As we approach the entry deadline of January 24th, and late entry deadline of January 31st we continue our look back at previous winners of the Performance Marketing Awards 2013. 

We caught up with Aftab Aslam, the account director for Neo@Ogilvy on their British Airways campaign which saw them pick up an award for Global Excellence in Performance Marketing

Aftab gives us his tips on winning a Performance Marketing Award and the trends he forsees for 2014, including attribution and how internalisation continues to assume significance for brands. 

How did it feel to win such a competitive category?

Aftab: Unsurprisingly we were extremely proud to win the award, and delighted with the recognition of our work for British Airways. It was all the more humbling when you consider the strong number of entrants we were up against – sophisticated publishers, established global brands and an innovative technology solution. Therefore, we were in some exceptional and deserved, but challenging company.

Demonstrating excellence in performance marketing is of course no easy task. However, to implement that globally for British Airways (with all the complexities involved), and to have the judges appreciate our management of the program (and achievements!), was extremely pleasing.

It was the second time in three years Neo@Ogilvy had won in this category, which takes an immense amount of effort. It’s a unique category that carries particular prestige, which only underscores how rewarding it was to take home this award.

What industry trends do you foresee in 2014?

Aftab: Having been at the forefront of global affiliate management for a number of years, we see internationalisation continuing to assume significance for brands. Trends in 2013 pointed to this, with a growing number of UK and US-based publishers and brands expanding into Europe and APAC. Advertisers with multi-territory e-commerce platforms are leveraging the increasing sophistication that existing and new publishers offer to move into new and emerging markets. Coupled with this, the relevant tools and expertise is in place to facilitate such expansion.

The growth of technology solutions cannot be ignored, and advertisers will continue to adopt their scalable and customisable platforms as part of their existing network solution, or as a standalone offering. With agencies like Neo@Ogilvy partnering and working closely with these providers, this evolution in the set-up of brands’ performance marketing activities will continue in 2014.

Attribution dominated 2013 as a whole, and was a hot topic at last October’s Performance Marketing Insights event. It will continue to be a subject of much discussion and debate in 2014. Tied intrinsically to this is the analysis of advertiser campaign data to understand not only the user purchase path, but more importantly the value the affiliate, and other channels are driving. Crucially, brands will have to work closer with publishers to interrogate their user data, and gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour. Although we are seeing more of this, it will influence how brands develop their strategies and apportion media investment for future campaigns.

Why are events such as this important to the performance marketing industry?

Aftab: Firstly, it’s a great way of celebrating the stellar work that so many of us do within the industry. Secondly, it helps to publicise that very fact, raising the awareness that it richly deserves. Thirdly, it also serves to highlight how many leading brands are utilising performance marketing for their digital campaigns, and the strategies they deploy – whether that is from an acquisition or brand-led perspective. It’s important that events such as these allow us to showcase that.

What do you feel made you stand out from the other contestants to make yours an award winning entry and do you have any tips for future entrants?

Aftab: I’d say it was the global success story Neo@Ogilvy delivered despite the complexity of the British Airways affiliate program. Whether that was our effective management of all four regions (UK&I, NA, EMEA and APAC) from a centralised basis, or analysing and strategising on the back of the vast quantities of data the program generates. We demonstrated agility when necessary, tapping into our global network of Neo offices for support, and worked smartly with the large pool of publishers on the program to deliver against some challenging business objectives. All of this in a crucial year for BA, with the Olympic Games held in London, 2012.

In terms of tips, entrants should firstly respond to what the award is looking for. It’s easily overlooked, but should help you to prepare your story of success. Ensure this is backed by supporting evidence, including hard figures for the judges to appreciate your achievements. Finally, if you haven’t started writing your entry, then get cracking! You need plenty of time to script these and for others to proof read your submission.