With entries open for October’s inaugural International Performance Marketing Awards, this series looks back at the winners of the Awards’ UK ceremony in April, gathering insight into the mechanics and inspiration behind the industry’s newly-decorated campaigns and companies.

Today, we’re talking to Maxus’ head of platforms investment, Nick Cristal, and performance account director, Anthony Dean, representing this year’s winners of the Best Finance Campaign award at the Performance Marketing Awards 2017

First of all, let’s have a recap. Could you give us a quick overview of the campaign that won you an Award?

Nick Cristal: Managing campaigns across both Barclays and Barclaycard, Maxus identified a number of key themes and implementations that could drive acquisition growth which were over and above price or product, namely; personalisation, mid-funnel influence and cross-sell approaches. By underpinning such initiatives with a data-led TED [technology, effectiveness and data] approach, Maxus could maximise opportunities presented and media effectiveness.

Tell us about why your campaign pushed boundaries within this specific category?

Anthony Dean: Throughout the digital history of finance and aggregator relationships, the conversation has been dictated by price or product and it has focused in silos – producing results but without sustainability. With the number of regulations and innovations set to hit the finance sector over the next five years, Maxus and Barclays sought to put technology, effectiveness and data at the heart of growth. By leveraging these three sectors we were collectively able to produce a set of innovative implementations that bought products and aggregators together to reach the right customers at the right time and most importantly, in the right way.

How has the finance marketing industry developed within the last 12 months, and how did your campaign reflect this development?

NC: Brexit, Trump – it goes without saying that 2016 was a particularly eventful year for global financial markets, sending shockwaves across the banking sector and creating huge levels of uncertainty. This environment means marketing budgets need to work as effectively as possible and media strategies need to be agile enough to quickly react to macro events for finance brands. This considered it was imperative that in the midst of this volatility, Maxus developed a technical architecture that would enable best in class performance planning for Barclays and provide growth through these challenging times.

Tell us about why your client chose you for this campaign, and how the initial conception of the campaign came to fruition…

AD: Maxus had devised performance strategies across Barclays and Barclaycard for a number of years, building strategic relationships with key aggregators and securing maximum exposure and premium placements for Barclays products. This had historically driven great results, however, through 2015 we saw competition really intensify. From ever-extending balance transfer, credit card lengths to a plethora of current account switching offer releases, it was clear that product strength would not have the same impact as previous years. With this in mind, we had to beat the competition in another way and the approach identified was to win by holding a best in class TED solution and implement this across Barclays’ divisions.

If there is one particular part of the entire campaign that you believe your company has done better than anyone else, what would it be?

NC: This is no cliché answer, it’s a poignant one. I believe it’s the Maxus-Barclays relationship which has marked this success. Barclays has been a client I’ve worked with for approaching five years now and the joint focus is as strong as ever. At Maxus, we very much feel an extension of the Barclays team, we are bought into the heart of key goals and strategies, enabling us to plan adequately to achieve goals that have been set out. By having a strong relationship, we were able to forge a strategy which was innovative and produced growth.

What was the hardest part of executing this campaign successfully?

AD: Getting technology right. As all performance marketers will know, integrating new technologies and systems into a client’s technology stack is never a simple plug and play solution. It takes hours of resource and incredible coordination across various stakeholders to implement and, once in place, there are the inevitable teething issues. Furthermore, marketers need to learn how to analyse and interpret the data to effectively provide actionable insights. To work through this challenge, it was essential that communication was fluid between tech teams, data teams and media activation teams throughout the campaign – this was the only way the campaign would be a success.

Time to be honest; where do you feel your campaign fell short of the mark, whether you overcame those hurdles in the end or not…

NC: The next stage would have been to overlay the data-led approach to integration across all performance channels. There was some fantastic work produced across Barclays – Barclaycard’s two nominations at this year’s PMAs, for example – and an even deeper level of integration would have been exciting. As we implement additional technologies over 2017 this will become possible to facilitate from a logistical point of view. This is when it starts to become exciting, a “one Barclays” approach with a “one performance channel” implementation to achieve growth. I suppose we will just have to watch this space for that development!

Finally, what for you is the most exciting trend or development in performance marketing right now?

AD: This has to be the shift in innovation. Gone are the days of the next CPA [Cost per Action] opportunity being around the corner. It’s now all about those crafty developers who bring together technology solutions and the inherent needs of consumers interacting within performance. More of this please, it’s a marketers dream. 

Entries for the International Performance Marketing Awards close July 4. Download the entry pack for more insight into the regional and channel-based categories that could see you, or your overseas teams, crowned international performance champions.