Performance Marketing Evolution Through the Years

Performance Marketing Evolution Through the Years
In 2017, Omnicore revealed that 61% of readers will make a purchase based on a blog’s recommendation, and 81% of internet users agree that blog posts are trusted sources for information or advice.

As much as the budget for affiliate marketing is increasing yearly, with it reaching $6.8 billion in 2020, advertisers want to maximize every cent they invest. They want to closely monitor the ROI on every campaign and reach their target audience before they pay for the transaction.

Performance marketing is a win-win for affiliate marketers and advertisers. Affiliate marketers or publishers can utilize good and helpful content in generating leads while advertisers rest assured that they are paying for completed transactions.

Performance marketing now takes a front seat in the marketing mix of many advertisers. It evolved over the years to be measurable, low risk, and ROI-focused.

Read further for everything you need to know about Performance Marketing.

What is Performance Marketing?

Just like the name implies, performance marketing is a digital marketing strategy that places focus on performance.

What happens is that an affiliate marketer or a publisher creates content that inspires a visitor to take action. This action is what the merchant or advertiser wants and it could be a purchase, a subscription, signing up for a program, or some other thing.

The publisher then gets paid when the action is completed.

Sarah Bundy at BigCommerce explained performance marketing to be ‘a combination of paid and brand marketing put together, but only paid when the desired action takes place.’

How Performance Marketing has Evolved

Due to several unpleasant experiences that a lot of advertisers had with affiliate marketing, a bigger niche evolved out of it. Performance Marketing simply is payment on positive ROI, payment on proven results, and payment on desired and profitable action.

In most traditional forms of digital marketing, the advertiser pays upfront for ad space and this is independent of performance. This could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars spent without seeing a conversion.

Performance Marketing is not entirely different from affiliate marketing. It is an improvement on affiliate marketing. The major players in the game are still the affiliate marketers, advertisers, and affiliate networks.

The improvement that Performance Marketing brings to the game makes it much bigger than affiliate marketing.

Performance Marketing encompasses several aspects of the digital mix such as performance-based search, email marketing, display (for retargeting), mobile commerce, and social.

Performance Marketing simply creates value. It drives the affiliate marketer to put in the extra effort and do what others don’t want to do.

This extra effort could be writing a product review based on personal experience or that of others; it could also be writing an insightful article and recommending a product. The extra effort could also be an effective PR strategy that gets the attention of internet users on search and social media. The effort is directed at convincing visitors about the product

It is worth noting that some affiliate networks prefer to identify as Performance Marketing Networks. ShareASale uses the tagline “ True Performance Marketing”.

The Benefits of Performance Marketing

Like I mentioned earlier, Performance Marketing is a win-win for both affiliate marketers and advertisers. Here are some of the benefits.

Easy to Monitor: with technology, advertisers can track performance and monitor their campaign metrics. With the availability of data, necessary adjustments can be made where needed. When a conversion is successfully made, it would be easily known.

Value-based: Performance Marketing involves adding value to potential converts. They get to make informed decisions and also get their problems solved. The Instagram post that attractively depicts the product and brings out its functionality is adding value - it speaks a thousand words at a glance.

Low risk: it is not like most traditional digital marketing where you pay for ad space up front and may not have a conversion throughout, Performance Marketing makes it the case that the advertiser pays when the desired action is taken. The risk of losing the money spent on an advertising campaign is drastically reduced.

Awesome for Brand Development: when publishers create content about a brand and its products, more people are drawn to it. Publishers use their budget, time, and effort in creating awareness for the products. This comes at a lower cost for the advertiser and it drives traffic towards the advertiser.

Who are the Players Involved in Performance Marketing?


These can also be referred to as merchants or retailers. An example is Amazon. They are the businesses that are looking to market their products through several publisher-platforms.

They could be in several niches such as health, technological devices, nutrition, fashion, and beauty.

Thanks to consumer behavior, more advertisers have gained traction from product reviews, recommendations, and discounts which are given on publisher-platforms.


These are the affiliate marketers, email marketers, and influencers who do the marketing.

They own blogs, online magazines, product review sites, loyalty and cashback sites, coupon websites, and many other platforms.

Publishers focus on giving potential converts proper guidance and trusted opinions about the products. Expectedly, internet users take time to go through these reviews and recommendations. Omnicore reveals that 81% percent of internet users agree that blog posts are trusted sources for information and advice.

With performance marketing, publishers have to put the best to work as they don’t get paid until the potential convert successfully becomes a convert.

Affiliate Networks

These are also known as “third-party tracking platforms”. The connect and serve as the intermediary between publishers and advertisers.

Publishers can easily find, with affiliate networks, affiliate programs suitable for their websites.

Affiliate networks enable advertisers to offer publishers a share of the revenue that is generated by the advertiser from the action taken by visitors. These networks also provide services such as tracking technology, reporting tools, payment processing, and access to a wide range of publishers.

Affiliate Managers

These could be in-house or Outsourced Program Management Companies (OPM). OPMs are also known as Affiliate Management Companies or Agencies.

Affiliate managers are hired for their expertise and their existing network of affiliate partners.

There is a lot of potential in hiring an experienced affiliate management company. The brand can easily and quickly scale its performance marketing program to increase ROI.

Many brands prefer to fully give their performance marketing program to these companies or have them work in partnership with their in-house teams.

How to Successfully Run Performance Marketing

Optimize your Landing Page

You can lose a great deal of traffic is your landing page is bad. Statistics show that a very high percentage of internet users exit a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Eyeviewdigital revealed that a second delay in page loading reduces conversions by 7%.

More, optimize your page for mobile, tablets, and desktop. More than half of all online shopping is done via mobile.

Provide an awesome user experience and constantly update content on your landing page.

Involve Affiliate Managers

Affiliate managers and OPMs are mostly experienced and expert at scaling Performance Marketing campaigns. They can create strategies that would work perfectly with brands and products.

They also have a wide network of affiliate partners who can work towards pushing the product across several platforms.

Watch Out for Poor Quality Traffic

High-quality traffic is what you need to have the ROI you want. Poor quality traffic would always result in low sales.

Pay attention to the traffic source.

Run A/B Split Testing

Neil Patel revealed that A/B split testing is simple and effective, and it could help generate a lot of conversions.

Perhaps surprising is the news from Medium that President Obama’s team raised an additional $60 million for his 2012 US Presidential election campaign.

A/B split testing would help eliminate guesswork, improve conversions, and can help create very effective landing pages.

Final Words…

Performance Marketing is known to be value and content-driven. The very fact that consumers would want to make informed purchase decisions shows that Performance Marketing leads in the digital marketing mix.

The affiliate marketer has the potential to benefit by creating very helpful and insightful content that can inspire interest in products or any action wanted by the advertiser.

A win-win strategy, Performance Marketing is not dead and it is gradually evolving to top the list for digital marketing strategies.