section sponsor - Matthew Wood, Founder, Affiliates4U, a4uexpo and a4uAwards

Michael James, UK MD, Adconion The latest Bellwether Report says advertisers are showing confidence in the admarket for the first time since the beginning of the recession. While this is fabulous news for all, we're not out of the woods yet and the spotlight will remain on the bottom line as advertisers increasingly scrutinise their activity. However, this can only be a good thing for affiliatemarketing as it's the only channel which is purely performance based and therefore the perfect choice for advertisers focusing on ROI.

But it's not just about deliverability. Affiliate marketing is one of the most progressive digital channels available and this year has continued to step up its game in terms of developing its reach and ability, as well as responding to advertisers' needs and expectations. Most notably, we've seen an increase in the number of third-party applications being developed by affiliates. There have been initiatives from innovative businesses such as FusePump and Skimlinks, and newtools that have specifically opened up opportunities for those who may not have been fully aware of the channel's potential. Agencies too have increasingly become much smarter about how they manage their affiliate activity, leading to challenges and opportunities for the market as a whole as agencies such as Neo@Ogilvy and i-level have strategically looked at how they work with clients to achieve maximum results.

And advertisers have continued to benefit from further consolidation within the sector, with DigitalWindow’s acquisition of coming hot on the heels of Axel Springer and PubliGroupe’s majority stake purchase in DigitalWindow, drawing together the joint expertise and reach of Zanox, DigitalWindow and to form Europe’s market leader in affiliate marketing. Meanwhile TradeDoubler announced a significant restructuring of its entire UK operation with the creation of a unified sales team selling all of its digital solutions plus a client services team that blends all of its clients and channels.

We've also seen the arrival of an entirely newbreed of operator, such as Impact Radius,which is not only providing the tools and technology for advertisers and affiliates to negotiate and deliver campaigns directly, but is also championing online and offline convergence.

So all in all, another busy year for a very dynamic sector,which has given us lots of meaty discussions for the Affiliates4u online forum, as well as allowing us to introduce new elements to our a4uexpo events. Specifically, we're adding a dedicated advertiser strand for the London showin October to help everyone understand how the market is changing and the innovation it's continuing to drive.