So, Matt. Your one year reign as IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council chairman ended recently, with Kevin Edwards being elected as your replacement. How do you think Kevin will fair as Chairman?
Kevin has been in this industry for a considerable amount of time and has always demonstrated not only an in depth knowledge of what he’s doing, but also a passion for it. I think this will stand him in good stead, allied to the fact that Kevin has a solid ethical compass and wants the best for the industry will make him an exceptional chair. Having spoken to him about it, he has some big plans and a desire to make it happen, and I will offer any support needed to assist.
The last 12 months have seen a lot of best practice guidelines being released from the IAB, what was your most pleasing moment as Chair?
A couple of things. The guidelines that we brought out around voucher codes and the ethical merchant charter were key initiatives for me. Another thing that made me proud was the increase in membership that we saw. The IAB AMC was firmly put on the map within the last year and attendance increased at meetings throughout the year, including large blue chip clients such as Sky, eBay, RAC and Vodafone. This confirmation of the councils standing was very pleasing.
Do you think your time there was successful in comparison to previous years?
Yes, undoubtedly so.
How do you think the IAB council could achieve more?
I think there needs to be more focus. One thing that I felt I was guilty of was trying to make the council all things to all people. By concentrating more on what can be achieved by those that want to contribute and achieve things, I think big wins will be made. The people who just want to snipe from the sidelines without engaging or trying to help just get in the way and therefore should not detract from achieving the goals.
Is there anything you would have done differently, or anything you would like to see changed?
I’d like to see more positivity across the industry towards people who are trying to do the right thing and make a difference. It is very easy to criticise from the sidelines, but harder to actively try and change things. I think we are lucky that there are a number of people within our industry who are passionate about the future and safeguarding what we’re all doing. However unfortunately there are also a vocal minority who just wish to moan. This attitude is something I would like to see eradicated but I think that is wishful thinking.
In terms of doing things differently, I would have probably liked to do a bit more education, regulation and promotion but doing too much at once is probably not the right thing to do. I think I’ve helped lay an excellent foundation over the last year to really take the IAB forward and I believe that Kevin will facilitate the advances necessary.
Looking ahead, how do you see the competition of Affiliate Networks changing as new platforms are arriving and technology is improving?
I think a lot of affiliate networks will really struggle over the next couple of years. There seem to be few networks who are focussing on developing a sustainable business model going forward, concentrating more on short term gains. I think that the CPA metric will continue to grow as it makes perfect sense to advertisers, but I find it quite frustrating that affiliate networks are not positioning themselves at the forefront of this movement. I really struggle to see any advancements from networks that are changing the game in the affiliate space, we seem to be focussing on advancing what we already have rather than working to facilitate a big step change in the way things happen.
Luckily I think that this leaves a big opportunity for agencies to fill this void. I-level have always been proponents of working with networks since I got here, but we are also very forceful about what we require from the network. As the field advances I think that there are still opportunities for networks but their business models will have to evolve.
The big problem for me at the moment is that the majority of battles are being fought on price, which is driving down margins for the networks and therefore denigrating the levels of account management and R&D; that they can justify> I believe that we are starting to see this having an effect. The reduction in service levels, allied to increased understanding and scrutiny of the channel by merchants does not necessarily bode well for networks and I can see more and more merchants looking elsewhere to develop and grow their campaigns.
Post-Impression is the future? Discuss...!
There is a role for PI definitely. For certain affiliates, if I can demonstrate to a client that an affiliate has displayed a banner or some content, the customer has gone on to buy the product with no intermediary touchpoints, then I feel that I can make a pretty compelling case that the affiliate in question has played a part in driving that sale and therefore should be rewarded. However we all know that there are inherent risks involved and therefore it’s not something that should be rolled out to everyone on a campaign.
However I don’t think it is the future. The future will be Cost per Engagement models whereby a number of different actions on the path to sale are rewarded. PI could play a part in this, but will not be the only metric utilised.
Still at i-level, are there any plans or innovations up your sleeve for 2010?
We have lots of exciting plans for our merchants and for new business and are looking to really push forward our offering in 2010. Not a lot that I can say right now but watch this space, we’re going to shake things up a bit...
iPad – will you be getting one?
Not yet. I’m waiting to see what Apple have up their sleeves for it because at the moment it just looks like a mutated iPod Touch. I suspect that Mr Jobs has something that will make it a compulsory purchase though.
Thanks to Matt Bailey, user mattb811 on Affiliates4u, is Head of Affiliate at i-level.