The inimitable Matthew Mood launching the 2008 A4U Awards at the Park Lane Sheraton Hotel in London, UK

I was passing a delightful evening discussing the merits of Curtis Brown literary agents, whether there’s any point in novelists attending the London International Book Fair and the impact on the book publishing industry of the demise of the Net Book Agreement, as one does at an affiliate marketing awards ceremony – I happened to strike gold by being seated next to an author and could talk to my heart’s content about my previous industry – when she asked, “Where was last year’s affiliate awards held?”

Sitting next to us was Kevin Kozinchik, Director of European Sales at Linkshare, and he responded, “In a pub in the Docklands… while eating fish and chips”. The authoress thought he was pulling her leg and steered the conversation elsewhere.

That UK affiliate marketing has grown from gatherings with a couple of dozen people in nondescript locations as recently as three or four years back to the inaugural awards in a crowded pub in East London in 2007 to a lavish black-tie awards ceremony with several hundred attendees in one of the most regal hotels in the land shows how far the industry has come. As Will Cooper of NMA says: “you could say a maturing sector can be recognised by the size of its own awards ceremony. If the growth from a pub in London’s Docklands to a glitzy bash on Park Lane is anything to go by, things are going from strength to strength.”

Thursday evening was an antidote to the oft-grubby image of affiliate marketing, with both the organisers and attendees putting on a show that underlined the growing professionalism and significance of the discipline.

For many years affiliate marketing has been ignored at the major new media awards ceremonies and this event gave everyone an opportunity to celebrate the movers and shakers in the most dynamic niche in digital marketing in a setting that would do the Oscars proud. The sector may not be run by types with double-barrelled surnames who pick up awards at other media and marketing ceremonies, but it’ll be hard for the mainstream to look down upon it as an embarrassing and unloved younger brother much longer as it grows at a jawdropping rate of 45% year-on-year.

The winners are on the A4U Awards website so I won’t repeat the names here; congratulations to them all… each and every one thoroughly deserves their moment of glory.

Being an A4U forums addict, I was particularly pleased to see some the members of the community commended, with Sister Sledge’s ‘We are Family’ aptly playing the background, for making it the best affiliate forums in the world and, as for Nicky Iapino winning the last award of the evening, that for Excellence, I could not think of anybody more deserving. Affiliate marketing runs through her veins and few people are aware of just how much time and effort she has expended over the last ten years to help the field prosper.

I left the Park Lane Sheraton where the awards were held at 1:00am and retreated to the St. Giles Hotel in Bloomsbury to unwind with the OMG crew, the Publisher’s Choice Of Account Manager Affiliate Window‘s Julie Wood, and some affiliate amigos. I departed ‘early’ at 3:30am as I was due to appear on a BBC radio show in the morning (which I’ll write about in the next blog post tomorrow), but everybody was having a whale of a time as I walked out of the hotel and made my way home. After completing a couple of urgent tasks on the PC, it was the crack of dawn by the time I eventually rested my head on a pillow.

Thank you to Chris Bishop, the Affiliate Manager of House of Fraser for inviting me to the ceremony and Linkshare for hosting me on their table. Thanks also to Matthew Wood and the entire team at Existem for (a) organising a truly spectacular event and (b) allowing me to reproduce the official pics. I have put together a video montage below.

 

 

 

Coming Soon: listen to Nadeem Azam talking about online shopping on the BBC radio station for Hampshire and read the second of our three articles on the creation of the acclaimed Froggybank.co.uk. We are also working on a tutorial series on affiliate marketing which will be published in several week’s time (if you would like us to cover any specific topics please write to results [at] azam.net). Subscribe to updates here.

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