With the dust firmly settled on zanox AG’s merger with Affiliate Window, the resulting staff shuffle and introduction of a new-look boardroom, the performance marketing network is looking forward to a bright 2015 under its revamped structure.
The Supervisory Board of zanox AG announced back in September that it would be fully merging the two groups in an attempt to achieve greater efficiency from operations.
Several questions stemmed from the merger, covering topics from the immediate direction of the company to its future plans. Feeling the need to have these answered, PerformanceIN caught up with zanox AG CEO Mark Walters, who was more than happy to set the record straight.
Congratulations on your merger, Mark. Has it always been the intention to have the two companies running under one roof?
Mark Walters: It was always a long-term goal to have a truly global performance network and this is just one of the steps along that road.
Is there anything Affiliate Window can do now that wouldn't have been possible before the merger?
MW: Affiliate Window and zanox are now poised for great success. We are one company with one very clear vision and mission and all our talented employees are aligned and ready to help us achieve our goals.
Are there any plans to drop the Affiliate Window title, considering many of the ex-Digital Window troupe now have positions under the zanox AG brand?
MW: Zanox and Affiliate Window are well-recognised brands in their local markets and there are no current plans to change this.
And are you intending to roll zanox clients into the Affiliate Window platform?
MW: In due course, clients will benefit from seamless, cross-border activity with local presence in key markets and a global approach to service, ethics, technology, performance and innovation.
Were axel springer and Publigroupe involved heavily in the decision to merge both parties?
MW: Yes, as engaged shareholders they naturally felt the timing was right to take this next step and whilst they don't 'meddle', their support adds significant value as it's a sign of both confidence and backing on the future strategy.
What led to the departure of several members of the zanox old guard?
MW: There was a strong desire from the shareholders to unite the two companies under a single leadership team and the timing was appropriate from a number of different perspectives. My colleagues and I have worked together for 10 years now and have very clear ideas on how to drive the group forward. This alongside the recent purchase of 100% of the Affiliate Window shares made this an appropriate next step for zanox.
Michael von Stern, CFO at zanox AG, was one of the previous zanox employees that stayed on. Why is this?
MW: As group CFO, Michael fulfilled a role that didn't overlap with the existing Affiliate Window team and was still a core requirement for the group. Michael was previously a senior member of the Axel Springer M&A team so we have known him since the original acquisition of Affiliate Window in 2009 and our own acquisition of buy.at.
How would you rate the previous zanox regime in terms of success, and how does your vision differ from the group's old management?
MW: It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to give a verdict on my predecessor’s successes. What I can say is that we have inherited a highly motivated and skilled management team both in the Berlin HQ and the local markets. This is one of the primary ingredients for success and for this we owe great thanks to Thomas, Stefanie and Christian.
Trying to run a group like ours with two management teams was always going to be tricky. While the companies had a simple commercial partnership, but remained largely independent, this worked fine but as the clear goal is to align and harmonise our approach across all markets, this structure quickly became impractical.
Given zanox's German heritage, is this market still the priority for the network?
MW: Whilst the heritage for zanox may be German, the zanox group has been international in both feel and action for a long time and so whilst Germany has always been one of our most successful markets, I wouldn’t say it’s any more or less a priority than any of our other major markets.
Our clear aim is to be the partner of choice for performance marketing across the globe. Germany is a market which attracts huge interest from our international client base so as long as that continues, it will be a high priority for the zanox group.
Considering the saturation of the Western European markets in terms of affiliate, is zanox looking to expand to other continents or will it concentrate solely on its South American presence?
MW: Our strategy will in part be defined by our global publishers and advertisers and whilst I wouldn't rule out further territory expansion in due course, it's more about servicing and developing our existing markets to a seamless operation regardless of borders and geography. America, north and south, play a fundamental role in our group strategy.
Do you feel the move hands you the European affiliate network monopoly?
MW: Such a statement does a gross disservice to the other long established pan European competitors on the market. We will never rest on our laurels and believe there’s a huge amount of work to do before we are truly meeting the needs of our global clients. This alignment is designed to help us meet those needs faster and more efficiently and we are all relishing the challenge.