“The reality is earned is splashing around in the sidelines. If you want marketing that makes sense, marketing that’s measurable, you need to get into the performance area.”

That was David Parkinson, Nissan’s head of digital for Africa, Middle East & India, speaking to PeformanceIN at Festival of Marketing last week at London’s Tobacco Dock.

Headlined by Steve Wozniak and Katie Price to name just a couple, and with an agenda heavily geared towards ‘marketing-spiration’ and wow-factor, many might think this conference pays little mind to the accountable dogmas of performance.

However, while Performance Marketing Insights can still claim ground zero to dialogue around the measurable side of marketing, this year’s FoM proved this corner of the industry is finally permeating into mainstream marketing at large.

Indeed, Parkinson’s take echoed a concept omnipresent throughout the East End warehouse’s chambers – that marketers can no longer take punts on ad spend. In an age where choosing the right YouTube vlogger can earn a brand more eyeballs than on ITV at primetime, advertisers are wide awake to the necessity of accountable advertising.

To give some further credit to this notion, we gathered the thoughts of performance marketing flag-bearers from the ground at Festival of Marketing 2016, to find out just where this particular breed of advertising sits within the wider mix.

‘Definite change’

In the wake of her own session at the festival, NMPi’s Kate Jervis said there had been a “definite change” in conversations at the event since attending two years ago. As such, marketers are less concerned with ‘new toys’ on the market – innovations often trail-blazed by the performance industry – and more with how to use it to their full effect.

“We’re seeing people take this technology very seriously, people focusing on the actionable part, and people wanting to get value out of what they do,” said Jervis. “What’s shown throughout is that there’s a constant theme of data, insight and analytics.”

For Ve Interactive’s digital strategy director, Charlie Ashe, it poses an exciting prospect. Ashe’s own session, “The power of the DMP: Turning data sources into meaningful performance”, sought to tackle advertisers’ addiction to data volume, offering an emphasis quality and implementation in its place.  

Ashe noted that while brands are open to making further moves into performance-driven technology, there’s still ground to be made on the awareness side.

“What we now need to understand is that there is an education point that needs to happen,” said Ashe. 

“Increasingly what we’re going to have to do is talk to brands and make sure they understand how data is being used and that they’re happy with that data usage as well.”

But if advertisers aren’t yet fully clued up on how data can be actioned, there’s certainly a hunger for the fruits that its proper use can bear. ‘Personalisation’, as umbrella as the phrase is, was a premise bounced around sessions, and one that “every vendor had their own take on”, according to Jack Newman, CJ Affiliate by Conversant’s director of client development.


This was a trending topic among those we spoke to, including Rakuten Marketing’s director of multichannel, Nick Fletcher, who re-emphasised the point that just owning the ‘right’ technology isn’t enough.

“There was a lot of discussion around personalisation and the need for brands to strike the right balance between using data effectively and knowing when this goes too far,” Fletcher commented. “Just because technology now exists to do retargeting, it’s not carte blanche. Brands must ensure they have the right resources to deliver relevant content, at the right time and in the appropriate place.”

Fletcher also noted that influencer marketing, a subject which took the core focus of eight sessions throughout the event as well mentions in countless others, spells a strong few years to come for affiliate, and those willing to push the channel forward.

“Whilst influencers are happy to work with brands, their key focus is building and retaining focus with their fan base and so it must be an authentic fit,” said Fletcher.

Unilever, who participated in a panel discussion on the topic, is leading the way in mixing more traditional brand-controlled content with a more modern view of letting an influencer choose the messaging that will sound most organic to their audience.”

The affiliate opportunity also manifests itself in “mobile moments”, he added, noting an evolution in how devices are used is leading to increased importance on targeting fleeting points in the customer journey with relevant, topical messaging.

“Top of their agenda is authenticity, which builds on the importance of affiliate marketing in providing peer-to-peer content so they can gauge a ‘real’ inside view.”

Look out for further interviews from Ve Interactive, Nissan and Adidas to follow this week.