Saturday, 2 November 2013

Performance Insights 2014 - A rediscoverer' view

I am sitting here trying not to let the cold inside my head take over, partly due to the fact I have spent the last day recovering from Performance Insights 2013 in London.

Performance gets told where its place is in the mix
Someone at the event said “it’s as though the industry has grown up”.

What because people wear shirt and ties now to these things instead of T-shirts and Jeans?
Or because the event is bigger, more professional and involve a larger part of the online marketing mix ad spend it did a year ago never mind 5 years ago?

I don’t think the term grown up is quite right either.

‘Gained experience’ I feel is more accurate.

It isn’t some post graduate who’s been on a 6 month holiday to Southeast Asia and come back knowing they’re not going to be a geologist but just get a job which pays well because they want to live in London.
Performance marketing has earned its place to be in the mix for all advertising spend and should be a consideration for all businesses that have any kind of online marketing budget.

Below (and in no order or logical process) are my words and thoughts on the conference in general and what I got out of it.

Attribution

Dan' £5 CPA on the word attribution paid dividends
If I had £1 for every time I heard that word mentioned at Performance Insights 2014, I wouldn’t be writing this post…. Well I would but from St Lucia on board my own yacht.

Is it ever going to happen?

Is there an alternative?

I think the only way it will is if there is a genuine holistic and open approach to data from all sides AND for businesses in the industry to realise their place in the overall affiliate (sorry performance) industry and “share the love man”.

CPA is still the best offering on the table which works (well kind of) which Helen Southgate, UK MD of Affilinet said in a recent article on econsultancy.

Attribution can only happen once the data is in once place. I only see that being an overriding force for good which sits above the networks themselves in the form of an industry body.

The make-up of that I guess would be a member from each network, a voice of advertisers from each vertical and the same for publishers (from vertical as well as content and incentive sites).
We all know the best way to get something moving online is to test it, get results and present the truth to the people who need to know and the sheep follow.

It sounds arsey and I guess it is a little bit because I cannot see attribution working unless something as grand as that happens.

Incentive Sites and their Ever Growing Presence

Now before you cashback and voucher site owners and employees get on my back I really do love you. I have used the likes of TopCashback and Quidco for a long time now and their value for savvy customers is significant.

BUT

I don’t see why people have a reliance on them.

Reliance - “dependence on or trust in someone or something.”

Seriously? You’re an advertiser and you are dependent on one particular affiliate to drive you sales?

Then it’s your own bloody fault isn’t it.

That is pretty much what I said at the end of the presentation where they were talking about this very “issue”.
Cashback sites offer something great, the ability to drive customers to your products and services through offering them an incentive in form of a discount or added value product/services.

The quality is definitely there and so is the quantity. The balance of which is solely down to the advertiser. There are different reports about this very issue but many conclude that cashback sites lead to higher basket values and incremental sales.

If you want the quantity then offer a blanket % of basket value regardless of spend for any consumer whether new or existing.

Or

Why not offer exclusive offers to particular incentive sites at a time you need the sales. You see it all the time around a launch of a product or just before/after seasonality within certain industries.

Or

Drive NEW customers through with a large discount of first order sales and sign ups?

Because you want the volume and quality and a huge proportion of incremental sales?

Yeah good luck with that.....

Any advertiser who gives incentive sites a hard time because they feel reliant on their partnership with them, you've only got yourselves to blame, by not understanding the benefits of how they operate and the opportunity they present to advertisers.

You need to be happy with what you are willing to sacrifice for a sale, not just monetary terms but in your product/service and with your brand.

You only need to see how businesses (large and small) got stung by Groupon with some even having to shut down because of the incentive offered.

50% discount they said. It would be fun they said
Who’s fault is that? It’s not Groupons is it!

Read this article on Groupon and then it’s summed up by the quote below:

“The big picture here is we didn't know what we were getting into when this deal was put together," said Roitman. "Groupon is just not transparent."

Everyone can negotiate, even with large incentive sites, if the offer is worthwhile they will accommodate it, after all they earn money through referring traffic and delivering sales. They also have a duty to spend time on deals that bring in a decent amount of revenue, so don't expect something for nothing.

Networking Party
He only wanted a business card.
It’s 4+ hours of partying with a sponsored bar and lot of networking throughout the night.

