Symposium London 2017 Influencer Panel

Our annual event, Symposium London, took over The Brewery last week. Around 500 marketers attended the full day of inspirational content and networking sessions, which aimed to help performance marketers build their online initiatives and form new business relationships.

The day’s content began with executive remarks from our CEO, Tony Zito. His opening speech set up the conference’s key themes, touching on everything from global expansion to the power of machine learning. If you didn’t manage to attend the sold out event, fear not: here are our key takeaways from Symposium London 2017.

Adapting to meet future demands is essential

One of the strongest themes of the day was the idea that adapting to changing consumer demands and behaviour is essential. Developments like artificial intelligence (AI) and personalisation must be embraced and advanced, otherwise businesses could face extinction.

Ben Hammersley: Have Your Robot Talk to My Robot…

During his keynote – Have Your Robot Talk to My Robot… – futurist and internet technologist, Hammersley dubbed 2017 as the year of the AI tipping point.

The brands that take an approach of “constant legacy-free invention” will win. Go back to the drawing board if you need to, but whatever you do, don’t ignore the technology that might threaten your business – embrace it.

Publisher Innovation within Affiliate Marketing

Innovation was also a key theme of one of our afternoon strategy sessions: Publisher Innovation within Affiliate Marketing. Four publishers shaking up the affiliate space – Urb-It, rewardStyle, Increasingly and Culture Trip – took to the stage.

The publishers offered insight into the ways they have adapted to consumers’ evolving shopping habits and technological advances in order to progress. The tips they shared included:

  • Content needs a call to action to truly engage people. Culture Trip explained how the modern consumer is hungry for information. Affiliates must engage on a personal level with consumers to cut through the noise
  • Smaller retailers can learn from retail giant Amazon and take advantage of sophisticated cross-selling to increase sales. Thanks to Increasingly’s combination of machine learning and UX, cross-selling is now more accessible to brands
  • As consumers are becoming more impulsive, retailers must consider how they tap into the trend of on-demand services. With Urb-it, they can give their customers their orders exactly where they want, when they want
  • Retailers need to take notice of the shift to mobile and the importance of influencers on platforms like Instagram. rewardStyle has evolved its LikeToKnowIt service to cater to this trend and launched an app to let audiences shop content from their screenshots

Adaptation and Engagement Strategies for the Post-Brexit Consumer

Adjusting to changing consumer behaviour was also a theme of another of our afternoon strategy sessions: Adaptation and Engagement Strategies for the Post-Brexit Consumer.

During this session, Rakuten Marketing’s Nick Fletcher and Rakhee Jogia highlighted the challenges that the Brexit landscape presents. Importantly, they also presented strategies to help marketers and brands meet these challenges, such as:

  • Combat uncertainty by using attribution and measurement to better prove ROI and therefore improve efficiencies
  • React to customer volatility by utilising machine learning and dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) to remain agile and swiftly react to shifting consumer behaviours
  • Increase customer loyalty by using storytelling and creative to generate emotional connections with your consumers

Want to know more? Download our full report: Marketing Post-Brexit – Adapting Engagement Strategies to Changing Consumer Behaviour.

Global expansion offers a wealth of opportunity

During the Going Global: Keys to Success for Expanding into the US and APAC session, Mark Haviland and Adam Weiss gave insights into the APAC and US markets. They emphasised that if yours is a brand looking to succeed in overseas markets, combining both powerful technology and human insights is essential. The recommendations for running a global programme included:

  • Test the waters through performance marketing – paying on CPA allows you to spend only as you grow
  • Use affiliate publishers to become your ‘feet on the ground’ in new markets, minimising financial barriers
  • Work with partners who understand which search engines, social media networks, products and public holidays are the most important to your overseas audiences
  • Work with partners who are truly able to provide global service, e.g. alignment between global teams and local experts on the ground
  • Work with an ad tech company that offers the right tools for global expansion – e.g. currency conversion tools, the ability to make payments in foreign currencies, and the ability to target specific locations
  • Offer free shipping – it’s one of the biggest motivations for shopping online and customer expectations are high in this area

The power of influencers needs accurate measurement

The global keynote revealed that influencers start more customer journeys than any other publisher type. The Art and Evolution of Influencer Marketing panel session covered the power of influencers in more detail.

The panel revealed just how effective influencers are at reaching new customers: 84% of traffic driven by influencers is from new customers. The panel also discussed the importance of building long-term partnerships with brands the influencers truly believe in and covered the challenge of measuring an influencer’s impact on marketing performance.

If brands are using last click to measure performance, the value of influencers can be vastly underrepresented. For marketers and brands looking to understand and demonstrate the true value of influencers, attributed reporting is essential.

This leads us nicely onto another of Symposium London’s key themes…

Attributed measurement is accessible, achievable and actionable

Overcoming challenges and taking action from attributed insights was the main theme of the final strategy session, which focused on our insights and attribution solution, Cadence.

Managing Director of Attribution, James Collins was joined by Rakuten Marketing’s Christina Tsiripidou and David Hardy. They revealed three things you, as a marketer, must do if you are ever to successfully implement attribution across your business:

  1. Be willing to understand and get visibility across the full user journey
  2. Encourage attribution training for multiple team members (finance departments are particularly key)
  3. Take the time to understand how all marketing channels work together

The demand for transparency must be met

Transparency isn’t just about measuring performance. It is also vital for brands to have transparency of ad placement. This was the focus of the display panel session of the day.

Danny Kourianos, our SVP of Global Product, joined Rob Burr from Pentland Brands, Phil Eligio from Time Out, Marco Ricci from Adloox and our own Olu Gomes to discuss “the data divide”. Debating who should control data, the biggest issue discussed by the balanced panel was whether performance should be optimised above all else – transparency included.

Brand safety is a prominent issue at the moment, amid the recent news surrounding programmatic advertising resulting in brands appearing alongside unsuitable content. As well as this, ad fraud continues to be an industry-wide concern.

Using data responsibly, and reporting on it accurately, is an extremely important consideration for marketers today. More and more brands are recognising the need for transparency of advert placement and performance measurement. Recommendations from the panel session included:

  • Push for transparency across the entire consumer journey from your display advertising provider to safeguard your brand’s image
  • Ensure your campaigns are being continually optimised according to ad-level insights and individual performance to deliver your business KPIs
  • Gather and analyse information relating to conversion-driving strategies to increase investment in campaigns that maximise ROI

All that’s left to say is a huge thank you to all of our sponsors, attendees, panellists and presenters who helped make Symposium London 2017 our most successful performance marketing conference to date.

If you want to find out more about what happened on the day, check out the hashtag #rmevents. You can find out more about what we do at Rakuten Marketing over on our website, or follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all the latest happenings.