The launch represents another step in the maturation of the industry and the value of a trusted publishing brand.
A decade ago affiliate marketing was seen largely as a tactic leveraged by retail brands seeking an audience looking for a discount via coupons & cash back.
Dow Jones on Monday hosted a cocktail reception to announce the launch of The Buy Side, a review site monetized via affiliate links. The event, held at the Manhatta restaurant on the 60th floor of 28 Liberty Street, had the feel of elite media launches of yesteryear, and the gathering represented how the collision of content and commerce has created valuable new opportunities for publishers and marketers.
Digital transformation gutted publishing houses. Craigslist destroyed classified revenue and new gatekeepers (Google, Facebook, Amazon) took the lion-share of ad dollars while abdicating the responsibility of content. Subscription revenues shrank as print circulation declined.
The New York Times' acquisition of Wirecutter in 2014 was an early sign that a strong publishing brand could build trust and translate that into new revenue streams. Since then, CNN, USA Today, Hearst, Tribune Company, Meredith, IAC and more have either launched or acquired business that review products and drive revenue via affiliate links. And recently Wirecutter began charging subscription revenue.
Dow Jones' entry into the market is further evidence that consumers are willing to purchase high-end products like personal finance tools, office products and luxury goods because of a review from a publishing brand they trust. This means that affiliate marketing is a tactic that can be used throughout the marketing funnel and across mediums. This creates more diversified revenue streams for publishers and allows publishers to reinvest in their content. Marketers no longer have to rely on gatekeepers who are not responsible for content and have increasingly high prices. Instead, they can find publishers that align with their brand and their KPIs - and use affiliate as a tactic wherever in the funnel it makes the most sense. Brand marketers be alert: if you're not aware that an affiliate link can also achieve a branding objective, you're likely not paying attention.
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