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 Emily Brown from Performance Horizon, this year’s winner of the Industry Choice of Advertiser award in collaboration with AO at the Performance Marketing Awards 2017.

First of all, let’s have a recap. Could you give us a quick overview of what your company is about and how it works?

Emily Brown: Performance Horizon is the leading provider of SaaS solutions for partner marketing. The company enables brands to directly connect with their affiliates and marketing partners to dramatically increase customer acquisition and drive high margin revenues.

Our API-first partner marketing platform gives our clients and their partners a unique solution to manage all aspects of running a partner marketing program. This ranges from efficient partner onboarding to clear visibility into performance with a single global view of partner data to automating reconciliation & partner payouts. With the Performance Horizon platform, brands can apply performance-based commercial models to virtually any partner, anywhere in the world. They can also reward their partners and affiliates more effectively to drive higher margin revenues through flexible commissioning based on highly granular data points.

What is it about your company that you believe earned it the wide support of the industry for this award against your competitors?

EB: This award is a great achievement for ao.com because it is the first time an advertiser has won the “Best Advertiser” award with a programme they manage directly.

Managing their affiliate and partner marketing programme directly with a SaaS technology was a big step for ao.com that allowed them to take ownership of their affiliate activity and drive innovation in the programme. The Performance Horizon platform provided ao.com with the ability to automate administrative tasks and real-time, actionable data that they previously did not have access to. This has enabled the team to focus on their relationships with their partners.

I believe the shift in how ao.com managed their programme is one of the key reasons that ao.com won this award. Partners love the fact that they can speak directly to the team that knows the brand best – the brand! Meanwhile, Performance Horizon’s technology and support ensure that campaign set up is quick, easy, and drives significant growth for ao.com and their partners.

What key developments has the industry seen within the last 12 months, and how has your company manoeuvred with this?

EB: We have seen a huge trend of advertisers changing the way they manage their programmes over the last 12 months. More and more advertisers have scaled up their own teams or their agency teams to manage their programs themselves. Consequently, Performance Horizon’s development efforts have centred on partner communication, ease-of-use and automation so brands can efficiently manage their partners and affiliate on a day-to-day basis. Combining the efficiency gains and the constantly improving access to highly granular, real-time and actionable insights empowers advertisers to focus on optimising their top line revenues through the partner and affiliate channel.

What’s in your opinion the key to success, in three steps?

EB: 1. We always innovate – we are a technology company and continuously seek to improve functionality and user experience.

2. Expanding beyond the conventional affiliate channel to enable brands to apply performance-based commercial models to virtually any partner anywhere in the world.

3. Scaling our technology, customer success and payments and settlements infrastructure globally to support our customers’ businesses.

What’s the biggest day-to-day challenge your company faces?

EB: Our expansion over the past seven years has definitely made it challenging to manage multiple business units and geographies. We grew into a truly global company thanks to our customers, most of which are well-known, global businesses that have very high expectations for our products, technology, and support. We are excited about continuing to grow with our customers and provide them with the support and technology that makes them successful.

What for you is the most exciting trend within your space right now?

EB: One of the areas where we can add value to our customers’ businesses is providing decision support. We are investigating how artificial intelligence capabilities can use the large data sets that are collected in our platform to make better partner and affiliate management decisions. We believe that, for the first time, AI can help customers to further optimise their partner and affiliate business.

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, and your overseas teams, crowned international performance champions.