It’s certainly been a challenging few weeks for everyone across the board, including the performance marketing industry. Many of us are now working from home, rescheduling events and shifting strategies to help mitigate the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as supporting both businesses and consumers during these times of uncertainty.
In response to the pandemic, the industry has banded together and shifted their strategies, messaging and more to help support both advertisers and publishers whilst assuring that everyone can move forward in the coming weeks with all the essentials they need to succeed.
This week, we asked some of the leading experts and companies in performance marketing on their response to COVID-19, how they’re supporting clients and how, as an industry, we can progress forward during this distressing time.
Helen Southgate, managing director EMEA and APAC: “These are extraordinary times as we are challenged in both our business and personal lives, adapting to the changing situations locally and globally. At Acceleration Partners, we are supporting our clients who need to scale back as well as those that need to increase demand. Our partnership team are focusing on finding new opportunities for our clients as well as supporting partners who are driving their traffic to new areas. Information is ever-changing at a local and global level and we are ensuring this is communicated effectively to our clients and partners as well as providing practical thought leadership on our blog. We would urge any brands or partners who have questions to reach out to our team.”
Kevin Edwards, global strategy director: “At a time like this, when the picture is changing daily, it’s important to offer as much transparency as we can. Many brands are reducing commissions or temporarily suspending their programmes so we’re launching a page within our publisher UI that features all those advertiser changes.
We’ve also created a hub of information and articles, including a filterable sector-based report, insights and data which we are refreshing several times a week, alongside a new statement from the Awin Board. Finally, we know small businesses are struggling so we’re waiving fees for our Awin Access product for the first three months.”
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Sarah Bundy, CEO: “Digital marketing is now one of the most essential channel strategies for helping businesses sustain and grow while supporting their customers in this time of need. Never before have we been in a situation as unique as this, with everyone adjusting to the work-from-home, school-from-home world we are currently facing. People need, more than ever, things that will keep them safe, healthy and busy while being able to practice social distancing. Companies and publishers who can work together to help bring solutions, products and services to people functioning in this new world will come out on top. In our industry, we have a chance to really help people stay healthy, happy and productive right when they need it the most.”
Jules Bazley, regional VP, EMEA: “These unprecedented times are impacting businesses and individuals worldwide. Our primary focus is ensuring our staff and partners are safe and well, connecting and maintaining community remotely through our global infrastructure. Our clients look to us for additional support, strategy and insights for how to best respond to shifting consumer needs in the current market. As the situation changes daily, we will continue to provide support and transparency for our partners through personal outreach, industry benchmarks, thought leadership, podcasts and more to aid recovery planning.”
Simon Delaney, CEO: “This is a really challenging time for performance marketers and at Databowl we’ve set up an initiative where we’re offering A Free Custom Landing Page for anyone looking to generate leads. This is to help both existing clients and anyone who, in this time, needs any extra help.
The idea is, we’ll build it and set up the campaign for you… and all you have to do is focus on traffic and clients (and not worry about anything like coding). Hopefully, this will be really helpful… and allows people to simplify their process and just focus on what they really need to right now.”
Florian Gramshammer, managing director, EMEA: “Despite the economic challenges some industries are facing due to the virus, we’re seeing many of our clients at Impact offer free or discounted products and services to help those that have transitioned to working from home or are otherwise affected: a virtual yoga class, free weeks of educational streaming services for children now at home with working parents, complimentary memberships to delivery services providing food and other essentials. Times of crisis can also bring out the best in people and businesses and the power of partnership and community is now more important than ever. Every company in the ad tech and mar tech industry now needs to focus on a continuation of service for advertisers and publishers; making sure they can still execute during this difficult time.
At Impact, we are focusing on actively working with advertisers to show them the long term value of their partnerships and working collaboratively with them on how to sustain their partnerships; without severing ties. For certain advertisers, times are tough and they’re just trying to save money wherever possible – but there needs to be a united approach that this challenging period will pass and that they should keep working on retaining and nurturing their key partnerships.”
Luke Judge, UK and US CEO: “At this volatile time, we are rapidly adapting our advice and strategy to help clients survive and even to thrive in the medium-term. To guarantee a return on ad spend, we’re advising clients to factor product margin into marketing campaigns across all levels. It might seem obvious that brands would want to promote higher-margin products more actively, yet few businesses are actually set up to do this.
In a similar vein, basing campaigns around stock levels is vital to ensure campaign efficiency. Advertising technologies such as Google Marketing Platform can help brands to stop running ads for individual products which have run out of stock. Otherwise, marketers risk wasting ad spend on a product that’s only available in an XXL for example, significantly limiting the pool of potential buyers.
It’s really important that businesses continue to build their brands, and do so in accordance with the current climate; so demonstrating empathy and oneness with consumers is key. Now is not the time to take risks with advertising, so we urge marketers to only collaborate with “true partners” that work on a pure performance model, and ensure campaigns deliver guaranteed returns.”
