Melanie Skuse | Senior Affiliates Manager

The Online Performance Marketing (OPM) report has been released, showing that 2016 was the strongest year ever for the Affiliate channel, with a £1.578 billion spent last year.

The annual report from the IAB and PricewaterhouseCoopers has shown the affiliate channel delivered £19.4 billion in revenue in 2016, up 16% on 2015. This surge in revenue was delivered from 5.6 billion clicks, with each of the 176 clicks delivered every second in 2016 generating £3.46 in revenue.

Within the affiliate channel, 12% of spend was accumulated by Lead Generation activity, 36% of spend from Aggregator activity and 52% of spend through Affiliate activity. This split has remained equal with the spend split in 2015.

For every £1 spent in the affiliate channel £12.30 was generated, and while this ROI is still impressive, it is 5% down from the £13 ROI delivered in 2015.

Overall volume growth however has remained strong- especially for mobile where investment has increased 23% from 2015, however there is still some way to go for mobile investment in the affiliate channel to grow at the same rate as the rest of the digital market, with the Digital Ad Spend study reporting overall mobile investment increasing 50% in 2016.

The key sectors for the affiliate channel remain as Finance and Travel & Leisure which collectively account for 49% of spend in the channel. It is unsurprising that these verticals dominate the affiliate spend table given the prominence of comparison aggregators in both of these verticals; such as MoneySuperMarket and Trivago. Of the 32% share that Finance vertical holds, 28% relates to price comparison sites.

All signs point to 2017 surpassing 2016 performance in the affiliate channel, and while it is expected that the volume trends will continue to rise steadily across 2017, we expect that publisher innovation will drive mobile spend to be in line with overall digital mobile growth within the next 8 months.