What is Mobile Affiliate Marketing & How It Works

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Mobile Affiliate Marketing is the name of the game! Check what it’s all about by reading this page!


Newbie to the mobile affiliate marketing biz?

Then this is the right article for you!

When you’re done reading this article, you’ll be ready to join all the people that know how to make that sweet cash by taking advantage of the right moment!

It’s not a surprise for anyone that the mobile market is growing faster than lightning.

At the moment, there are more than 2 billion smartphone users worldwide.

Just think about that number!

Now think about how much money can be made with this insane amount of smartphones!

Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2014 to 2020

[Source: Statista]

The crazy proliferation of mobile devices is definitely changing the marketing industry.

The game is going from desktop to mobile, opening up a whole new reality and allowing the biggest brands to reach potential customers in any corner of the planet.

And guess what?

Affiliate marketers know how to use a golden opportunity!

That’s why I want to let you know what mobile affiliate marketing is really all about.

Let’s see how it works and how you can make amazing profits and become a super affiliate in this awesomely wicked industry!

Get in the Game

It’s very easy to get into the business.


Because you don’t need to own a product.

In fact, all you’ve gotta do is to help sell products created by other people.

How can you do this?


By promoting affiliate links provided by the product owner (advertiser), which you share online.

For every action that occurs (sale, subscription, install, etc) the advertiser will reward you for delivering a cool customer.

Sounds good, right?

But who’s involved?


This is just a generic scheme of the mobile affiliate marketing ecosystem.

It shows the main players in this game:

Advertisers, publishers, and the most common intermediary between them, an affiliate program.

Bear in mind that this image isn’t exactly showcasing all the parties involved in the business.

No worries, though!

I’m sure that you’ll have time to get to know the whole landscape!

Publishers or Supply Side

When talking about the publishers or the supply side of the mobile affiliate marketing ecosystem, we first need to make a distinction between the perspectives from which we’re standing.

In general, publishers are the players who have traffic and who want to make money from it.

What can they be, you ask?

Check it out:

  • Webmasters: they’ve got traffic from users who access their websites
  • App Developers: they’ve got traffic from users who use their apps
  • Social Media Marketers: they’ve got traffic from users who use social media platforms

These are the guys who are responsible for the supply.

Indeed, they’re the ones who supply the mobile advertising spaces in which offers are gonna be promoted.

These are websites, applications, social media channels, etc.

Since the number of mobile users is growing, market players are currently in the process of adapting to a whole new reality.

Which one?

I’m referring to user-friendly mobile interfaces, new functions and tools for comfortable navigation from any mobile device, constant updates and upgrades, push notifications about news and events, etc.

In short, everything that manages to keep users active on their smartphone or tablet.

Keeping the user focused and engaged is essential.

Why is that?

Because it can help create a bigger share of high quality traffic and therefore more potential profit.

Of course there’s always some part of the traffic that can be considered low-quality or even fraudulent.

Meaning what?

That the clicks and visits are generated in spades but don’t bring any real leads or conversions.

Advertisers or Demand Side

What is an advertiser in the world of affiliate marketing?


Advertisers are the owners of the offer’s content.

In the specific area of mobile affiliate marketing, they tend to be VAS companies, app developers, product owners, etc.

They’re looking for users to acquire their product, which is why they need to advertise it.

These guys can’t place advertisements all over the internet by themselves.

That’s the reason why they trust a wide range of publishers to manage the ads and bring high-quality traffic to the offers.

Some are interested in just getting mobile affiliate marketing leads.

What does this mean?

A lead represents a potential future client.

The user only needs to insert some info about them for the advertiser to sell them their products in the future.

This can be done by submitting an email address or filling a form, for example.

There are other advertisers who don’t care about leads.

They care about actual conversions in real time.

Here are some examples of this:

  • Subscribing to a service
  • Buying a product
  • Installing an app

In any case, all advertisers wanna get high-quality clients that are consistently able to pay for services.

Affiliate Programs

This is a really important part of the affiliate marketing world.

It’s helping demand and supply meet each other in the best way possible in the realm of mobile affiliate marketing.

Affiliate programs can be directly controlled by the advertiser.

