After joining affiliate network TradeTracker in June last year, as head of sales, it was not long before Andrew Harris moved over to take up the reins as UK managing director (MD).
While Harris has been acting as MD since early 2013, he was officially appointed to the role this month.
Speaking to PerformanceIN.com, London-based Harris discusses his business goals, hot performance marketing topics, plans for raising the company’s profile, and international markets.
Q: When did you first begin your career in the performance marketing industry and why do you enjoy working within this sector?
Andrew Harris: Apart from a short period at another network prior to joining TradeTracker one year ago, my background has not been in performance marketing as such. My prior career experience was in on and offline media and sales management roles in both the UK and Australian markets.
I was attracted to working in the performance marketing industry, specifically the affiliate sector, for a number of reasons; including the ongoing evolution and growth potential of the sector, the impact and role of technology and the performance based and measurable nature of business.
Q: How have past positions helped shape you for the role as MD now?
AH: I’m confident that my range of experience, plus energy and enthusiasm, has ideally equipped me for the challenge of becoming MD at what is a really exciting time of development for our business. The managing director opportunity at TradeTracker UK arose at the start of the year and it was something that I did not have to think twice about accepting.
Q: Having been officially appointed as MD this month, what are you goals for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
AH: The primary goal is to build upon and emulate our success in other country markets by making TradeTracker one of the leading affiliate networks in the UK market. We have been putting more of the pillars in place over the last few months to facilitate this growth, including significantly expanding the size and experience of our UK team and further investment in our UK infrastructure and resources.
Core themes that contribute to the greater goal include; working more closely with our premier clients and partners to provide the best possible service and dedicated focus on optimisation of their programmes. Increased focus on continually growing our already well established network. Seeking engagements with partners who understand the significant growth potential our business has and how they can benefit from a cooperation with us. Raising the profile and market knowledge of the services we offer.
We have some pretty ambitious growth targets for the business this year and over the coming years and I’m confident that the key elements are in place to enable us to go out and achieve those.
Q: What international markets are next on your hit list and why?
AH: Our next target regions are Asia, the Middle East and South America. Currently our international business development teams are meeting potential partners in all these regions to discuss and evaluate the entry into the core markets.
Q: What are the company’s best performing European regions and why?
AH: On a group level we aim for more than 100% turnover growth compared to the previous year. Five months into this year the indications are that we will even exceed this target. Considering that we already serve more than 5,000 clients across 17 countries, employ more than 200 professionals and the European affiliate market shows annual growth rates of just 12-15%, this is an incredible result. So in fact it is difficult to name our best performing region(s) when almost all of them are showing triple digit growth rates.
Q: Does the company have any plans to make any acquisitions this year?
AH: We already acquired one network earlier this year and are always prepared to make further acquisitions if it fits into our strategy, but we primarily focus on organic growth.
Q: What are the hot industry topics right now?
AH: It’s obviously been well documented that affiliates are continually concerned about speed of payments. Our Super Fast Payments service is a solution to these concerns. For selected affiliates we will pay out shortly after a merchant validates transactions, prior to us receiving payment from the merchant, therefore effectively covering payment on behalf of the merchant. This obviously leads to a more happier and motivated affiliate.
Obviously mobile continues to be a growing requirement and we will be releasing our proprietary solution later this year.
The general theme of entering into longer term engagements with clients is also a focus for us; which is part of our strategy of working increasingly closely and more collaboratively with clients.
Conversion attribution modelling has also been frequently discussed.
I think communication with publishers is an ongoing area of discussion. We believe it’s better to promote communication between merchants and affiliates. Our platform interface encourages this courtesy of an inbuilt ticketing system/communication tool.
Also the requirement to make publishers feel valued through recognition of their crucial role in the affiliate marketing process, as basically re-sellers of an advertisers products/services. We will increasingly be adopting the approach in the UK, taken by our European counterparts; of bringing together key merchants and affiliates for discussion and to develop close relationships between them. We believe this ultimately leads to better results for all concerned.
The role of voucher codes and specifically their impact upon the commissions of other publishers and the cost-per-sale of the merchant. We have a specific solution that enables the merchant to understand and attribute the contribution of all affiliates in driving conversions.
Do you have any industry frustrations and if so what?
AH: I would say that being perceived as a ‘challenger network’ in the UK market, rather than an established powerhouse, means that we don’t always receive the same level of communication and cooperation from some of the major affiliates in the UK market that some of the so called larger networks would do. We are addressing this through our increased focus on profile raising and educating the market. We will certainly be a lot more visible this year!
To get on well and succeed in the performance marketing industry, what would your top three tips be?
AH: The basics: Invest in building the right relationships, be aware of your strengths but also your weaknesses (individuals or businesses) and work on improving those areas and always build a full understanding of a client’s needs