The Affiliate Summit West conference (#ASW18) kicked off Sunday morning where over 6,000 digital marketers from over 70 countries gathered at Paris Las Vegas Hotel to talk #performancemarketing. At 4:00 pm, LinkConnector’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Tara McCommons (@TaraMcCommons), moderated the panel session, Values, Predictions & Strategies from OPM Heavyweights. Four industry-acclaimed OPMs shared the floor: Sarah Bundy of All Inclusive Marketing; Jennifer Ward of ebove & beyond; Mike Nunez of and Jamie Birch of JEBCommerce.

These award-winning Founders & CEOs shared challenges, lessons and rich insights into how they’ve pushed the boundaries in an ever-evolving performance marketing industry. Below are a few Q & A highlights.

Tara: What is one of your core principles that has helped your employees to bring more of themselves to their role and feel pride in being a part of your company? 

 JB: We “change the world one small advertiser interaction at a time.” We believe we have real impact in the world based on what we do—it’s not just about the sale.

MN: Make mistakes loud. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not doing anything; by amplifying mistakes, we can avoid repeating them. Also, we amplify what we do right so we can replicate our successes.

JW: We are hands on. By limiting the number of accounts each employee manages, we can really get to know each client.

SB: We have a “DIGG” philosophy: Delight. Excel for our clients. Innovate. It’s okay to be different, to be a little weird. Grow. Our company cares about personal growth—employees’ life goals, what makes them happy and how we can help them achieve those goals. We also care about professional growth—helping clients, impacting lives. We know real people own these businesses. Give back. Globally and locally.

Tara: How do you and your team gain buy-in from CMOs that don’t believe in the value of Performance Marketing?

SB: We dive in with the executive teams to understand their primary KPIs. What are the corporate objectives (new customer acquisition, lifetime value or revenue growth)? Then, our strategy and reporting should complement those key objectives.

JB: We stop being defensive. We begin with understanding where key leaders are coming from versus defending the space.

Tara: What is one of your most important wish list items of your network partners? And, why?

 SB: Technology that removes barriers and makes affiliate promotion as quick and painless as possible; tech that enables publishers to grab tools on-the-fly, track and promote across devices and social channels (where affiliate links may not be allowed) is on our wish list. We value tools that help publishers generate results faster.

JB: Technical integration without technical immersion; we’d like to eliminate the excessive down time with advertisers.

Tara: What do you detect as the biggest opportunity (or threat) for our industry in 2018 and how is your team preparing to handle this?

MN:  Proper attribution continues to be a challenge; focusing on fingerprinting tracking and not just cookie-based tracking will help improve this. Recent updates to Amazon’s associate program may open up opportunity for affiliate marketers given Amazon’s one-day cookie and recently reduced commission percentages (by half). 

JW: Agreed. Amazon’s limitations may give rise to more opportunities for affiliate marketers; areas we may gain a foothold in: custom content; exclusive things not on Amazon and exclusive products.

SB: We see an amazing advancement in affiliate marketing data transparency. It used to be: “what is affiliate marketing?” Or, marketers feared the space. Now, we have the opportunity to engage with a larger circle of partnership opportunities as we are empowered with supporting data. The executive teams are buying in.

Tara: What are resources you recommend for your team and / or clients for sharpening their knowledge and being more effective in their affiliate marketing roles?

Panel: Google Analytics, Affiliate Summits, Facebook Groups, Pajama Affiliates, Mastermind Groups (complimentary expert groups), the Performance Marketing Association (PMA).

#ASW18 just wrapped yesterday afternoon, January 9th. If you had a great experience in Vegas, leave us a comment!

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