As one of the judges at this year’s a4uAwards, I’ve been impressed by the standard of entries from merchants, publishers, networks and agencies. The shortlist for the awards ceremony (to be held in London on June 2) has just been announced. 

Having read through dozens of awards submissions as part of the judging process, it’s clear that affiliate marketing is becoming a more strategic and integral part of many businesses.

And it is heartening to see so many companies putting a real emphasis on understanding the incremental value offered by affiliates and the role this channel plays within the wider marketing mix. 

Businesses shortlisted by the judging panel include a number of well known retail and travel brands including Argos, Debenhams and Thomas Cook, as well as established digital giants such as Play.com and Lastminute.com. 

Affiliate Window, sponsors of our UK Affiliate Census, are up against AffiliateFuture, LinkShare and Webgains for the ‘innovative network of the year’ category, while the ‘innovative publisher of the year’ winner will come from Easy Content Units, NetMediaPlanet, Quidco, Skimlinks and VoucherCodes.co.uk.   

Matthew Wood, founder of the a4uAwards, said: “Affiliate Marketing is most definitely a core part of many brands’ marketing armoury now and as consumers continue to choose and buy online, the need for effective digital marketing has never been so high.

“With some of the UK’s biggest brands included in the shortlists, the judges were faced with a very high quality of entries, showing a diverse use of the channel as well as a focus on direct relationships between advertisers and affiliates.”

The June 2 event, hosted by up-and-coming comedian Jason Manford, promises to be an exciting night.

For those who want to learn more about the £4 billion affiliate marketing industry, Econsultancy’s Affiliate Marketing Buyer’s Guide 2009, containing profiles of the leading networks and agencies, has recently been published. 

Here are the shortlisted companies for some of the key a4uAwards categories:

Innovative Merchant of the Year

Books Direct
Buyagift.com
CreditExpert
PrezzyBox

Innovative Publisher of the Year

Easy Content Units
NetMediaPlanet
Quidco
Skimlinks
VoucherCodes.co.uk

Innovative Affiliate Network of the Year

Affiliate Window 
AffiliateFuture
LinkShare
Webgains

Publishers’ Choice of Affiliate Network

affilinet
AffiliateFuture
Affiliate Window
DGM
Paid on Results
TradeDoubler
Webgains

Best New Entrant in Affiliate Marketing

Harveys
musicMagpie
Oasis
Skimlinks
The It Guide

Best Use of Affiliate Marketing as part of integrated campaign

Argos
Elemis
LOVEFiLM
Play.com
SKY

Affiliate Marketing Digital Media Agency of 2009

BLM Quantum
I-Level
R.O.EYE

Best Use of Technology within Affiliate Marketing

Affmeter
Awin Analytics
Coull TV
Easy Content Units
Skimlinks

Retail (merchant)

Argos
Debenhams
JD Williams
LOVEFiLM
PrezzyBox
Red Letter Days

Travel & Leisure (merchant)

Fly Thomas Cook
Haven Holidays
Lastminute.com