Affiliate Marketing

Mobile Affiliate Marketing – What Is It and How Can You Take Advantage of It?

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Up until 2007, touchscreen pocket-sized computers were the stuff of science fiction.

Today, over 3.5 billion people use these tiny pocket computers in the form of the smartphone.

The mobile phone now dominates your lives.

And with so much mobile traffic, there is also a massive opportunity in mobile affiliate marketing.

But what exactly does this type of affiliate marketing involve? 

What kind of affiliate offers can you run? 

Are there mobile affiliate networks you can sign up with?

And most importantly, what are some ways you can take advantage of the emerging mobile market as a sales channel?

Let’s get started. 

What Is Mobile Affiliate Marketing

Mobile affiliate marketing is a unique form of performance marketing. With mobile affiliate marketing, affiliate publishers are financially incentivized by advertisers to refer new customers or users to the advertiser’s affiliate offer, typically through a mobile Android or iOS device.

Is mobile affiliate marketing different from regular affiliate marketing?

Yes, because the tactics, tools, and offers involved are geared towards a different audience.

But getting started with this type of marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Facebook, for example, allows you to run adverts on WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, etc.

Facebook Mobile Ads Placements

Running ads like these effectively makes you a mobile affiliate marketer. 

In the early days of mobile marketing, your marketing strategy was pretty straightforward.

You sent SMS messages to your audience, so most of your focus was on acquiring new phone numbers.

But the arrival of smartphones created a paradigm shift in the affiliate marketing industry.

Now a smartphone could display the exact same website as your desktop computer, but touchscreen technology made those sites accessible to people of all ages.

Like your parents and grandparents.

Using their smartphones, they could now tap on the same adverts and affiliate marketing offers as everyone else.

Resource: The tools we recommend to our affiliate marketing buddies

Why use mobile affiliate marketing?

A picture speaks a thousand words.

combined traffic worldwide graph

Or in this case, it shows you that mobile devices now account for 53% of all Internet traffic.

Emerging economies have played a key role in this change.

But the fact remains that the smartphone and tablet audience has eclipsed the desktop audience.

Is it impacting how people search for products and services?


Mobile And Desktop Searches

Mobile search overtook local US desktop searches way back in 2015. Our affiliate marketing statistics page also shows that mobile devices account for 50% of affiliate-related traffic, which further highlights how lucrative this strategy can be.

Something Google had been quietly hinting at for years.

You don’t need to have a degree in statistics to see that mobile is very clearly the dominant traffic source online. 

So, don’t be surprised if smartphone users make up 80%+ of all online traffic in the next few years.

Investing in this form of affiliate marketing is essentially investing in your future.

What Are Some Mobile Marketing Channels

If you think that “…sending text messages” is the same as modern mobile affiliate marketing then you’re way off the mark.

Yes, text messages can still play a role.

But there’s so much more to this new form of affiliate marketing than just blasting people with text SMS broadcasts. 

So let’s look at the two main channels you can work with:

  • Free – You take traffic acquired through social media and then send it to a mobile-optimized affiliate offer. 
  • Paid – You pay given social media channels or related platforms to send traffic to your affiliate offers.

While monetizing free traffic is still possible, most established social media platforms now want you to pay to play.

Paid mobile channels, however, are usually much more confusing for affiliate marketers.

Especially if they’ve never done any paid search marketing before.

So, let’s look at a few of these mobile ad types in more detail:

In-App adverts

You’ll have no doubt seen these ads pop-up or under your favorite games or mobile apps.

In App Adverts

These are in-app adverts – they’re how most freemium application developers pay the bills.

These adverts might ask for your email address so you can be sent a quote, or simply provide you with a discount code.

But more often than not, they take you to an app install page on whichever store is relevant to your device.

Either of the above actions results in an affiliate getting paid.

App Install Adverts

App install ads are exactly what they sound like: adverts that urge people to install a new game or application of some kind.

Advertisers are usually charged on a “cost per install” basis.

App Intall Adverts

They take over your entire screen for up to 30 seconds and then vanish.

Affiliates are often paid on a two-tier system with adverts of this type.

You can get paid a few cents for an ad simply being displayed.

But you’ll receive a far higher payout if the smartphone or tablet user actually installs the app.

Mobile Web Adverts

You can display adverts not just inside apps but also inside mobile websites.

These can either be standalone mobile versions of desktop websites or responsive sites instead. 

And the adverts can be text, images, or even videos.

What matters is that the ad itself is:

  • Optimized for mobile screens.
  • Is visible to only mobile audiences.
  • Takes visitors to mobile-specific landing pages.

Google is the biggest player in the mobile advertising space – of course.

Some of the other top players though are Millennial Media and InMobi.

Social Media Adverts

You might have noticed this type of “sponsored” post appearing on Instagram over the last few years.

