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The thriving nature of UK affiliate marketing was very much in evidence last week, with a combination of events and new market data adding to the feeling that the industry's star is very much in the ascendancy.

Ad:tech London on Wednesday and Thursday provided the first evidence of the buzz surrounding the sector, with the big networks splashing out on hefty stands and marketing collateral (and beer).

As usual, those in attendance were an assorted mixture of tyre-kickers, dolly birds and random passers-by, with plenty of bona fide business prospects and industry movers and shakers also thrown into the mix.

The problem is that it's not always easy to tell who fits into which category ...

But while Ad:tech caters for all and sundry, the next day's Affiliate Summit - also at Olympia - was dedicated to people specifically interested in this type of marketing (and sufficiently motivated to pay for the privilege of attending).

I agree with Lee McCoy that London's first Affiliate Summit was about "quality rather than quantity". But that's not to say that it wasn't well attended, with around 600 people registering for the event. (Admittedly, a few people turned up late following a through-the-night party hosted by buy.at after ad:tech).

Thanks to Affiliate Summit organisers Shawn Collins and Missy Ward for asking E-consultancy to do a keynote presentation about UK Affiliate Market trends.

The timing was spot-on because last week also saw the publication of our UK Merchants Report, produced in association with buy.at.

Without doubt, the outlook looks extremely encouraging for affiliate marketing - this channel is viewed as the most effective for customer acquisition and now accounts for 16% of surveyed merchants' online sales.

However, I was also keen to stress some of the barriers faced by merchants which are getting in the way of even stronger industry growth, such as 'lack of internal resource', 'poorly converting website', 'restricted budget', 'difficulty attracting affiliates' and 'problems with tracking'.

Although I was talking about research based on a survey of UK merchants, various attendees from the United States (including Shawn and Missy) felt that many of the findings could have applied equally to the US industry.

Having said that, Geordie Carswell has written that the event was like "going back in time"  because US merchants are now generally more enlightened.

But however one looks at it, the UK industry is making major strides forwards and events such as Affiliate Summit and the forthcoming a4uexpo event are tangible evidence of a buoyant sector.

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 2 October, 2007 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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