Hi Robert, it’s great to have Awin involved with PI LIVE once again as headline sponsor. What are you most looking forward to at the event?

Robert Davinson: As ever it’ll be a great opportunity to catch up with familiar industry faces as well as meeting a host of new ones along the way. The agenda is jam-packed with content too and there are a few sessions that have already caught my eye. 

I’ll be interested in hearing more about the Day One keynote’s (Ronan Harrington) experience of working as a strategist for Extinction Rebellion and what it’s been like being immersed within that movement. 

The ‘Taking the Leap’ session promises to be full of some great startup anecdotes which should be entertaining, and I’m keen to hear from George Sullivan about how he’s successfully diversified Sole Supplier’s advertising activity away from Google in his session which is a major dilemma for practically all online advertisers right now. 

One last one that I’m hoping to catch is with Pricesearcher’s Weldon W. Whitener, who previously headed up pricing at Amazon, where he’ll be talking about using game theory to inform pricing strategies which I’m sure will be a session packed with insight. 

You guys are hosting the session, 2020 Vision: An Affiliate Marketing Manifesto on Day 1. What are you hoping for attendees to take away from your session?

RD: Ideally we’d like them to come away with some ideas around the things that will be important to bear in mind for affiliate marketing success going forward. 

I know ‘manifesto’ sounds like quite a grandiose term but we really wanted to set out a clear framework of principles that can help both individual programmes and, by extension, the wider industry to grow. 

There are a variety of challenges that we all currently face, from tracking and data privacy to changing consumer trends and competing channels. The manifesto is intended to provide a blueprint for overcoming many of these challenges and outlining a positive path forward for our industry.   

Awin has certainly been at the forefront in overcoming the challenges faced in affiliate and performance marketing. Could you share with us some of the key developments to have come from the platform this year?

RD: The launch of the Publisher MasterTag has been hugely important for us this year, providing our publishers with seamless access to a variety of cutting-edge technology solutions. 

By giving them a plug & play tool for everything from monetising imagery and video to automatically converting naked links into affiliate ones, we’re helping publishers effortlessly generate more income and enabling them to get on with doing what they relish most, serving their own audiences. 

Data reporting has also been a big focus for Awin this last year and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Thanks to our adoption of a series of advanced visualisation tools we’re democratising access to the data we track for both our internal staff and external clients. 

In doing so, we’re making it simpler than ever for clients to access the information they need via reports our staff can build, to understand their performance and accurately benchmark it. 

The project has been an extensive one involving the standardisation of data across different sources alongside the ongoing upskilling of staff to give them the ability to use these tools effectively.

One of those key developments has been the introduction of bounceless tracking which was briefly demonstrated at ThinkTank earlier this year. How will this work for publishers to ensure that both their tracking and data are practical and transparent?

RD: Bounceless tracking sits as one of several tracking options we’re now offering through Awin’s Tracking Optimisation plugin which is also housed within the Publisher MasterTag. 

The idea behind the plugin is that given all of the different challenges affiliate tracking now faces, a single tracking solution is no longer fit for purpose. Instead, we need multi-solution tracking methods that can adapt to the specific hurdles any single tracking journey faces. 

The plugin automatically optimises the tracking method based on the relevant advertiser, the browser being used, and the determined privacy settings of that browser.

With the bounceless tracking method, users are sent directly to the advertiser site without any redirects and the tracking call is made asynchronously in order to ensure a rapid, smooth user journey. 

In addition to that benefit, bounceless tracking also offers greater visibility to our partners by giving them a view on individual referral pages within our reports. That kind of transparency will be key to helping them to optimise future marketing campaigns.

Another significant development was Awin’s strategic partnership with R.O.EYE’s SingleView platform. By allowing advertisers to use data-driven attribution values to optimise their spend across different channels, will this provide a fairer way for affiliates to be rewarded on incrementality?

RD: That’s certainly the intention. I’m sure anyone operating in the affiliate channel or in an affiliate role has had to face being challenged on the ‘incrementality’ question and our partnership with SingleView aims to provide a definitive answer to it.

By giving us access to R.O.EYE’s platform and the wider channel data it features, alongside an attribution model that incorporates both converting and non-converting user journeys, we’re able to offer unparalleled insight into the true value that affiliates are driving for brands.

And that doesn’t mean just those larger brands with the capacity to invest large sums in gaining access to this insight. Our launch of SingleView Affiliate and its more top-line view is designed to give advertisers of every shape and size the chance to delve into this data and attribute spend more accurately. 

It’s going to be fascinating to see how this transforms the perception of affiliates and we’ve got high hopes for the facility in terms of it advocating for a larger share of marketing budgets for the channel. 

Back to PI LIVE, there’s going to be plenty happening across the two days in October. What do you think will be the hottest topics discussed?

RD: Looking at some of the other sessions and the accompanying synopses there are certainly a few common themes that crop up. 

I think measurement will be a hotly debated theme this year. We’re in a position now as an industry where there is an increasing amount of information being tracked and shared that allows to get a better idea of the value being generated by affiliates and how that fits alongside other channels. Making sense of that data is key and it’ll be interesting to hear some of the proposals on this from speakers at the event.  

It’s interesting to see some of the traditionally ‘softer’ skills also getting a lot of attention on the agenda. Despite being a very tech-driven industry we’ve always been quick to talk up the human element as a strength too. I think it’s good to see that aspect of our industry being formally discussed in terms of sessions around recruitment, diversity and talent.

Lastly, with 2020 on the horizon, what kind of trends do you think will emerge and change the landscape of affiliate marketing?

RD: I’m really excited by the prospect that Open Banking is beginning to reveal for the channel. The UK initiative that is seeking to improve customer empowerment over how they access and use their financial data is something we identified as a possible new seam of opportunity in our channel a couple of years ago. 

It’s taken some time for this to be realised, understandably as it’s a big project, but there are now an emerging set of partners entering the channel that are providing services that take advantage of the initiative and offer services that consumers will undoubtedly find of value. 

The growing Direct-to-Consumer and subscription model trend amongst retailers is also one that I think spells promise for our industry in 2020. As competition hots up amongst these brands they’ll need to find a way of distinguishing themselves and ensuring that they are front of mind for consumers prior to that all-important first purchase. Affiliates have an affinity with their audiences that makes them invaluable in that space and I expect to see more of these brands initiating affiliate programmes to take advantage. 

Don’t miss out on PI LIVE on October 22-23 at Old Billingsgate, London. Tickets available here.