The day by the seaside for the UK affiliate industry
This year’s Affiliate Huddle was a step up in numbers of attendees over previous conferences and there was a real buzz about the place. The main meeting area was certainly incredibly busy at key times of the day and it was no surprise to hear that there were close to 1,000 people attending.
The balcony level meeting tables were constantly occupied with most people taking the opportunity to get some face to face time with clients, partners or prospects.
From conversations the Moonpull team had with a number of publishers, there is still a great deal that is unclear. One global publisher seeking Moonpull’s advice explained “tracking inconsistencies are a big frustration – it really would make a big difference to understand why stuff breaks”.
There was much talk about diversification of partners, and the growth of affiliate linking in mainstream publishers and the influencer sector. Steve Bryant of Thoughtmix led a panel which posed an alternative viewpoint and asked “is affiliate losing its performance-based niche”. The performance model has proven to be highly effective and low risk over the recent pandemic. Steve added, “If we end up as a media buying channel, we’re done for.”
The view that Scarlett McAnsh, of CJ, put forward was that a CPA + tenancy hybrid model is now “expected and accepted.” As has been evident for years, content based publishers are not always fairly rewarded and tenancies are a necessity. As the publisher types diversify, Scarlett sees an increased requirement for tenancies, stating that “Influencers need fixed fees because CPA isn’t enough”.
The Voucher and Cashback panel put forward the argument that despite their less than ideal reputation, advertisers should be aware of changes these publishers have made in recent years. The panel told of the tracking and data coverage changes and how that helps to demonstrate incrementality and not just ‘being the last click’ on a customer journey.
Industry veteran David Hall led a panel including our own Steve Brown, asking ‘Affiliate Tracking: Are we being led a merry dance?’. The panel examined the changes happening in the wider online industry and the effect on affiliate tracking and asked if the CPA model can survive if tracking is being blocked.
During the afternoon’s final Leaders Panel, we heard from a solid team of industry leaders. James Little led a conversation with David Yovanno CEO of Impact.com, Rosalyn Berrisford, Regional Managing Director of Awin, Edward Simons of OMD, Graham Jenner of TopCashback and Maria Oyelakin of Vodafone.
James led questions on machine learning and AI and asked David Yovanno if AI would lead to redundancies. David said he did not think this will be the case, and gave the view that AI and machine learning technologies are more like “power tools for carpenters” enabling the same. He suggested that AI has the potential to superpower affiliate managers’ efforts, and that it could also be used for helping partners discover each other, as well as more accurate forecasting based on known trends.
The panel finished the afternoon off with their views on what to expect over the coming 12 months, which summed up the conference nicely. Panellists shared their visions of increasing diversification of publisher types, consolidation of tracking to a first-party only world and increasing move towards consumer privacy with the issues that that brings for tracking.
There were lighter moments during the audience Slido questions with anonymous but a bit silly trolling from ‘YoMama’ – though on the whole, questions showed an engaged conference keen to get as much out of the sessions as possible.
…and the After Party
Inevitably as the day progressed some migrated to the ‘outdoor meeting area’ in the pub over the road; some earlier than others! Conversations continued to flow of course, as as with most affiliate events, many of the most useful connections and discussions happen serendipitously.
Later on the day moved to the after show party closer to the sea front, with the highlight of seeing some very inventive face painting. That didn’t stop the networking and it was good to see Ziggy Stardust deep in conversation with Batman!
Our Main Takeaways
The Moonpull team has been at several conferences already this year and had some very illuminating discussions. It’s included further detail on the problems that publishers, OPMs and networks experience that has influenced the development of the Moonpull platform and service. Affiliate Huddle was no different and we had some really excellent meetings despite how busy it was.
For us, there were three key threads that we took away from the conference:
- The steady adoption of the affiliate model by influencers and mainstream media. Tenancy fees have always been a part of most affiliate managers’ options in running a program for certain publishers; this has become more established in the wider industry.
- Growth in the numbers of ecommerce and other technical products monetising via an affiliate commission, reinforcing the permanence of this new category of publisher type. Early entrants like intent.ly and increasing.ly have been joined by technologies such as Envolve and Tyviso.
- There’s still a significant lack of knowledge around almost all areas of affiliate tracking. Many publishers feel as though they are in the dark and not aware of how to develop skills to evaluate tracking themselves – they still often find any queries are met by an advertiser relaying that “we’re seeing sales happening”.
Looking forward to the next significant event on the UK calendar, we were very pleased that Moonpull was shortlisted for a Performance Marketing Award and the team will be at the awards evening – best of luck to all other finalists.