Affiliate network Linkshare says it saw revenues from the luxury retail sector increase by a third in the first quarter of this year despite the economic downturn hitting consumer spending power.
Liane Dietrich, Linkshare’s UK managing director, said increasing professionalism among affiliates is helping to drive up conversions. Linkshare works in a number of sectors including travel and has developed a specialism in the luxury end of the market.
“Aspirational shoppers are typically the last ones to truly look to protect their wallets,” she said.
“They really want to spend and if they feel they are getting a good deal they are pretty quick to commit. They are looking for confirmation that that is the right choice and affiliates are helping with that conversation.
“Consumers still want to travel and spend and affiliates can help get them to that buying point.”
Dietrich said the uptick in affiliate quality has been driven partly by developments at search engines, highlighting Google’s recent Panda algorithm update, which placed greater weight on original content.
“What Panda meant is people needed the right content and structure on their websites. We certainly work with a lot of affiliates one-to-one to help them understand what it takes to be a quality site.
“What’s nice about this industry is people are starting to see it as a great cost-per-acquisition research and development test ground, so the definition of an affiliate has gone beyond merely banner advertising or an aggregation site.”
Many companies are now looking to partner with affiliates in areas which they themselves are not proficient in, such as social and mobile.
“Affiliates are often used by companies to augment existing search activity. We have some great affiliates who really are search professionals. Go back seven or eight years and affiliates were getting traffic via search.
“Now there is a new professionalism in the industry, where affiliates are really looking to work as partners with advertisers through their programmes and pick up the complementary aspects of the advertisers’ own search campaigns.”
This is encouraging upmarket travel suppliers to promote their product through affiliates in related sectors such as fashion, and through those developing new routes to market, Dietrich said.
“We have been working with a variety of partners on mobile and social. In the last eight to 12 months there has been a rapid increase in the number of affiliates having new ways to tap into the way people are shopping.
“You have Facebook advertising and shopping portals in Facebook, but there are many different ways that publishers are going beyond the social networks by enabling things like allowing reviews to be shared and likes and dislikes.
“Enabling people to share recommendations is a really powerful thing, especially in travel.”
Dietrich said a year ago only about 40% of sites using its network were mobile-enabled, but that now the majority are reflecting the channel’s rapid growth.