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Norwegian Air launches first UK affiliate programme

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By Jessica Davies | News Editor

March 14, 2013 | 3 min read

Norwegian Air is making its first foray into affiliate marketing in the UK to build awareness of a host of new "affordable" routes launched from Gatwick Airport.

The airline has appointed Performance Horizon Group (PHG) and Vizeum to handle the campaign, making it one of the first airlines to bypass using affiliate networks in favour of an in-house approach.

PHG’s software-as-a-service (SAAS)-based affiliate platform, called ExactView, is designed to let businesses bring their affiliate programmes in-house to help better optimise and manage affiliate campaigns globally and across multiple platforms.

PHG’s business development director Sean Sewell said the move signals a trend towards brands moving more towards in-house affiliate strategies.

“Amazon and ebay were the first to start off their own in-house affiliate platforms but we will see this evolve further. There has been an evolution in the search space, likewise in the display space with demand-side platforms (DSPs) and we see ourselves as pushing the boundaries in the affiliate space – there is real value in brands talking to their partners directly and having their media agencies managing the activity,” he said.

His comments follow the release of the first ever UK online performance marketing study, conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper for the Internet Advertising bureau (IAB), which showed over £800 million was spent on affiliate marketing and lead generation in 2012, generating sales in total worth £9 billion.

Each year it drives more than two online purchases for every UK adult, and generates £11 of revenue for every £1 spent, according to the report.

“If you break down those IAB numbers further is shows about 30 per cent of affiliate revenue is coming via cashback affiliates, 17 per cent from voucher sites, and another 17 per cent from loyalty sites like Nectar.

“So you probably have seven partners there driving 60 per cent of affiliate revenue in the UK, which means there is a real argument there to show you can work smarter rather than harder and work immediately with two or three aggregators and another eight to ten affiliate partners and that will probably account for about 95 per cent of all affiliate volume anyway,” he said.

Traditionally it has been the common process for brands to use affiliate networks alone but they are increasingly keen to engage more with their media agencies and move the activity in-house, according to Sewell.

“The travel sector is a very mature affiliate sector and there are some very well established affiliate partners in that space that will probably drive 95 to 98 per cent of your sales anyway…if you know who your main partners are then you want to engage with them on a more one-to-one basis,” he said.

Nicola West, performance director for Vizeum, said: “Norwegian Air is a forward-thinking company which understands the value of performance marketing. We were tasked with setting up an affiliate programme and launching within four weeks, which we achieved through the tremendous efforts of the team here and hands on support from PHG.

"Our goal now is to connect with those partners and develop aggressive growth strategies. Ensuring brand, affiliates and aggregators are all working together.”

The routes that will be promoted via the programme include destinations such as Malaga, Nice, Rome and Barcelona from £29.90, following a new relationship set up with Gatwick Airport earlier this year.

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