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The Top UK Affiliate Networks

wedge-of-cashFollowing on from my two articles on affiliate networks titled ‘Part 1: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?‘ and the continuation in  ‘Part 2: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?‘ today I’ll be covering who the top affiliate networks are in the UK, who’s with them and which one you might want to choose for your affiliate campaign.

There are about a dozen different affiliate networks that operate in the UK, this list is not exhaustive, but are networks I can vouch for through personal experiences. In no particular order these are:

  • Affiliate WindowAffiliateWindow
    Also known as” AWIN”, they have the widest ranging set of affiliates programmes I know of. They are also the most expensive from what I know of too.A company I recently dealt with was quoted £2500 and an on going monthly price of around £500 per month, plus commission on paid commissions too.

    Affiliate Window is in the process of updating their backend to ‘Darwin’ which is a welcome improvement in eye candy, but not entirely sure about functionality. The a short list of merchants using them can be found here and clicking on “Our Merchants”.

  • Buy.atBuy.at
    Now this is being listed as a separate affiliate network, but  they were bought by Digital Window (AKA Affiliate Window) in March 2010.My dealings are only ‘light’ with Buy.at, but they do house some of the much larger clients, names like Very, 3 Mobile, All Saints, BBC Shop, ASDA, BT and so on. I have no idea on pricing for these, but I am guessing its more than AWIN.
  • WebgainsWebgains.
    Webgains are a personal favourite of mine, these were the first affiliate network I joined (as an affiliate, not a merchant) and have used them ever since, while lacking on some of the big names, this team have a large array of merchants and they really know their salt.Pricing is much more affordable, in the region of £1000 setup fees and a monthly charge of ~£250 plus commission’s.
  • Trade DoublerTrade Doubler
    I use TradeDoubler for some clothing suppliers as an Affiliate, this is not their strength but it still brings the pennies in each month. From a Merchants perspective, TD tend to lean towards betting, consumer electronics & holidays. I have no idea on pricing for these either.Trade Doubler’s current client list can be found here, if you were focusing on the EU, then these would be my first suggestion, see here for why.
  • PaidOnResultsPaidOnResults
    Absolutely no idea on these, other than I know several high profile affiliates use them to great effect. When someone mentions them, I do immediately think of children’s toys and lingerie, what a wacky combination. Anyway, a list of their merchants can be found here.
  • AffiliateFutureAffiliateFuture
    These are of a holidays & flights network, although I did pick up a few feeds for clothing and footwear from them (shoes.co.uk was one). Their client list is here and again I’m unable to comment on their fee structure for merchants.
  • Commission JunctionCommission Junction
    eBay used these before they developed their own platform (or skinned someone elses[?]), slightly more American and has a reliance upon banner ads than data.Its extremely corporate and I suspect the merchant fees reflect this. This would be only my suggestion if you are actively targeting the US because of their coverage there. I spoke with their UK Sales manager a while back, while the client did not use them, the was very helpful.

You may be wondering why I have left out the eBay and Amazon affiliate programmes, this is because they are not website orientated, all of the networks above are.

This article should have brought you up to date on some of the UK affiliate networks that are available and that I’ve given you a first hand impression of each. Whoever you choose, work hard at it!

Part 2: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?

wedge-of-cashWelcome to part 2 of ‘What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them’, this is a continuation of the article I started yesterday here. Lets get straight to it.

Who’s Using Affiliate Networks To Promote Their Products?

Now this is where I am going to start name dropping, names such as Matalan, OFFICE Shoes, Misco, McAfee, Hilton, Vodafone, BT, P&O, Maplin, Kodak, eBuyer, Marks & Spencers, Littlewoods, Very, ASDA I could run out of this virtual ink listing all the companies that use affiliates to promote their sales.

Marks & SpencersBut don’t let the use of high street brands put you off, there are thousands of smaller merchants working the affiliate scene and some convert better than the big boys!

Companies use affiliate networks for a simple reason, they work and they also work on commission on confirmed sales. Unlike PPC (Pay Per Click) and PPI (Pay Per Impression) the money is spent before knowing the results, affiliate networking is for a confirmed purchase.

Examples of Affiliate Sites

Sadly none of these are mine, I do have an a good idea from old data, on some of the revenue these sites create and its not small amounts, by any means:

Special Networks

eBay UKNow there are two affiliate networks which are worth a special mention, these are eBay and Amazon. Thats right you can use either of these companies to promote your own products. This also explains where some of your fees go to each month, into affiliate pockets. Well the ones that converted browsers into buyers that is. Remember almost all affiliate schemes are based upon commission on confirmed sales.

eBay is a bit ‘funky’ as they have changed their stats and payments to work on a fairer structure is based upon actions, bids and purchasing, with a more true representation on what the customer that was referred by the affiliate is then doing on the site.

