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Three UK Affiliate Networks discuss the benefits of working with them

Prepared by Tug ltd.
Author: Dave Tinneny, Affiliate Manager

One of the most important considerations for any affiliate programme is choosing which network to run with. With so many options, it can be quite daunting to find the perfect fit for your brand and your programme’s goals.
With that in mind, we asked three of the UK’s major networks what exactly separates them from their competitors. The answers perfectly highlight the different approach of each company and offer some insight on how to approach this important decision.

• What would you say is your network’s greatest strength?
Tradedoubler’s biggest strength lies in its innovation and we place a huge emphasis on ensuring that our technology is best-in-class. Last year we released our App Download Tracking solution and are still currently the only affiliate network that can track app downloads and in-app purchases. We’re also the only network that can offer advertisers a tracking solution that allows them to completely self-manage their very own white-label network of publishers.
• Are there any particular verticals that you feel are particularly suited to your network?
Tradedoubler manages the affiliate programs for many of the world’s biggest brands across a range of different sectors. A look at our client list, which includes the likes of Tesco, Expedia, Dell, The Body Shop, etc. highlights our expertise in all the key verticals and our ability to deliver to the very high standards that these companies naturally expect.
• What are your main priorities as a network for 2013?
It’s important that networks adapt to reflect the significant changes in consumer behaviour that have occurred over the past 12 months. Our study into mobile last year showed that over 70% of smartphone owners have researched purchases on their mobiles (this figure is almost certain to rise in 2013). This presents some significant challenges for advertisers and publishers that we’re able to advise on to help them generate revenues from this increasingly important channel, with a multi-channel strategy.
• What do you think an advertiser’s main consideration should be when choosing a network?
Ultimately it should come down to quality rather than cost. Networks should be able to offer market-leading industry expertise combined with robust tracking that ensures that the advertisers have full visibility on activity on their program whilst their publishers are fairly rewarded for the sales/leads they drive.

• What would you say is your network’s greatest strength?
Affiliate Window is the largest affiliate network in the UK and is now twice as big as our closest competitors. This size and strength provides a number of excellent benefits to our clients. As well as having access to the widest base of engaged publishers we also have unrivalled experience across a number of verticals. Our well oiled account support structure utilises our bespoke Strategy, Business Intelligence, Compliance and Publisher Services teams to ensure that all of the needs of our clients are attended to. With a UK based technology team, we are quick to respond to changes within the market place.
• Are there any particular verticals that you feel are particularly suited to your network?
Having traditionally been seen as a network that specialises in retail, in recent years we have expanded our portfolio of advertisers across a wide range of sectors. Our strength in telecoms sees us working with a number of the key players within the sector including Sky, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone. Additionally our portfolio within finance has seen us acquire brands such as Aviva, The Post Office and American Express while our strength in travel is demonstrated by working with Lastminute.com, Expedia and British Airways amongst others.
• What are your main priorities as a network for 2013?
With m-commerce growing at a considerable rate this is a priority for us this year. We are already seeing in excess of 20% of all of the traffic through mobile devices and we need to ensure our advertisers are in a position to convert this traffic. Mobile is a multi faceted challenge and will require the identification and optimisation of mobile publishers as well as enhanced reporting features. With consumers increasingly turning to mobile handsets to access the internet, it is essential that advertisers are including affiliate tracking on their mobile sites. This is an education process and we aim to ensure that all of our advertisers are tracking through mobile devices by the end of this year.
• What do you think an advertiser’s main consideration should be when choosing a network?
Selecting an affiliate network to partner with is a big decision for an advertiser. There are a number of elements they should consider before making the selection. The experience of the network within the advertisers sector will be a major consideration. With the experience comes not only the knowledge, but also the publisher base to promote the campaign. The reputation of a network should also be considered, how well respected are they within the industry and do they have the range of publishers available to promote the campaign.
The tools and technology available from the network should also be considered – both from the reporting that is available to the advertiser and the tools that are available to assist publishers with promotion.
Additionally, the levels of support available from the network should also be considered. At Affiliate Window we offer a number of support functions to assist the Account Management teams running the campaign. The Strategy and Business Intelligence teams are able to provide insights both across the network and on an individual program basis while the in house technology team is able to ensure continuous innovation across the network.

• What would you say is your network’s greatest strength?
Aspects such as platform capabilities, brand compliance tools, publisher reach and our global presence are always major considerations for any of our advertising or publisher partners. I would like to think that Rakuten LinkShare excel in all of these areas, but if I was to choose just one strength above all overs I would say the service provided by our team. You can have the best technology and/or advertiser/publisher relationships, but ultimately affiliate marketing is a relationships industry. A network will succeed or fail depending on the service they provide to facilitate business between their respective partners.
• Are there any particular verticals that you feel are particularly suited to your network?
Retail and Travel are where we currently have the largest number of advertiser relationships, so organically we see our network continue to grow in these verticals. However, we do have unique relationships across all verticals that have been incredibly successful, and are certainly keen to work with any advertiser with a strong consumer offering, regardless of which vertical they operate in.
• What are your main priorities as a network for 2013?
It’s our goal to make it as easy as possible to do business with Rakuten LinkShare, so this year you will see both a number of platform improvements, new initiatives, as well as aggressive staffing up of our services team to ensure we are facilitating this. More broadly, although affiliate marketing will always remain core to everything we do, you will see our parent company Rakuten expand into more online marketing service areas. The acquisition of retargeting and display specialists Rakuten MediaForge towards the end of last year was a first big step in expanding our suite of solutions. This expansion of solutions will be complemented by an expansion of our global footprint, with new market launches a key initiative in 2013 and beyond, so overall there is a lot happening in the Rakuten Marketing world!
• What do you think an advertiser’s main consideration should be when choosing a network?
An advertiser will typically make their decision on which network to partner with based on the perceived strength of the networks technology, brand compliance tools, service delivery and publisher relationships. Whilst it is of course imperative for a network to have a great platform and relevant publisher relationships, everything falls down if there is no service or support, which is why I think service should be the main consideration when selecting a network.

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Tug is an award-winning, search marketing agency, and the Lighthouse is our new knowledge sharing hub. The purpose of The Lighthouse is to guide and enlighten our fellow Search, PPC, Social Media, Display and Affiliate marketing professionals. As the online marketing field evolves, we aim not only to keep up, but stay ahead in our thinking, and share knowledge with one another. Our collection of white papers provides up-to-date insights in an easy-to-digest format. Founded in 2006, Tug is an original silicon roundabout company that breaks the mould by taking a left-brain-right-brain approach digital marketing. Our bespoke programme builds brand awareness, new media opportunities, strong ROI and business growth for clients like Aon, Wonderbra and Dairy Crest. Tug’s combination of robust planning and execution with creativity has earned us seats on the IAB and DMA search councils.
For more information please contact Hannah Melbourn (hannah.melbourn@tugagency.com or

Published on: 11:36AM on 9th April 2013