Last week the Partnerize APAC team joined a large contingent of partner industry leaders at the Sands Expo Centre in Singapore for the first-ever Affiliate Summit APAC.
With the oft-quoted statistic that Southeast Asia’s internet economy is expected to become a $200 billion industry by 2020, the question facing everyone is how to ensure affiliate and partnerships get a piece of the action.
The Affiliate Summit APAC advisory board, of which our own APAC Vice President of Revenue Simon McDonald is a member, put together a stellar content program, covering so many of the topics that the industry needs to tackle. Up for discussion was everything from regional nuances within APAC, to payments, attribution, tracking, content, and influencers.
Our CEO Malcolm Cowley participated on three panels: one on the APAC Opportunity, another a C-Suite keynote discussion on the potential for performance marketing in the region, and a C-Suite Ask Me Anything session. In addition, our APAC Strategic Partnerships Director Neil Ranatunga led a roundtable on Singapore and participated in a panel on building the perfect partnership to scale across APAC.
Here are some of our team’s key takeaways and observations from the event:
To Succeed, You Need Boots on the Ground
Judging from the enthusiasm and passion of the attendees, there is a massive opportunity for continued affiliate marketing growth in APAC. That said, it is very important to understand the nuances of the region and be prepared to pivot from approaches taken in western eCommerce markets. As brands build out programs in this region, local language support and having people in-region who understand the unique markets is critical. As our CEO Mal Cowley put it during one of the panels, "You can't build a partnership without people on the ground.”
It is also clear that more and more brands are looking to break through in China, and interest in opportunities in Korea is growing as well. Those looking to test the water in these countries need to have a platform that can handle the complexity of doing business there, from understanding regulatory issues to providing in-region support. Payment solutions are another area where it is key to offer partners a diverse range of options to match the cultural and legal variations of the region. When expanding across APAC, a one-size fits all approach won’t work.
Evolution: Non-Traditional Partnerships, Sub-Affiliates, and Exclusivity
Given that the pool of affiliates in Southeast Asia is more finite than in other regions, a focus on non-traditional partnerships becomes even more relevant here. Working with technology providers that are built to support these types of relationships, such a strategic brand partnerships or influencers, is one way to ensure being set up for success.
Another trend here is that some larger brands are working with multiple networks and subnetworks to drive significant traffic. Subnetworks enable large retailers to share offers and grow sales more extensively with smaller blogs without having a direct relationship with them. As a result of this, exclusivity is somewhat less common in APAC than in other regions like the UK. The general consensus from the C-Suite panel was that this lack of exclusivity ensures networks and technology providers must continue to innovate and push the boundaries. Such innovation will help prove value, build relationships, and ideally, lead to eventual exclusive relationships with the right solutions providers.
Mobile Is Still King
Asia Pacific is widely recognized as one of the largest mobile markets in the world. Given the large amount of consumer time spent on the mobile internet, it is mission critical for eCommerce merchants to have a mobile friendly platform. As mCommerce continues to grow year-over-year, so does opportunity. Additionally, with the explosive regional growth of apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat, both boasting well north of one billion monthly users, tech partners and media agencies are needed to understand how to tap into the app opportunity. Experimenting with a variety of mobile transaction and performance models, i.e. CPI and CPA, could prove value and work to incentivize non-traditional partners.
And Then There’s Blockchain
There is still much for the industry to figure out to maximize the potential in the APAC markets. In addition to the trends discussed above, we saw at ASAPAC that areas such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are emerging as new ways to track sales and speed up payments. It will be interesting to see how these technologies evolve, and what role they play in the region, over the coming months.
Affiliate Summit APAC provided a fantastic three days of insightful content and networking opportunities. We look forward to future Affiliate Summits APAC!