UK affiliate marketing has gone a long way since its inception. It has become more mainstream, and altogether more complex.

And regardless of all the challenges, it now offers (both advertisers and publishers) more opportunities than ever.

With the inaugural European Affiliate Management Days coming to London in just two weeks, I have been actively discussing the state of affiliate marketing in the UK (and on the continent) with the conference's speakers lately.

Most of the things mentioned can be boiled down to three key thoughts which I would like to bring you today.

No longer an afterthought

Long gone are the days when affiliate marketing programs were treated as a secondary or non-essential part of an online advertiser's marketing mix.

Kevin Edwards (Strategy Director, Affiliate Window) points out that "the performance industry in the UK is now a fully established, mainstream marketing channel used by the vast majority of large retailers to grow their sales".

Naturally, "with maturity and growth comes additional scrutiny and responsibility" that both affiliate networks and individual affiliate programme managers should be paying more attention to.

No longer last-click only

Dan Cohen (Regional Director, UK & Ireland, Tradedoubler) points out that:

Performance marketing is no longer just about the last click. Tradedoubler Insight Unit's latest survey shows that connected consumers are making performance marketing sites and apps their first port of call when researching what to buy (92%).

Cohen believes this to be a tremendous "wake-up call for marketers and high street retailers, who need to understand that consumers are looking for value and that if they are not present on performance marketing sites at this important first impression stage – they are not even going to be in the consideration set."

More sophisticated than ever

Besides the above-mentioned reason for looking beyond the last-click attribution, Nick Fletcher (Client Strategy Director, Tradedoubler) draws attention to the fact that:

Showrooming is becoming mainstream consumer behaviour, with 60% of tech-savvy consumers using their smartphones whilst out shopping."

Therefore retailers must either adjust their marketing strategies to encompass (and profit from) this behavior, as well as consumers' use of smartphones, or lose their share of the pie.

Kevin Edwards of Affiliate Window also adds that:

The burgeoning growth of mobile handsets and tablets is also requiring us to think in a more multi-channel way about how performance marketing can apply across these devices. What is clear is the CPA model's flexibility and low barrier to entry will be critical in helping to monetize new and innovative channels and technology.

What trends (or opportunities) are you seeing in UK's affiliate marketing?

Geno Prussakov

Published 30 April, 2013 by Geno Prussakov

Geno Prussakov is the Founder & Chair of Affiliate Management Days conference, Founder & CEO at AM Navigator, author, internationally known speaker, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can find Geno on Google+

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