US performance marketing agency, Acceleration Partners (AP) launched its UK and European base last month with Helen Southgate taking on the role of managing director.
As the largest independent agency, working with clients like Adidas, Reebok, eBay, Travelex and Pearsons, AP have around 70 employees who help develop their performance marketing solutions to grow its business in a way that is right for the advertiser.
Southgate spoke to The Drum on her new role at AP, what’s next for the performance agency and her upcoming role as a judge for The Drum Content Awards.
What motivated you to move to Acceleration Partners?
It is a really interesting culture at AP, they are platform agnostic and are able to offer advertisers completely independent advice. They are consultants that work closely with the advertiser and deliver exactly what the advertiser needs.
Working much more closely with clients as an independent advisor really appealed to me. To be more innovative and to take clients a step forward. There are a lot of firms out there running good affiliate and performance marketing programs but want to do it even better and they need experienced people to do that.
What has been the challenges for AP moving to the UK?
In the US, the relationship tends to be that you have an advertiser, an agency and an affiliate network. Whereas in the UK, the most common setup is an affiliate network and the advertiser.
That agency role hasn't necessarily been there in the past but that's starting to change. Advertisers want more control over their affiliate programs. They might be taking the programme in-house or they simply want to have more insight and innovation for the affiliate programme or take it in a slightly different direction.
What has been the most innovative change that you have seen from the industry this year?
I think that would lie in tracking technology. Tracking sales is obviously fundamental to the success of an affiliate programme so advancements in improving the accuracy and data collected has been really key in helping grow the channel. For example, mobile and app tracking technology advancements have allowed advertisers to better understand their traffic from mobile and leverage the affiliate channel to drive more value from mobile commerce.
Advancements in technology is also leading to better reporting and insights for advertisers and publishers. Such enhancements include wider touchpoint tracking, engagement and lifetime value metrics and the relationship between online / offline shopping.
What do you think are the key trends right now?
Advertisers are becoming much more demanding in what they want to see in terms of insight. They have more data than they have had before and want to be able to read it in a more effective way, whether that is driving more sales or driving a certain type of sale.
It's all about getting the sales but also getting the right kind of sales, traffic and customers. There has been a bigger focus on how the affiliate channels can report that and adapt strategies for advertisers based on the data available.
Who do you think is using their digital content strategy effectively?
People, like Expedia, have the ability to tap in to something that people are interested in. People love to travel and the travel companies have really understood that and realise they are not just selling hotels and flights, they are selling an experience. They have done really well to market it in that way.
As a judge for The Drum Content Awards, what do you want to see from the entries?
It will be interesting to see who is doing it well. What's best practice and who should be rewarded for all the great work that they are doing.
I want to see something that is innovative and creative, but also something that really considers the consumer. Something that is valuable to them because that is really important.
Also, digital marketing, particularly over the past few years has come under fire for not delivering valuable marketing. So, I would like to see how people are using content to advertise the market but also to give some value back to consumers and something that they really enjoy interacting with.
How important are these awards to the industry?
It's important to show the rest of the marketing world that we know what we are doing and we're doing it well, but also in the consumers interest. And to celebrate people that are doing it well. People that are coming up with really clever content-driven marketing.
Southgate is a judge for The Drum Content Awards. The deadline has passed for entering the awards but you can apply for an extension by contacting Emma Mercer at email@example.com. Enter now and showcase your content creation skills to your own company, clients and peers as well as industry experts.
Sponsors for the awards include: the BCMA, The Drum Network, The Drum RAR and TINT.