This wonderful year of 2016 is near its inevitable end. As January 1st 2017 approaches in swift velocity, affiliate marketers, network experts and every other piece that dives and jumps in the pool of this complex ecosystem are all asking a curious question in unison: of all the affiliate marketing verticals, which ones were the best in 2016?
Moreover, they’ve got something else to ask, since they’re such lovers of the future: can we really predict which trends will become massive in 2017?
You’re probably telling yourself: by Jove, I’ve thought about asking these questions too!
It’s normal. Nothing to be ashamed of.
Why is this question so important for everyone?
First reason? We tend to think that – if we don’t attempt to forecast the next year and expatiate about which will be the best potential affiliate marketing verticals we should invest in – we won’t be able to have that amazing competitive advantage we’re so excited about!
In other words, we need to anticipate the changes in our industry in order to be the first ones to explore emerging markets and extract all the juice we can from them before the competition comes. The industry is constantly evolving! If we don’t follow the right direction, we can only get the bread crumbs and cry like little ill-fed toddlers.
As you’ve probably read in our article about mobile affiliate marketing, choosing the right vertical, using the correct traffic source, and implementing the appropriate strategy to drive traffic to the offers is the path needed to achieve affiliate marketing success! Predicting the future is not an affectation: it’s a need of those who wanna stay on top of the game!
Second reason? It’s simple. Without playing predictor, we won’t be able to manage a solid and realistic indicator for the coming year. We really have to analyze what went well in 2016 in order to start 2017 with all the weapons we need to fight this war.
Which were the hottest affiliate marketing verticals in 2016?
Where did affiliates spend their advertising budgets? Which affiliate marketing verticals yielded more profit?
Ready to go deep into the system and realize what’s great and what’s late?
Let’s dive in!
Affiliate Marketing Verticals: What’s Gold? What’s Old?
Read up now!
What’s Gold? What’s Old?
Before starting to answer these two crucial questions, I would like to make a quick pit-stop in the vertical concept definition. As you may know from this affiliate marketing guide, there are two main verticals in affiliate marketing: adult and mainstream.
Each of them have sub-verticals. These are basically different categories – for example, games.
In order to make life easier for me and you, I’ve decided to study only sub-verticals.
Why the heck would I do that?
Because it’ll give you more specific and therefore more useful info about where to start!
And the most profitable affiliate marketing verticals for 2016 are…
Just like what goes on in the Golden Globe Awards, there are a whole lotta nominees hoping to win the race for the hottest affiliate marketing verticals of 2016. Who were the judges voting on this contest?
Affiliates registered on Mobidea, partners with whom we collaborate on a daily basis, new affiliate marketers we met in industry events, players we engaged with on forums…everyone contributed to create the list of what’s gold in 2016 and that I’ll now present in detail.
# The new one: Nutra
There’s a diverse portfolio of sub-markets we can find in this vertical, from weight loss to diet or nutrition offers. The potential is huge, as this industry attracts users who put health first and who are willing to pay a lot for it.
Moreover, many health products imply repeated purchases to get the desired results which turns into a large user lifetime value!
It has been a very competitive market for CPA (cost per acquisition) and CPS (cost per sale). Even so, with the right strategy, you can make a lot of money from it. The LATAM region has been the winner in the promotion of this kind of offers.
# The one that never stops winning: Adult VOD and Dating
Again, and again, love is a never-ending, hyper profitable vertical.
Even with a lot of competition in the diverse traffic sources, there’s always a target, such as operator, operating system or website that’s a shiny gold mine waiting to be explored by ambitious affiliates.
Although the most recent market regulations have threatened this vertical’s potential profits, it’s still one of the favourite niches for newbies to invest in, mainly on pin-submit offers. Payouts can be considerably low in some parts of the world while the volumes are very appealing.
This means you can get faster results, which makes it easier for you to analyze, optimize and look for positive margins. Additionally, you can get a lot of insights on how to make more money in this affiliate marketing arena.
Apart from that, you can use more generic banners/prelanders in this vertical. Plus: you can achieve a profitable position without needing the best traffic source + segment + lander + offer + banner, as it happens on the mainstream field.
# The innovative one: Gaming
This vertical involves a lot of creativity and innovation around various types of games and quizzes for every kind of audience with particular interests.
Remember Pokémon Go’s astounding success? It engaged people from every part of the world and helped create an ocean of terrifically loyal customers on the streets looking for those virtual creatures.
As always, affiliates immediately managed to find a way to make money with the game. That’s how gaming works. When it gets to connect people, it becomes a huge success.
