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US v UK - Industry Damage, Transparency & Evolution

US v UK - Industry Damage, Transparency & Evolution


As the performance marketing sector continues to swiftly gather pace globally, we caught up with some industry figures to touch on some of the notable differences between the UK and the US.

While president and founder of US-founded Cake Marketing, Jeff McCollum, believes the UK market is more transparent, Tradedoubler’s chief executive officer, Rob Wilson, believes we could learn a thing or two from the US.

New York-based director of affiliate marketing for Neo@Ogilvy, Ewan Darby, who moved from London to New York to work in the US industry 14 months ago, also likened the differing markets to two birds evolving in different microclimates.

Chief executive officer of US company Experience Advertising, Evan Weber, said that although some of the bigger US networks, such Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network and Rakuten LinkShare, provide full transparency, this transparency is lost with the smaller CPA affiliate networks in the US.

McCollum also agrees with Weber in that more transparency is needed in the US.

“We feel that in the UK you guys are a lot more transparent with the advertisers and there is a lot of more cohesiveness between what is happening between the affiliates and the retailers,” McCollum said.

Once Bitten

Darby, from Neo@Ogilvy, said both the US and UK markets have developed in their own ‘microclimates’ and compares the situation against a scenario of sparrows growing up on different islands in the Galapagos - depending on the conditions they grow up in, they look very different.

Darby stressed that ultimately the biggest difference is the regulation that is in place in the market in the US, and said the pressures that are on affiliate networks and affiliates are not the same as they are in Europe and the UK.

“The market in North America, while it’s incredibly exciting and there’s huge opportunity for affiliates and for advertisers, there is also still some trepidation by advertisers who have maybe put their toe in the water some years ago, and really felt bitten by the experience," Darby said.

Perhaps it wasn’t a very positive experience, they didn’t feel that they had transparency into activity, and there wasn’t that sense of control that they could have over a programme."

A Sophisticated Market

He said that having come from the UK, where there is a myriad of probably 10 good networks, to that of North America, where there is probably two good ones, and a host of others - it’s a ‘very different marketplace’.

“The UK is a very sophisticated market, not in a highbrow kind of way, I mean it has had to develop very quickly and has had to be very agile because of a lot of the burdens on the business, which the US simply hasn’t had to cope with,” Darby added.

While transparency and the prevalence of more good networks may be an issue, Tradedoubler’s CEO Wilson, thinks more work needs to be done on publisher relationships within the UK.

Although Tradedoubler has not launched into America, Wilson is familiar with the stateside performance marketing scene, having previously worked as chief revenue officer for Epic Advertising in New York, and as regional US and UK manager for zanox.

Wilson said naturally it varies from network to network, but he believes differences between the US and the UK in relation to performance marketing are not huge.

He says there is plenty of hearsay and conjecture about both markets and although the US is a ‘hungry market’, so too is the UK.

Damage To The Industry

“The US is a pretty aggressive market, but then you can’t really tell me that the UK is not an aggressive market,” Wilson said.

“I also think some of the marketing practices here or the competitive practices between networks are ridiculous and actually damage the industry as a whole.”

Internet marketing company Tradedoubler, which helps advertisers worldwide drive profitable growth in new markets, has offices across Europe and is hoping to expand into the US this year.

Wilson also goes onto say that the US networks do place more of an emphasis on relationships with publishers, compared to the UK.

“I think the US networks tend to be a lot more in tune with publishers than we are here,” Wilson begins. Certainly in my view, something I noticed whenever I was coming back from the US was that UK networks didn’t really pay the same level of attention to publishers.

Playing Catch-Up & No Emails

“The publishers are integral to what we do and I don’t think that is the way UK networks worked previously and I actually still think they have some catch-up to do there. I think the toolkits we have and the ability in the UK market is the same as anywhere else, the same as the US, but I think we just apply it differently and we are still as an industry more focused on advertisers.”

This gap in the market is on the publisher side and is something Wilson has tried to address at Tradedoubler – by creating a larger team to focus on the technology from a publisher perspective.

Another point of difference Wilson touches upon in email, as from a cleanliness perspective of the web traffic, it is something the US almost had to take out of the industry.

Have you experienced any notable market differences? Comment below and let us know.

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Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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