Affiliate Window, the UK’s number one performance marketing network, have recently released their third annual whitepaper on performance marketing in the mobile sector. Titled M-Commerce: The Complete Picture, the whitepaper contains data references from the millions of sales and clicks from affiliate marketing campaigns recorded monthly from over 1400 retailers and advertisers across a variety of sectors (retail, travel, finance, telecoms).
We’ve pulled out some of the key points from the paper below. Despite this only being the third annual M-Commerce paper produced by Affiliate Window one of the main findings is a “staggering increase” in traffic and sales delivered via mobile devices. When the first whitepaper was launched in 2011 only 3.5% of traffic and 5% of sales was recorded as coming through mobile devices (handsets and tablets). The agency have attributed the increase to “a sharp rise in smartphone and tablet penetration, coupled with growing consumer confidence in shopping through mobile devices”.
Mobile Traffic Breakdown – Handsets and Tablets
Affiliate Window’s first whitepaper on mobile data (compiled January 2011) saw only 2.3% of traffic originating through mobile devices. Fastforward to May 2013 and just over one in five clicks was recorded as coming through a mobile device.
Breaking this down further in the graph below, 13.6% of the traffic recorded has been generated through mobile handsets and smartphones.
What this means from a mobile marketing perspective is that advertisers really do need to optimize their websites to take full advantage of the increases in traffic occurring as a result of consumers accessing the internet from their mobiles. The research also suggests that advertisers need to develop better understanding of the reasons behind mobile visits so that they can convert visits into actual sales.
The total M-Commerce sales recorded by Affiliate Window in 2011 stood at just 2%, however this recent data shows total sales generated through mobile devices has increased massively to 18% (indicating a significant change in consumer behaviour).
Again by breaking this data down to measuring the sales recorded just on mobile handsets and smartphones, the statistics indicate that over 7% of these sales have been made on mobile handsets.
The main lesson that advertisers can learn from this is that the combination of the way customers use their devices and their attitudes to making purchases from such devices means that optimizing sites for the mobile experience is even more important. The report also states that it is highly likely that “the share of sales through mobile devices (will) increase further in the coming months, hitting double figures by Christmas 2013”.
Other Important Observations
- Conversions – Significant improvements in conversion rates have occurred during the earlier months of 2013, with total mobile traffic converting at 3.84%. iOS and Android handset devices are converting just over 2% clicks to sale with tablets converting around 5%.
- Android vs iPhone – Although previous papers show Android’s gains on iOS in terms of traffic and sales, the earlier months of 2013 show a surprising drop-off. Currently Android devices on the network own 37.6% and 39.4% shares of traffic and sales respectively.
The report also references the significant trends in mobile marketing for 2013 a summary of which is below. You can also find out more about these key trends by taking a look at Affiliate Window’s Infographic
- Smartphone Penetration and Adoption – Unsurprisingly smartphone penetration as increased big time through 2012 with UK take-up standing a 62.3% at the end of the year (figures compiled by ComScore). It’s highly anticipated that smartphone devices and tablets will outsell desktops by the end of 2013.
- Mobile Display – Mobile display and video advertising formats increased 121% during 2012, reaching £150m at the end of the period. With rich content being on the increase, advertisers can find ways to produce ads that are engaging and take advantage of the capabilities that mobile brings.
- Mobile Search – Currently where the majority of the advertisers’ surveyed spend the majority of their budget, mobile search at the end of 2012 accounted for 69% of total mobile ad spend. Further analysis by Kenshoo also shows the mobile search now counts for approximately a quarter of total search spend, receiving 29% of all traffic.
The Impact on Affiliates
To get a clearer idea on the impact this will have on mobile affiliate marketing, we interviewed Affiliate Window’s Matt Swan, author of the whitepaper and Client Strategist
What are the key findings in the report for mobile affiliates?
We have seen mobile commerce grow considerably since 2011. In this time we have seen traffic through mobile devices increase from just over 2% to in excess of 20%. Additionally we have seen the share of sales increase from 2% to 18% in the same period. Advertisers are continuing to embrace m-commerce and we see a significant proportion of them now with a fully optimised mobile site in place. Additionally, while affiliate tracking was once merely an afterthought, advertisers are adding tracking as a priority to ensure they are in a position to take advantage of the publisher opportunities available to them.
What are the biggest opportunities in mobile affiliate marketing now?
With the significant volumes of traffic that are now coming through mobile devices, publishers with a strong mobile presence are able to take advantage of this. Advertisers are not only looking for publishers that are able to drive mobile visitors to their site, but in an increasingly multi-channel world, publishers that are able to utilise mobile to drive sales in store are also extremely valuable.
With the mobile eco-system in such a state of development can you foresee any barriers to effective mobile affiliate marketing?
The main barrier to entry is advertisers that have not included affiliate tracking on the mobile optimised version of their site. While the majority of our advertisers have, there are still some that are lagging behind. Without affiliate tracking in place publishers will be losing out on any sales they are generating through mobile handsets. We do have a solution in place where a visitor through a mobile handset is sent to a desktop version of the site (which will track) for advertisers that have a mobile site without affiliate tracking. This does have implications on the mobile customer journey though and is a short term solution until tracking is added.
Is the value of affiliate marketing likely to change in the near future?
Affiliate marketing has grown considerably over the past few years. A study by the IAB in conjunction with PWC estimated that affiliate marketing accounted for 7-9% of digital spend in 2012. The indication is that advertisers expect to spend even more across the channel in the coming years as it generates a strong return on investment. With mobile set to grow even further, we expect to see a significant spend across mobile commerce.
Many thanks to Matt and Affiliate Window for their insights. Clearly the mobile affiliate marketing landscape is one that is still going through lots of changes and developments, however it’s really starting to take off this year and is likely to become a viable way to boost brands/sales for advertisers and provide effective monetization for developers.