A very well-known case of an advertiser-owned affiliate program is the one that made the model famous over 20 years ago:


In this type of affiliate programs, affiliates are directly connected to the advertiser, who is the person that’s providing the affiliate links.

Then, for each purchase performed using those links, the affiliate who’s responsible will receive a commission.

Another type of affiliate program consists of affiliate networks, such as Mobidea.

What do affiliate networks do?

They aggregate thousands of offers in just one place.

This is good for advertisers.

They can connect to one entity if they want to.

Then, the network will be the one making the offer available to several affiliates.

Affiliate networks are also super advantageous to affiliates, since they can find everything they need in one spot.

Feel like this can be your thing?

Feel like you could explore mobile affiliate marketing?

Start searching for related articles online, perform your own tests, check some online affiliate marketing communities, and learn how to convert potential profit in money stacks that pile so high you’ll never be able to understand the actual amount of cash you’ve got lying around!

What is Mobile Affiliate Marketing?

In short, mobile affiliate marketing is one of the kinds of performance-based marketing.

In mobile affiliate marketing, businesses reward one or more affiliates for every single user/customer who’s brought by a given affiliate through a mobile device (generally an Android smartphone or an iOS device.)

This industry has four main players:

  • The advertiser: they may represent a brand, a specific service or they can simply own different kinds of offers
  • The network: it aggregates the offers that affiliates will then check and select. It also takes care of payments
  • The publisher or affiliate: they use offers to monetize traffic
  • The user: a person who’s subscribing to offers or any other action connected with the offer

The market has grown.

This means that second level entities such as advertising agencies and third-party vendors have started to appear.

How is it Different from Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing can be twofold:

Users can either check ads on mobile or desktop.

With the growth of mobile users all over the world, Mobile Affiliate Marketing has truly become the most important money-maker of the affiliate industry when it comes to traffic volume, whereas desktop has been losing its relevance.

After all, with the world moving forward to more dynamic trends, it’s only natural that the user’s needs also become more mobile.

Besides that, and since we’re talking about Affiliate Marketing, you must understand that there’s a difference between Mobile and Desktop.


In mobile affiliate marketing, the main difference is the fact that the main market regulators are the Carrier Operators – when it comes to carrier billing offers (you’ll only have this type of offers for mobile devices.)

They are the ones that provide mobile data to the users.

Therefore, they are the ones that decide what can be promoted and how.

They have a relationship with both the users and the VAS companies, allowing them to have control over mobile marketing.


Considering this market runs on mobile devices, there must be a different way to charge the user for the acquisition of the product/service offered.

Therefore, and bearing in mind the fact that the Carrier Operators are the ones that rule the market, the user will be charged the cost of the product/service through their mobile phone bill.


Bearing the previous point in mind, the flow will differ from the flow of desktop, mainly because of the possibilities that Carrier Operators bring into play.

For example, in the PIN submit flow, if the user wants to subscribe to the offer by clicking in the “confirmation button”, they’ll receive a text message from the VAS with a code.

The goal?

For them to insert the code on the offer page and get subscribed.

Traffic Sources

In-app traffic is the biggest traffic source in mobile.

This pertains to the traffic that you won’t find so frequently on Desktop.


Because you install apps on your smartphone, not on your computer.

Besides that, mobile apps are dominating the mobile market right now.

This really is a huge source of traffic so don’t neglect it!

Traffic Restrictions

There’s a new restriction that you must take into account.

Which one?

The promotion of offers through mobile apps.

Some offers will accept it, others won’t.


The new possibilities of targeting will be brought about by the inclusion of the Carrier Operator.

In some ad networks, you’ll be able to target the specific users from a Carrier.

Apart from this main point, it’s all about considering the new device types, operating systems, browsers, etc. for mobile.

Conversion Type

The main distinction here will be the subscription and install models which aren’t common on desktop.

On mobile, you’ll find that the subscription to a service (ringtones, wallpapers, videos, etc.) is very common.

It’s also normal to see apps that you can install on your smartphone.

User Experience

Don’t forget that, since smartphones are considerably smaller than a laptop or a desktop, the user experience will also have to be adapted to these formats.

