A key date in the annual UK affiliate calendar, AffiliateHuddle returns next month (June 30) to hash out the industry’s biggest hurdles, opportunities and talking points.

Webgains, Rakuten Marketing, Hotels.com, affilinet and Prezzybox.com all make the speaker lineup, among many others, and with titles such as “The Affiliate Revolution” and “Boiling Frogs”, the agenda’s certainly piqued our interest.

This year, as an official partner, PerformanceIN will once again be on the scene to bring you a roundup of highlights, but in the meantime, we spoke to the event’s co-founder, James Little, for an early reveal of what we might expect.

First of all, James, give us a quick overview of what AffiliateHuddle is all about, and where the idea came from?

James Little: I’m a big fan of the BrightonSEO conference that Kelvin Newman organises, so after going to this for a number of years I approached him around working on a dedicated affiliate show. A lot of industry events moved towards being around the performance channel so we felt there was room in the market for a completely free show with a day’s worth of content solely on the affiliate channel. This will now be our fourth Huddle and it continues to get some great feedback from everyone that attends.

If the IAB & PwC stats are anything to go by, we’ve just witnessed a fruitful year for the channel; how have things come on for the industry since last year’s AffiliateHuddle?

JL: We’ve definitely seen some movement in the industry – acquisitions like that of Retailmenot and Shopstyle show that there is a lot of money in the channel and I think we’ll see more of this in the next year or so.

There have been some big programme moves – Debenhams, Direct Line, ebookers, The Body Shop to name a few – and tech providers like Performance Horizon and Impact Radius have made further strides, and in some cases gained more investment. But, I still think there is a lack of innovation in the channel and I’m sure this will be discussed at the Huddle!

Some talking points from last year included the age-old last click debate, dampers on innovation and the threat of ad blockers. Do you think these discussions have advanced?

JL: I’d hope that we’re not going to chat too much about last click again this year! Although, it’s probably fair to say that this conversation has hardly advanced much – and personally I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Ad blocking thankfully as of yet hasn’t really affected the channel but there are things on the horizon that need to be discussed…

Aside from these, are there are new and pressing talking points that we’ll see discussed on or off stage?

JL: The recently launched CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] report and the new DPA [Data Protection Act] laws certainly threaten to have an impact on the channel, so I’m sure we’ll discuss these – exciting eh? – but also I think we’re moving to a more data-led approach and the pros and cons of this should certainly raise some talking points.

We’ve started to see a lot more creativity in the channel so I’m looking forward to hearing more about this from some of the speakers.

With that in mind, what are some of the most unmissable sessions this year?

JL: I’m actually really looking forward to our two keynotes this year – it’s the first time had a keynote, and both Michael Long [Hotels.com] and Zak Edwards [Prezzybox.com] I think will deliver some excellent inspiration for attendees – and hopefully give us a good laugh or two along the way.

Looking at some of the sessions on the cards in particular, what issues are we likely to hear raised in the “Publisher Panel”?

JL: Duncan Popham moderating a panel of publishers with his strong views on the industry? What could go wrong!? Ha. Last year we had a “battle” between publishers and it got pretty feisty, so whilst it will have a different format this year I think it will be really interesting to see how different publisher types view the channel and where it’s heading.

The “Ask the Networks” panel also caught our eye. Do you think we’re in line to witness a grilling from the audience this year?

JL:I think the networks do a good job – wasn’t paid to say that, I promise – so I don’t think we’ll see them get grilled, but the big change this year is that we’ll have a mix of both traditional networks and the tech providers who have some very different views so I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t see some good debate!  It’s a panel we’ve done every single year that we’ve done the Huddle and still probably the one that is the highlight for many.

Finally, James, is there anything else you want to add before we see you at AffiliateHuddle next month?

JL:What I like the most about the Huddle is that it’s all about good quality content – sales pitches are banned and any presenters who try it on will be escorted from the building – and it’s got a very chilled out vibe; you don’t need to come suited and booted, and at the end of the day if you haven’t managed to learn a huge amount from the day at the very least you should have had a few laughs and made some new contacts.

Now for the bad news… most of the tickets went in the first couple of days; there are only some advertiser tickets left but if you have no luck then please do ask one of the sponsors who have their own allocation of tickets to hand out.

Thanks, James