The curtain has fallen on this 2016 edition of Performance Marketing Insights: London, signalling the end of the two-day celebration of paid-on-results marketing and equally influential advice from realms beyond - yet linked - to this growing area of digital advertising.
Below we’ll touch on just a handful of sessions that bowled over the second day’s agenda.
“We’re in the middle of another revolution, be first or be a better second”, opened Ve Interactive’s CEO and PMI keynote, David J. Brown, to a capacity crowd.
Brown, who started the ad tech business in 2009, since growing it into a multi-million pound, global enterprise, was referring to the disruptive nature of companies - such as Uber, Airbnb and eHarmony - that have “recaptured the traditional” on a much larger scale.
It’s these businesses that have recognised the potential of a global network and started delivering on it, he added. It formed the basis for a keynote on peak-level decision-making from a business with huge ambitions, and yet the advice was succinct and accessible enough to percolate through to motivate a company a fraction of Ve’s size.
Brown’s rationality surrounding international expansion - that a company is setting itself up to potentially double its size by re-casting its existing mould - was especially convincing, and particularly poignant given the uncertainty around Brexit.
Attracting as large a turnout as expected, bulging with experience across an opinionated cast, a panel session titled ‘Opportunities and Consequences of the Affiliate Commercial Model’ supplied some of the most divisive conversation of the day, particularly surrounding the long-fought subject of last-click validity.
Chaired by Julia Stent, the line-up consisted of Michael Long (Hotels.com), Ernest Doku (uSwitch), James Little (TopCashback), and Anthony Clements (Affiliate Window).
“I’m not going to denounce last click,” said Doku early on, placing the onus on networks to educate advertisers into diverse reward mechanisms, “but a number of the more complicated journeys aren’t being recognised by the model”.
Clements retorted that advertiser tracking among third parties is proving a “barrier” to efforts away from this model, while agreeing to the proposal that 2017 could be a ‘tipping point’ for affiliate to improve de-duplication practices among advertisers, develop faster payment and analytics, amid other overdue improvements.
Little was swift to point out that these very discussions have been long-standing, arguing that the affiliate industry should “just do the stuff” it’s been talking about for the last few years; suggesting a drive for better PR around the channel and a greater communication of its workings.
Boon for bloggers
For those looking to get a foot in the affiliate corner of performance advertising, advice came courtesy of Robert Burgess, creator of Head for Points - a blog that’s garnered 1.2 million monthly users on “£6.99 per month GoDaddy subscription”, and digital marketing consultant Tim Flagg, whose experience in content strategy for BBC, NBC and Zipcar put him in as good a place as anyone to hand out advice.
Burgess made no secret of the effort it takes to monetise content, citing his own experience publishing three posts a day, seven days a week - “except Christmas and Boxing Day” - emphasising that successful bloggers will be passion-driven, while a money-chasing strategy is likely to fall flat.
“Taking money for content you don’t believe in can cost you more in the long term,” said Burgess - advice that arguably has value beyond the subject in hand.
From a more strategic perspective, Flagg highlighted the importance in cementing a pre-planned, but agile, content strategy; “discipline is vital” when seeking to provide reasons for consumers to share your brand with their network in a quest for advocacy.
From a brand marketing perspective, Flagg also highlighted that some of the most obscure subjects can gel with your consumers; it’s just a case of thinking beyond the obvious and playing the field, exemplified by the unlikely popularity of gardening advice among Zipcar users.
Be a problem hunter
The final keynote of the conference saw bold lessons reinterpreting what it means to fail (if such a notion exists) from entrepreneur BJ Cunningham, whose session on brand leadership - based on his astoundingly adventurous history of near successful business ventures - had the audience agape throughout.
“Wherever there is a hidden agenda or an outright lie there is the potential for profit”, said Cunningham in context of his former brand of tobacco products ‘Death Cigarettes’; “I’m a problem hunter - a problem is an opportunity to change if you’re brave enough to stare the demon in the eye.”
As heavy as that sounds, Cunningham was light and humorous throughout - an inspiration in reacting to the odds, hammering in the premise of perseverance. Advice such as “a brand is a promise, everything else is just a vehicle for it”, as well as, “what a customer thinks about your brand is the truth”, was enough to make it well at home in a full house of marketers.
This was just a taste of the full two-day agenda, but you can catch up on day one here and look up the #PMILDN hashtag on Twitter for more. Keep an eye out for further coverage to come from Performance Marketing Insights in the coming weeks, including speaker interviews, and more. You can also leave your feedback on all aspects of the event here.