A recognisable figure in the Affiliate & Performance Industry, Malcolm Cowley was part of the team who launched buy.at in 2002, which was bought out by AOL Advertising in 2008 and more recently acquired by Digital Window.
By joining the Board of Existem Affiliate Management, Malcolm will assist Existem Affiliate Management's new growth strategy, by responding to Advertisers' growing needs for greater control of their Affiliate activity.
Malcolm says: “Existem Affiliate Management has a very solid foundation and an exceptional reputation in the business. In fact, it is at a very similar stage as buy.at was when we achieved our first round of investment, and I’m therefore looking forward to helping build yet another progressive and focused business for this industry.”
Mark Russell, Managing Director at Existem Affiliate Management, adds: “Malcolm’s knowledge and experience of our industry are remarkable, and will be extremely useful in assisting us to move the business into its new stage of development. We’re delighted he recognises the commitment and determination of the existing team and wants to come onboard to help us take the opportunity we know is out there.”
We put some questions to Mark Russell and Malcolm Cowley, see the interviews below:
Malcolm Cowley Interview
So, Malcolm. Since leaving buy.at what have you been up to? I know you've been involved in a number of new ventures. What sort of businesses are they? What do you look for specifically?
I left buy.at in 2008 and it’s been a very busy couple of years since! I’m keen to help businesses progress in the Online arena and have kept a close eye on the UK market as well as emerging territories such as China, specifically providing angel investment to social and gaming companies. In terms of what I look for in a business, I’m attracted to companies where I can see real growth potential and who have an approach which stands them apart from competitors. Businesses like Existem Affiliate Management, which as a start-midterm business has a strong team of people with proven knowledge of the area and is somewhere I can lend my expertise and a specific sales point of view.
Have you been keeping an eye on the Affiliate landscape? What are the biggest changes you have noticed? What's your views on where it's likely to go?
The sector has continued to mature over the past few years. It’s been interesting to see how good, well established people in the sector (the old guard) have been developing new ideas, whilst Merchants have also become more switched on to the channel, the impact it can have on overall growth and are now more keen to use specific expertise to help grow the channel even further.
In terms of where it’s going, I don't believe we will see the same dramatic growth we’ve experienced in the past. I don’t think this is purely an economic issue, but rather a settling down of the sector. I think we’re likely to see more consolidation of big players, both Affiliate and Network side, and I’m sure there will be an increase in the number and size of dedicated affiliate management companies, due to the demand for more dedicated service-led play.
What enticed you to buy-in to Existem-am, the Affiliate Management Agency?
After the experience of shaping and building buy.at, I suppose Affiliate Marketing will always be close to my heart so the opportunity to join a business which I believe can make another big difference to the market had quite a lot to do with it!
I’ve also known Mark and Bruce for a number of years and watched as they’ve successfully developed the business to where it is now. The business also has a very solid foundation and an exceptional reputation in the industry. In fact, it is at a very similar stage as buy.at was when we achieved our first round of investment, and I’m therefore looking forward to helping build yet another progressive and focused business for this channel.
I equally have a strong suspicion that the industry is crying out for strong service lead management - something that ExistemAM are in the prime stages to take advantage of so I have the opportunity to assist in growing its breadth and size of client base.
What can you bring to the table to help them succeed with their growth strategy?
The knowledge base of the existing Existem AM team is second to none, but obviously my time with buy.at, from initially growing the business, courting investment and ultimately final exit planning, will be hugely beneficial to the business. I’d also like to think that my time in the industry has led me to have quite a full contacts book, and the depth of my experience from a sales perspective as well as the Affiliate market as a whole will enable the company to grow at a faster rate.
Finally, slightly off topic, buy.at has recently been acquired by Digital Window. Do you see this as a good move for the affiliate industry, and are you sad to see the brand you helped create potentially consolidate with another Affiliate Network?
To be honest, I’m not sad to see Digital Window acquire buy.at, but it will be interesting to see what happens and I’ll be keeping a close eye on developments. Ultimately I think the purchase has positives and negatives for the channel as it will help to consolidate the market. But AWin has a proven track record in the industry, which all can see, so let’s see how it plays out. For me personally though, it’s nice to see anything you create grow, and get bigger and better.
Mark Russell, Managing Director of Existem Affiliate Management
Mark , having expanded from launch in 2006, why do you feel the time was right to adopt a significant new growth strategy, and why is Malcolm the right person to help you succeed?
Over the last four years, we have grown a very successful business model. We have a very robust company now, but it’s time to really ramp up our strategy for growth. I have personally known Malcolm for over seven years and would class him as one of the leaders in the channel. Utilising his knowledge of the sector alone will be hugely beneficial in deciding the direction that the company should take and will enable us to continue to increase the size of the business – but I’m equally focused on ensuring we continue to deliver the same level of service and offering to all of our clients so Malcolm’s input will help us guarantee this remains.
Being a dedicated Affiliate Marketing Agency, what do you offer to potential clients that wider digital agencies may not? And what do you think the market now needs going forwards?
As a dedicated affiliate marketing agency, we offer greater knowledge of the specific sector and great communication with the key people in the industry – both key components for making successful affiliate programmes.
Going forwards, I think the market needs to have knowledgeable people guiding merchants as to the best ways to use the channel and how to grow a successful, cost effective affiliate programme in general. Merchants need to think outside of the ‘normal’ marketing strategy to make sure they make the most of the affiliate channel, and that’s where a company like ours can truly make a difference.
Affiliates also need people that they can speak to and ask for advice & guidance as to what merchants are doing year round in advance, to make sure they can effectively structure their communication to their customers.