Blockchain Technology: Is It Changing Affiliate Marketing?

A sign of the times, where digital assets and e-commerce solutions are continually traversing international barriers, Blockchain technology is increasingly being used for a diverse range of applications, including the tracking of ownership of everything from documents to assets. First popularised by Bitcoin, a digital currency system, Blockchain is a highly-specialized database with multiple uses.

Up until now, affiliate marketing has been a separate e-commerce enterprise, relying on marketers or affiliates acting as third-party point-of-sales representatives between retailers and customers. This has been steadily growing as online retailing expands, and affiliate networks continue offering entrepreneurs excellent opportunities through CPA offers. But the rise of blockchain technology alongside affiliate marketing is bound to have some impact. So to what extent will the former actually change the latter?

Adapting markets

Affiliate marketing is already operating within a global marketplace that is constantly in a state of flux. Running in parallel with these ever-evolving e-commerce opportunities is bitcoin, a phenomenon studied throughout the business world as the ebb and flow of global currency is analyzed. In much the same way as speculators keep a close eye on bitcoin fluctuations, so players in the affiliate market – advertisers and affiliates – can follow these trends.

Because bitcoins can be exchanged for other currencies or products, they are seen as an attractive commodity for global marketers. By 2015 the number of merchants trading in this virtual currency ran to over 100,000; two years later it was estimated the number of bitcoin users was anywhere between 3 and 5.8 million. The reason for the intense scrutiny of digital currency in today’s market can be summarised when you consider affiliate marketers are constantly on the lookout for emerging product streams that will prove to be most investable, especially in areas which commence in inauspicious niche areas and then go on to have universal traction. This mirrors the activities of the original speculators who purchased significant amounts of bitcoins at the outset and are now millionaires.

Blockchain in affiliate programs

The biggest change blockchain technology will have on affiliate marketing is that it will make transactions cheaper. Where this virtual currency is used in place of actual money will circumvent international exchange rates. With blockchain databases enabling verification, payment systems will become far more seamless.

Where the technology will be particularly successful will be in its application in digital marketing – especially detecting fraud. For marketers, it will provide a robust system for checking the source of clicks, enabling them to analyze customers in terms of identifying those who are genuinely interested in their products and site visits resulting from automated actions.


For any marketer operating a significantly-sized business in an online environment, blockchain is a useful bolster against hacking. This is especially useful in affiliate marketing because this is an e-commerce solution where a lot of data is congregated in one location, the affiliate program server, making it more exposed to malicious actions. When a server is destabilized and data compromised, significant amounts of money can be lost. Blockchain renders this type of damage impossible because all the data relevant to the affiliate program is saved on individual computers within the network. In addition, blockchain provides a smart contract as opposed to tracking pixels to check the customer tracking process is 100% accurate and free of fraud.

A smart contract is created each time a customer clicks on the referral link, based on their unique ID, which will record this activity, along with a timestamp. Opened to retailer and marketer, this cannot be compromised. This advertising verification can also be extended to auditing, undermining an area which was once extremely costly.