Bias vs. Affiliates: How to Win This Fight

16 February 2023
Reading: 7 min

We have already discovered how bias can play into your hands when it comes to your audience. However, bias affects all people, including affiliate marketers. While being biased, people tend to make suboptimal decisions. Therefore, much like a nuclear plant, bias can be a blast or make you go bust. So make sure to play it safely and learn how to protect yourself from backfiring.

Bias vs. Affiliates: How to Win This Fight

I ain’t biased

Bias can be labelled alternatively as mental shortcuts. The human brain is exposed to 11 million pieces of information per second. Our consciousness can process just 40-50 per second. A lot of data is processed via subconscious shortcuts, this in turn helps us to work faster and more productively.

Bias is not a problem in itself, because it’s a part of nature. The issue arises when you do nothing about it to minimize its effects on your campaigning. By the way, thinking you are less biased than others is also a bias in itself, blind spot bias to be exact.

Bias vs. Affiliates: How to Win This Fight

Biases endangering your campaigns

While biases are many, there are some noteworthy ones that can be the most dangerous to your campaigns. Here are some of the examples you should be aware of:

  • The IKEA effect — the popular Swedish store leaves the assembly of the products up to its customers. While crafting anything (say, creatives or marketing funnels) you put your time and effort into them, making you value them more than they are worth. And at the end of the day, you are surprised why seemingly flawless campaign of yours yields uninspiring results.
  • Confirmation bias — we all seek for the opinions that backbone our stance on a matter. Perhaps there is a niche in affiliate marketing that you consider oversaturated, unprofitable, or complicated. Have you ever noticed that you tend to discard reviews that don’t align with your belief? That’s because playing conservatively is easier, which is another bias in itself.
  • Choice supportive bias (sunk cost/gambler’s fallacy) — having made heavy investments in a campaign, or any grand endeavor; it is always hard to forsake the resources sacrificed. The problem is, trying to return them often lead to more sacrifices, until there is nothing left.
  • Stereotyping — generalizing, basing one’s judgement on a single outcome. One poor campaign does not imply the whole vertical is bad and not your cup of tea and vice versa.
  • The contrast effect — whenever a single event stands out, everything around it looks either lackluster or bright, depending on the event’s character. For example, a groundbreaking campaign some days ago may leave you with the impression that everything else run right now is not worth it and counterproductive.
  • Selective perception — initially, you may incline more favorably towards some campaigns of yours. Those under your favor will be more noticeable to you, unlike the underdogs that will have to break through your cold attitude of yours.

How to protect every dime of your profit

Biases are rooted deep inside people’s subconscious. Therefore, countering them can take some willpower and concentration. Bias can be kept at bay, but you should not treat it as a completely negative phenomenon. Once again, no bias would mean no mental shortcuts and, subsequently, mental exhaustion. So how to minimize the negative effects of cutting the corners during thinking?

  • First, admit that all people, including yourself, are biased and can act at times under the influence of subconscious beliefs. The last person you want to lie to is yourself.
  • Next, think whether you really want to take control over your thinking process right at that moment, because doing mental things manually takes a lot of time. Sometimes small cash losses from being biased are better than spending all the time available on overcoming the bias and making no profit because of that.
  • The effects of many biases can be minimized by asking your relatives, friends, or partners to estimate independently your carefully crafted stuff, like creatives. You can also look back and compare your recent creations with those from the past. This way, your subjectivity would affect every item under comparison. Just be careful not to fall prey under the recency bias, when you value the most recent items more.
  • Look for the objective facts instead of satisfying your lust for approval. You can find the facts that support your deeply rooted belief in any matter. Yet, the question you should ask yourself is whether you want to live a lie and hear an ear-pleasing fairy-tale; or get to the very core and find out the most impartial truth possible, so that your judgement is grounded on a solid foundation.
  • Keep in mind the past context whenever evaluating the results of a decision. What appeared to be profitable might end up being a flop. But you learned that only after trying it out and getting new insights. Do not mix together present revelations and past decisions.
  • True, you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette. But there is no use in crying over the spilled milk, if the bottom of the pan has a hole through which everything is leaking away. If you are keeping investing in an unprofitable campaign with the ROI chances melting away, then give up on everything sacrificed and move on. Saving something is far better than losing all the budget.
  • Stereotyping is really alluring. Especially if you see someone making immense ROI of 300% on an adult offer. Chances are, you will incline towards the dating vertical after that. Keep your head cool and remember that a single success can be attributed to many factors: filthy huge payouts from a network, enabled from shaving the other affiliates, blatant lie, luck, offer specifics etc.
  • When you feel like you are underperforming, write down the results of all the recent campaigns you had. Compare them to the results from the previous year. Have you improved your KPI since then? A recent success can make you blind and nonobjective about the true state of the affairs. A rule of a thumb: if you feel satisfaction — do your best, and if you feel disappointment — remember what you can do.
  • All your campaigns and creatives deserve your faith and attention — why making them otherwise? True, some funnels possess greater prospects, but it does not imply that the underdogs are to be underestimated. Do not put all your eggs in one basket and develop all the campaigns you have, even those that do not bring much joy and return now. They might start doing so tomorrow.


Bias is not a bad thing in itself but can cloud your vision and decision-making. They say if you have a brain, then it’s biased for sure. Fighting the bias is not always advised, because it is a mental shortcut that saves a lot of time, effort, and energy.

However, if you are upset with it, then most of the biases can be countered with the conscious efforts. If you are looking for the information, then do it; and make sure you are not trying to support your subjective point of view. Keep all the events to its place on the timeline. Trust your experience but always be ready to challenge it, because a single person is the hornet nest of biases. Inquiring others can be helpful, but the wisdom of the crowd can also be a bias. Don’t be discouraged, though, because bias can be your ally as well.

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