The new UK managing director of Awin says that Northern agencies are only “dipping their toes in the water” with affiliate marketing as she predicts continued growth in the sector.
Rosalyn Berrisford has recently stepped up from Client Partnerships Director to take over as Regional Managing Director for the UK and Benelux region at the global affiliate company, which now has over 1,200 staff worldwide.
After experiencing “huge growth” during the pandemic as people sought out new ways to monetise online, Awin’s trajectory has continued upwards as more and more brands have opted to partner with advertisers and publishers in order to reach new customers.
Those partnerships can come in many forms – from global media powerhouses and niche bloggers to TikTok creators and price comparison sites – but they can be seriously profitable.
In 2021 alone, Awin’s top 100 publishers generated $4.5billion in revenue for 7,465 advertisers, and there’s every reason to believe that number will grow considerably in the coming years. Monthly Google searches for affiliate marketing doubled between 2017 and 2020, and the global affiliate marketing platform market, valued at around $13bn in 2021, is estimated to hit almost £37bn by 2030 according to the Affiliate Marketing Benchmark Report 2022.
So what is the particular appeal of affiliate marketing behind the growth?
One key factor, says Berrisford, is a degree of measurability that has allowed the sector to withstand tougher economic times, such as the one we’re living through now.
“It’s a relatively safe space to spend, even when budgets are being pulled or tightened,” she said.
“Customers want to save money and brands want to offer them the best discounts they can. We’re seeing an increase in discounting and money-saving offers across publishers.”
Awin now has a sizable 60% share in the UK market
Berrisford, who heads up around 200 staff in the UK and a further 60 in Benelux, started her career in Newcastle after graduating from Newcastle University.
She originally joined Awin in 2010 when it acquired buy.at and has stayed with the company for all but a two-year spell from 2014, when she headed up affiliate planning at the Omnicom agency group in London.
Its market share rises to around 80% in Germany with a significant presence in France, Italy and Spain too, and while Awin is smaller proportionately in the US, it does own the ShareASale affiliate network.
Berrisford said that customers can have different motivations for wanting to get into affiliate partnerships.
“Some brands want to reach new customers and use the demographic matching technology on our platform to help them find new brands to partner with,” she said.
“Some just want to retain customers and they see affiliate marketing as a reward or loyalty scheme for their customers.
“Others see it as an additional source of income – affiliate can be a great way to monetise their traffic in a different way.”
Berrisford, who heads up around 200 staff in the UK and a further 60 in Benelux, originally joined Awin in 2010
One interesting area of growth in recent times has been the emergence of influencers as affiliate partners, from Instagrammers to TikTokkers. Hundreds of new publishers are currently joining the platform every week.
“The engagement they can get with a specific type of customer is unlike any other type of publisher,” added Berrisford.
“They have quite loyal followings and really have the ability to drive conversions that is quite unlike anybody else. Some micro-influencers – those with between 30 and 50,000 followers – can drive really incredible results around particular product niches.”
She added: “We have some fantastic relationships with other influencer platforms, like Vamp or CreatorIQ or Maverick. They are more traditional platforms that support influencers in getting the tools they need and managing the payments, but they don’t have the measurement or tracking that we have. So together we’re able to give them the tools for the content but then also plugin the additional insights.”
Just under 30% of Awin’s brands use agency partners to work with the platform, and Berrisford believes there is much room for growth.
“The brands we work with don’t just want to use our technology, they do want our support in connecting with other brands as well,” she said. “There are only a few agencies who are really tapping into that space. So far agencies are only dipping their toes in the water.”
Northern exceptions include the likes of Silverbean in Newcastle, iProspect in Manchester and 26 agency in Leeds.
Awin currently works with the likes of Silverbean in Newcastle, iProspect in Manchester and 26 agency in Leeds
Agencies have different ways of working with Awin.
“The bigger media agencies will generally work across quite a few different channels and affiliate is part of the overall relationship, whereas with the performance agencies it’s their sole focus,” said Berrisford.
“We do quite a lot for agencies in terms of the tools we have for them specifically. So for example we have an agency certification scheme, which is basically training on how they can use the platform and strategies they can adopt.”
Awin also has a referral scheme for agencies and a dedicated agency partner, Jessica Brown.
“Jess does a lot of work with talking to agencies, making sure we’ve got the right partners for them, as well as insights, workshops, new products, general relationship management and making sure they’ve got everything they need from us.
“We also have a new report for agencies so they can see all of their client activity in one place as opposed to having to go in and out of all the accounts they have with us. Agencies are a big focus for us in the UK.”