Affiliate marketing in mobile? Not just yet…

The rise of mobile in affiliate marketing is a hot topic on the eConsultancy blog today, after Matt Swan offered his latest findings on the growth in the space, building on his previous analysis back in March under the premise that 2011 was set to be the year of mobile commerce.

Affiliate Window has released their mobile sales data to shed some light on the situation, and the results throughout the second quarter have been encouraging for those retailers and affiliates looking forward to the big mobile pay day.

So, growth over past months has been impressive, but are we there yet?

As you’ll see in the article, the percentage of mobile sales seen through Affiliate Window has risen steadily, but the iPad is seeing the biggest growth, with the highest conversion rate for mobile devices (3.5%), and it’s noted, this is probably because it feels more like a laptop to the user. Which, according to Skimlinks’ CEO Alicia Navarro, is why the mobile in your pocket isn’t going to bring in massive returns, just yet.

Alicia draws a comparison with users researching a purchase online, and then buying offline, with users researching a purchase on their mobile, then making that purchase when they get back to their computer.

“Yes, people are researching on their phones, but they’re not buying. People will buy on tablets, but there’s still the perception for the majority that a mobile is ‘unsafe’ for processing purchases. But, by next year, I’m expecting there will be a critical mass of people comfortable enough to make purchases via their mobile, the ecosystem will evolve to accommodate it, and then it’ll be huge. But it’s too early.”

While Alicia knows a thing or two about affiliate marketing, she has a strong background in mobile, working in the industry designing mobile applications for location-based services as far back as 1999.

“I originally left the mobile industry in frustration – there were so many great ideas, but the handsets, networks and security just weren’t there to meet what was available from other devices. It’s taken 10 years for things like location-based services to get to the level we wanted them to be back then. Mobile commerce has been the same.”

She says she knows everyone’s already thinking about it; but more of the big players – the merchants and networks need to be prepared to support it, and affiliates need to be ready, before it will be ‘do-able’.

“In 2012, it’ll all come together. Security, handsets, networks and applications –  when these parts reach the same point at the same time, and then it’ll happen.”

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1 Comment to Affiliate marketing in mobile? Not just yet…

Matt Swan
July 15, 2011

Hi Hannah,

Interesting article and good to hear Alicia’s thoughts on the growth of mobile too.

The stats in my article were based on the percentage share of mobile sales for each of the devices rather than actual sales volumes. While the share of sales through the iPhone has seen a decline, the actual sales volumes coming through the device have increased each month (except June – we had a very strong May so total sales through the network were lower in June). This indicates that sales through other devices are increasing at a greater rate rather than sales through the iPhone dropping off. This is also true of the traffic stats.

For me, the continued growth of m-commerce lies in education. Both in terms of educating consumers on the security of purchasing through a mobile, and educating advertisers on the value of having a site that is optimised for mobile. While a standard site can appear correctly on a tablet device such as the iPad, on a phone it can be tricky to use and difficult to convert a customer. With a fully optimised mobile site the user experience will be vastly improved and we have seen increased conversion rates through mobile (phones) where a dedicated mobile site is in place. We have seen up to 7% of total sales coming through a mobile device for an advertiser that has a fully optimised mobile site.

From an affiliate perspective, it is essential that advertisers include affiliate tracking on their mobile site. If this is not in place, they can miss out on exposure across affiliate’s mobile sites and apps as any sales will not track. Again the challenge that we face as a network lies in the education.

I am going to be keeping a keen eye on the development of mobile over the coming months so will provide an update to the stats in due course.


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