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Affiliate Marketing in Germany By Stefanie Puetz-Lehmann,www.partnerprogramme.com

Affiliate marketing took off late in Germany. The breakthrough came in Spring 1999, when several large brand name merchants launched their programs.

As of today there are 368 German, 15 Austrian and 10 Swiss affiliate programs listed at Partnerprogramme.com the largest German directory of affiliate programs. Due to the quality standards required for inclusion in this directory the total number of existing affiliate programs in the German speaking countries is much higher and can be estimated at 1500 programs.

The majority of these programs are pay-per-click, outnumbering pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale programs by approx. 5:1.

While affiliate programs are widespread for certain product categories (especially books and telecommunication products) there are German affiliate programs in all product categories.

Very few German merchants run their affiliate programs in-house. Those that do, mostly rely on American software solutions (Groundbreak and MyAffiliateProgram being the most popular).

The market is dominated by four affiliate networks: Affili.net, Vitrado.de, Zanox.de and Tradedoubler.com

Affili.net, launched in July 1999 and was the first German affiliate network. With it's easy set-up procedure and no set-up fee it grew to be the largest German affiliate network. In February 2001 Affili.net had 630 active merchants and 50,500 affiliates. Affili.net supports pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale programs. Affili.net charges 30 percent transaction fees on commissions paid.

Vitrado.de, launched in July 2000, with a product/offer oriented approach rather than a merchant program oriented approach. Links are always created for a specific product/offer rather than a merchant home page (somewhat similar to the approach of Onresponse.com). Vitrado has about a dozen merchants and 25,000 affiliates (January 2001). Currently there are only pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale offers at Vitrado. While no fees are published, Vitrado usually charges no set-up fee. Transaction fees are negotiable.

Tradedoubler.com is a European affiliate network, which has separate entry portals for every nation. Launched in Germany in July 2000, they have attracted some well know brand name merchants. However many of the merchants that started with high pay-per-click offers (up to 0.25 Euro per click) have reduced these rates in several steps to a fraction of the initial value leading to some affiliate frustration. About 25 merchants (February 2001) use the German portal of Tradedoubler. I estimate that over 10,000 German affiliates use Tradedoubler. Tradedoubler supports pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale programs. Tradedoubler has not released prices, aims to win the Top 500 European companies as clients.

Zanox launched in June 2000, currently a German network with plans for further European expansion. Zanox has about 20 merchants (February 2001). I estimate the number of affiliates to be 5000. Zanox allows many reporting features the other networks do not have and supports pay-per-view in addition to pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale. The transaction fee is 30 percent on commissions paid. The set-up fee is well over 1000 Euro.

All 4 networks aggregate commission payments and pay affiliates monthly with the exception of Tradedoubler who are paying quarterly.

There are a few additional service providers. A complete list can be found at:


The American networks (CJ, Be Free, Linkshare) have not had much success in acquiring German merchants so far. Bol.de, Dealtime.de and Gateway use Be Free. A few small German merchants selling products to an International audience also use CJ.

Finally there are a couple of issues to mention:

  1. Nobody pays by check. Direct deposit is used. Upon registration the affiliates bank account number is requested.
  2. 'Buchbreisbindung' a German regulation requiring all booksellers (offline and online) to sell German books at fixed prices, set by the publishers, to consumers, raises difficult legal issues for booksellers drafting affiliate agreements.
The German affiliate market is growing at fast pace with the networks mentioned above doubling their affiliate numbers every 6 month.

Editors Note:www.MagicButton.net, a UK based affiliate network also has a presence with the recent opening of their Hamburg office in December 2000.

Stefanie Puetz-Lehmann is editor of Partnerprogramme.com, established 1998. She published the first German book on affiliate marketing (ISBN 3-89811-213-6) in 1999. Her company offers consulting on affiliate marketing strategies.

Copyright: Stefanie Puetz-Lehmann 2001, used with permission.