Adtraction Blog

Affiliate marketing for YouTube

In 2019, Google released YouTube’s advertising revenue for the first time. It totalled $15 billion. The video streaming platform grew 36% year-on-year, which is twice as fast as Google’s search business.

YouTube now accounts for 9% of Google’s entire revenue, yet it remains a periphery platform in affiliate marketing, accounting for less than 2% of sales on the vast majority of affiliate programs.

Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day. So how can we encourage more YouTubers into the affiliate channel?

How do YouTubers earn money?

Affiliate marketing competes for the attention of content creators with YouTube’s own Partner Program. This is how the vast majority of YouTube channels earn money from advertising.

Regular YouTube viewers will be familiar with the different types of ad options:

  • Non-Skippable Video Ads (the ones at the start of a video)
  • TrueView Instream Video Ads (the ones you can skip at the start of a video)
  • Display Ads (static ads that pop up to the side of the video)
  • Midroll Ads (video ads that play at intervals in a video)
  • Overlay Ads (transparent ads that appear while you’re watching a video)

There are lots of different ad options for YouTubers wanting to monetise their content, and it certainly pays.

A YouTuber generating 10,000 views a day can expect to make somewhere between $5,200 and $8,700 a year. YouTubers with 50,000 views a day could net over $45,000.

Is it easy for YouTubers to monetise their content?

While successful YouTubers do make a lot of revenue from YouTube’s Partner Program, it is something of a numbers game. A YouTuber needs 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 annual watch hours before their channel will be approved to the Partner Program.

This isn’t an easy benchmark. There are more than 31 million YouTube channels, but less than a million have more than 1,000 subscribers. And the subscriber to view ratio is only 14%, which means you need at least 100,000 subscribers to generate at least 12,000 views. It’s a competitive ecosystem.

Why should YouTubers consider affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing has some great benefits for YouTubers:

  • Smaller YouTubers with less than 1k subscribers can monetise their channels
  • Bigger channels can ‘double up’ with view-based and CPA-based revenue
  • Using affiliate marketing can open up direct partnerships with relevant brands
  • It gives brands a chance to support content creation

Adtraction works with large and small YouTube channels. Unlike other forms of content-based advertising where maximising conversion rates is key to success, YouTube channels have such a direct connection with their audiences they can generate conversions from a relatively low amount of engagement.

For the larger YouTube channels, YouTube ads is the key source of ad income. But these channels supplement with affiliate relationships because it converts well and gives them the chance to build direct relationships with a brand.

Affiliate marketing also complements rather than disrupts video content. Nobody wants their sing-along to a favourite tune rudely interrupted by a Midroll Ad halfway through!

How can advertisers work with YouTubers in affiliate marketing?

While many YouTubers will be receptive to brands looking for partnerships, here are a few tips for advertisers that want to make YouTubers a part of their affiliate strategy:

  • Don’t expect relevant YouTubers to find your brand or already be part of your affiliate network. Advertisers, agencies and networks need to put in the legwork to find channels that are relevant and willing to work with them
  • Offer something better than money. A basic CPA-based relationship may not be enough to entice a YouTuber to work with you. Think about offering a product so they can experience your brand first-hand
  • Consider offering the YouTuber a unique discount or marketing code for their audience. This not only helps with audience engagement, but is another tool to track the number of conversions referred from the YouTuber’s channel
  • Think about how your brand can partner with a YouTuber to help enhance their content, particularly if your brand is really relevant to what they are doing

Most affiliate ads on YouTube are link or text based. They will normally be placed in the video’s description or comments.

If you are an advertiser wanting to find YouTube partnerships, or if you are a YouTuber interested in monetising your channel, please get in touch by emailing

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