The travel industry is making the most successful use of affiliate marketing, according to research conducted by E-consultancy. The survey into how brands (merchants) use affiliate marketing found that travel marketers spend an average of 16 per cent of their online budget in the channel to drive 18 per cent of their online sales.

Sponsored by buy.at, the survey also reveals that 84 percent of marketers in the travel sector say that affiliate marketing drives a high or medium volume and 56 percent report it is very cost effective for customer acquisition compared with 35 percent saying paid search is very cost-effective and just eight percent for display advertising. None of the travel brands surveyed consider affiliate marketing to be not 'cost-effective' but over half thought online display advertising is not cost-effective and over two thirds think mobile advertising is not cost-effective.

This follows the news that 71 percent of travel companies have increased their spend on affiliate marketing over the past two years and around a quarter of travel firms, have at least doubled their investment in the channel. 63 percent intend to increase their spend in the channel over the next two years.

Kevin Cornils, CEO, buy.at, said, "'Affiliate marketing is particularly effective for the travel sector because of the diversity of publishers, ranging from those who create targeted and relevant content for a campaign, integrating sophisticated tools such as 'travel wizards', to those that harvest the long tail through niche sites and blogs. Successful aggregators such as Expedia and Lastminute have made excellent use of this channel."

The survey found that the majority of travel companies prefer to manage their affiliate marketing directly with a network and three quarters work with just one or two affiliate networks. Barriers to further growth in this sector include restricted budgets, which are considered a 'major' or 'minor' barrier by more than half the sample. 68 percent also see 'lack of internal resource' as a barrier compared with 61 percent of respondents who work in financial services. More than half the travel marketers surveyed also see difficulty in attracting affiliates as a barrier and a third consider problems with tracking as a barrier.

Related Link: Buy.at