SMEs are the lifeblood of any successful economy and 2020 kicked off with the launch of Awin Access in the UK, offering micro‑SMEs, startups and incubators a route into affiliate marketing. Over the year, more than 800 companies signed up to kickstart their affiliate journeys.
Affiliate marketers are in demand. LinkedIn identified that the skills required to do the job were the seventh most desired by employers, summarizing: "With the decline of traditional advertising and the rise of social media, affiliate marketing is rapidly rising as a must-have hard skill.”
According to Google, most users will abandon a page if forced to wait three seconds or more for it to load. One of the outcomes of Awin’s privacy‑conscious and futureproofed technology, Bounceless Tracking, is it decreases page load times by 1.1 seconds. That means it drives up conversions and by the end of 2020, more than 1,100 Awin advertisers were supporting Bounceless Tracking.
With lockdowns in full swing across the globe, we saw new customer numbers skyrocket as online buyers purchased more from a diverse range of retailers, alongside a collection of totally-new-to-ecommerce shoppers. At the start of 2020, one in four shoppers were new to the brands they bought from through affiliate links; by April this surged to 37% and has remained consistently above 30% ever since.
The affiliate channel continued to expand, with the UK posting industry growth of 8.4% year‑on‑year to $700 million in 2019 up from 6% the previous year according to PwC’s latest assessment. 2020’s exceptional performance is likely to see this year’s figures far outstrip that growth rate.
By the halfway stage of 2020, it was clear some brands were overwhelmed with consumer demand for their products while others - particularly those in the Travel sector - were struggling to find anything to sell. While some holiday companies saw bookings drop by 95%, Home & Garden retailers had driven the whole of 2019’s revenue by the end of June, ending the year with twice the sales from the previous year.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic and Amazon commission cuts, new publishers flocked to the network with a Spring surge leading to applications rocketing by 150% on the start of the year. The rush of new affiliates presented a fantastic opportunity for niche advertisers to partner with publishers looking to plug revenue gaps.
Awin’s industry-wide disclosure solution, adMission, was launched to help publishers explain to their users how they make money from affiliate marketing. Regulators across the world obligate them to place disclosure messages against their affiliate links and by the end of the year, more than 700 affiliates had downloaded the plugin to tackle the issue.
In-app purchases are often not tracked, meaning publishers are left out of pocket. Prioritizing the need to commission in-app sales, Awin announced a number of strategic partnerships in 2020 including with mobile specialist Button. App sales tracked on Awin surged, with a 14‑fold hike in year‑on‑year commissions. In 2021, Awin wants to continue selling the benefits to brands of tracking all affiliate interactions.
Attribution often leaves marketers scratching their heads. One Awin client found 25% of their 200,000 tracked sales had completely unique paths to purchase. Helping brands to make sense of their data, SingleView has offered a way for brands to really try and get to grips with the value offered by the affiliate channel. In October, Awin published its latest take on how to navigate attribution in the 2020s.
As the second wave of lockdown closed shops across the world, consumers once more turned to ecommerce for their holiday purchases. Both Singles' Day and Cyber Week transformed the whole month into the biggest online sales month in history. Awin tracked more than 100k sales every hour across Black Friday.
As the year drew to a close, there was a stark reminder that while some online retailers saw triple digit growth, multi-channel businesses had to weigh ecommerce performance against the harsh reality of closed stores. For Travel brands, there was no end in sight to their predicament. For the affiliate channel overall, the industry showed its resilience and ability to deliver for thousands of brands. When the numbers were tallied, Awin welcomed 230,000 new publishers and 9,000 new advertisers on board in 2020. The Awin partnership network delivered almost $19b in revenue, 6b clicks and 220m sales.