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IAB’s affiliate marketing council tightens policing of affiliate vouchers

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s affiliate marketing council is tightening its regulation of vouchers with the launch of revised Voucher Code of Conduct guidelines.

The new set of practical guidelines have been released to help advertisers and publishers maintain transparency and control over the online distribution of their affiliate codes, which extends to affiliate activity on mobile devices.

Breaches of the Code include publishing vouchers that are out of date, misleading or unauthorised codes and will be handled by the advertiser’s network, with their consent. Repeated breaches may result in “collective network penalties” which could include turning off a publisher’s affiliate tracking for a limited period.

The IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council chair and chief operating officer at OMG Nathan Salter said the revisions include “much tighter drafting” to ensure the principles of transparency and control which have underpinned the Code to date are sustained, while acknowledging that the ultimate ownership of a voucher code remains with the advertiser.

“As affiliate-enabled businesses continue to grow, offering consumers opportunities to find savings and deals on many kinds of everyday and high-end purchases, it is incumbent on the IAB’s AMC to produce a Code that supports this highly popular and increasingly trusted form of online shopping,” he said.

Advertisers now invest more than 70 per cent of their online performance marketing spend in the affiliate sector, and consumers use of vouchers continues to rise.

IAB’s industry programme consultant Clare O’Brien said the digital landscape has “transformed” over the last few years in which there has been an explosion in consumers’ use of vouchers as a form of currency.

“There have been major changes in the market, with more money in this sector than ever before and big changes in consumer behaviour. As such it is vital the council continues to evolve best practice to keep pace with these changes," she said.

She said the UK affiliate market is revered overseas for its strict self-policing of performance-driven marketing, adding: “The performance marketing industry is not represented at this level anywhere else in the world. We have more than a dozen Code standards in the affiliate marketing council now, which are admired around the world because it polices the industry so well.”

The move marks the second biggest project to emerge from the IAB’s affiliate marketing council this year, having launched the first ever study into the value of the online performance marketing industry this January.

The study revealed that UK businesses spent £814m on affiliate marketing and lead generation activities in 2012, generating £9bn in sales.