Country spotlight is an ongoing series on the UK blog, where our team of local and global experts showcase what there is to know about key regions across EMEA.
This month, our Account Director, Helena Barroso Zarco, shines the light on Spain.
Brief history of the Spanish affiliate market
Multiple publications speculate that affiliate marketing was created by Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon, launching the first programme in 1996. However, this invention did not reach Spain until 1999, when a few affiliate networks started offering their services in the country . Despite affiliate marketing’s early entry into the Spanish market, it did not reach its development phase until 2014. In that year, the concept became very popular and numerous job opportunities were available in this sector with approximately 400 people hired to work in the industry that year .
Overview of the Spanish affiliate market
Spain was hit by the financial crisis in 2007, which affected its economy throughout the following years until present – 27% of its population was unemployed in 2013 as many companies were forced to close due to bankruptcy. This also affected advertising, with ad investment halving from €7.36bn in 2007 to €3.59bn in 2013. Since 2013 we have seen a slight increase in investment, and it reached €4.20bn in 2016. The digital industry has continued to experience a positive recovery in recent years, with advertisers investing around €1.1bn in 2016 in digital advertising. What is more important is that digital advertising has taken over some of the traditional forms of advertising, including newspapers, magazines and out-of-home; representing the shift of the digital advertising conception in Spain.
Despite the growth of the digital economy in Spain and 80% internet adoption across the population, just 62% of the population are actively shopping online. In addition, despite having the highest rate of mobile penetration in Europe (around 90% according to the Awin report ), just half of those who purchase online have completed transactions through a mobile device.
Those figures represent the lack of confidence Spanish consumer have when it comes to purchasing online or through a mobile device. Moreover, according to the Awin report, “while over 40% of Spanish shoppers were happy to shop instore every week, only 15% were prepared to do so with the same regularity online”. Most of the transactions completed online in Spain are purchases to global marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Alibaba, versus local brands .
Overview of the key players
Due to the nature of the Spanish market, which can be linked to its culture, the Spanish shoppers still place value on “word-of-mouth” recommendations, making bloggers, influencers and niche content sites the key players in its landscape. In addition, cashback and discount codes represent a big part of the market, as the country is still recovering from the financial crisis. Email marketing and lead generation are also key partners in the market.
The global affiliate and European affiliate networks are active in Spain, including Awin, CJ, Tradedoubler, Webgains and Tradetracker. Moreover, three of the biggest affiliate networks in France have a strong presence in Spain: Publicideas, TimeOne Performance and Netaffiliation.
Key differences between the Spanish and UK affiliate markets
Maturity of market
Figures prove that the UK market is more developed when it comes to number of affiliates and advertisers working in digital advertising versus the Spanish market. This brings up a few differences:
- Luxury Spanish brands are reluctant to open affiliate programmes, since they worry about their brand image, whereas in the UK most high-end brands have an affiliate programme 
- Brands with an affiliate programme in Spain are happy to have programmes with more than one affiliate network, since not all affiliates are active in all the networks versus the UK where the majority of programmes are run exclusively by one network or SaaS platform
- Affiliates in Spain are less industry savvy; therefore, they tend to join a smaller number of networks versus the UK affiliates that are part of all major networks
While Spain has the strongest penetration with mobile, consumers do not shop through this device as much as in the UK. The figures show that most online sales are still completed through desktop (76%), with just 18% via a mobile and 6% via a tablet, versus the UK whose sales are more evenly divided between devices (53% desktop, 28% mobile and 19% tablet) .
Type of market and affiliates
As stated before, due to the nature of the market and the value placed on “word-of-mouth” recommendation, the percentage of content sites is higher in Spain (11%) versus 9% in the UK. For the same reason, the proportion of social publishers are also higher in Spain (5% versus 3% in the UK) . The Spanish market still has a lot of opportunities to develop business models, such as comparison sites, which is one of the main players in the UK market. This business type will fit within the money saving objective of many Spanish consumers so expect to see growth in this area.
The differences above make Spain a market with endless opportunities. Since the number of advertisers with affiliate programmes is lower than in the UK, these advertisers can take advantage of getting ahead of their competitors by working with more innovative and exclusive affiliates. On the other hand, affiliates that belong to business types that are not that settled in the market can lead that category by taking the learnings and initiatives from the more developed markets like the UK. Based on the Ecommerce Foundation , the turnover for the online sales were predicted to get to almost to €28bn, so a market to keep an eye on!
If you would like to find out about launching or growing your global affiliate programme. Get in touch with our team of affiliate marketing experts today.