The last few weeks have seen the performance marketing industry shift and adapt in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. What are your thoughts on the industry’s response during this period?
Alona Malinovska: Given that it’s the first time our generation has faced a global event of this nature, it is incredible how responsive and resilient the industry has been. Some companies have had to completely restructure established methods of working while continuing to run the business day-to-day.
I have been particularly impressed to see the proactivity across the performance marketing sector. To witness how quickly agencies, publishers and networks are shifting to support clients with information via online conferences, webinars and workshop releases. I think the performance marketing industry has successfully demonstrated that, if needed, we can effectively operate 100% online.
From your perspective, what trends have you noticed in the last few weeks that have affected the channel? (programs, relationships, verticals etc.)
AM: Reaction to Covid-19, troubleshooting technique and communication strategy has differed depending on the sector our clients and partners work in. We have been genuinely impressed by how well the vast majority of companies we work with have handled the very stressful shift in operations.
Those brands who couldn’t manage the explosive demand of the first week of lockdown informed their affiliates about the temporary changes to the program requesting a reduction in the listings.
Most travel and entertainment merchants have sadly had to pause their activity but continue to speak with their publishers about their long term plans. They will go back to running affiliate channels once the market opens up again.
Our clients have been working very closely with their Webgains Account Managers to identify the best approach and plan for the future. It is encouraging to see how many brands understand the importance of sustaining long term relationships with their affiliates. The pandemic will be temporary, whereas profound partnerships last for decades.
Let’s talk about Webgains. Particularly during this time, how has your business adapted to the pandemic and what sort of strategies have you implemented to support your clients?
AM: Seeing how things were progressing in Europe with our international offices, we switched to remote working at the beginning of March before the UK government released the official guidelines. As an organisation that values the role of technology and is always looking forward, we were well geared to make the move.
On day one, we agreed to have daily company-wide check-in calls to provide updates to our teams across the world.
This tactic helped us to identify trends, explore how we can help brands to navigate the changes and how to keep our affiliates informed to move their business forward.
With the help of our brilliant tech team, we transitioned all physical client meetings, publisher presentations and seminars to run via MS Teams. I believe we were the first network to run an Affiliate Speed networking event remotely.
Over the weeks that followed, we have kept our clients up to date and provided the most relevant intelligence to make informed business decisions. We continue to host in house webinars, as well as collaborating with partners including FUTR and most recently Affiliate Summit to support the wider ecosystem.
We quickly recognised that the level of anxiety is understandably higher among clients and publishers; but also our team. Back in May, the fantastic team at Makeyourself ran a series of extremely beneficial Resilience remote workshops. We now also offer in-house counselling sessions to all staff members and continue to run regular surveys to identify more areas where we can support our staff.
A global pandemic is not a regular event, and its long term social and economic consequences are difficult to predict. We feel that to navigate it successfully, we should stay agile, curious and open to realigning our model to maximise performance for our clients and partners. We continue to maintain a system that empowers our teams to be confident in making and owning decisions that are fit for purpose.
With lockdown restrictions easing, what sort of opportunities and expectations can we expect in the coming weeks for the performance marketing industry?
AM: Even though we all miss the face to face aspect of working, the safety of our staff is the priority.
We expect to gradually return to holding small scale meetings once the numbers drop further, but we still feel it is wise to limit the mass gatherings. We are fortunate to be able to meet online and until the pandemic is over, we will continue to prioritise making this work for all parties.
Lastly, as we enter the second half of the year, are there any updates from Webgains we should keep an eye out for?
AM: During the lockdown, we have soft-launched some new product releases that will help clients to boost their revenue potential. We are really looking forward to rolling these out in the coming months and continuing to develop our technology offering.
Our focus continues to be on client service and network stability. We are proud to have achieved 100% uptime for this year. We will continue to work on robust tracking solutions and building out our capability to offer the most diverse and relevant publisher opportunities to our clients across the world. Watch this space.