Last week was my first experience of the A4U Expo – seen by some as an initiation into the official world of performance marketing! I had high expectations of the Expo, having heard a great deal about it from my team and other contacts within the industry, and was eager to experience it for myself. Spread across 2 days, the Expo is seen as the key place to network, learn and explore new opportunities within the performance marketing industry. Before the Expo, all attendees had access to the agendas and speaker sessions which enabled us to plan our days and schedule meetings around what we wanted to see and do.
In recent years, the Expo has been held at the Hilton Metropole in London, where on arrival, attendees registered and were greeted with goodie bags filled with the relevant survival items for Expo. We then ascended to the exhibition rooms and did a tour of the main hall in which networks and affiliates could be easily found on their stands; it was a great way to find the contacts I knew and suss out the people that I didn’t. In true performance marketing style, all stands featured some fantastic giveaways – my favourites were the Google Affiliate Network stand which featured some awesome American candy and the Webgains stand which incorporated a Nike design studio in which you could create your own NikeID trainers.
Aside from the cool free stuff at the Expo there were some fantastic speaker sessions to experience. One of my favourites was ‘USA: Understanding Stateside Affiliation’ with Peter Figueredo from NetX. This session looked at the different behaviours and statistics that NetX has gathered on US affiliates and how they differ to affiliates in other parts of the world. As I manage a global account here at LBi, insight on the American affiliate market was extremely relevant to me, such as learning that US affiliates rate free shipping and discount codes as their top 2 offers for customers. Another interesting finding that Peter shared with us was that US affiliates don’t value incentives and competitions as much as affiliates in other parts of the world; they actually prefer codes, text links and banners – showing that their focus is more on what will work for the consumer rather than themselves.
LBi’s very own Head of Performance Marketing, Fiona Robertson featured in a panel session titled ‘Are Performance KPI’s Causing an Industry Monopoly?’ – a session which focused on how Account Managers are increasingly encouraged to focus on client KPIs which may mean that other opportunities which could be beneficial to the brand are therefore overlooked or not fully optimized. It was a great session which I felt really helped to address key issues that Account Managers face in their day-to-day roles.
After all of these great networking and speaker sessions, a party, as always, was required to signify the achievement of the first successful day of the Expo. The party, which was held at the Jewel bar in Piccadilly, was sponsored by LBi and was a great way to bring everyone together at the end of the first day. As LBi sponsored a cocktail we felt it only appropriate to represent the company – fashionistas that we are – in branded colours (alongside our LBi Bellini’s). The party was a fantastic way to continue the networking that we’d experienced throughout the day in a more relaxed environment.
Another of my favourite sessions was on the second day of the Expo – ‘Who’s in Premier Position in the Digital Marketing League and who’s Fighting Relegation?’, a panel session which was fun and interacted with the audience, it allowed representatives from each affiliate type to battle their way to the leader-board for first place in the industry. A chosen rep for Vouchercodes, Cashback, Email and Content affiliates had to prove themselves to the audience as to why they were the channel champions – it featured some great statistics which were particularly relevant to me and my clients, such as, ‘66% of UK online voucher code users indicated that they were likely to use more voucher codes in the next year versus only 8% who said that they would be unlikely to do so.’ I found this session really useful and the panel managed to keep the audience’s attention by getting them to vote for their favourite affiliate and keeping an updated leader-board throughout.
LBi affiliate team member Rachael Spowart also had a session on the second day at the Expo, which was co-hosted by Muneer al Busaidi – manager of Digital Marketing at Etihad. Rachael and Muneer’s session looked at the key aspects of Etihad’s global affiliate marketing strategy and how LBi built a cross digital strategy of our own around this. Rachael’s session addressed the considerations that LBi had to make before launching this program and how the affiliate campaign is consistently tied-in across the other LBi media offerings. The main take-away that I took from Rachael’s session was considering the obstacles that face you when launching a global campaign; for me the most relevant was having a clear understanding of the market you’re launching in and what you expect (realistically) to achieve within that market.
I can safely say that my first Expo succeeded all of my expectations and has allowed me to begin planning my speaker submission for Performance Marketing Insights in New York next year.