Previously I investigated the change in affiliate promotional type
across the network.
This post examines how this varies across three sectors and highlights
the reasons behind this.

It is important to put a caveat in place for this data. The categorisation features the affiliate’s primary promotional method. As this channel has evolved, there can be a significant crossover in an affiliate’s promotional method.

For example, an affiliate who is predominantly a vouchercode site and classified as such is also likely to be running PPC campaigns in order to direct traffic to their site.

The same could also be said for comparison sites. The channel is more sophisticated than pigeon-holing affiliates into one particular promotional method, but this research has been based on the primary method of promotion to provide us with conclusions.

To recap on the change in promotional type across all sectors, we saw a shift from PPC affiliates towards incentivised sites. This could be put down to a number of reasons including the change in PPC terms and consumer behaviour evolving in line with the recession.


Top 20 Affiliates across the network 2005 – 2011

The three sectors looked at in more detail are retail, broadband and travel. With the stark contrast in product offerings, it is interesting to see how the makeup of the top 20 affiliates within each sector has developed from 2007 to 2010.


We took a cross section of our retail advertisers to provide an insight into the sector. This included amongst others fashion and electrical advertisers.

Cashback/reward sites have been the predominant affiliate type within the top 20 since 2007. This peaked in 2009 with 12 of the top 20 being categorised as cashback/reward affiliates. The growth of this type across the sector has fuelled the increase that was seen across the network as a whole.

Voucher code affiliates have also made up a large percentage of affiliates within the sector. By 2010 a quarter of the top 20 were vouchercode affiliates.

The nature of the sector lends itself to incentivised traffic. Typically products within the sector are widely available from a number of advertisers. Developing an incentive strategy across voucher code and cashback sites allows an advertiser to differentiate their offering from competitors.

Advertisers are able to offer a range of money saving offers including a percentage off the basket value or free delivery. The use of consumer incentives often increases the conversion rate of these affiliate types considerably.

Affiliates that are categorised as content/other have always been a significant proportion of the top 20 affiliates. However it must be noted that this affiliate type encompassed a range of affiliate types such as price comparison and social media/blogs.


In the broadband sector, content/other affiliates made up at least half of the top 20 year on year. Again it must be noted that there is a significant amount of crossover of affiliates that have been categorised in this way. For example there are a number of comparison sites that will also dive traffic to their sites by utilising PPC.

We have seen a decline in PPC affiliates across the sector which is in line with the general trends across the network. A number of broadband providers have moved their paid search activity in house or streamlined the number of affiliates undertaking PPC activity on their behalf.

The trend that has been seen across broadband advertisers is again reflective of the shift we have seen in general, with the reliance of PPC affiliates diminishing year on year. Where retail has stimulated the growth in incentivised activity, the move away from PPC affiliates in broadband has seen the reduction in PPC affiliates within the top 20 affiliates across the network.


Finally we analysed the shift in affiliate type across a variety of travel advertisers. This encompassed a range of travel programmes and wasn’t restricted to just flights or package holidays.

In 2007 and 2008 half of the top 20 affiliates across travel advertisers were classified as PPC affiliates. By 2009 this had reduced to just two of the top 20.

This shift away from PPC can be attributed to the change in terms and conditions, along with advertisers moving control of their paid search campaigns in-house, and is again reflective of the channel as a whole.

The significant increase from 2007 has been in content/other affiliates. With more tools available and an increase in the number of travel campaigns across the network, the sector has been more accessible.

In 2007 there were only five affiliates in the top 20 classified as content/other, by 2010 this had increased to 11.

The travel sector has not been as reliant on cashback/reward sites as we have seen across other sectors. In 2010 only two of the top 20 affiliates are classified as cashback/reward. This indicates that there is room for growth within the travel sector across this type.

By investigating three additional sectors it has enabled us to explain the patterns in the general trend across the affiliate channel. While the top 20 vary from sector to sector, they all have an impact on the general trend across the channel.

Throughout 2011 we can expect to see a further shift in affiliate types. With the continued emergence of new technologies such as retargeting now sitting within the affiliate channel as well as the development of mobile commerce solutions, we can expect to see the affiliate mix continue to evolve.