For this edition, Niamh Butler-Walton chatted to Stephon Anthony, Affiliate Manager at Master of Malt.

Stephon began his career in affiliate marketing back in 2016, when he joined the support and integration team at Affiliate Future.

He was immediately passionate about the sphere, soon progressing to become the New Business Executive in 2017, then Account Executive.

Stephon has a passion for the alcohol industry, meaning when he initially joined Master of Malt in January 2019, in a role which was perfect for him, he seized the opportunity and gained a qualification in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

Here’s the inside scoop on Stephon’s personal influences, what drove him to the performance industry and some exciting behind the scenes information…

What’s your role and what do you do at Master of Malt?

I’m the Affiliate Manager over at Master of Malt. I oversee and manage Master of Malt, Pour & Sip and a few internal programmes. 

An obvious and common goal is to source a consistent flow of publishers/partners and expand the affiliate channel. I tend to add additional focus on what more we can do with what we have, as it is easy to scoop publishers into one place but in order for us to grow, we’d like to grow with the publisher and slowly mature with their audience.

Strategy is key to gaining the best outcome when targeting seasonality periods to micro-events/moments. I forge relevant relationships, and chisel commission structures and product-led campaigns as much as I can before moving onto other projects.

I aim to maintain synchronisation with multiple teams in-house to determine the best approach for our publishers/partners. Rather than having different offers left, right and centre, it’s nice to have everything mirrored so there is less distraction for the users when visiting Master of Malt.

What emerging publisher strategies are you seeing right now?

I’m seeing publishers invest a lot of resources into their own UX, technology and their social media services. One particular strategy I’ve noticed is them leveraging best-selling or best recommended products and reviews which does go a long way for us. 

We see a lot of publishers utilise email marketing and social media platforms to emphasise what offers we currently have along with new arrivals that recently landed on Master of Malt. Tech publishers always attract me but it’s quite difficult to get over the line during peak-periods.

From conversion optimisers to AI-driven chat-bots that benefit customer services, it’s phenomenal how technology has evolved and adapted to the affiliate realm.

What do you most respect or what impresses you about your key affiliates?

I respect the fact that our key affiliates are tremendously patient for starters. 

I’m impressed with the level of service they provide, from reporting to even wanting further transparency on what’s really going down on the advertisers end – even if it means nothing to them initially! It enhances the ability to develop our way of working and our relationships.

I also admire the flexibility our key partners have. There are times where we want to push something last minute and the turn-around is faster than expected.

What shifts are you seeing in affiliate marketing with your company?

I’m seeing an increase in content-rich publishers that are quite competitive and inline with incentive sites. I guess during lockdowns, users are investing more time reading into product descriptions and reviews along with being mindful of price points.

One of which is extending their reach to tap into targeted demographics to help us with new releases of tipples from ATOM Labs such as Jaffa Cake Gin, Jaffa Cake Vodka, Jaffa Cake Rum, and Bourbon Bourbon – to name a few.

What’s impressed you so far this year?

I’m impressed how most, if not all affiliates have coped and also managed to add further support to retailers during the entire pandemic. It’s been a rollercoaster across the board for everyone, especially with how much it taxes people’s mental health during these unprecedented times. Good job to everyone, even if you’re not working with Master of Malt, you’re awesome.

Who or what inspired you to get into performance marketing?

Plenty of individuals spring to mind and I cannot name just one but I started off from an Apprenticeship, learning Digital Marketing and getting a diploma from it. I was fortunate enough to begin my performance marketing career at Affiliate Future. The leadership over there has tremendous sight for fresh talents and here I am today, loving what I do.

What’s your top tip for publishers?

Tenancy opportunities should initially be flexible when looking into different placements – especially if Master of Malt has other brands, it’ll be great to shoe-horn other brands into some packages to benefit the total cost of spend at the end.

What can affiliates do to stand out when working with your brand?

For starters, it’ll be great if they can check before dangling the carrot of opportunities to us if they’re able to promote wine/spirits on their website(s)/social posts.

We understand there are loads of hurdles when it comes to advertising alcohol but we use all reasonable endeavors to ensure that our marketing complies with the ASA CAP code, responsible drinking messaging as relevant to alcohol and in line with our own internal policies.

It would also be great to try and create a brief together, align the value of the opportunity along with what we see on our end and meet in the middle to somewhat determine success. 

Demanding and populating voucher codes is easier said than done – only because Advertisers also have to consider the total cost/fulfilment of it all and we struggle to manage the outcome due to the way users behave towards incentives and stock. Therefore, planning and strategising before jumping to a voucher code request is definitely something I am keen upon.

What one thing would you change about the industry?

I would change the approach on tenancies towards new advertisers as it tends to feel like a spending spree when considering the upfront cost plus commission. Reality is, publishers need to make money somehow but from new Advertisers point of view, they won’t last long if they aren’t well versed and equipped with relevant metrics to sustain a long-term partnership.

What other areas of the industry would you be interested in being involved in in the future?

Affiliate marketing is quite diverse, I feel like I’m already tapping into multiple areas at once.

I wouldn’t mind diving further into display advertising and lean slightly more into the social side of things – that’s where I see the future, considering we’re all clenching our phones at any given moment.

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