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Q&A: Malcolm Cowley CEO of PHG on Launching in the US & Demands of the Advertiser

Q&A: Malcolm Cowley CEO of PHG on Launching in the US & Demands of the Advertiser


After successfully launching Performance Horizon Group into the U.K., what instigated the decision to enter in the U.S. space?

"The type of customer we provide solutions for made entering the U.S. market a natural and obvious decision. We focus on Fortune-500 level brands. The U.S. is home to countless enterprises looking to unlock their potential to reach consumers in new markets and scale globally.

"Many of these major U.S. brands are at a technology inflection point. Companies that tried to build their own platforms ten years ago ended up with a patchwork quilt of best-in-breed technologies that work in silos. These outdated architectures can no longer support the speed and volume of data created by new digital marketing channels – especially as these brands look to expand globally.

"The options for these brands are limited. Companies that are investing in new technology don’t want to have to face the same problem again two or three years down the road. Also, continuing down the same path with reports in Excel just won’t cut it anymore for a global enterprise.

"Performance Horizon Group offers a solution for brands to ‘future proof’ their technology with a platform that can scale as the company scales. We’re completely redefining how brands manage and optimize their performance marketing campaigns, and there’s a tremendous business opportunity – a ‘tipping point’ if you will – for brands in the U.S."

We have talked on numerous occasions about the key differences between the US and UK market. Since the days of and the launch of PHG, what do you see as the main differences currently between the two markets and what lessons have you learned from this?

"The main lessons we learned moving from to launching Performance Horizon Group were derived from an overall industry shift versus differences between the U.S. and U.K. markets. was an affiliate network, while Performance Horizon Group is a software business that addresses the needs of global brands everywhere – regardless of where they’re based.

"Today, the majority of U.S. enterprises partner with affiliate networks to manage the majority of their performance partner relationships. Performance Horizon Group provides a way for brands to bring their performance marketing campaigns in house.

"Smaller companies have done well for a while partnering with local players, but the majority of major U.S. brands have yet to migrate away from a network/s only solution. This is primarily because until now, there hasn’t been a viable solution in the market for them to do so. Performance Horizon Group is aimed squarely at the enterprise space, so if we’re right, then you’ll begin to see a big shift over the next 2-4 years.

"Technology revolutions in display and search over the past few years have totally changed that landscape, and we have a similar vision for the affiliate/partner channel with our ExactView platform. In any shift, there will be some early adopters, and it’s no surprise that an early customer of ours in the U.S. used to build their own technology stack to manage their partners on.

"They understood well the advantages of doing this, the complexity of building something scalable and customized, and the ongoing costs of maintaining it. Performance Horizon Group takes care of all of those requirements so our customers get that “brand safe environment” and the security and stability they expect from a vendor focused on delivering highly scalable systems to enterprise customers.

"There are a few industry myths that still prevail regarding the value affiliate networks add to their performance marketing campaigns such as resources, strategy, and recruitment. However, over time, with the right education and case studies, the shift to operating the majority of revenues in the channel through an in-house platform is inevitable."

Performance Horizon Group reflects very much a global offering. What insights have you experienced from the demands of advertisers and publishers across your different territories?

"Performance Horizon Group is the only truly global platform for enterprises today. This means when a brand is ready to scale out of its core markets, our products and global services are able to scale with them – without skipping a beat.

"For example, we can pay in any currency and on any timescale straight into a publisher’s bank account. The publisher value here is obvious, as we all know nothing beats getting paid quickly. On the brand side, the value comes from being able to operate locally at a global level.

"Global advertisers and publishers require their data in real time and in a centralized place. ExactView, our flagship product provides this solution. This goes beyond simple reporting the data into the system but actually turning it over and analyzing it. It’s a common view that everyone provides real-time capabilities, but its always carefully worded and centred around tracking and reporting. We combine that capability with a global infrastructure, and our clients understand how valuable it is to see partner-program data come to life worldwide and gain insights never possible before.

"Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the performance marketing channel, and at, I got to influence its early growth. Performance Horizon Group feels like part two of that journey – except this time, we aren’t guiding the industry’s natural growth, we’re providing the tools to change, optimize and scale it proactively."

Performance Horizon Group is a Gold sponsor of the inaugural Performance Marketing Insights event. Why did you make the decision to sponsor the conference?

"Performance Horizon Group is moving out of its first phase, and we’ve won significant customers at both a local and global level. This growth has put us in a position to take our spot as the only business of our kind focused solely on enterprise-level companies. PMI is launching its conference in the U.S. at an optimum time when we have momentum in the business, and our value proposition is targeted to the type of brands that will attend, such as Hilton Worldwide, Ticketmaster, ASOS and Vodafone.

"I’ve individually been in the channel now for 11 years, and the team at A4u always delivers. Sponsorship was an easy decision."

What are you most looking forward to at Performance Marketing Insights?

"The reaction of CMOs and publishers when they get a chance to experience and interact with our live technology at our stand.

"The opportunity to network and brush shoulders with so many C-level executives at brands, as well as leaders in the performance marketing industry."

Performance Horizon Group join Performance Marketing Insights; NYC on the 12th & 13th March as Gold sponsor. For more information about the event or to meet the team at Performance Horizon Group visit

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Sarah Parsonage

Sarah Parsonage

Always passionate about the value and power behind the pay-on-performance model, Sarah Parsonage, managing director of PerformanceIN, has been immersed in marketing, sales and events for the best part of 10 years.

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