Valeria studied a degree in communications back home in Italy, during which she completed a thesis which focused on trends in the advertising industry. The subject has always been of interest to her, which led her to study for a masters degree in marketing communications.

Her first role within the industry was at Awin, where she worked for just over a year before moving onto a role at Marketing Town as the Affiliate Marketing Manager.

Then, in November 2020, Valeria began working at Kindred as the Marketing and Affiliate Executive, before moving up to her current role as Marketing and Affiliate Partnerships Director. She runs a food blog on the side, which also means she has experience of starting her own business.

Valeria chatted to Niamh Butler-Walton about her history and the fact she is noticing advertisers being more inclined to give back…

What is your role and what does it consist of?

I am responsible for the affiliate strategy and activity at Kindred, both for our publisher side and internal lead generation campaigns to increase our customer base. As cliché as it sounds, no single day is the same when working in a startup.

I have only been with Kindred for a little over eight months, but my job has changed immensely from when I started to now, so I can only imagine what my role will be like in the future! Usually, I am either deep into our reports assessing the success of our campaigns and which verticals and brands are performing better, or jumping from meeting to meeting to discuss what the best approach is for each of our brands. I spend a lot of my time on strategic planning and research for our internal campaigns and how to improve the overall affiliate flow to make brands happier. I am now jumping on B2B strategic partnerships as well, making it very much a 360º role!

What do you enjoy most about the performance marketing industry?

Possibly the same thing that I enjoy the least, and that is how quickly it changes. You wake up one morning and you have five new features that you have to figure out how to use to your advantage. Or the industry gets hit with the latest privacy-related update and everyone has to determine what impact it will have – something we’re currently seeing with iOS 14.5 and 15. It’s a constant learning process, which I reckon for some might be frustrating, but I do love it.

I enjoy the stimulation of a new challenge, especially with new technologies coming out every few months and changing the landscape. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, and to be honest, sometimes it does not work out as well as one might wish, but that is part of the challenge (and the fun!)

Who is your performance marketing hero and why?

On one side, my former team leader back at Awin, Annabel – she was so supportive when I was there and helped me to learn a lot very quickly and I would not be where I am today if it was not for her. On the other hand, for very different reasons, the publisher team at Tradedoubler. They were absolute stars when I was on the agency side. Now that I’m on the publisher side, they are even more impressive. It’s always a pleasure to deal with them.

Who in your team deserves more recognition than they get? (The unsung hero)

I am part of the growth team and since it’s just four of us, it’s so small that it’s hard to find an unsung hero per se. I guess this is one of the good things about working in a startup in general; it’s very easy to step in to help and communication doesn’t get lost as often as it would in a big company, and everyone gets the recognition they deserve.

However, I’m not going to miss the chance to praise my lovely coworkers Anna and Sophie. Despite doing very, very different things, at the end of the day all the different bits in marketing interlace with each other, and having not one, but two people stimulating your brain is a massive advantage and a great benefit for the company. Plus, there’s a lot of memes and gifs involved, which makes our working day more fun. 

A keen interest in giving back! In the past few months, I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different brands to get them onboard which means I’ve had to pitch what Kindred does more times than I can count. The response I’ve received has always been amazing. There is a genuine interest among our partners to go the extra mile in support of charities, which is very nice to see.  

How has the role of affiliate networks changed over the last 12 months?

Between cutting budgets as a consequence of the pandemic and the growth of the affiliate channel as a whole, it was a dizzying year for networks with everyone turning to affiliates for more stable marketing investments. I feel that there is now more transparency and more collaboration in the stream among all parties involved. Networks were crucial before, but I feel that now their role has become even more important as bearers of expertise on the channel. 

 What one thing would you change about the industry?

I would love to see more transparency and collaboration between advertisers and publishers. Although we are slowly getting there, there is still a major gap between the two sides which is not benefitting anyone. I’m a huge fan of data-driven strategies, but of course, the data we get on the publisher side is very different to the data advertisers get, which gives us a sort of incomplete view of the market. If we could get those insights from advertisers themselves, as far as GDPR will allow us of course, both parties could benefit greatly.

What’s your top tip for advertisers?

Test and trial. In my time working on both network and agency side, I have seen the benefits of testing new partners, albeit small or new to the affiliate channel. Sometimes it will be a massive success, sometimes not so much. But the best thing about working in the performance marketing industry is that the cost of a failed campaign (given there’s not as much as an investment in tenancies) is minimal compared to other marketing channels. There’s no excuse for not trialling new options.

What other areas of the industry can you see yourself working in in the future, perhaps?

I am just starting to dip my toes in paid ads so who knows, perhaps that is going to be my future! For now though, I can’t see myself moving too far away from affiliate.

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