Magazine article Marketing

Affiliate Marketing: Special Report - Third Parties Make the Most of Mobile

Magazine article Marketing

Affiliate Marketing: Special Report - Third Parties Make the Most of Mobile

Article excerpt

More consumers than ever are shopping online via their smartphones and tablets - and brands are cashing in with a little help from mobile affiliate activity, finds Stuart Derrick.

With the continuing boom in smartphone adoption and the rise in sales of tablet computers, consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to shop online. Spurred on by the current economic climate, they are also using their mobile kit to search for low prices, special offers and vouchers. Affiliate schemes offer a way for businesses to engage with this market, so it's little wonder that brands are looking to embrace the opportunities of affiliate marketing across mobile platforms.

Debenhams for one has dipped a toe in these waters, with a trial of a location-based mobile voucher that offered shoppers in the proximity of its stores a pounds 5 discount on a pounds 30 spend. Gillian Makepeace, affiliate marketing manager at the retailer, believes that there has been a definite increase in affiliate activity. 'In the past year, we've had to change our terms and conditions for affiliates to cover these developments, and it has added exposure for the brand,' she says.

Until now, affiliate marketing success has come largely from canny use of content, search engine optimisation and partner network choice However, continued growth is likely to be delivered by affiliates that have switched on to the opportunities offered by emerging channels.

'There are some key factors that make mobile affiliate marketing different to that of other digital channels: in particular, timing and immediacy,' says Tim Dunn, strategy director at Isobar Mobile. 'A 2011 Google study found that mobile users want to 'do it now'. That means getting a voucher on their phone that they can redeem there and then. Mobile is not just about 'when' but also about 'where' it happens - location is understandably a significant factor in voucher activity and affiliate marketing.'

Affiliates catch on

A 2011 report by digital agency Bigmouthmedia found that affiliates were looking to embrace the opportunities provided by mobile marketing and social media - and location-based marketing was seen as the biggest new opportunity by 40.7% of affiliates. So far, brands in the entertainment, restaurant and drinks sectors have made the most out of mobile affiliate schemes, the report said.

Meanwhile, 27.2% of affiliates cited social networking as an opportunity, compared with none of them in 2010; and mobile marketing was named as an opportunity by 32.6% of respondents.

Helen Southgate, BSkyB's online marketing controller, strategy and planning, agrees that mobile, location-based and social techniques are becoming more important. 'Naturally these promotional techniques are becoming more prevalent in affiliate marketing, and due to the nature of their specific targeting, for advertisers this is an extremely attractive channel.'

Almost 10% of BSkyB's affiliate sales are now derived from mobile devices, Southgate says. The broadcaster is also looking to assist affiliates in the use of social media. 'We support our affiliates in their social strategies by giving them access to content, offers and any competitions that we are running, such as the Big Christmas Giveaway (where broadband subscribers were given the chance to win a number of prizes),' she adds.

Florian Gramshammer, country manager at affiliate marketing provider Commission Junction, says the affiliate business model is enabling the medium to be at the forefront of mobile developments. 'The first affiliates were into mobile about two years ago, so it is now becoming an established practice,' he says. 'Companies such as Quidco and MyVoucherCodes have had mobile applications for that period.'

As more brands launch mobile versions of their websites, it is not surprising that they are looking to involve affiliates, Gramshammer says. However, tracking must be put in place to ensure that affiliates are properly rewarded and to assess the true success of the channel. …

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