchants. You can join CJ Affiliate, Amazon Associate, or GiddyUp.
  • Choosing your offers. Choose your offers and carefully evaluate products. It's best to research the market and look for products that align with your audience. 
  • Promoting your link. After creating a great offer, promote your link to your audience. Your main goal is to encourage potential buyers to act on your affiliate link. 


Use an ad tracker like RedTrack or BeMob to monitor campaigns. Get insights into what's working and take advantage of tools like Google Analytics that track link progression. This way you can stay on top of real-time data. Consider using software like Thirsty Affiliates to replace or redirect your links. 

What Are The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing Pros

Low barrier to entry and minimal capital required 

No cap on earning potential and a way to diversify your income

You don't need to be an expert and it’s easy to execute

Affiliate Marketing Cons

Your chances of success with the business model are marginal

You have no control over affiliate programs or commissions

There’s no recurring income opportunity because the consumer belongs to the affiliate parent

Affiliate Marketing Dead or Alive: 2 Sides of the Spectrum Regarding Why Affiliate Marketing Is Dead

Affiliate Marketing is Dead

Market Saturation. There is market saturation in affiliate marketing and you'll be facing more competitors because of its low barrier to entry. Also, affiliate marketing has increased their spending for 2024, according to Influencer Marketing Hub's 2024 Benchmark Report. The report says that affiliate marketing companies have advanced 15.38% or $1.5 billion more in funding for 2024 than in 2022. This could attract more affiliate marketers in the industry.

Increasing Ad Blocker Usage. Blockthrough’s 2022 PageFair Adblock Report noted an increasing ad blocker usage, with desktop ad blocking going back to its 2018 high. Blockthrough measured over 10 billion pageviews from 9,453 websites and found that the average adblock rate is 21%. Adblocks can affect publishers’ revenue. About 80% of adblock users also find adblock walls annoying, affecting conversion rate. 

Shift Towards Influencer Marketing. The shift towards affiliate-based influencer marketing, where celebrities, industry experts, or micro-influencers could dominate, might compound the rising competition in affiliate marketing. According to Statista's data, experts forecast that the global influencer marketing market size will reach $24 billion in 2024. This could make it harder for newcomers in affiliate marketing to break through the market. Tim Pike, the Global Program Strategist at Acceleration Partners, also believes influencers play a crucial role in affiliate marketing because the clients are more reliant on social content to guide their decisions.

Challenges in Niche Selection. Challenges in niche selection include identifying niche markets and their naturally limited size. Selecting niches is important to establish a loyal customer base and narrow down the competition. Niches have limited size. Alex Jovy, Head of Business Development for UK-based Davies & Associates, said niches also have a limited customer base, which could make it challenging for affiliate marketers to grow and compete.

Affiliate Marketing is Alive

Continuous Growth of E-commerce. While there are many competitors in affiliate marketing, global e-commerce is ever-expanding, providing opportunities for affiliates. Astute Analytica's 2023-2031 forecast shows affiliate marketing platform's market size will reach $36,902.1 million in 2030, from $19,217.4 in 2021. Meanwhile, as per Statista's most recent data, affiliate market spending in the US is worth $8.2 billion in 2022, with a 10% increase compared to the previous year. 

Diversification of Marketing Channels. The App Growth Summit published an article listing the various ways publishers can diversify their marketing channels. Natalie Portier, the Regional Vice President Americas of measurement and analytics suite, Adjust, who wrote the article said marketers should consider secondary platforms like Quora, Reddit, or Pinterest.

Emergence of Micro Influencers. The emergence of micro-influencers is proof that you don’t have to be too popular to succeed in online business, particularly in affiliate marketing. Micro influencers are those with 10,000 to 100,000 followers. Spiralytics cited the results of the Linqia survey, which showed that 90% of marketers prefer micro influencers. Some reasons for this preference include affordability, manageable communication, authenticity, and engagement.

Expansion of Affiliate Program Offerings. With over 80% of the brands using affiliate marketing, and the projected increase in affiliate marketing in the US, there is an imminent expansion of affiliate program offerings.

Growing Demand for Niche Expertise. There is a growing demand for niche expertise. A recent article published by TheStar quoted Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) Associate Professor, Dr. Tan Chin Ike, who said, “highly technical people with a very specific set of niche skills like full stack or DevOps are highly sought after in the technology industry.” In online content, 72% of successful bloggers, as per data reported by WeCanTrack, also attribute their success to choosing a specific niche. 