Nevertheless, you should be conscious that you can only achieve success if you target precisely the right audience for the product you’re promoting, as each game’s category fascinates different people.
In this vertical, you won’t be able to reach all users with the same exact type of offer, as you would in the Adult vertical.
A lot of affiliates took advantage of this game industry boom.
By recognizing the lifetime cycle of the game, promoting it when it was exploding in the market, fed by users who were interested in getting a subscription or an install.
And how did they accomplish that?
By asking their account managers, of course! They have the power to guarantee you get the best solution for your traffic. In addition, social media is still a good way to promote offers in this vertical.
# The one that was resurrected from the ashes: Sweepstakes
Sweepstakes can be related to iPhone, TVs, trips, or other prizes that people fight to get.
Who doesn’t mind inserting precious information such as their name, email or even credit card details to get the chance to win something? Not I!
2016 was the stage for an explosion of new sweepstakes offers, mostly promoted through pop traffic. Everybody wants to get something. What’s great about this segment? You rarely need to segment/target the audience.
It was easier for newbies to start affiliate marketing in this vertical considering that no banners or, sometimes, not even landers were needed to promote it and to be profitable.
Now, what’s next?
I don’t need to mention the platitude of the decade, do I?
I think you know by now that mobile will surpass desktop, right?
You can safely assume the current market is created for mobile advertising. This clear supremacy will become super obvious in the next generations. The days of desktop promotions are over. Good riddance!
Furthermore – and since users tend to ignore some of the most conventional forms of advertising – native advertising will be a recipe for success. You should be ready to spend more time and effort creating new banners which can be perceived as being part of the website; that can match its layout, colors and content.
This means you’ve gotta analyze the source of the traffic, the audience. Basically, you’ve gotta become a user and think like a user. Which of these ads would I most likely click on?
And what about affiliate marketing verticals?
What do you think the winners are?
Unfortunately, I can’t predict the future but I can definitively mix the trends of 2016, mix it all up like a fancy queen, and draw a picture of what we can expect for next year.
And once again, this prediction is not only a deep analysis of the current year in terms of performance, but also the feedback I receive every day from every piece of business involved in this industry.
Take note of these trends to come and prepare yourself for them!
Future Trends from the Beyond
2016 was an amazing year for Nutra’s offers and this tendency won’t fly away in 2017. Nutrition, weight loss or diet offers will be part of any sensible affiliate marketing conversation.
More offers are being seen online, more affiliates are testing them and, even with an increase in the competition, it’s an almost new market to explore with a lot of cash cows to discover.
Even with a lot of competition and the new carrier regulations imposed on some more mature countries, there are other geographies that are emerging where you can find space to make money in this vertical.
Moreover, this is the market that works with different traffic sources, such as Pops, Display or even Social Media. This makes it easier for you to find profitable paths with several kinds of audiences. And not only pin submit, but also carrier billing will be able to delight affiliates!
# Utility Apps
Apps development will be crucial in the following years. There are apps for virtually everyone out there. Utility apps such as antiviruses or battery savers will be on top for 2017 since they’ll accompany the growth in mobile usage.
Indeed, as users become more interested in mobile devices, the tendency to be interested in products such as battery savers is obviously increasing.
Besides that – as the audience is broad and the payouts usually low – it’ll be easier for new affiliates to access this vertical.
If they figure out they can receive a lot of money by placing a small bid, people will always look for online casinos and bets to try to get rich.
The gambling vertical went through a storm of awesome results and sparked the interest of people in the last years. More recently, it’s been gaining power in affiliate marketing.
The development of new and innovative apps, the redesign of the landing pages’ approach, and the birth of financial and binary offers more targeted to this type of audience have provided updated results and more security to the financial transactions. This means more and more affiliates will start paying attention to Gambling next year!
Conclusion – the Trend is Strong in this One
If you’re looking to invest on a new vertical and/or you’re planning to create your strategy for the next year, you should definitely consider this study as a starting point. Be smart and jump on trends before other competitors do without forgetting to start slow at the beginning.
Here’s the key to success and your mantra for the year: understand the vertical, test it, get experience, and then dive into it!
The vertical you choose can either make you rich or ruin your life! Before diving right into it, you should always ask your account manager for the top offers for a given vertical and you should also ask whether or not that specific market is advisable for your traffic source.
Once you start promoting it, be aware of the competition, optimize, test, scale and find the most profitable angle for you.
Do you have a different take on which affiliate marketing verticals will rule 2017?
Are there any opinionated fortune-tellers out there?
I’m waiting for your predictions!
Helena - APAC Expert