By Durk Price

About a month ago I attended my first affiliate-related conference in Europe. It was a4uExpo in London. While, I wrote about my excitement before that event, I just realized that, even though I jotted down some general observations while at the event, I never shared them.

So, after finally unpacking, getting back to my busy routine at home and the office, and recovering from all the great food and wine I consumed  on my mini-vacation in Europe after the show, it figured it was time to debrief.

A4uExpo was a great learning experience. I thought I had a bit of handle on the market over there, but actually being in London and talking with so many people I realized that the affiliate marketing space in Europe is very different from back here.  Of course, there are many similarities, but here are some personal observations that stood out.

I found that unlike many of the shows I attend in the States, there were very few merchants at this conference.  Instead, agencies representing merchants were very visible – more like how US ad agencies represent clients.

At events and conferences in the States, I am used to (and very much enjoy) running into other OPMs. We have a collegial relationship and the group is growing. But I found very few “US-style” OPMs.  Most of those running or managing affiliate programs were more like the equivalent of what I think of as an ad agency.

I had a chance to speak with representatives from some of the networks including – AffiliateWindow, Commission Junction, LinkShare, Zanox, Digital River, and TradeDoubler.  But no US-based CPA networks were in attendance.  Maybe, I am just too used to going to a trade shows where CPA networks are everywhere.

I was pleased to see all of the top European voucher code sites (that’s coupon and deal sites to us Yanks) were in attendance. However, it was a surprise to me to find out that the majority of cashback sites give 100 percent back to the consumer and then make money on tenancy (what we would call slotting fees or advertising fees).

I guess, I still have more to suss out when it comes to helping our clients make decision about leveraging the European market. In some cases, it’s a great opportunity and for some of our other clients, based on my knowledge gathering, I may advise starting small or even waiting a bit longer before diving in.

That said, we’re about to launch a program on Affiliate Window, the UKs  leading affiliate network for online performance for advertisers in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Now that I have some clients about to start working with companies over in the UK, I’ll need to keep a more global eye on the industry. Here are some interesting items that I came across today.

TradeDoubler and NetBooster, two leaders in online marketing, recently announced the transfer of TradeDoubler’s assets in search to NetBooster and a strategic partnership in online marketing.  Under the agreement, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2011, TradeDoubler becomes NetBooster’s preferred partner for services in performance marketing, such as affiliate network, campaigns and technology solutions, and NetBooster becomes TradeDoubler’s preferred search marketing partner.

By enhancing both companies’ offerings, the strategic partnership will provide new and existing customers with a broader geographical footprint in and beyond Europe and greater depth of expertise in digital marketing and e-commerce, according to the press release.

And just one final note….I read today that many online marketing professionals in the UK have warned that a forthcoming European Union directive could hamper the effectiveness of Internet advertising campaigns, due to the restrictions it will place on the use of Web cookies. Although the directive does not ban the use of cookies, it requires brands and marketing companies to obtain consumers informed consent before they can use them on their websites or for online advertising.

There is a lot to keep on an eye across the pond and much opportunity when approached thoughtfully. Understanding that market will be key to expanding.