US Affiliate Marketing Spending Reached $9.1 Billion in 2021! WooHoo!


The Performance Marketing Association (PMA) today released the results of a new study that showed affiliate marketing investment reached $9.1 Billion in 2021. The figure represents a 47% increase over the previous industry report for 2018.


Conducted by the PMA with underlying data provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the Performance Marketing Industry Study found that affiliate marketing investment in 2021 drove $71B in e-commerce sales. The study solicited information from seven leading affiliate networks/platforms: Awin, CJ, LinkConnector, Partnerize, Ascend by Partnerize, Rakuten Advertising, and ShareASale. The average Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) was 12:1, meaning that every dollar invested in the channel drove $12 in e-commerce revenue.


According to the PMA, a variety of forces have helped drive outstanding growth in the category:


● Increased recognition of affiliate traffic quality among senior marketing executives

● Expanding acceptance of pay-for-performance buying models among publishers

● Digital channel growth from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on buyer behaviors

● Strong ROAS for affiliate marketing versus other digital marketing channels

● Increased channel adoption among new industries, including Auto, CPG, and B2B

● Growth in mobile spending and improved mobile sales tracking in the channel


Cashback/Rewards/Loyalty and Coupon/Voucher/Rebate publishers accounted for just over half of category spending, up from previous years. This reflects the continued appeal of “traditional affiliates” among performance marketers. Content and Subnetwork publisher investment accounted for 27% of total channel investment. The expansion in revenue for these publisher types reflects growing recognition of the channel’s power at all stages of the buying funnel.


“Affiliate is at the forefront of improving effectiveness and outcomes for brand marketing,” said Christen Evans, PMA Board President. “This important study demonstrates the rapid growth of our industry and the many ways it is expanding to include more industries, publisher types, investors, and marketing objectives.”


Sixteen affiliate publishers of multiple sizes and types also contributed insights to help determine the total size of the market. The data reflect estimates for the entire industry, including both participating and non-participating networks/platforms and “house” programs managed by companies using homegrown toolsets.


The study includes insights on:


● Total Spending by Advertising Sector (Industry)

● Total Spending by Retail Sector (Category)

● Total Revenue Contribution by Advertising Sector

● Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) by Advertising Sector

● Return on Ad Spending (ROAS) by Retail Sector

● Channel Investment by Affiliate Type

● Key Industry Trends


Interested professionals can download the study at no charge on the PMA website.


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