Italy

Daiana Iacono

Client Services Director, Awin Italy

An important trend in 2021 will be the tendency of companies to flank standard display campaigns with content marketing activities that tell the story of their products. These efforts will leverage text and video assets to educate and inspire customers, and we see the authority of the publisher being crucial to success. 

Daniela Del Rio
Advertising & Digital Media Manager, Tiscali

60.4m

Population

Euro (€)

Currency

74%

Internet penetration rate

6%

Ecommerce penetration rate
(% of total retail)

63%

Mobile penetration rate

$8.2b

Total ad spend (USD)

$2.8b

Digital ad spend (USD)

$112m

Affiliate ad spend estimate (USD)

15%

Projected ad spend growth 2021

1,066
Advertisers
6,191
Publishers
Share of sales by device
Share of sales by publisher type
20%
Coupon Code
19%
Search
15%
Content
13%
Loyalty & Cashback
8%
Tech Partners
7%
Comparison
6%
Social
5%
Email
5%
Sub Networks
2%
Display

My most salient learning from 2020 is to listen to the customer. Shopping online used to be seen as innovative in our market, but it’s now used by a much larger audience. The quarantine saw customers going to great lengths to complete their purchase online. We have to get better at removing barriers if we’re to maintain the current trajectory.

Stefano Duretto
Senior Digital Manager, Kena Mobile

Examining Italy

Pre-2020, the influence of deep-rooted cultural and social factors seemed to stifle any chance of a major ecommerce boom across Italy, where steady progress has chipped away at the divide between in-store and digital. The gradual move to online had been viewed more as a threat than an opportunity in certain corners of the market. If this year has proved anything, it’s the stark evidence of how ecommerce cannot only assist a physical retailer’s operation, but actively drive it forward. 

The makeup of Italy’s retail industry spurned genuine worries over its collapse after non-essential shops were ordered to close during one of the world’s most severe COVID-19 outbreaks in March. Signs of a recovery in unemployment and consumer confidence came as late as October, resulting in greater uncertainty compared to other markets and near-weekly changes to expectations and goals.

Make no mistake about it – online was a haven for Italian retailers in 2020 and we shouldn’t understate the importance of affiliate marketing for SMEs in particular. The timely launch of Awin Access in May encapsulated the resonance the channel had with small, budget-conscious advertisers last year, bringing 45 new programs to our network within the space of just eight months.

Online was a haven for Italian retailers in 2020 and we shouldn’t understate the importance of affiliate marketing for SMEs in particular.

Data from Awin shows these businesses entertaining modest growth in sales of around 10% pre-pandemic, in line with the UK but significantly lower than other growth markets. The best performances were saved for the lockdown weeks – Italy’s 129% year-on-year increase during the first wave, outperforming rates across the UK (118%), Spain (64%) and Germany (52%). Numerous retailers reported triple-digit rises in the periods where heavier restrictions were enforced, services like click & collect gained a whole new audience, and Italy’s online economy did the unthinkable by projecting 26% growth year-on-year.

While the circumstances might have been better, these headlines could revitalize a market known more for fragility and stagnation than growth. In 2015, just five in every 100 stores were selling online – the lowest rate in the EU. Passionate small business owners and luxury in-store experiences give Italy’s retail industry a charm like no other. Retaining these features while focusing on high-growth areas like online will prove key to the market’s next phase of evolution.

Italy’s online economy did the unthinkable by projecting 26% growth year-on-year.

One sector that unintentionally benefited from last year’s array of macro factors is Utilities, where consumers - now more conscious of their energy usage after spending lengthy periods at home - exercised their right to switch and save. Recent improvements have made it easy to fulfil expectations for rapid and remote switching, with publishers certainly showing more interest as a result.

Last year also brought the spotlight on financial technologies as a serious advertiser category, evidenced by growth for key players and a number of top-tier Cashback partners launching dedicated ‘Fintech’ sections. Revolut, which helps customers purchase small amounts of crypto and gold via its app, saw an incredible uplift during Black Friday through discounts on its premium service. 

