Did you think marketing technology had all the bases covered? What about affiliate marketing?
Well, what about it? That’s the old school set-up whereby merchants reward online affiliates when prospects click through from a banner on the affiliate’s page and arrive at the merchant’s own website. Small beer, right?
Digital Partner Marketing
Not according to Malcolm Cowley, CEO of Performance Horizon, where they prefer to call it “digital partner marketing.” If anything, the space is accelerating, he told me. “Go back ten years and it was a cottage industry, not driving huge volumes of business” he said. There was a simple approach with affiliates taking a standardized commission on referrals. It couldn’t really get much more complex.
Performance Horizon, he told me, “is driving the evolution of the space” which has “changed over the last five years with the acceleration of digital media. The Performance Horizon platform aggregates data on the traditional performance basis (clicks, impressions), but across many partners on multiple networks–including mobile. Automation makes it feasible to measure and reward partner activity, not in a standardized way, but on a performance basis.
What’s more, said Cowley, that doesn’t necessarily relate just to volume. For example, based on the platforms, analytics, partners that consistently refers high quality, profitable customers can be better rewarded. “It’s still necessary to set a payment framework up front,” said Cowley, “but now it can be more sophisticated. We can tell which partners are most profitable, and help brands optimize that information.”
A Global Payment Solution
Additionally, the company, based in Newcastle in the north east of the United Kingdom, offers a global but localized payment solution for brands with international affiliate networks. In other words, Performance Horizon processes payouts (in the region of $250 to $300 million dollars per year), but in the local currency and language. Because the payment solution is cloud-based and scalable, brands can focus on deals and relationships while relying on Performance Horizon to provide the rewards infrastructure.
When brands are dealing with thousands of partners in many countries, said Cowley, “it’s well beyond humans and spreadsheets.” With offices in the United States, Japan, and Australia, as well as the UK, Performance Horizon is especially strong in the travel, retail, finance and digital content verticals. Currently, Performance Horizon’s customer base is 98 percent B2C. But, said Cowley, “we’re talking to some major enterprise players on the B2B side. And the lines between B2C and B2B are blurring.”
The group’s SaaS-based ExactView solution provides tracking, reporting, payment and management functions from within one platform, encompassing the activity of some 125,000 digital partners. Cowley also emphasizes that the sizable challenge of automating digital partner management is something overlooked–so far anyway–by the large-scale, enterprise marketing suites.
Performance Horizon also recently announced that Steve Walske had joined the board of directors as chairman. Walske serves on the boards of a number of tech companies, including 6sense, Wavefront, Platfora, Medallia, FirstRain, and Synopsys, and is a managing director of private equity firm Myriad Invesments, LLC.