News & Insights

How Today’s Evolving Media Space Impacts CPG Brands’ Affiliate Marketing Strategies

By Cassidy Havens

Cell phone with orange background and red "BUY" button surrounded by boxes

If you’ve been following our weekly The Deadline updates, you are likely aware that the media industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation due to unprecedented job cuts, a slowdown in advertising spending and the looming question of AI’s impact. In the face of these challenges, affiliate marketing is increasingly becoming a vital strategy for publishers to generate revenue. It’s more important now than ever for consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands to think about how they engage in an affiliate marketing strategy to ensure editorial consideration of their product.

What is affiliate marketing? 

Affiliate marketing allows publishers and other types of third-party partners to earn a commission on the sale of a product via a tracked affiliate link. It is a beneficial tactic for both parties because publishers can earn either a flat fee or a percentage of the sale, typically around 5% but up to 40% depending on the affiliate partner, while the CPG brand gets new customer referrals and access to the publisher’s audience. 

Why does affiliate marketing matter for earned media?

As media outlets look for ways they can diversify their revenue streams, affiliate marketing falls into a gray area between paid and earned media efforts. For instance, USA Today’s is a result of the publication creating its own affiliate channel for driving sales of recommended products. Today, many publications will simply only consider CPG brands with affiliate links for editorial coverage in product reviews, round-ups, listicles and gift guides. Without an affiliate marketing strategy, CPG brands could be passed over for earned media mentions. 

How does a brand find the right affiliate partner? 

There are many different affiliate marketing services, and the best one for a CPG brand will depend on the product niche, the sales experience for the consumer, and the budget for paying out commissions. Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is free to join for any product sold via Amazon. Other regarded affiliate platforms include Rakuten, SkimLinks and ShareASale and typically cost a fee to register.

What are the best practices for leveraging affiliate marketing programs in earned media? 

  • When creating your earned media strategy and identifying target publications, it’s best to identify which affiliate platforms those publications are leveraging. This helps to increase chances of editorial inclusion if the product is right for the story.
  • Build relationships with e-commerce teams at publications, as these editors and staffers typically oversee affiliate marketing efforts.
  • Always make sure to include affiliate links as well as commission and payout information when pitching freelancers and reporters within the brand’s beat. 

Want to learn more?

We’d love to discuss how to level up your affiliate marketing strategy and set your CPG brand up for success in earned media. Get in touch

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