Understand that banners, ad spots, etc. will all have different shapes and sizes.

You’ll also find different options to buy traffic, as you’ll have mobile web traffic (from mobile devices) and web traffic (from all the other non-mobile devices).

Mobile Affiliate Marketing Explained: 8 Steps

1. Real Affiliate Life isn’t gonna be Like what You’ve Read Online

Studies found online are for educational purposes only.

They don’t really show you the harsh reality of mobile affiliate marketing life.

Everybody hears the success stories about the few guys that have made waterfalls of money in this industry.

However, nobody hears the stories of the thousands of guys who have wasted a part of their savings betting in this industry but who have failed to get decent results.


Firstly, nobody wants to hear unsuccessful stories.

Secondly – and most importantly – in real life, market conditions may no longer be similar to the ones that ultimately led to the specific case you’ve analyzed.

Thirdly, there’s no guide out there that can really tell you exactly what to do and how to make sure you get to be rich.

If such a guide was real, we’d all be crazy millionaires!

This ecosystem is dynamic and ever-changing.

This means that you’ll lose track of what happened a month ago!

What to do?

Always keep yourself updated and try to learn about mistakes others have made while not being afraid to make some of your own.


Test, Optimize and Test!

Einstein once said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Here’s the bottom line:

If something doesn’t work, test something different.

Another good thing to do is to always be connected with your network’s account manager.

Ask them to provide you with detailed info about what’s hot at the moment.

Make sure you get the info you need to know where to invest that sweet cash!

2. Not all Traffic Sources are gonna be Legit

For you to be a wicked player, you can never forget to make sure you use trustworthy platforms!

There are so many traffic sources you can buy from that it can be overwhelming to actually pick which ones to go for!

The best way to make sure you’re choosing the right traffic source is to start by checking ad networks that have real traffic and good reviews.

Check some ad network reviews right now!

Before deciding which traffic source to bet on, you must make sure that you thoroughly analyze it so you know exactly what you’re working with.

If you’re not careful about your choices, you can be either blacklisted or banned from mobile affiliate marketing life.

3. Traffic Prices Vary Like Crazy

Even though the quantity of mobile devices is growing, that doesn’t mean the price of traffic will drop.

If you plan to buy traffic from ad exchanges or ad systems, never forget that some regions (such as Europe) will usually cost more money and will probably yield a lower conversion rate than others.

Competition is another aspect you should take into account.

If there’s a lot of interest in something, that usually leads to a higher price.

That’s why you should be sure to always be on top of every opportunity since you can always find cheap hidden gems!

Study these specific processes and aspects more thoroughly.

Make sure you know where to find that awesome gold mine!

4. Schedule Everything and Optimize your Working Time

You should always remember to match your availability (the time you spend totally dedicated to the campaign settings, analysis, and optimization) and style of work with the segments you’ve chosen.

Indeed, some of them can be more time-consuming and dynamic, while others may require a few days of patient waiting to go by until you aggregate enough data.

You should also dedicate some time to make sure you’re always updated.

In fact, you should always be on top of all the changes in this market.

What works today may not work in a few months.

You must look at this research as an investment.

Take some time to learn and try some new things.

You may think that there’s no need to change what’s working for you but there’s always room for improvement!

5. Get the Bid Right

In order to get optimal prices for mobile traffic, try analyzing your competition and then creating your own bidding strategy.

There are other affiliates who may want to profit from the traffic source you’ve selected.

When you buy traffic in order to promote an offer, it’s all about the balance between your performance and the position you can afford.

Be smart!

This is about the most profitable bid, not the highest one.

There are several bidding models you can choose from.

At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of analyzing which one is more suitable for you!

  • CPM (cost-per-mile): cost per 1000 impressions. You set the maximum you wanna pay per 1000 impressions of your ads. A great advantage of this model is that you can optimize your banners/pops in order to increase your CTR (Click-Through Rate)
  • CPC (cost-per-click): by using this model, you’ll be paying for each click on your ad. This is a more stable model than CPM. It’s more suitable for single offers than rotators

6. Affiliate Networks Rule!

Taking advantage of an affiliate network that has big partners and direct advertisers can help you save time and get better payouts in mobile affiliate marketing.

