Affiliate Huddle returned for 2018 yesterday, once again welcoming a sell-out crowd of hundreds of performance marketers to the Congress Centre in London, in what the event’s co-founder James Little called its “biggest conference so far”.

From an exclusive reveal of the IAB UK’s Affiliate Marketing spend report, to quickfire sessions around publisher tech and a string of insightful panel sessions, the day’s agenda offered more than a little to chew on. Here are just a few of the highlights of the day for PerformanceIN.

Positive figures from “conservative” report

Certainly a key draw for many at this year’s Huddle was the announcement of the IAB UK and PwC annual industry benchmark study.

The headline stats here were a 15% year-on-year increase in spend on affiliate marketing, amounting £554 million. The result of this activity drove £8.9 billion in sales – a 9.2% uptick – or from another perspective, £16 for every £1 spent.

Focusing on “pure-play” affiliate activity, PwC director Dan Bunyan admitted numbers were “smaller” than previous iterations of the report, but were focused on pure CPA activity, were less reliant on modelling, and provided a more accurate picture with the available data. The result, he added, is a solid springboard for comparative reports in the years to come.   

On the “encouraging results”, chair of the IAB UK’s Performance Marketing Advisory Group and Acceleration Partners’ UK MD, Helen Southgate, thanked the networks and SaaS platforms for involvement, urging the many others to club together in years to come on what should be considered a valuable asset to the industry; “embrace it – it’s one of the few things we come together and do”.

Catch up on a full rundown of results here or watch the live presentation again above. 

Awin revisits industry predictions

The beginning of 2018 saw Awin’s strategy team lay out nine predictions for the affiliate industry, and packed with intelligent forecasts, the white paper swiftly picked up speed in wider performance marketing as an authoritative commentary on the year ahead.

Close to six months on from the release of those nine forecasts, the network’s content analyst, Rob Davinson, revisited the report to see just how these key areas have developed.

On the impact of GDPR on the industry, Davinson remained steadfast on the belief that large publishers – who can communicate directly to their users in regard to gaining consent – will gain the benefit of a power shift from ad tech partners without the same privilege of open discourse with the end user. Meanwhile, these third-party platforms could face increased competition as publishers cut back on the number of tracking integrations on their sites.  

On the opportunity of ‘open banking’ for affiliate marketers – where consumers give providers secure access to financial information in order to secure personalised deals and services - Davinson conceded that progress has been somewhat of a casualty of the current “zeitgeist” around open data sharing following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, while big banks, meanwhile, have been slow to release data and integrate APIs.

Davinson also took time to address affiliate’s recent tarnishing in the mainstream press, reassuring that the industry has been proactive in self-regulation and collaboration between peers remains key to sustained success.

An afternoon of discussion

Making up the afternoon was a series of panel sessions, the first of which featured observations from “new faces” of the affiliate world – Jade Bassett (Direct Line Group), Elliot Myers (GymShark), Graham Murray (, Lisa Cameron (Leisure Pass Group) & Eleri Jones (The Rodial Group). All armed with just six years experience or less in the industry, the panel revealed their tips for early success, with mutual education between partners and “people working together” continuing as key premises.

An in-depth and lively discussion on influencer marketing featuring a number of agencies in a panel hosted by PerformanceIN and the Influencer Marketing Show’s Chris Henley – and joined by fashion blogger Ana Luisa De Jesus – followed, while it was over to the ‘Ask the Networks & Tech Providers’ panel to round off the day’s proceedings.

Featuring Kevin Edwards (Awin), Rob Berrisford (Button), Sean Sewell (Performance Horizon), Owen Hancock (CJ Affiliate by Conversant), Anthony Capano (Rakuten Marketing), and chaired by James Little (TopCashback), the panel dutifully tackled GDPR from the outset with the overall impacts of the update played down and the long-term opportunities played up; the subject was shelved early on, however, with attention swiftly turning to the year’s string of large-scale affiliate acquisitions, deemed as “nothing new” and a continued consolidation that has potential to resonate with large businesses outside of it.

With further points covering mobile attribution and the role and perception of networks in the industry, few curveballs were delivered to this customary panel for Affiliate Huddle, while as in theme with the opening report and day overall, outlooks and attitudes across the board remained optimistic for affiliate’s progress in the years ahead.

PerformanceIN was the official Media Partner of Affiliate Huddle; head to our Facebook page for interviews with the speakers themselves, and rewatch the action from the panels on our live stream recordings.