After spending 18 months on a graduate training programme at Compaq, Pete Rowe and many others found themselves redundant after a buyout by Hewlett Packard. Rowe then stumbled upon work in Kentish Town at the late deal group media uk company where he worked as Operations Manager from 2002 through to early 2005.
Remembering his time at dgm was no hard task, as it was an era of less saturated competition combined with a growing base of ‘affiliate mates’. Rowe was quickly rolling off the names of those he was working with during his time at dgm who have all become well known themselves within the industry:
“Matt Brown, Helen Southgate, Chris Garner, Rob Berrisford, Helen Collins (Now Nugent), Matt Bailey, Duncan Popham” – I could go on!
Having learnt his trade there, Rowe was saddened to see dgm enter administration earlier this year. However, this outcome didn’t come as much of a surprise to him. Knowing the company personally quite well, he felt that dgm would have benefitted from more stability over the recent years due to a lot of management changes.
After leaving dgm in early 2005, Rowe took 8 months out to go travelling and to tie the knot. Soon after, an opportunity arose when he was approached by Nicky Iapino, who wanted him to join a team tasked to start-up Affilinet in the UK.
Joining as a member of the publisher services team, Rowe soon moved up to the role of Client Services Director, before being appointed Managing Director of UK Operations in late 2008, where he remains today.
Margins are a major issue
When running a network within a very network-heavy UK market, Rowe is quick to point out the startling difference between the UK and European Markets; Network Margins.
“If you look at the rest of Europe where margins are still competitive, the UK specifically has had a price war, resulting in downward pressure on margins, which realistically is not helpful for the industry as a whole. Hence why we’ve seen network losses this year.” The outlook for a UK network was bleak at the beginning of 2010, yet with unfortunate network losses and also the Axel Springer acquisition of Zanox, Affiliate Window and Buy.at, Pete believes the UK competition has moved to a more stable level.
The correlation between service, management and technology all stems from override, and Rowe believes sometimes Advertisers can be a little unrealistic in terms of what they want versus how much they are paying.
He also believes the UK is making positive ground with the work of the IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council: “4 years ago it was inconceivable that the main networks would all sit around and openly discuss how we can improve the industry, which is a massive step forward and has all but quashed the idea that Affiliate Marketing was a place to earn a ‘fast buck’ and has helped make the industry more professional.”
2011 and beyond
When Looking at the year ahead, Rowe is sure that convergence will be key to the changing nature of the industry. “It’s a sector that we know well, and we will see more convergence between the different players over the next year. For example, directory sites who are already utilising display advertising could potentially take advantage of pay per call marketing technology.”
“Affiliates still play the key part in the development of the industry. I think there are some who are still fairly negative about networks as a whole due to networks not innovating quickly enough. The development of the market is being commanded from the Affiliate, up. They are pushing the industry forward, driving the networks forward and demanding innovation.”
"Due to the size and cross-border territories many of the Affiliate Networks are operating within, innovation and technological advances can take time, but they all know demand is high and therefore Networks will deliver in 2011."
When quizzed over the Affiliate landscape, Rowe's initial reaction is to praise the movement from the ‘bedroom to boardroom’ where Affiliates have pushed boundaries to play a large part in the increased media focus and extra budgets that have been assigned to the Affiliate channel over the past year.
Excited by the prospects for Affilinet in 2011, Rowe firmly believes they will continue in the same vein, where 2009/10 saw very promising year-on-year growth, plus with recent high level client wins and a Revolution Award win alongside a highly commended a4uAward in 2010, he’s looking forward to the year ahead.
Name: Pete Rowe
Education: A-Level's in Politics, Economics and History at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School. BA (hons) in Business & Finance at Kingston University.
Industry Employment: DGM (2002-2005), Affilinet (2005-Present)