CSS partners are growing in a similar vein, as are Gamification publishers – an incredibly new and exciting proposition that offers rewards for healthy actions like walking and cycling. With the promise of more spend, more new customers and renewed interest in affiliate by media houses like SKY TG24 and Hearst, Italy’s ground appears well-cultivated for brighter times. 

Online was a haven for Italian retailers in 2020 and we shouldn’t understate the importance of affiliate marketing for SMEs in particular.

Data from Awin shows these businesses entertaining modest growth in sales of around 10% pre-pandemic, in line with the UK but significantly lower than other growth markets. The best performances were saved for the lockdown weeks – Italy’s 129% year-on-year increase during the first wave, outperforming rates across the UK (118%), Spain (64%) and Germany (52%). Numerous retailers reported triple-digit rises in the periods where heavier restrictions were enforced, services like click & collect gained a whole new audience, and Italy’s online economy did the unthinkable by projecting 26% growth year-on-year.

While the circumstances might have been better, these headlines could revitalize a market known more for fragility and stagnation than growth. In 2015, just five in every 100 stores were selling online – the lowest rate in the EU. Passionate small business owners and luxury in-store experiences give Italy’s retail industry a charm like no other. Retaining these features while focusing on high-growth areas like online will prove key to the market’s next phase of evolution.

Italy’s online economy did the unthinkable by projecting 26% growth year-on-year.

One sector that unintentionally benefited from last year’s array of macro factors is Utilities, where consumers - now more conscious of their energy usage after spending lengthy periods at home - exercised their right to switch and save. Recent improvements have made it easy to fulfil expectations for rapid and remote switching, with publishers certainly showing more interest as a result.

Last year also brought the spotlight on financial technologies as a serious advertiser category, evidenced by growth for key players and a number of top-tier Cashback partners launching dedicated ‘Fintech’ sections. Revolut, which helps customers purchase small amounts of crypto and gold via its app, saw an incredible uplift during Black Friday through discounts on its premium service. 

CSS partners are growing in a similar vein, as are Gamification publishers – an incredibly new and exciting proposition that offers rewards for healthy actions like walking and cycling. With the promise of more spend, more new customers and renewed interest in affiliate by media houses like SKY TG24 and Hearst, Italy’s ground appears well-cultivated for brighter times. 

Awin Talks
Meet the market
Diego Nebuloni, Head of New Business for Awin Italy, joins Awin Talks host Rob Davinson to tell him more about the state of digital and affiliate marketing in the Italian region. Recorded in December 2020.

Last year totally changed the way we all live. At the same time, the centrality of digital became even more established, especially in terms of customer acquisition and relationship development. In this context, the intelligence provided by Awin and the cross-functional skills of the team - together with the diversity and quality of the publishers on the network - helped us navigate some of the trickier spots. The high transparency and ease of management offered by the new platform were also important for us in 2020.

Matteo Meago
Digital Marketing Manager, Credit Agricole Italia 
+14%
traffic YoY
+77%
sales in 2020
+145%
sales from content partners vs 2019

Sorgenia’s partners power Italy’s transition to a sustainable future

+14%
traffic YoY
+77%
sales in 2020
+145%
sales from
content partners
vs 2019

Italy’s leading sustainable energy company, Sorgenia, leveraged its affiliate program via Awin to promote its green energy products.

As well as driving sales, the brand was eager to grow awareness and trust in their products, ensuring publishers were highlighting the quality of the Sorgenia service.

Affiliates on the program were encouraged to share Sorgenia’s positive Trustpilot scores alongside conventional incentives to boost consumer confidence in the brand.

Affiliate marketing was a new approach for us in 2020, but we're so pleased we went ahead with it. Thanks to embracing this channel we've been able to create a hugely valuable network of contacts, and been exposed to new ideas and experiences that have been very important for our understanding of the different ways in which business is likely to change post-COVID and in the near future.

Daniela Del Rio
Advertising & Digital Media Manager, TISCALI
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