Six months into her role as UK MD at affilnet, we caught up with Helen Southgate to see how she was settling in, what changes she has made, and got the low-down on her must attend sessions at this week's Performance Marketing Insights London.
Q: How have your first six months in the role as MD at affilinet been?
HS: The last six months have past by in a blur. It's been a very exciting time, for both me personally and affilinet as a business. When I joined I wanted to ensure that the UK team was structured to focus on the business objective of delivering quality programmes by experienced people. Affilinet UK is built up of individuals with vast experience, knowledge and relationships. I wanted to bring in new people to complement the existing team and that shared the same values, but could also bring with them some new ideas and perspectives. Alongside this we've been working really hard on the recently announced new corporate strategy to clearly define affilinet within the marketplace, which we've had great feedback on from both publishers and advertisers. And last but certainly not least, I've been getting involved with talking to potential new clients and we've had some positive wins, which I'm looking forward to launching before the end of the year.
Q: What has been your biggest highlight, your biggest challenge and your biggest learning curve in these six months?
HS: The real highlight for me has been getting to know the team here and bringing in new talent to complement the vast array of knowledge and expertise that affilinet has. I've also relished the opportunity to meet our advertisers and pick up old relationships with publishers. If I'm honest, it feels like I'm back home. My biggest challenge relates more the to industry as a whole. We're still being sidelined, affiliates are getting squeezed on the last click and not enough is being done to support the medium/long tail. I came back to a network to try to change this and, in my opinion, affilinet is the company to drive this agenda both in the UK and Europe.
Q: At last it is day one of PMI! In total how many PMIs (fomer a4uexpos) have you attended in total?
HS: I can remember when they used to be held in a local pub! So I think it is fair to say that I have been going for a long time now.
Q: It's great that you are here for both session-packed days, but what are your top four 'must attend' sessions at this year's PMI?
HS: The agenda is jam-packed. But for me a must see is the session examining if affiliate marketing is losing its identity. OK, I know I'm biased as that is one of my sessions, but I think it should spark some good, varied and interesting debate. There are some great people on the panel so I think it will be a well rounded discussion. Equally the power panel is a good mix of thoughts and opinions – not everyone agrees with each other on certain things and I think that is always a good basis for a lively discussion. Then the other two would be the conversion and attribution sessions. Both are words that we as an industry shy away from, but we need to have more of a stance and start addressing some of the issues these topics present.
Q: Which session 'intrigues' you most over and above the others and why?
HS: The attribution one because it’s being delivered by Criteo, curious to see how they position this and what data they have. I want to see some open and sensible debate about the topic, but I'm not sure if that will happen.
Q: Is there a particular speaker you are keen to meet?
HS: Without question, Greg Nugent. What he and the LOCOG team achieved was really very impressive. It would be great to be able to pick his brains. And if he'd like to share his thoughts with us, we're conducting speaker interviews on our stand, so if you're reading this Greg come and meet the team at stand 40.
Q: Have you booked in any meetings or are you just hoping to bump into certain people?
HS: I've got quite a few meetings in the diary, but equally I like to keep things fairly flexible and am really looking forward to catching up with new and old faces at our stand.
Q: Aside from key learnings in the many sessions, what else are you hoping to come away with from PMI?
HS: Fundamentally I think the show is a great opportunity to come away with new and creative ideas, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with the old. I think the speaker interviews we're conducting will also be fun and insightful.
Q: Will you be heading to the networking party tonight or swatting up ahead of your big power panel session tomorrow?
HS: I will indeed be heading to the party. The panel starts at a civilised time the next day and I'll be sure to do my 'homework' in advance.