High-end devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, iPads and gaming consoles are going to play an even more important role in the affiliate marketing space. Everyone has been saying that for a few years now; however, there will be many new developments in 2012 and the space keeps growing so rapidly that this might be the most important year for mobile affiliate marketing.  ComScore recently published the “2012 Mobile Future in Focus” report, which highlights important trends in the mobile world.  Smart affiliates and advertisers jump into the opportunities of mobile affiliate marketing early to stay ahead of their competition. This post sums up the most important online mobile trends, and what it means for the affiliate world.

Surge in mobile app usage

More mobile devices have overcome limitations as memory capacity and processing power, there are better high-speed networks and WiFi is increasingly available. All these factors have caused a rapid adoption of cloud applications such as Netflix, YouTube, Pandora  and Spotify. The number of mobile apps is expected to grow 3.5 fold by 2015. For affiliates, it’s important to know what type of mobile traffic converts. The top mobile conversions are downloads, enrollments (zip or email submit) and videos. It’s important for affiliates to test different promotional methods. Having success with mobile conversions will require a good amount of trial and error. More important than the fact that the amount of mobile app usage is growing, is knowing what and where people use their mobile apps.

What type of mobile apps people use

The fastest-growing mobile media categories in the US in 2011 were health, followed by retail and other commerce-related categories such as Electronic Payments (banking) and Auction Sites. In addition, 1 in 3 North Americans access social networks on their phone. 37.2 percent of U.S. smartphone and social networking users received a coupon/offer/deal via social networking sites. Targeting related verticals (daily deals, finance) and platforms (video, social media) may be a good way to utilize this trend.

Where people use mobile apps

More and more people are using their smartphone in-store:

–       20% of smartphone owners took a picture of a product while in store

–       Nearly 20%  texted or called family/friends about a specific product

–       Almost 20% scanned a product barcode

–       12.1% used their phone to compare product prices while in store

–       Nearly 10% used their device to find coupons or deals

This dynamic has created what some have deemed “retailers’ worst nightmare” as they are directly competing with others for the sale while the customer is inside their store. This is exactly where affiliate marketing comes in. Advertisers need to find new ways to utilize mobile traffic and instead of seeing in-store usage as a threat, smart advertisers use it to their advantage. Since in-store smartphone use is more likely to increase than decline, it forces retailers and advertisers to be creative with their apps and strategies. The use of affiliates for in-store redemptions, for promoting coupons or deals or for the best price comparisons are possible ways of doing this.

Explosion of online video consumption

Two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2016, according to this forecast by Cisco. Mobile video will increase 25-fold (!) between 2011 and   2016, accounting for more than 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period. The Netflix application is in the top 15 of most popular apps on the iPhone. All this means a big opportunity for merchants and affiliates to incorporate video in their marketing mix. Think about creating YouTube video’s with compelling call to actions or promoting an offer during or after a video.

Mobile video usage expected to take up 70.5% of all mobile traffic

What about mobile advertising?

Spending on mobile advertising is expected to reach at least $1 billion by the end of 2012 and global mobile traffic will increase 18-fold between 2011 and 2016. Over 32% of mobile social networkers clicked on advertisements while social networking, which shows the potential if these advertisements actually convert. Advertisers have been trying to catch up with the mobile trend yet many are not ready to develop landing pages, payment methods and creatives suitable for mobile phones. They need to provide more material optimized for devices on the go and optimize their ads for mobile devices. Advertisers need to stay ahead of the game to have positive ROI on their ad spend so affiliates have a huge opportunity to help advertisers expand into the mobile space with the experience and resources affiliates bring to the table. There are several mobile affiliate networks to join and most other networks have at least a couple of mobile offers for affiliates to run.

Start preparing, testing and optimize your mobile campaigns!