When you throw hundreds of affiliate marketers together for an awards night and lay on plenty of champagne and a top-drawer comedian, then you know it’s going to be a fun night…

If more proof were needed that the £3 billion affiliate marketing industry has come of age and shed its “grubby” tag, then it was there in abundance last night at the a4uAwards held at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in London.

The award winners should obviously be congratulated but credit is due to ALL the affiliates, merchants, networks, agencies and others who have helped to establish this sector as a key pillar within the thriving world of digital marketing and e-commerce.

Credit to the organisers (Matt, Claire and their team) for putting on a great night and hiring the excellent Michael MacIntyre as host for the evening.

I don’t know how much he cost for the night, but he was good value whatever his fee. If there was pre-prepared material in there, it was hard to distinguish it from the improvised stuff. Plenty of laughs.

Back to the awards…

The competition was intense across 16 different categories. As one of the judges who spent time sifting through the submissions, I can testify that the calibre of entries was very high across the board.

Some of the biggest gongs were nominated and voted for by the 20,000 members of affiliates4u.com. Affiliates voted Affiliate Window as Publishers’ Choice of Network and the same company also picked up the award for Best Network Innovation.

Online gift retailer Prezzybox.com also had a good night, winning the Best Use of Creative and Best Merchant Innovation categories. To cap their evening, MD Zak Edwards was “highly commended” in the Affiliate Manager of the Year section.

AW also won Publisher’s Choice of Account Manager (well done to Thuy Pham), while its client Travelodge scooped the Travel and Leisure vertical category.

Other winners included Hotel Chocolat for Best User of Affiliate Marketing as Part of an Integrated Campaign and eConversions for Publisher of the Year. The absent eConversions founder Duncan Jennings (on a trip to Las Vegas) was beamed in on the big screen. It was all very Hollywood.

Kieron Donoghue was a popular winner of the Affiliate Marketing Blog of the Year category. The “Hall of Fame” award went to AdLINK Group’s UK MD Nicky Iapino who was rewarded for her involvement and championing of the sector over the last decade. 

Well done also to Experian’s CreditExpert team (Finance Vertical award), buyagift.com (Retail), Sky (Technology & Telecoms) and Virgin Games (Gaming and Casino).

The industry has matured and changed considerably over the last few years, but has still retained its character (and characters), even though the affiliate power base has shifted from hundreds of smaller publishers to fewer, much-courted super-affiliates.

Expect a few people to be “working from home” this morning…