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Affiliates are keeping positive — but say merchants could do more

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Econsultancy and Affliliate Window have published the 2009 UK Affiliate Census, showing dramatic differences since the first survey was published two years ago.

And, despite the economic downturn, just 30% of affiliates see the recession as a threat to their affiliate marketing business. This suggests, say the authors, there is an opportunity for marketers looking for a cost-effective means of digital marketing.

Of the over 1,000 UK-based affiliates were surveyed for the census, 34% of whom described themselves as full-time affiliates, 46% as part-time affiliates and 20% as hobbyists.One-third of full-time affiliates are now generating sales of at least £50,000 per month for their merchants.

However, there is some criticism levelled at merchants for a lack of communication regarding changes or problems. The vast majority of affiliates say they have limited communication (33%), indirect communication (27%) or no communication with merchants (10%).

“Affiliates are as passionate as ever about this industry and are generally very optimistic about their prospects,” says Econsultancy research director Linus Gregoriadis. “This sector has generally become much more professional. However, as a community, publishers feel they could generate more sales and leads for advertisers if there was better and more communication with merchants.”

David Hall, partnerships director at Affiliate Window, added: “The Census Report shows that affiliate marketing is an industry that has grown up in the last two years. What was a relatively immature market has now proved that it can generate significant sales for merchants.”

The rise of voucher code sites, along with Google’s entry into the affiliate marketing space, is seen by affiliates as the biggest threat to the sector. “Voucher code and cash-back sites, which are becoming increasingly popular because of the economic crisis, continue to polarise the industry because many affiliates say they are missing out on commission,” says Gregoriadis.

“Many consumers are going to these sites just before they make an online purchase which means these sites are getting the credit,” he explained. “This ties in with quite a lot of dissatisfaction with the ‘last click wins’ model for paying commission to affiliates.”

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