Hi Alona, first of all, congrats on your recent appointment as managing director of Webgains. How have things been so far since starting the role?

Alona Malinovska: Thank you, Mustafa, it has been great. My background is in Client Services and this role is an opportunity to deep dive into the product, sales, marketing and finance parts of the business. Besides coordinating internal projects, I get to speak with our new and existing partners much more often. These conversations then help shape the vision of who we are as a network, and the directions we’ll take to future-proof the company. 

I also oversee the development programs for our UK teams and it’s rewarding to realise how beneficial these are. Through relentless learning and fine-tuning the affiliate programs’ strategies, our teams drive exceptional revenues for the brands we work with.

You’ve been working at Webgains for several years now. How has the company evolved inline with the industry’s growing opportunities and challenges?

AM: When I started at Webgains, we mostly supported SMEs and helped them enter the affiliate space. 

Throughout the years we evolved into a key UK network that works with a wide range of customers from start-ups to top 100 brands. With multiple offices in the UK and Europe, we are now the partner who can grow clients’ activity exponentially both locally and internationally. 

Webgains now has many examples of long-standing collaborations where well-known advertisers seeing 3x incremental growth via affiliates returning over an average of 13x commissions/sales ROI across our whole portfolio and this drastically exceeds their overall sales trends. 

It’s not unusual for us to hear that with the support of Webgains team, affiliate is the clients’ fastest scaling revenue stream. To achieve such results, we heavily invest in sourcing and activating new publishers and having expert account managers continually improving programs’ campaigns. 

Cookie tracking has been heavily talked about, no more so than Google’s plans to scrap third-party cookies. What steps has Webgains taken to ensure that both advertisers and publishers are prepared with the pending changes?

AM: Networks face a similar challenge to SEO agencies, where for years they needed to catch up with constant Google search indexing updates. Likewise, the affiliate networks and platforms are now forced to enter a reactive game with browsers that adjust their tracking models often without disclosing fully what these changes are. 

To stay ahead, a large part of Webgains technical team is fully dedicated to R&D around best in class tracking of affiliate sales. Having our legal and tech guys focused on prioritising privacy and security we were one of the first networks to migrate our advertisers to GDPR compliant, first-party tracking early last year. Playing a role of data processor only and operating that processing under full consent (as opposed to legitimate interest) makes things so much easier for our affiliates.

The privacy wars between browsers are likely to carry on indefinitely; Webgains will continue to have a designated team monitoring the changes and keep pace with the new standards.

Speaking of publishers, you recently announced your exclusive partnership with Social Chain. How has the partnership developed since launch and allowing clients to work with exclusive audiences on a CPA model?

AM: Our brands started to work with Social Chain back in November and while it is early days, we see some promising results. For advertisers, this is a fantastic chance to push product-led campaigns with no need to rely on discounts. It works well for clients who have many limited product releases throughout the year or those that sell hot, trending ranges.

Social Chain has a multimillion reach and loyal audience of online communities, such as Sporf, Student Problems, Music Life and Gamebyte. Given that this is a content publisher the conversions are impressive, particularly in gifting vertical. For example, one Webgains’ advertiser within this sector saw Social Chain generating 45% of their overall program traffic and 15% of total revenue, within the first week of launching the partnership.

Tech and innovation have always been a big drive over at Webgains, and your hosted event on Thursday (February 20) in Bristol emphasizes this further. For those attending, what can they expect from the deep-dive session?

AM: Yes, do come over! We will have several great speakers including Victoria Bruce – Director of E-commerce at Immediate Media and Humphrey Sheil, PhD in Machine Learning talking about big ideas and what it takes to get from initial goal setting to implementation. 

Our guests will be sharing the difficulties they have come across, how they tackled them, and what their outcomes and learnings have been. Register here.

What tips/advice can you share to aspiring individuals looking to work in performance marketing?

AM: I think it’s Naval Ravikant who said that the best work feels like play. My suggestion is just this — find something that drives you and don’t let go. Be crazy curious about the industry you are in, constantly search for better solutions and then fully own the implementation of these solutions. 

Lastly with 2020 in full motion, what can we expect from Webgains in the coming months?

AM: We will continue to focus on the long-term by investing in talent and delivering ground-breaking and meaningful results to partners who seek to accelerate their business in the upcoming years.

We also have a couple of exciting tech launches pencilled for 2020, all aimed at selling full price products without sacrificing margins. Follow our social channels for more updates on this.