Firstly, we hope you and the team are keeping well. How are things over at CJ Affiliate during this time?

Jules Bazley: Thanks Mustafa, overall we have been extremely lucky and the team are keeping well and in good spirits—I hope the same for your team and readers. 

I think it’s fair to say that the past few months have been challenging across the board. At CJ Affiliate, we’ve really tried to put emphasis on our teams, so that together we can do what is best for our clients. There was no roadmap for a year like 2020, so I’m really proud of how our teams have come together and shown true resilience.

At times like this, when you are focused on a new set of priorities, I truly believe that we should all come together to help each other and can come out of this stronger; as individuals, and as an industry.

The last few weeks has 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?

JB: The affiliate channel has always been extremely adaptable and in my mind, the COVID-19 pandemic has just provided additional proof of that. Our clients are seeing this as well as they continue to lean more heavily on affiliate as a “safe haven”— once again enforcing the value of the CPA model.

We have seen a notable increase in innovation from publishers who have adapted strategies to ensure that they are focused on promoting verticals that are aligned with changing consumer needs.

It’s been really great to see our industry do what it does best — innovate to meet consumers where they are — in a time when it’s really made a difference to businesses, their employees and their customers.

From your perspective, what trends have you noticed in the last few weeks that have affected the channel? (programs, relationships, verticals, etc.)

JB: As you would expect, retail has exceeded expectations and continues to deliver online growth YOY. Travel saw a substantial decline for obvious reasons, but we are starting to see signs of a return to people travelling, so it’s only really a matter of time before we see a full recovery. Home & Business brands also continue to see unprecedented results.  

On the publisher side, we’ve seen different models find success with brands they may not have previously. More and more brands are seeing affiliates as a cost-effective way to manage their PPC and there has been a notable increase in advertisers embracing ‘Brand+Voucher’ to supplement their paid search strategy.

One of our luxury retail clients, has seen over £500K in additional sales revenue since launch and Brand+ has proven to be a successful offering complementary to their in-house efforts.

Buy Now, Pay Later publishers are another model that seem to be really taking off and enabling strategies that push up much higher AOV from customers who may not typically purchase — especially in a time of economic uncertainty. 

Let’s talk about CJ Affiliate. Particularly during this time, how has your business adapted to the pandemic and what sort of strategies have you implemented to support your clients?

JB: As a global business we were already well-positioned to work remotely, and this enabled us to quickly pivot for our clients’ needs. The result being increased efficiency, with meetings and work still being managed while removing the need for travel which has been liberating and had a positive impact on team productivity.

I’ve seen our team truly coming together and besides the benefit for our clients, it has also created a reinvigorated culture — going beyond ‘gifts in the post’ and pub quizzes that all companies have done. Collaboration has improved; our people are checking in on each other; teams are hosting virtual events to stay engaged (think Murder Mysteries, Master Chef Cook Along, cocktail or specialty making courses, and other virtual social events); even onboarding new team members remotely has been extremely successful.

It’s been tremendous to see just how well the CJ team has adapted to create positive outcomes — it opens a lot of opportunities for the future.

With lockdown restrictions easing, what sort of opportunities and expectations can we expect in the coming weeks for the performance marketing industry?

JB: Even though many areas are reopening, online shopping is still dominant, and we expect this to continue for some time.

Affiliate will continue to be a marketing channel that effectively helps brands connect to customers where they are. With a very different looking Back to School season in some markets, and possibly a very different looking Q4 Peak, the industry will continue to employ its innovative and adaptable nature.

I believe that companies, now more than ever, will recognise affiliate as a cost-effective and sustainable channel that delivers better ROI consistently — even in times of crisis. They will lean in extra hard to the collaborative and relationships-based aspect of the channel and work together to determine what meeting consumer needs look like and quickly adapt. And it’s all thanks to the innovative and creative ways our publishers deliver results.

Lastly, as we enter the second half of the year, are there any updates from CJ Affiliate we should keep an eye out for?

JB: Next month, we’re excited to kick off our first ever CJU20 Digital Series, featuring the same great thought leadership and expertise as our typical from a virtual setting.

We’ll have speakers from across CJ Affiliate and the industry covering many of the topics I mentioned above—and a lot more. One area we’ll discuss is how we’re helping clients navigate and thrive in a privacy-first world and what CJ Affiliate has put in place to ensure they are still successful.

In addition to the content at our CJU20 Digital Series, later this month we will publish our highly-anticipated 2020 Holiday Intelligence Report. As one of the largest global networks, this report is anticipated each year to provide data-driven insights and strategies to plan for the most important — and now arguably the most interesting—shopping season of the year.

We’ll also be releasing a whitepaper on Affiliate Customer Journey that shows the right way for brands to approach the myriad of paths to purchase. All this thought leadership and more can be found on our content hub, Junction.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that digital has no borders and CJ Affiliate is well-positioned to lead our clients through the rest of this year and well into 2021.