Emil Bielski, chief strategy officer: “In these challenging times, it is more important than ever for businesses to focus on people and culture. At iProspect, we have been putting data at the heart of our vision for people; for example tracking total employee engagement, engagement by-product community, who is giving recognition and who is receiving. We will then use this data to inform company meetings and townhalls, giving everyone an opportunity to come forward with questions and concerns. We still have a huge amount to do, but laying the foundations of open dialogue puts us in good stead for the weeks and months ahead.”
Leanne Hardy, director of client success: “It’s been a rapidly changing situation over the last few weeks and so the key for us has been to focus on both communication and agility. Being quick to respond to client’s needs, partner’s changing circumstances, consumer trends and colleagues’ ways of working has been essential. Critical to this has been the level of communication we’ve had with everyone, and the communication channels we’ve used – daily video conferences, Slack or Teams channels, and twice-daily calls have meant we’ve been able to shape strategies in response to consumer behaviour or changes to Client or partner operations.”
Jim Nichols, CMO: “At Partnerize, our focus is to be a resource for our clients, partners, and the entire community as we face these challenges together. Our Client Success and Partnerships teams are working with clients individually to understand their unique issues and formulate bespoke solutions. We are also developing a content and virtual events series called Growing Together in Uncertain Times, which includes blog content, a webinar co-hosted with PerformanceIN, other webinars, and upcoming eGuides with ideas to improve results and meet immediate challenges.”
Maura Smith, SVP, marketing & communications: “As a hub of commerce, we pledge to do our best to continue to provide our ecosystem–and beyond–with meaningful macro insights and related recommendations based on the collective data harvested. Our commitment to our clients and partners remains unwavering during COVID-19. With this, we have created a dedicated COVID-19 page on our website filled with strategic and practical resources. Further, we launched the industry-first Digital Partner Day to provide a means for brands and publishers to continue to connect virtually, no handshake required.
We are coming up on our second Digital Partner Day featuring a variety of partner categories sharing their unique and effective marketing optimisations through this time, with a special emphasis on marketing tactics to leverage during COVID-19. In our commitment to always provide data-driven insight, we regularly publish Pepperjam’s Affiliate Marketing Sales Index to guide marketers through this current economy and to shed light on category performance trends, and most importantly, the value the affiliate channel provides to marketers in today’s economy.”
Nick Fletcher, SVP, Northern Europe: “Like all businesses, Rakuten Advertising is impacted by this global crisis. Our focus is on arming our clients and publishers with the insights, strategy and support they need to continue to do business through this challenging time.
Our data shows there’s significant value to be realised through programmatic display strategies, with spend focused on already active shoppers. There is a real opportunity to pursue strategies such as prospecting, site and social retargeting, with brands able to use their first-party data to deliver targeted ads to consumers at a time when authenticity is even more valuable.
The online opportunity is also growing because content publishers are now seeing higher shares of network traffic – we’ve seen a 20% week-on-week increase in share of traffic – which means optimisation strategies such as rewarding publishers on a first-click basis can open new partnership opportunities and increase reach via content affiliates.
Consumers will also be looking for ways to make their money go further, with cashback, loyalty and rewards publishers playing an important role for these more cautious shoppers, which means brands could enjoy a significant boost by partnering with publishers able to provide additional incentives to consumers.”
Louise James, head of affiliate marketing: “We’re supporting our staff with the right software and tech to allow our team, clients and affiliate partners to come together remotely and seamlessly. Video calls are our go-to (seeing a friendly face is so important right now) along with Slack channels and regular check in’s, allowing us to have consistent communication with all our partners.
Our clients’ affiliate channels have quickly become ever-more crucial in supporting the growth of their businesses. We are proactively helping our clients prepare for the now and for the new global trading environment once this pandemic has passed. And, we’re keeping our affiliate partners as up to date as possible, with regular communication on our client’s business objectives during this time. Back at base, the Silverbean team are setting out and organising future campaigns, so we are all in the best positon when things return to a form of normality.”
Ennis Al-Saiegh, CEO: “We took the decision to move to remote working a couple of weeks before the UK ‘lockdown’ announcement, which gave us time to get our ‘remote house’ in order. Since then, we’ve been liaising with and reviewing clients on a daily basis regarding their individual situations, and have been offering clients additional use of our technology to convey their own important messages to consumers around the current coronavirus climate, largely on their available stock and delivery updates.
“Optimisations have been key as part of our ongoing client management process, and for those who are still able to accept online orders we’ve seen a big trend shift towards stock management, where retailers are needing to prioritise in-stock items and to better balance products that are flying off their virtual shelves, to ensure good quality customer experiences are upheld.”
Alex McGregor, head of services: “We’ve made an overnight change in how we work with our clients. Our product delivers behaviourally-triggered messaging on e-commerce websites, so our work is normally promotional in nature.
“When coronavirus hit, we saw an immediate need for clients to get service-related messaging up on their sites as quickly as possible, reassuring customers about policies, delivery times or service levels. They had no time to wait for their IT teams, so we’ve stepped in – our platform lets clients like Topdeck Travel, MOSCOT and ID90 Travel get those messages to appear to where and when they need with just a few clicks.”