It's nice to attend an event every once in a while that we did not organise, meaning we could enjoy the day as a learning, debating and networking as a delegate.
Arriving in time to see the opening remarks from LinkShare UK MD Liane Dietrich, we were told about LinkShare's affiliate technology, allowing use of Wordpress plugins, XML feeds and other API's. The advertiser's amongst you will be please to know that there is a new advertiser dashboard and improved feeds on the way.
Another interesting quote from Liane, was that 92% of consumers are more confident online than using an instore salesperson. A very high percentage of 'savvy' shoppers, who have been increasingly looking to the web to source product reviews and cheaper prices, rather than the high street.
Subject to the Volcanic Ash problems, there were a few speakers unfortunately missing from the Symposium, one being Yaz Iida, CEO of LinkShare who was supposed to be speaking alonside Liane. Other notable absentees were speakers from ShopStyle, Quisma and Idealo.
The first session of the day was a Trendwatch Session on Social Media, conducted by Charlie Osmond from FreshNetworks. There has been increased criticism of Social Media Presentations from recent conferences and webinars for being very similar and uninspiring. This was not the case with Charlie's presentation as he brought a range of interesting ideas and statisctics to the delegates.
A few points that were raised from this session, included a worrying remark for publishers that online brands are increasing their conversations with consumers by creating their own conversations and communities, therefore in theory everybrand is becoming a publisher themselves.
80% of communities created through Ning's social network platform, fail. Charlie also pushed some thoughts to the delegates on allowing Google to change its adwords rules to allow reviews and star ratings to be published here. Think he'll be hard pushed to see this actioned but you never know! There were a few not so surprising comments including 'Repeat Customers drive real value' and 'Facebook doesn't convert very well'. Also, apparently Facebook is visited twice as often as Google in the workplace (not sure this is the case for Affiliate Marketing!!).
Next up was the Thought Leadership Panel, consisting of Simon James from MoneySupermarket, Duncan Popham from Total Search Solutions and Georgie Coleridge Cole from SheerLuxe. As with many similar panels, the discussion quickly shifted to todays usual topical issues, including Multi Channel Attribution, Voucher Codes and Consumer Shopping Habits.
This was seemingly the only time Voucher Codes were brought up throughout the whole day which we were quite surprised at, plus the discussion was more about the true value of a Voucher Code site and the role they play within the Customer Journey.
The Multi Channel attribution debate is still going strong, with Duncan initially suggesting the need for clarity on who is the last click but who actually brought the customer into the sales journey. He then commented on the perception of the payment modeal, saying it was difficult as the 'last click wins' rule is how Affiliate Marketing began and would be very hard to change.
The conversation then moved onto site users. The panel described the users post-recession as 'information shoppers', ones who take time to read and search for reviews on a number of websites, plus social websites, before making a purchase. This creates the multi-channel discussion yet again!
The last session of the day was a Publisher Spotlight session, involving Many Sigaloff from OSOYOU, Fabio de Bernardi from Wishpot, Andy Barr from PeToBa and David Lethbridge from The NOD / Joy of Clothes. In what was almost a pitch to merchants, of which there were many in attendance, the need for improved merchant feeds was continually repeated from each speaker.
Keeping feeds updated, standardising image sizes, thumbnails, correct prices, many would think this is a standard, but the speakers assured us many merchants are slacking when it comes to feeds.
Overall, an interesting day of sessions and networking. Many thanks go to LinkShare for organising the event, the networking drinks plus the late night Chinese after kicking out time!