This is my quick guide to sounding like a well rounded and informed member of the affiliate industry in 2012. For those with only a passing interest in affiliates, think of it as a cheat sheet to the topics everyone will be talking about this year.


Attribution – The great and ugly attribution debate keeps on rolling along, with no end in sight. It can be simplified to a single question, ‘is the last-click model fair?’ For years now, true content affiliates have been complaining that their hard earned sales get poached at the last minute by greedy voucher code super affiliates who dominate the industry. The solution would be to divide the commission between every site that contributes to the sale. Unfortunately, no one has so far proposed a workable solution. Considering recent research from Google shows that on average 20 sites are involved in the booking journey for the travel industry, how could the sale commission ever be divided fairly between all of them?


Mobile – For quite a few years now we’ve been promised the ‘year of mobile’. While there’s no disputing the phenomenal growth in mobile sales and traffic, innovation has been lacking in the affiliate space. With the exception of some very popular cash back apps, affiliates have been slow to really break into mobile with the same impact that has characterised the industry so far. I expect this to continue through 2012, as the retailers themselves need to adopt the latest technology before affiliates can really start to innovate off the back of that.


Social – How can affiliates effectively tap into the billions of social network users who are just sitting there, waiting to be sold something? If only it was that easy. One of the more practical solutions is to turn the users themselves into micro affiliates and pay them a proportion of the commission if a link they share results in a sale. The results from this have been mixed however. One success story is how Skimlinks rinsed it for a while on Pinterest, but it did raise some uneasy feelings and suspicion. It also seemed that even though affiliate income had kept the site alive in its early days, the model was quickly dropped in favour of venture capital once investors became interested. The proof of concept is there, but needs serious refinement. As for Facebook, who knows?


Emerging Technology – I’ve heard people say ‘anyone can become a super affiliate’, but with the constant development of new affiliate technology, it really is possible. One of the most interesting experiments recently is the Zoo project launched by TradeDoubler. This is a start-up incubator that’s purely concentrated on affiliates. Applications were made earlier this year and a team of ‘dragons’ chose the finalists. Great ideas, free office space, support and mentoring from some highly respected and well connected industry leaders and a collaborative community in which to develop? It’s definitely something to keep an eye on…


EU Cookie Directive – If you actually end up having a conversation about this with someone, then you need to hang around with cooler people. So, the EU is giving everyone until the 26th May 2012 to get their cookies in order. This is part of the e-Privacy Directive and is designed to regulate cookies that collect personal data. As the whole industry is based on cookies, it’s quite a big deal and is discussed in infinitely more detail elsewhere on the internets.