Amazon UKAmazon is also a bit ‘funky’ too, unlike the typical affiliate program that would have a cookie period of say 7, 30, 45, 60 or 90 days, Amazon has a cookie life of just 24 hours. Yes, as an affiliate they need to convert their browser into a buyer in 24 hours from them clicking the link. Sounds horrific, but Amazon converts like crazy and its one of my largest income streams from affiliate marketing.

Summary of Affiliate Networks

You should now be aware of what an affiliate network is; that affiliate networks mostly have a setup fee, a monthly fee and a commission to be paid to both the affiliates that drive you sales and a commission on the commission’s to the affiliate.

But within this structure lies the key, once you can get over the the monthly overhead, the sales that are generated by the affiliates should be much cheaper than those acquired by other means, plus its your customer to market who you wish after the sale.

In the final part of this series, you can discover The Top UK Affiliate Networks.

Part 1: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?

Affiliate NetworksThis was an old post that I’ve revamped for human consumption. “What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?” is a really good question and a very short answer is yes, you should be.

I’m looking forward to explaining and givening examples over the next three articles, as I discuss what they do, how they work, who uses them, how much they cost and ultimately why you should have a network as part of your online marketing strategy.

The Affiliate Concept

Wikipedia:

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between publishers (affiliates) and merchant affiliate programs

Starting at the beginning, we have merchants, businesses that have websites and want more customers, we also have people like me affiliates (I was focused on Affiliate Networking for the majority of 2010) who want to specialise in their area which is known as publishing and will happily pimp themselves for a percentage cut of the merchants sales.

Affiliates and merchants normally come together via a 3rd party called an ‘Affiliate Network‘, which is a place where affiliates can find merchants to promote & vice’versa and acts as a trusted party between them both. As you can imagine there are a few of these globally and I’ll be looking at these in detail next week.

The Merchant gives the Affiliate a fee, typically for a confirmed sale, again typically through an Affiliate Network.

Affiliate Program Fees

Affiliate networks hold lists of merchants and lists of affiliates, then promote them to each other. The affiliate networks make their money in several ways:

  • The start up fee to the merchant
  • The on going monthly fee from the merchant
  • Commission on the commission’s paid to merchants
  • And in some cases a fee they take from the affiliates for joining

That sounds like a lot of fees to shell out as a merchant, but to give you some idea, the start up fees for a affiliate program range from a few hundred, to a few thousand and monthly costs vary from £250-500 or more.

The actual percentage paid to affiliates (those nice people known as publishers that get you customers) can vary and be tiered on performance. For technology based products, commissions of 1-3% are common, for clothing 8-15% are common, holidays are similar of not more and gambling can be much higher.

Note: Are these fees starting to ring true to the updates set by eBay in the eBay May 2011 update, Tech = 3%, CSA = 15%?

Yummy Cookies

Cookies are worth a special mention here, this is because you can set the length of time you can allow your affiliate to gain commission on a sale from the time they referred them to your site(s).

Note: We’re not talking about those delicious snacks, we’re refering to cookies, that are dropped by websites into the clients browser, the HTTP cookie, see here for more info.

Normally this is a 30 day cookie, some companies offer 7, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or infinite or if your name is Amazon.com, then the cookie life is 24 hours. More on that later in another article as I am not willing to contribute to the ongoing war, sorry debate over cookies and their timings at this time (this is an industry wide hot topic, sadly with no ‘right/perfect’ view).

DataFeeds

There are several different ways you can tackle affiliate networks, you could ban PPC affiliates or stay text link only OR you could open your affiliates up to allowing them to use PPC (on or off your brand name) and give them something called a ‘datafeed’.

Affiliate networks do more than just put an affiliate and a merchant in touch, they can handle data feeds given from the merchant to the affiliate network, for adaptation and distribution to their affiliates, then track clicks the sales and report these back to both parties.

Datafeeds are files that contain the very latest (hopefuly!) information from a merchant on their product catalogue, so you as the merchant can keep your affiliates up to date on the latest products you have.

Below is a screen shot of items selected using the AffiliateWindow ‘Create-a-feed’ tool in their new (ish) Darwin interface.

Affiliate Window Create-A-Feed Tool

Affiliate Window Create-A-Feed Tool

Contacting Affiliates

This is also part of your fee to the Affiliate network, you should be assigned an account manager who will ‘woo’ the top affiliates in your product area(s) and get them to take your feeds. A tip here is to do two things. Firstly research who is promoting your products, secondly now knowing who is, speak with your account manager and get them to promote you to them.

As a merchant, you can either choose to allow anyone to join your network (suggested) or filter the affiliates that want to join (not suggested) and the different affiliate networks have different tools to allow you to communicate with your affiliates.

Here is a screen shot of a message from the Dorothy Perkins affiliate program:

Example: Dorothy Perkins Affiliate Email

Example: Dorothy Perkins Affiliate Email

In the second part of this series I’ll be covering the following sections:

  • Who’s Using Affiliate Networks To Promote Their Products?
  • Examples of Affiliate Sites
  • Special Networks
  • Summary of Affiliate Networks

You can read the second part here Part 2: What Are Affiliate Networks & Should I be using Them?