There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether we have seen the peak in the ringtones market. I personally don’t think that ringtones are dead just yet. However, they are a lot harder to get in to if you are a new affiliate. The keywords on the big 3 search engines are getting to be quite expensive, and without the higher payouts that the top affiliates are getting from their networks, it is almost impossible to be competitive. There are, of course, other ways to promote ringtones besides search, but it’s not exactly going to be like the glory days when bids were low and conversions were high, and the ads could say “Free Ringtones!” without mentioning the $9.99 that would mysteriously end up on their phone bill the next month.
These changes are bittersweet, because although they have made it a tougher industry to compete in, they have also legitimized it to the point where now the carriers are trying to figure out how they can get a bigger piece of the action. The lingering question is, once the carriers (T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, etc.) decide to take control of the ringtones game, would they need affiliate marketers anymore? Obviously we all know the value that we bring to the advertisers, more so than than even they do, I’m sure. But the carriers hold the power, they control the medium, and if they decide to flip the killswitch, it’s game over.
One bright spot amidst all these rumors of war & doomsday predictions is the International Ringtones market. Countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK are nowhere near the saturation level that we are experiencing here in the United States. The point of this article is not to get into a heated debate about specific offers and how they are converting in what countries, it’s just to gain a high-level perspective of where the market is going. For those that keep their ear to the ground and jump into new countries and markets at the right time, the rewards could be great.