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? Top Answers From Quora

The top answers from Quora for “Is affiliate marketing dead?” say affiliate marketing is not dead, but changes are happening in consumer preferences. These changes could affect affiliate marketers. 

A top answer to a related question of “Is affiliate marketing dying in 2023?” and “Will affiliate marketing die in 2024?” explains that blogging will be a far less attractive way to do affiliate marketing. The post from Rob Gall, last December 16, 2023, shares that one change is that more people would use AI to get answers. Rob says that by going directly to ChatGPT or Bard, websites will completely lose traffic. But he adds that people could still write and promote a blog using other channels.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? Top Answers From Reddit

The top answers from Reddit for “Is affiliate marketing dead?” show that affiliate marketing is still profitable and that there is still a great opportunity in it. A Redditor shares that there are different forms of affiliate marketing and they all can be profitable and can be a lot of work.

Another Redditor while there are great opportunities in affiliate marketing, you have to join a proven system to make it easier. The Redditor adds that with an affiliate system and community, you can focus on your goals and stay motivated.

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? 3 Things The Gurus Aren’t Telling You

1. A Lack of Control Over the Customer Experience

There is a lack of control over the customer experience in affiliate marketing because your only job is to drive online traffic to offers. You don't have brand loyalty because the customer belongs to the affiliate marketing program. Also, you need to get more clicks to make money. And you don't get many chances to generate a recurring income. But that means you're always looking for a new offer. Or a new audience and a different angle to drive people to your links. And it's this lack of control that has a direct impact on your affiliate income. 

2. Driving Online Traffic To Your Offers Is Hard

Driving online traffic to your offers is hard because everybody is vying for the same consumer base. In addition, it's getting harder to harness organic traffic, and old SEO tactics don't work anymore.

In fact, a poll by Matt Diggity reveals that 63% of 945 affiliate marketers were affected by Google algorithm changes. This level of competition causes affiliates to engage in unsavory sales tactics, including creating unrealistic offers and outlandish claims to sell their products. Some even create fake accounts on social media platforms. 

3. Global Competition Is Fierce

Affiliate marketing is super competitive. It's a global market where you are going head to head against sites from all over the world. And old methods like throwing up banner ads or running a low CPC ad campaign don't cut it anymore.

Now you're competing against national brands with an entire staff writing articles and ranking for the top competitive keywords. And these businesses have a ton of money. Plus, they've spent years cultivating their brand. Some of these affiliates have followed affiliate marketing best practices since the 1990s.

Is Affiliate Marketing Too Saturated?

Affiliate marketing might not be too saturated. But it's pretty crowded. For example, Amazon Associates has over 900,000 affiliates. And ShareASale has more than 700,000. That's 1.6 million affiliate marketers from only two affiliate networks. So if you want to make it in this highly competitive arena, you need to know how to market and become an authority in your niche. You need to add value to the content you publish. (Learn skills and not just markets). Then, pick a style and become an expert in things like:

  • Copywriting
  • Video Marketing
  • Video Editing
  • Content Creation
  • Email Marketing

Decide what platform you want to focus on. Where are your people hanging out online? Then you can concentrate on your style. For example:

What Affiliate Marketing Style Is Best For You?

  • Will you learn how to create scroll-stopping video ads & creatives and publish reels on Instagram or Facebook? 

  • Or will you learn how to develop videos with virality potential and focus on platforms like TikTok or YouTube?

  • Do you prefer written copy? Will your focus be on starting a niche blog or social media account?
  • Do you enjoy creating persuasive writing? Could you master email marketing and sales funnels?

You can crush the competition. But only if you have the skills to get in front of your target audience. So you need to know how to drive traffic to your offers. Plus, you only make money as an affiliate if people click your links. So you need to build trust and invest the time to cultivate a valuable digital real estate asset. But as long as there is continued market growth, and new trends emerge, there will always be untapped opportunities to monetize.

Why Do People Fail Affiliate Marketing? 

People fail with affiliate marketing because they don’t treat it as a business, and they expect it to be easy money. For Jacob Mitchell, an affiliate marketer who founded Earnings Click, most people who start affiliate marketing don’t make money at all. Jacob believes that those who succeed treat affiliate marketing like a business. Stephen Mecham of Buildapreneur shares that people fail affiliate marketing because they are stuck in the learning phase or they dive right in without learning. To succeed in affiliate marketing, Stephen says you need to be in a loop of learning something and apply what you have learned as soon as you can.

