U.K. Affiliate Marketing Firm buy.at Expands to U.S.

U.K. based international affiliate marketing firm buy.at has launched its U.S. operation. A new office on Wall Street will serve as the headquarters from which the company will seek to extend its performance-based network to a U.S. audience.

Malcolm Cowley, president of buy.at, revealed the network will be looking to grow aggressively in the U.S. over the next year. “The U.K. affiliate market is much more competitive than in the U.S.” he told ClickZ News. “The U.S. side was in need of a shake-up.”

Cowley suggested the major difference between U.S. and U.K. networks is their relationship with agencies. “I would say that the U.K. was slightly ahead of the U.S. in terms of agency involvement. We work closely with agencies in the U.K.,” he stated. “In the U.S., I think we have a huge opportunity to bring big interactive agencies into the picture.”

Jeff Molander, CEO of affiliate marketing consulting firm Molander and Associates, acknowledged these differences, stating, “The U.K. digital media and marketing market tends to follow in the U.S. market’s footsteps. With this in mind, yes, the U.K. market is more competitive today given the market’s maturation phase.”

However, Molander suggested moving into the U.S. market poses some hazards. “The U.S. market has cooled off for a variety of reasons that U.K. marketers would be wise to understand,” he noted. “Affiliate marketing continues to have a ‘reputation problem’ here in the States.”

For instance, there can be a lack of control over the quality of content affiliate marketing offers are associated with.

“Yet issues far more serious than these nuisances are negatively impacting the U.S. market, and are beginning to affect the U.K.,” he continued. “These deal with the relative lack of value offered to marketers by [affiliate marketing] as compared to marketers’ own search marketing efforts.”

Having already been selected as the affiliate network provider for Ticketmaster in the U.S., buy.at will “play to [its] strengths” by focusing initially on retail and events advertisers, according to Cowley. He also mentioned a focus on broadband and telecoms providers, drawing on buy.at’s success in those sectors in the U.K. “We will look to take the experience from our U.K. operations and apply it to the U.S. market” he stated.

Earlier this month, buy.at announced a deal with travel and lifestyle social network WAYN.com (Where Are You Now), by which site members can create customizable “Web shops” for display on their profiles to promote products they would like to own or recommend to others. When users buy from the Web shop, the member receives a commission from WAYN.

“I think we will see an increasing focus on social networks in affiliate marketing,” stated Cowley. “It’s a huge area, and advertisers need to follow consumers.”

From day one, the U.S. buy.at team will consist of Cowley, supported by staff from a separate account management services firm. By June 2008, Cowley expects to hire another seven individuals in order to “aggressively grow the business,” and added, “The staff will all be new hires in order to build a truly U.S. network and company.”

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