There are obvious disadvantages of working with affiliate networks when compared to working with a direct advertiser, such as having a slightly lower payout (the affiliate networks have to eat too), or… well that’s pretty much it.

If you compare the disadvantages to the advantages that you get from working with an affiliate network, you’re gonna come to the conclusion that some of the most precious assets are time and the ability to delegate work.

Check some of the time-saving work that affiliate networks do for you:

  • They pay quickly (unlike many advertisers that either question the quality of your traffic or pay only after 30 days
  • They take the risk of losing money in case the advertiser decides not to pay
  • They usually provide you an account manager that gives you relevant information about what’s hot and what’s not
  • They aggregate a great pool of offers from many different advertisers so that you don’t have to deal with advertisers yourself
  • They have offers in almost all GEOs, which means you’re not gonna be limited to just one or a few countries
  • They may have tools such as smartlinks which already go through the process of optimization of the best offers for your traffic
  • They work with advertisers that affiliates can’t normally have access to due to the big volumes that they work with
  • They have tremendous insight that they share with you, because they work with offers from all over the world
  • They normally won’t request you to barf a bunch of information before you start working
  • They already have a powerful and user-friendly interface that makes your life easier in terms of finding the best offers or whatever you’re looking for in detail

Now, it’s a matter of doing the math and finding what best fits your needs!

7. Picking the Offers

Choose the offers you wanna promote wisely.


In most cases, big payouts don’t really mean fat cheques.

This means you should watch out for the glitter and gold and think before you make your winning move.

Sometimes, an offer may have a low payout, but it will convert like crazy!

Besides checking the landing page of the offer and its restrictions, you should never forget to ponder upon both the flow of the offer and the type of billing for the user.

Remember that this is Mobile Affiliate Marketing.

This means the user of a phone has to be charged to use the service that you’re promoting.

Of course there’s always the exception of free stuff for users like apps (CPI), or dating offers (CPL), but let’s not dwell on that.

What should you remember?

That you must always bear the different types of billing in mind, as well as the conversion flow, and the user profile you’re targeting when it comes to finding a perfect match.

Study all the details of each offer so as to better understand which actions users need to perform to trigger the wanted acquisition.

On top of that, you can always rely on the recommendations of your account manager, as they’ll surely know what is converting well and which are the trending GEOs.

8. Analyze That

Analyze all the data you’re able to aggregate.

Remember TOT?

Come on!

Test, Optimize and Test!

For you to be able to optimize, you have to analyze the data that you have so that you can find the info you need.


Information and data are not the same thing.

This is a thorough process in which you should use caution at all times.

You’ve gotta pay attention to the smallest aspects and fine tune the most detailed parts of each segment to make sure you get that successful formula going on!

Something that sets the targeting for mobile apart is the ability for you to target users by carrier!

If you see that you’re testing an offer for the UK and see that it converts best for the Vodafone carrier, why not creating a new campaign with this offer just for Vodafone users?

Another golden rule that you should always bear in mind?

Always create separate campaigns for Carrier traffic and Wifi traffic!

In mobile, everything is connected.

There are many correlations.

If you see that an offer is converting best for the iOS operating system, it won’t be very wise to remove iPhones, right?

It’s a matter of analyzing the data and turning it into relevant information.

The goal?

For you to perform a tremendous optimization and get the best possible results!


These are the basics you need to know to start thinking about these new ideas.

I hope this article was able to help you understand how mobile affiliate marketing really works.

In fact, you should have been able to grasp what are the needs of each market player and what you need to know in order to have a strategy that makes money pour like a waterfall!

We all know competition is growing every single day.

The market is tough, ultra-competitive, and remarkably changeable.

Even so, if you get your strategy straight and learn as much as possible, you’ll surely be able to get that successful start and make those enormous piles of money.

This market has a life of its own.

Such as in every industry, there are some negative aspects.

Even so, I can guarantee that – using new tools and solutions from affiliate networks – you’ll always be ready to get the whole juice!

Mobile affiliate marketing has a great future!

You need to be a part of it!

Wanna know why Mobidea should be your mobile affiliate network?

Go for it!

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