With passionate discussions ongoing within the affiliate marketing industry, Awin’s third annual cross-sector conference, ThinkTankUK was at centre stage at Westminster’s County Hall on a day that welcomed over 300 advertisers, publishers and partners to the hub of the capital.

ThinkTankUK covered a wide spectrum of topics that continue to provide opportunities and challenges to the affiliate channel, with future-proofing the overarching theme this year. The global affiliate network reflected on the emerging digital marketing trends and the effect it is having on advertisers and publishers today.

As a sponsor and media partner of ThinkTankUK, PerformanceIN reported on the day’s action with a roundup on some of the key takeaways.

Future-proofing the affiliate industry

Awin UK country manager Ian Charlesworth kicked things off as he discussed future proofing the affiliate industry and how we should connect outside of the channel to really maximise the opportunities available. Charlesworth also approached some of the larger topics, including consumer attitudes as users become more cautious with their money and privacy, saying that we must ensure the work we do is anchored in those areas. Soon after his opening speech, Joe Twyman, co-founder and director of Deltapoll followed with his keynote session, where consumer behaviour was the main theme. He used Brexit as a case study and highlighted how big data and privacy play a major role in digital marketing while revealing by 2020, the world “will create as much data every two days as it did from the dawn of time to 2003”.

With future-proofing largely discussed in the build-up, Awin product managers Mihaela Draghici and Stephen Short presented the network’s latest portfolio as they have developed new tools to ensure both advertisers’ and publishers’ programmes are ‘future-proofed’ in today’s digital climate. Both Draghici and Short ran through Awin’s hybrid tracking solutions: Advertiser MasterTag and the Server to Server integration in addition to announcing Bounceless Tracking, a new privacy-centric approach to attributing sales in a privacy protection setting. 

Speaking of announcements, Awin confirmed their strategic partnership with R.O.EYE’s SaaS-based, multi-touch attribution platform SingleView along with a demo session of how the platform and collaboration will be integrated into data-led campaign insights in a bid to push beyond last-click attribution.

Elsewhere, the exhibition hall was packed throughout the day with refreshments available and a chance for advertisers and publishers in the room to network and build new relationships with the Awin team and sponsors exhibiting the show.

Being authentic in influencer marketing

With influencer marketing continuing to grow and becoming more appealing to brands and affiliates, Awin influencer partnerships manager Carina Toledo and commercial contracts manager Kate Irvine both examined the channel’s impact on younger consumers and how brands can sustain long-term success through authentic campaigns. Referencing good and bad examples, Toledo and Irvine highlighted the importance of authenticity, urging brands to ensure the influencers they work with are as authentic as possible to really engage with their target audience.

The second half of ThinkTankUK brought together a number of breakout sessions covering areas of retail, travel, personalisation and globalisation. Taking a front seat at the globalisation session hosted by Stephen Buxton (head of global account management), Laura Blakeborough (global account director) and Katherine Casey (global account director), the team took us on a tour of Awin Global and the opportunities available to advertisers and publishers looking to maximise the channel overseas. With consumer spending and economic growth referenced in the UK, France and Nordics, as well as cross-border shopping among others opportunities, the team shared some valuable advice to global advertisers on areas like localisation, with Buxton explaining to PerformanceIN that advertisers shouldn’t “take a one-size fits it all approach to their global programmes” as they continue to run their campaigns via the global affiliate network”.

The future 

Bringing the action-packed day to a close, attendees to put their questions to The Awin Board, featuring Ian Charlesworth in addition to Peter Loveday (chief technical officer), Adam Ross (chief operating officer) and Mark Walters (CEO) as they discussed the conference’s key highlights as well as the current state of affiliate marketing, KKR’s rumoured takeover of Axel Springer and the future direction of the company. Loveday said that Awin is evolving from “a network to a platform” as it continues to build an ecosystem that connects advertisers and publishers to tech providers to future-proof tracking and the industry. Meanwhile, Ross warned that “we have to be careful not to spook consumers by following other channels and sharing too much of their data. That’s why we’re keen to keep our tracking and products ‘data-light’, and reinforce the clear “data-value exchange in affiliate marketing”.

From growing the company culture to expanding its product portfolio to fully equip advertisers and publishers in the digital climate, Awin’s future looks set to take an exciting turn as ThinkTankUK left us with plenty of actionable takeaways and food for thought on how to truly succeed in affiliate marketing.

PerformanceIN was the official media partner of ThinkTankUK. Catch up with our interviews and also all the action from the day via the hashtag #ThinkTankUK