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Commerce Uncovers: Instaffiliates

The social platforms have long provided a great environment for brands to inspire potential customers. In particular Instagram, with its increasingly high-quality visual platform has been responsible for helping some of its creators launch their own brands such as Huda Kuttan’s beauty line ‘Huda Beauty’ and Kayla Itsines fitness program ‘Sweat.’ 

Despite this rich, inspirational environment it has often been difficult for creators to allow fans directly to retailers site. Instagram has traditionally not allowed third party links to be easily tagged, as it endeavoured to keep users within the app. However, at the first ever Instagram Creator Week conference Mark Zuckerberg announced that was about to change.  

Amongst products such as its redesigned Instagram Shop and Shopping in Reels, Instagram announced the launch of its own native affiliate program. This new program will allow creators to tag any products featuring in their content and earn commission on those sales. Not only does this provide an additional revenue stream for creators but should increase conversion for retailers, promoting their products through creators on the platform.  

Whilst this is a great opportunity for retailers and creators alike, it won’t bring great news for affiliate networks, or sub-networks built around monetising social platforms. Over the past few years, thanks to increased diversity of affiliate programs, networks have been actively encouraging influencers to use their tracking but with better integration directly with Instagram will be much more appealing.  

What’s most exciting, is Instagram’s first foray into the world of performance marketing using the cost per acquisition model. It’s a demonstration of the next evolution in what defines affiliate marketing. Whilst traditionally pigeon-holed to cashback and voucher, we’ve seen the concept of “an affiliate” evolving to include business to business partnerships, onsite technologies and some programs using people and locations as real-world affiliates. What Instagrams new product demonstrates is that affiliate marketing can be stripped back to a basic principle of a partnership working on a cost per acquisition model. Using that simplistic definition, we can really start to get creative with what affiliates are and what they can do for retailers’ businesses.