Social Media Adverts

These are basically Instagram ads – not dissimilar to a “Boosted post” on Facebook.

But they do provide mobile affiliate marketers with other ways to promote mobile offers. 

Snapchat now also runs its own advertising platform.

 So there’s always somewhere new to advertise, as long as you can stay within their ToS. 

There are a lot of other tactics, ad-types, and channels involved in the mobile affiliate marketing world. 

For example, there are content discovery ad networks like Outbrain or Taboola.

Not sure what these look like?

Taboola Ads Example

These types of ads are very popular right now.

This is allegedly why a lot of advertisers currently spend a large chunk of their advertising budget with content discovery networks.

How Can You Make Money With Mobile Affiliate Marketing

Well, it’s pretty much the same as how you make money with any form of affiliate marketing 

You send warm traffic to a relevant affiliate program/offers.

The only difference is that the offers will be designed with a mobile audience in mind.

So you’re not going to try to promote airsoft guns or toaster ovens, or similar affiliate products, through affiliate links.

Instead, you’ll be working with CPA offers for services like teeth whitening, plumbers, foreclosure prevention, sweepstakes, etc.

Cpa Mobile Offers Examples

The other thing is that your mobile device is basically a data mine for advertisers.

Your device knows your location, the type of sites you visit, time spent online, apps you regularly use, etc.

So that means mobile affiliates can target their ads far more effectively than with desktop users. 

To the extent that an iPhone user in Atlanta can see a completely different ad to an Android user in Budapest.

The downside is that you can’t fit as many ads on smaller mobile screens.

Which can impact your affiliate marketing revenue negatively. 

Mobile Affiliate Networks

If you don’t like the idea of negotiating with individual advertisers or affiliate programs then never fear, mobile affiliate networks are here!

Or what some people refer to as “app affiliate networks”. 

These are very much like traditional affiliate networks.

Except with one key difference – they focus on CPA (Cost per Action) and CPL (Cost per Lead) offers.

CPA offers simply perform way better than CPS in this marketing space.

There are literally dozens of mobile affiliate networks you could sign up with though.

So here are some of the more popular ones:

You will find some big brands on these networks, but it’s mostly more niche CPA offers.

You can bypass the manual search for offers by using an affiliate network aggregator like Offervault instead:

Offervault Mobile Offers

You’ll find stacks of different CPA offers with something to suit most niches and/or mobile users.

These range from home insurance quotes to CBD products and adult offers.

Offervault Mobile Offers Payouts

Just make sure whatever offers you promote are a reasonably good fit for your audience.

What Are The Pros Of Mobile Affiliate Marketing


  • Lower competition: Despite mobile’s dominance over the last few years, it’s still a relatively unsaturated market
  • Massive growth: Mobile traffic is growing much faster than desktop. This is particularly true in emerging economies i.e. you can future proof your affiliate marketing
  • More targeted offers: Imagine narrowing down your offers not just on keywords, but also on your target’s location, device type, etc. Better targeting = a higher conversion rate = more money
  • Lucrative offers – Mobile affiliate networks can offer very tempting payouts on many different offers

What Are The Cons Of Mobile Affiliate Marketing

Unfortunately, mobile marketing isn’t without its downsides. Some of the biggest ones among these are:

  • Design challenges: The majority of affiliate marketers lack the knowledge or skill to put together a mobile affiliate site that converts well
  • Development challenges:  If you want an app then you’ll either have to learn how to code or hire somebody to do it for you
  • Lack of tools: 99% of the marketing tools you know and love were mostly for desktop audiences
  • Pay to pay – The most reliable traffic source is paid traffic, so your costs just went up
  • Poor CTR: You can’t fit as many affiliate ads on smaller screens. 

Should You Invest In Mobile Affiliate Marketing

As much as I’d like to say “Jump in!” I’d recommend that affiliates exercise caution with mobile marketing.

Getting started isn’t as straightforward as traditional affiliate marketing where you just register a domain, get some web hosting, and start publishing content.

For one, there are serious design challenges you’ll have to overcome.

And then you’ll have to accept that you’re working with paid traffic – there’s a cost for you when promoting offers.

Basically, it’s all too easy to pick the wrong offers, on the wrong affiliate network, and lose your shirt.

Or far worse.

Yes, I’ve heard all the wild income stories around this form of affiliate marketing and how this is, “…an easy way to make money online”. 

But what they never tell you about are their campaigns that lose money.

And believe me, we’re talking 5 and 6-figure losses.  

Mobile marketing can be one of several revenue streams.

But don’t try to make it your “Golden Goose”.  

about the author

Niall is a Senior SEO Specialist who excels in on-page optimization and off-page link building campaigns. He's been in SEO so long that his experience predates the existence of Google. 

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