Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the annual Performance Marketing Awards and the entries are flooding in.

In support of the performance marketing industry’s leading award ceremony, PerformanceIN will be speaking to some of the previous winners in the hope of sharing some of their wisdom ahead of the entry period closing on January 22.

Today we’re talking to Owen Hancock, director of client development at CJ Affiliate by Conversant, who collaborated with high-street powerhouse Argos to claim last year’s coveted Advertiser Innovation prize.  

What points were you keen to stress in the entry? 

Owen Hancock: There were a variety of factors that we wanted to demonstrate in the award entry, but the main point we were really keen to get across was the sheer number of new innovations Argos and CJ had taken on in 2014. There were dozens of different projects, each requiring investments in time and money. 

Alongside the number referenced, we wanted to highlight the successes these had brought. It’s great seeing a lift in revenue, and we managed this after several of our innovations were implemented, but it was important for us to clarify exactly which metrics we expected to shift outside of activity from the last click. For example, some initiatives were all about conversion rate, whilst others focused on lifetime value. Finally, we were eager to show the genuine transformation in mindset from Argos that had led them to be in a position where innovation was at the top of their agenda.

Were there any elements of the campaign that hadn’t been tested before your work with Argos?

OH: Yes - almost everything! That’s the nature of innovation; you have to take a bit of step into the unknown. Considering this, we found it really important to examine our plans and present a strong set of objectives, not just on revenue but all the pertinent factors within a project. It was in the evaluation of these metrics that we were then able to clearly and definitively ascertain the success of our work.
We’re aware that you’ve been working on Argos’s affiliate efforts for a number of years, but we didn’t see an entry from you in the same category in the year before. Why was 2014/15 the time to break the mould?

OH: In the years that CJ and Argos have worked together, we’ve had a number of successes at the PMAs (and A4U Awards) including Best in Mobile and The Retail Award in recent years. It’s something we strive for as a mark of recognition and a sign we’re heading in the right direction. The period 2014/15 represented a big turning point in Argos’s journey, however. 

They have been implementing a transformation strategy over the past four years in order to become a digital retail leader. This aims to convert Argos from lumbering high-street giant to brave and agile digital leader.

The period 2014/15 saw the culmination of this new attitude, with large proportions of resource being set aside for a test and learn budget. I’ve worked with the Argos team for four years and it’s certainly the boldest we’ve ever been. A large part of our work, however, was about communicating this change in attitude to affiliates and it’s definitely to their credit that they listened and brought so many great opportunities to the table for us.
What has winning a PMA meant for both the client and your team at CJ?

OH: Winning the Advertiser Innovation PMA has been great for us as it shows we’re really on the right track. This of course allows us to speak with a lot more confidence when we’re approaching new initiatives, but it’s also fantastic for cementing the foundations for more innovation in 2016. 

Award successes like this certainly make it easier to get a specific part of our budget set aside for new initiatives. What’s more, it has also helped to demonstrate CJ’s and Argos’s drive to take up publisher innovations in a very public way and as a consequence we find more innovators becoming drawn to us.

What’s next for CJ and Argos [PI: if we’re allowed to know!]?

OH: More innovations and hopefully more PMAs! We’ve already been busy plotting which categories we can enter this year with all the exciting new work we’ve been doing. The great thing about something like innovation is that success breeds success and we’ve found loads of new and challenging projects to work on this year. 

At the heart, this will be changing the way we evaluate success; making sure we’re not just demanding great revenue in the traditional sense, but instead looking at how affiliates can drive more fundamental value, like new customers, in-store purchases, higher frequency purchasers and multi-category purchasers. We’ll be interweaving this with some fantastic work on personalisation, which should allow us to drive up the most effective of those metrics according to the individual shopper.

Fancy your chances at winning a performance marketing award? Click here for a full list of categories, including a number of new options.