For those who are not as familiar with JVWEB, please can you summarise what the business does?
Pierre Kiciak: JVWEB was created in 2004 by Jonathan Vidor and is today the leading paid search agency working on a CPA basis through affiliation networks in France. The company’s growth was based on this single model until 2008, when two business units were created: one dedicated to work as a standard PPC agency managing advertiser’s budgets on search engines, one focused on our historic affiliate business.
Since then, we have been focusing on growth outside of the French market, and today our team consists of seven nationalities: we hire only native speakers that we educate internally for our jobs and missions. By 2012, France represented just 25% of our total revenue. This international strength is the reason for our presence here at the PMI.
JVWEB has been opening new doors for the past 18 months, as we have now several complementary services to the standard PPC activities. The most popular is without any doubt the possibility given to merchants to have their product feed created if necessary, managed and optimised by JVWEB on a CPA basis. We’re able to push this offer today thanks to our internally developed tool.
How competitive is this nature of business in France and how does the company ensure it stays one step ahead?
PK: As in the UK, the market has been evolving a lot since 2010 when Google started strengthening its rules regarding affiliate activities. Today, there are three major players on the French market, with a few smaller ones active here and there.
We’re trying to stay one step ahead, thanks firstly to our close work relationship with Google and our will to keep improving our service quality. Today we’re one of the very few affiliates in Europe able to work on PPC programs with any kind of restrictions: we can work without brand biddings or through dedicated landing pages we create, update and optimise to add a complementary presence on AdWords to our merchants.
Then, having our own development team is another key: we work only on softwares we have created (for instance, we have our own bid management tool) which we update as needed, to make them as efficient as possible. We’re not dependent on any global solutions from the market that doesn’t precisely fit our needs.
Eventually, we make efforts to bring as much transparency as possible to advertisers on our activities: working on a CPA model doesn’t mean everything can stay blind. Nowadays, no big advertiser would allow a search partnership without having an idea of what’s happening there, who’s doing it and how. We strongly believe only explanations can bring trust, which is the basis of a win-win relationship.
You have worked at three roles within JVWEB – as account manager, performance team leader and head of affiliation. What has been your biggest highlight and your biggest challenge across these roles?
PK: I joined JVWEB in April 2008, and the challenge was to understand very fast how you develop and optimise PPC campaigns on a CPA basis. Coming from an agency and a network before, I had more of a branding approach that needed to be cleared. As JVWEB was a much smaller company at that time (we were only 7), most of the learning was done alone by testing a lot and analysing every day (and sometimes every hour!) the results of my actions. That’s how I have learnt to appreciate the technical side of SEM, and that’s why I’m convinced that bringing an adequate answer to a client’s issue on this channel can only come from a mix between marketing analysis and an understanding of the technologies. You can’t do this job well if you don’t put effort into both angles.
In July 2009, I had the opportunity to create a dedicated team specialised on our historic affiliate activity. Indeed, between 2008 and 2009, every account manager was mixing both campaigns on a CPA basis, and managing budgets for long-term clients. The main challenge was to build a real development strategy from scratch while setting up the organization a team needs to work when it’s growing. I’m particularly happy to see how we have managed to internationalise our business today (France represented 86% of the revenue in 2009) while gaining new pan-European clients and developing the existing ones (we work for instance today for Microsoft Store on the five continents, from France to Malaysia and Singapore through Brazil).
Eventually, as we start creating dedicated market teams inside my business unit, I am now focusing on international development and strategy in my new role. We aim to become a leader of the affiliation paid search market in Europe within 3 years. We have some surprises and actions to come in the next months, but it’s too early to say more about it yet.
What are your ‘must attend’ sessions at PMI?
PK: Given our will to keep growing internationally, I have underlined in my agenda the “Understanding the Complexity behind International Campaign Management” session. The better we understand problems and issues advertisers have to face, the better we can help to solve them. Moreover, neo@Ogilvy speakers are always above the average level.
We’re aiming to grow in English-speaking markets and have strengthened the team in that direction recently, so I’m very interested to hear the “Head West: Performance Marketing in the USA” session as well.
Finally, I’ll do my best to attend “Power Panel: Behind the Scenes of Performance Marketing”. This is the kind of session I expect from PMI and that help understand key questions for our business environment.
Do you have a networking strategy for the event? Or any networking tips you can share?
PK: PMI provides a perfect environment for networking with events like “Meet the Agencies” and “Speed Networking” organised: I will participate in both. As a publisher, it’s perfect to renew your contacts. For the expo, I can only advise to prepare for it beforehand as much as possible: set up meetings with your partners, and remember anyone here can be your client tomorrow.
My only tip would be to communicate on every occasion: for instance, don’t hesitate to discuss about a session with your neighbour, or to take your meal with someone alone. At the very least, you’ll have had a much more pleasant moment than staying in your corner!