3 Common Reasons Why Affiliate Marketers Fail and How To Succeed

  • Niche Missteps. Most beginners in affiliate marketing would probably make niche missteps and try to cover as many trending niches as possible. According to a survey among 2,270 affiliate marketers conducted by Authority Hacker, the top 3 niches are education/e-learning, beauty/skincare, and travel. Does it mean that you should take on these niches to ensure success? No. According to Adam Wills, owner of Adam Wills Consulting from the Denver Metropolitan Area, there’s a thing called Pursuit Positioning where you ask yourself: What is the work you’re truly passionate about? Adam says this is the proper source of wealth and success because positioning your brand around things you want will naturally attract people you want to work with. Adam adds that you might turn customers away by focusing on “niching” instead of “pursuit positioning.”
  • Shallow Research. Shallow research reflects on the quality of products you promote and the content you produce. Richard DiPilla from Influencer Services says having too many or low-quality products can lead to customer confusion, affecting buyer’s decision-making process. He adds, it can lead to clients not buying anything at all. By doing in-depth research you promote products that are true to its claims. You also note consumer behavior analysis and preferences to come up with effective content. The B2B Millennial Buyer Survey Report published by Demand Gen Report with The Mx Group revealed that millennial buyers prefer the following content formats: user reviews (61%), webinars (47%), case studies (34%), interactive content (30%), and direct mail (21%).
  • Lack of SEO Knowledge. The lack of SEO knowledge can harm your rankings and, ultimately, your commission earnings. According to WebTribunal's report on affiliate marketing statistics published in March 2023, 69.22% of global top traffic sources for affiliate marketers come from SEO. Affiliate marketers compete for an audience. The higher you rank on searches, the more likely potential clients will click on your content and affiliate links. You must invest time to build a brand to rise above the competition. One basic thing in SEO is optimizing your title tag and meta description and ensuring they resonate with your audience. If you're using WordPress, you can install the Yoast SEO Plugin to perform keyword analysis and suggest ways to optimize.

How Long Does It Take To Be A Successful Affiliate Marketer?

It takes 12 months to 5 years to be a successful affiliate marketer. The traditional ways of doing affiliate marketing are not viable today. Google got wiser about the ways of black hat tactics or a spammy affiliate site and the market is now flooded with people all hoping to make it big with affiliate marketing.

You need to be realistic and be aware of emerging trends brought by online advertising evolution and affiliate network dynamics. Companies today are taking advantage of micro-influencer collaboration so you might want to check on that. Understand the long-tail keyword strategy and apply them to your existing SEO gameplan. You can also look up contextual advertising and referral marketing dynamics to see how you could maximize these concepts.

What Is the Future of Affiliate Marketing?

An increased affiliate marketing with AI and machine learning application is the future of affiliate marketing. Authority Hacker’s survey among 2,270 professional affiliate marketers reveals that 79.3% of affiliate marketers use AI in content creation. For instance, Chad Bartlett released a video showing how an AI software could speed up video creation for affiliate marketers.

Forbes reports that global big data will hit $229.4 billion by 2025. So there is an opportunity to monetize in emerging markets for affiliate marketing like:

  • Influencer Marketing & The GenZr Generation
  • Crypto & AI Advancements

Why Lead Generation Is More Alive and Profitable Than Affiliate Marketing in 2024?

Lead generation is more alive and profitable than affiliate marketing in 2024 because you get more control over the business. Also, with lead gen, the focus is on a local market, so it's less competitive. Like affiliate marketing, you don't need a physical product in local lead generation. Instead, you build and rank generic websites at the top of Google. Then, when your sites bring in leads, you sell them for a cut of the profits. Plus, you don't need a ton of cash to get started with lead generation.

Affiliate marketing is attractive to many people because you don't need to own physical products. Plus, you don't need to invest a ton of upfront capital. However, it's far from passive. Consider that you always need to publish new content or chase the next hot link. Plus, you're going up against national brands and global business owners.

I built a site in 2015 for a total cost of $500. But this site has been making me $2000/month for the last seven years. Now it's at the top of the SERPs. So it doesn't need much maintenance. I don't need to rely on paid ads or create an irresistible offer because I have the skills to leverage Google.

Plus, this website offers a service. One that people are actively searching for online. So I'm filling a market need and getting paid for my service. And now, I have a proven concept, so I rinse and repeat to achieve a passive income. 

Affiliate marketing is a way to make money online. The business model isn't dead. But it's not easy either. You need to be prepared to invest the time and energy to build an audience. If you want a business where you get more control and a stable source of passive income, the local lead gen model  is your best option. 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

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