Affiliate marketing finally goes mainstream

Kevin%20EdwardsNext month sees the hosting of Affiliate Summit London, the UK’s first affiliate marketing conference. In fact, London is showcasing two affiliate marketing events in as many months with the A4U Expo in October. Finally the industry has woken up; cost per acquisition is one of the most compelling and cost-efficient channels for advertisers and we now have the confidence to shout about it.

It’s been a long time coming. Affiliate marketing has traditionally been seen as the slightly grubby, less glamorous poor relation; misunderstood and unloved. This lack of understanding has held it back. Those who use it well understand its complexity – good discipline can’t be learnt overnight. It’s frequently a question of resource with advertisers and agencies alike unable to invest in the micro-management needed. But that’s changing. As online matures and budgets are scrutinised, payment-on-performance offers a perfect solution so it’s little surprise affiliate marketing is coming to the fore.

There are few major UK brands with transactional websites that do not offer an affiliate scheme. For networks, though, this is just the beginning. As media owners grasp the scope and flexibility of affiliate marketing its full potential is realised. Brands with non-transactional websites are a largely untapped market. Why not use a network’s affiliates to build databases, e-mail loyal memberships, promote free samples, capture e-mail addresses and expose the brand offline via direct mail and magazine features?

Ironically, even though this area plays to many of the industry’s strengths, it hasn’t been completely explored. Increasingly, networks broker advertiser relationships with publishers that are brands in their own right. This is where a network can excel, filtering hundreds of potential merchant offers through one central point of contact.

These partnership deals are helping to enhance the professionalism of the industry. The alignment of two brands – publisher and advertiser – can demonstrate the real incremental value of affiliate marketing.

Kevin edwards, Affiliate Window

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