Below are the key points which got me through it as a 30+ year old dad attending this part of the expo:
  •  The Power nap – If you are taking the expo seriously you should be attending at least 1 session each time and in-between meeting clients and browsing the exhibition hall to find out what people are up to. If you aren’t tired then you’re either a machine, under 30 or on drugs. Power nap between 6:45 and 7:30 had me charging into the networking party and happily into the early hours.
  •  Pick a drink and stick with it – whether it be beer, wine or rum, pick one and stick with it because you can drink a lot more and you can still be coherent throughout the night and talk business if needed.
  •  Pick your battlegrounds – The networking event can be quite daunting, especially if you are relatively new to the industry. You may know no one and be stood around like a lemon; most other people are in some kind of discussion so trying to get into a discussion can be tricky. Good places to do this are:
a.      At the bar – it’s where individuals are getting drinks, for themselves or their colleagues. A simple “how are you enjoying the event?” or other leading question will usually get the ball rolling
b.     Cigarette break – Well you smokers have to congregate outside now and a good place to share a lighter and get talking. Even if you don’t smoke but have a colleague who does, go out with them. I did that this year and got a good understanding of who worked where and some insights into opinions about other businesses and individuals.
c.      Quieter spots – There’s always some seating area a little further away from the music where people go for a break or a discussion, this can be a good place to seek out a bit of networking. Although I have to say, whilst this venue was an amazing venue for partying, it was quite loud with few quiet spots.

Remember though, it is a party, people in the online industry rarely (if ever) switch off, so whilst that presents a great time to network, a small minority of people will just want to party and not talk business for a couple of hours.

  • Share a taxi – If you’re doing the party properly the tubes won’t be running so it’s either a taxi back to the hotel or off to another club or restaurant. For all of the above there will be another group looking to do the same, so share a cab and business cards and meet them at the exhibition hall the next day.

Retention

This is something I have noticed just being away from the industry for a couple of years. No one works at the same organisation any more!

Especially people who were at the manager/exec level, many of whom have progressed to agencies around the world and some client side as well. It’s a great thing and something which highlights the fact the people who've been in the industry for years really can progress rapidly up the chain… because there’s little else when it comes to experience in a relatively young industry.

Now I think the time has come for all parties to retain their staff. Turnover costs money and affects the inner workings of your business and ultimately will effect clients as well. So something I will definitely consider when working with any company is how long their employees have been there and what experience do they have in online marketing specifically.

It will be a challenge for companies as it’s not just about money, working environment is just as big factor for many people and an under resourced company, whilst they might pay better, could lose people because they’re under more pressure.

Social vs SEO

So there were a couple of discussion points whether social is going to be the new channel for bringing in traffic and increasing ranking factors they present.

Martin MacDonald’ great presentation not only enlightened us about Google, their removal of keyword data (and how to get it a good portion of it back) but also how social will be playing more of a part in ranking factors going forward.

If that is the case then it’s going to mean the first page of Google will be changing a lot more frequently and be targeted more to individual behaviour. They’re some way off, Martin was saying it could be as close as 2 years before things change with significance.

The solution is itself simple but harder to implement, which is to build an audience and a brand where people can engage with you regularly. That is why companies should be focusing on ensuring they get their consumer base interacting with them on social media.

A secondary level would be to be well up on social trends and getting in on the act wherever possible. Again still tied into brands but a couple of example below were shared a huge amount on Twitter, and really it doesn't take long to come up with a nice image for social trending does it?


some examples of how brands got themselves around social media in the days around Halloween.

PerformanceIN
A successful re brand, a well organised and well executed expo. The quality of the presentations I went to was excellent and the speakers equally so. They have really brought this event to the forefront of my mind when it comes to attending a paid event because I get so much out of it.

That is the key though, with all the lovely parties, food, drink and opportunities to do business, the presentations put flesh on the bones of my knowledge. No sales pitches (although I heard from my colleague a couple he went to did have elements of this which I don't like at all), new information, new insights and authoritative discussions from people with extensive experience. Without that there is no event for me, and they've delivered for the past 3 years I have attended.

They have done a great job in bringing this event to the industry and it certainly raises the profile of what it can do for advertisers.


I am amazed at the talent around in this industry now and there are some great people in it too. I hope I can be more involved with it over the next few years and beyond.