It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through 2013; it seems like just yesterday that the ink on our new year’s resolutions dried. However, there’s a lot going on in the world of performance marketing at the moment, and TheMail recently had a chance to catch up with Malcolm Cowley, CEO of Performance Horizon Group to talk about the current state of the performance marketing industry, and what lies ahead for digital marketers in the coming years.
A lot of predictions were made about the performance marketing industry at the start of the year, which ones are still on your radar?
Throughout last year, the term “Big Data” was all over. It was debatable if it would remain a highly discussed marketing topic in 2013, or if the hype would fizzle out. Some said that even if people had overused the term, there was no way brands could get away from the reality of big data, and that the conversation would shift more toward new ways to harvest actionable insights and make informed real-time decisions.
I recall reading a Forbes article earlier this year that asked if big data was just big hype. It touched on what many of us in the industry know well—that big data itself isn’t new. Brands have been dealing with large amounts of data for a long time. However, the volume, velocity, and variety of data, as well as the technology available for brands to manage their data have changed dramatically over the past ten years.
Many predictions about where performance marketing was headed in 2013 were based off of existing trends and momentum, for example, the rise in mobile marketing and focus on attribution in the affiliate world. The IAB Internet Advertising Report released in April reinforced a lot of key predictions, including the general sustained growth of performance-based advertising as compared to CPM models.
What unexpected things in the industry have happened so far this year that have caught your attention?
While sudden and not widely publicized, Google’s announcement in April that it was shutting down its affiliate network at the end of July created a lot of industry buzz…but, it wasn’t completely unexpected.
The news received a lot of mixed reactions from industry insiders. Some were happy and relieved, others were simply concerned about what was next for the advertisers and publishers on the network. However, as we all realized, there was no need to panic. The move actually opened up new doors and opportunities for everyone involved and allowed Google to focus on its other cost-per-action marketing tools, which is a positive sign.
What interesting trends do you see in store for the second half of the year and beyond?
I think the performance marketing industry is on the verge of some interesting things. The rise of digital video as an ad format and how it ties into performance is something I’m keeping a close eye on. On the data side, brands’ continued focus on leveraging predictive analytics to boost clicks, leads, and sales is also interesting.
Additionally, I think that affiliate will continue to make gains on other verticals such as display. When it comes to data, it feels like affiliate is the black sheep that’s finally found its way home. Technology had reached a head in search and display, but affiliate has always lagged behind. Now, richer data is more accessible in affiliate. This is all enabling another trend that sees digital agencies embracing and getting involved with affiliate while supporting their clients’ growth in the channel. Ad agencies have realized that technology is a solution that helps them bring added value to their clients and create sustainable competitive advantages.
What changes would you like to see happen in the performance marketing industry?
The broader performance marketing industry has come a long way over the years, but changing technologies and consumer behaviors keep advertisers constantly on their toes. The real-time aspect of social media and other Internet advertising verticals presents brands with new challenges every day.
I’d like to see innovation boundaries pushed now, as advances in technology allow for a change of pace. It’s important that a real emphasis is placed on tying it all together and creating meaningful and sustainable growth for all parties.
Performance marketing is growing like a weed, and PHG is in a privileged position to help brands and their partners to scale faster. We take our role as a technology partner that supports our customers’ revenue growth strategies very seriously. That thinking is helping to change the market for the better, which is highly rewarding—not just to PHG but for everyone in the industry, as the increased investment brands make in the channel benefits us all.
Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.