Performance Marketing Insights opened its doors for another year this morning at Westminster Park Plaza Hotel, bearing witness to the thoughts of some of the industry’s most innovative and forward-thinking members.

No fewer than 1000 attendees are set to pass through the conference during the 48 hours it’s in session, with delegates representing companies from all over the performance marketing sphere; publishers, agencies, tech providers, networks and more. 

Out on the busy exhibitors’ floor, attendees enjoyed affilinet’s ice cream, got a chance to take a break from the ‘real’ world with Affiliate Window’s virtual reality headset and had a spin on Voucherbox’s car racing simulator. The exhibition floor also played host to the Dome Stage, a new-for-2016 feature serving as a platform for head-to-head discussions over the industry’s most divisive subjects.

As we wrap up what has been an eventful Day One, we look at the highlights so far.

A changing industry

The mix of speakers and companies on the stage brought a variety of topics to the PMI conference, many of them exploring the way the industry has been changing. To kick off, Todd Crawford from Impact Radius, Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners, and Jelle Oskam, adidas, discussed driving results with non-traditional affiliate partnerships.

‘An affiliate programme is not a marketing channel. It’s a way to pay for media,’ summarised Crawford.

In one of the best-attended series of Debate & Discuss sessions, Greg Shepard focused on leveraging the triple threat of content, micro-moments and affiliate marketing. Shepard highlighted that content marketing is rearing into the affiliate mix and will continue to shape many trends and activities within the channel going forward.

“Build your social media content environment. Build users not revenue – publishers are the best equipped to provide this,” he advised.

Attendees also heard from social publisher Laura Middleton, The Office Rocks, and Chris Brown, Clockwork Affiliate, who shared their perspectives on sourcing new publisher types in the affiliate marketing space. Addressing the black cloud on the performance marketing sky, affilinet’s Helen Southgate and IAB UK’s Yves Schwarzbart discussed the changes brought by new data protection rules, and how they might affect the issue of ad blocking.

Futuristic conversations

PMI: London witnessed many conversations about futuristic-sounding concepts, such as ‘holoportation’ and artificial intelligence and the way they might impact the industry. In their ‘head to head’ session on the Dome Stage, a centrl landmark of the exhibition floor, Wayne Blodwell, John Danby and John Christie discussed man versus machine.

The debate looked at the typically human emotions, impossible to replicate by machine, but also the use of data, and the way machines can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of campaigns, with the emphasis placed firmly on the every-growing dominance of programmatic. 

“You can’t create artificial creativity, but technology can give you the platform to showcase that creativity to its best,” concluded Christie.

In her session, Inneractive’s Einav Dinur looked at the rise of new devices, interfaces and ad-free environments which are changing the way people consume the internet, with bots, VR and built-in ad blockers being not quite the next big thing, but slowly immersing themselves as part of modern life.

The highlight of the day for many was the afternoon keynote with Sri Sharma, who fresh back from 10 weeks at Singularity University at NASA’s base in Silicon Valley, shared his insights and ideas on a range of exponential technologies including AI, robotics, genetics, nanotechnology, and how their expected road path will impact performance marketing.

So what can we expect from performance marketing in the future, as presented in Day One? Definitely more non-traditional affiliate partnerships, less siloed data, plenty of new developments in technology and machines assisting human creativity.

Keep an eye out on our Twitter, Facebook and the site for updated from Day Two tomorrow.