A shopping in Asia turns digital, the affiliate opportunity grows

Affiliate marketing has arguably been around for longer than the internet with referral and reward schemes being used in business for eons.

For those who don’t know, affiliate marketing is one of the most cost effective performance channels in a digital marketer’s armory. Affiliates or ‘performance partners’ are only paid on a cost per action (CPA) basis, receiving a commission for every sale that is driven to an advertiser’s site. This means that advertisers don’t have to pay a thing until a sale has been made or an action has been taken. The channel also offers advertisers a way to track, report, optimize and pay partners (essentially whoever runs the website, be it a brand, individual or organization) for marketing partnership activities.

So what’s the opportunity?

The affiliate channel already has a strong and mature presence in the United States and Europe. The first affiliate program launched in the U.S. in 1996, with the first affiliate network following shortly after in 1998. Since then the industry has matured and evolved in these markets. Affiliate marketing in the U.S. is expected to be worth $6.8 billion over the next five years; in the UK alone it is already worth $1.6 billion.

On the other hand, e-commerce in Asia is considered a relatively new and evolving market, with the landscape having its own rules, consumer behaviors and characteristics. Consequently, there has been little, if any, Asia-specific affiliate marketing activity over the last ten years.

This has led to brands having a fragmented marketing presence through the affiliate channel in Asia, usually involving multiple tools, providers and partners. A lack of awareness, knowledge and understanding has led brands to be cautious when considering affiliate marketing in Asia. When entering emerging markets, brands generally encounter multiple hurdles such as language, local laws and regulations, payment gateways and currency, and most importantly local resources and talent.

Only a handful of global brands have managed to help local partners in Asia Pacific to understand how affiliate marketing relationships work, the…