The Performance Marketing Awards (PMAs) returned for 2018 last night (April 24), showcasing the UK performance marketing industry’s leaders for another year.

Presented in association with Impact, the PMAs welcomed nearly 1,000 marketers to the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane for an evening of glamour and celebration hosted by comedy legend and 8 out of 10 Cats’ captain, Sean Lock.  

Commenting on the night’s winners, Impact communications director, Julia Smith, said that the PMAs celebrated companies excelling in all areas of performance marketing; “Every year, we see increasing numbers of strong entries and the standard of the winners this year was exemplary – what sets the PMAs apart is the breadth of categories recognised.”

This year’s entrants competed across 28 different categories seeking to identify success at campaign and channel level, those excelling within four key verticals, and the individual teams going above and beyond as voted for by the industry.

With the full list of 2018 champions now revealed and available to view in full on the Performance Marketing Awards 2018 website, here we discuss just some of the highlights from a night to remember.

Channel leaders

Competing for titles such as Best Paid Search, Best Managed Affiliate Programme and the new-for-2018 Best Use of Automation & AI, the Channel & Campaign Awards kicked things off.

It was here that the WPP-owned performance agency Wavemaker would make the first of many appearances for the night, scooping Best Attribution for work with Vodafone, integrating its Ensight algorithmic attribution model to generate over £5 million increase in revenue in the first nine months of activity.

Showcasing campaigns that matched untethered creativity with market-leading tech, last night was evidence that this particular partnership is one of the year’s most fruit-bearing; the agency and mobile carrier returned to the spotlight three more times in the Channel & Campaign Awards to win Best Brand Engagement, Most Creative Performance Marketing Campaign and Best Integrated Performance Marketing Campaign.

When it came round to Best Managed Affiliate Campaign, it was no surprise to see Awin claim one of the Awards’ most-coveted accolades for outstanding work with Carphone Warehouse. The win was a tribute to the close-working bond of the two companies, judges praised use of new publisher types to the programme as a key driver of the programme’s successful 12-month growth.

Among the volley of winners early on in the Channel & Campaign Awards, Planit sealed Best Lead Generation for NBC; Fetch took Best Use of Programmatic for The Telegraph and Redu won Best Influencer Campaign for Simply Be.

A surprise win for Best Performance Marketing Technology came for Infectious Media, whose 100% transparent, programmatic platform built entirely in-house gave it the edge, with judges calling the business “forward thinking”, while a touch of mischief proved a catalyst for Summit’s Best Content Marketing Campaign win for Durex.

Meanwhile, a first for the PMAs came with the new Best Use of Automation/AI category. This title was deservedly handed to performance marketing agency NMPi, whose fully-automated campaign for retailer Harvey Nichols drove “risk-free” ROI of 1030% for the leading retailer outside of the UK in what judges called an “exceptional end-to-end campaign”.

Other worthy mentions in the night’s biggest awards set were Merkle | Periscopix taking Best App Install Campaign for; Thomas Cook Group’s claiming Best Use of Data, and Mighty Social handed Best Paid Social Campaign.

Finally, in a global award open to companies operating outside of the UK, Canada-based affiliate agency All Inclusive Marketing was handed the esteemed Global Excellence award, a result of its work delivering a high-growth, international “turnaround story” for iStock by Getty Images.

Vertical specialists

With barely time to regather ourselves, it was over to the Vertical Awards, identifying just four leaders within the respective sectors of Travel & Leisure, Retail, Finance and Technology & Telecoms.

Returning to the limelight, NMPi came back here to secure Best Travel & Leisure Campaign for a PPC-driven campaign for East Midlands Trains. In a triumphant bid to win back market share from a key industry competitor, the agency employed the sophisticated use of audience data, creative copy and clever bid strategies to deliver substantial revenue at 3725% ROI.

Next up, and continuing to prove influencer marketing has a rightful place in performance when executed with mastery, Awin and Vouchercloud integrated the channel with geo-targeting and cross-channel engagement for Very winning them Best Retail Campaign. Working with five key brand ambassadors, this campaign delivered huge volumes of new customers for the brand, simultaneously claiming market share from high street competitors and ultimately driving £1.6 million in revenue – a third from new customers alone.

Under the watch of Performance Horizon, Direct Line Group made good on its goal to “revolutionise” its affiliate strategy and was enough to earn the judges’ backing for the title Best Finance Campaign. Working with the performance tech specialist, the insurance group was able to pull off a risky pivot towards content affiliates, moving away from reliance on cashback and going against the odds to exceed targets by 10%.

Coming round to the last award in the Verticals, Best in Technology & Telecoms, it was perhaps no surprise to see the dream team make a return; batting off fierce competition, Wavemaker and Vodafone picked up its fifth and final gong for the carrier’s iPhone X launch campaign which leveraged image recognition with organic editorial in a campaign playing to Apple brand restrictions with industry-leading tech to increase overall market share by 67%.


The last wave of the night came with the Industry Awards, where the final shortlists collated as a result of the level of industry backing received, before being handed over to the judging panel for the final verdict.

In two new team-focused awards for 2018, Awin was a “worthy and clear” winner for Best Publisher Development Team; voters cited the department’s “tireless” work to promote exceptional relationships between all types of publishers and advertisers. The award for Best Account Management Team, meanwhile, went to CJ Affiliate by Conversant, owed to the group’s “seamless” approach.

No shortage of agencies took prizes last night, but only one earned the title of Most Effective Agency for 2018; that was handed to search specialist Click Consult off the back of a record-breaking year for exceptional client wins and performance, the development of new in-house technologies, and overall revenue. Adding to this, the agency has made every effort to advocate the benefits of performance marketing far and wide, contributing over a fifth of turnover to results-driven advertising.

With the ceremony nearing an end, excitement was palpable for the PMA’s Rising Star, a peer-voted award reserved for just one young marketer packing heaps of talent, work ethic, character and future promise. Fetch’s Craig Dempsey emerged from an exceptional pool of contenders to seal the victory, following countless words of praise for the account director, including his constant striving towards “achieving the impossible” for clients.

Ahead of TopCashback returning for another year to claim Industry Choice of Publisher and mobile affiliate specialist Button claiming the well-earned title of Industry Disruptor to round off the night, Awin once came back against a fierce set of competitors to reclaim Industry Choice of Network, with partners regarding it as the leader in both tech and support backed by a “tenacious” team and industry authority.

On behalf of the Performance Marketing Awards, PerformanceIN and Impact, a huge thank you is reserved to all sponsors of the event without which the industry’s landmark awards ceremony would not be possible.

And finally, representing the innovation and diversity of the industry this last year, a massive congratulations to all esteemed and deserved winners and highly-commended.