Why was now felt as the right time to launch into the US market with your newly-developed platform?
"The primary reason is the rapid growth of our US business. The incumbent buy.at platform was never designed to scale at this pace nor did it allow advertisers to proactively manage elements of their programme.
"Many of our clients had seen our UK platform and were eager for us to replicate it for the US market. We did a lot of market research and each time we demonstrated the platform’s capabilities, we were urged to launch it in the US as quickly as possible.
"The platform was ready some time ago but, like the UK, we wanted to undergo a careful migration process for each client. This led us to Monday’s deadline and all the hard work and preparation of our teams in the UK and US paid off as things went entirely according to plan."
Perceptions have changed on the US market in recent years - what has changed significantly enough to attract Affiliate Windows full interest?
"The US is an exciting market with huge opportunity. In recent times, we’ve seen a number of the dominant US networks launch UK operations because the affinity between the two markets is undoubted. Our cultures are intrinsically linked and our clients’ demands are reflecting this.
"Our aim is to be a truly global player and with a successful US operation to complement our group’s dominance in Europe and fledgling operations in emerging markets like Turkey, Poland and Brazil, we now believe we are on the way to fulfilling that aim."
What are you going to offer the US market that is different to what's currently available?
"When we acquired buy.at, we saw a large, developed market but one which lagged behind the UK in its sophistication. Our aim is to significantly raise the bar and we will do it through advanced technology; the new platform being an important founding step, but also coupled with high quality service and uncompromising ethics.
"With the UK setting the standard for online business, we feel there’s a lot we can bring to the US. Our early success has reinforced this view and now is the time to push things to the next level."
The Affiliate Window interface (known previously in its development stage as 'Darwin') has received awards in the UK for its innovation. What would you say are the key features of your platform?
"They are too numerous to mention but if I were to summarise, I’d say the platform is all about doing the simple things effectively. The aim was to build a complete solution that allowed both advertisers and publishers to manage their campaigns with ease and simplicity. At its core is a robust tracking solution and layered on top is an intuitive interface built around a social hub. There are full profiles and directories for advertisers and publishers and a host of tools to manage and optimise those relationships.
"Our reporting suite is fast and improving all the time. We recently added device reporting so it’s easy to identify how users are interacting with advertiser and publisher sites and there are a whole host of additions and improvements still to come. We wanted to make managing an affiliate programme fun and intuitive; feedback from advertisers indicates we are achieving this."
Affiliate Window and other leading networks in the UK play a key part in self-regulation of the UK performance marketing industry. Is this something you think you can aid development of in a market as big as the US?
"It’s something we are keen about getting involved with in the future. At the moment, our focus is primarily on successfully rolling out the platform and generating awareness. Once that’s complete, we want to play an active role in shaping the market based on the positive experiences we’ve had in the UK.
"There are definitely some lessons to be learned from bodies like the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council and how successful that’s been in tackling some of the industry’s major issues. The real value of having dealt with similar issues previously is the speed with which a solution can be implemented and in an ideal world, using past experience to avoid the pitfalls in the first place."
What do you think will be the key developments of the US market over the next few years?
"With the market currently quite fragmented, advertisers and publishers will begin to realise the importance of focus and high quality service to a successful affiliate programme. We’ll start to see some in-house programmes returning to the major networks as well as some consolidations. It seems there a number of multi network accounts in the US, something that was phased out of the UK market some years ago.
"Data access will improve and as a result there will be increased scrutiny on the affiliate channel when it comes to the incremental value of sales and compliance. Mobile will increase its share of transactions and the line between devices and online/offline will blur as the channels overcome the challenges of linking everything together."