We've just completed our fifth annual Innovation Day event in Sydney, and it was clearly our best ever.
If you are unfamiliar, Innovation Days are a global series of events we deliver in cities like London, San Francisco, New York, and Sydney. The purpose is to bring together the true thought leaders of the partnerships space in a particular region. Strategic thinkers from our customers, partners, and other leading brands convene and collaborate on ways to propel our industry forward, and deliver more effective sales programs and performance marketing campaigns. Our goal with innovation day is to deliver actionable insights that can make a difference to every business in both the short and long terms.
Our theme this year in Sydney was The Power of Partnership. And it is an apt topic as so many businesses shift their thinking about this space and put it at the center of their business growth strategies. With more than 96% of leading companies now participating in the partner marketing space, it's clear that our industry does offer business transforming power.
Setting the Stage: Alix Simpson, VP Customer Success APAC and Sarah Kelly, Director of Marketing - APAC
Our day began with a discussion of real world partnerships across traditional affiliates, social media and influencers, channel partners, and multi-media partner programs and how they impact the brand.
Our Partnerize speakers focused on successful and not so successful marketing programs and campaigns, and the lessons we can learn from others. With examples as far reaching as Target with Unicef and AIG with New Zealand Rugby team All Blacks, our speakers underscored the value of creativity, technology, and data to help strengthen consumer engagement.
Our Panel Discussion: Featuring Verity Brewer, Senior Partnerships Manager, The Iconic, Amy Hourigan, Partner Marketing Manager, Wotif, and Cormac Jonas, VP Partnerships, Global Savings Group
Partnerize APAC Head of Client Services and Integrations Stef Colley moderated an excellent panel of sales and marketing thought leaders on The Power of Partnership. One of the most exciting aspects of the growth partnerships space is the tremendous speed of change across the industry. For many brands, partner strategy is evolving, as are the shape of the team(s) that manage it. The Iconic's Verity Brewer provided an excellent example of how the massive business potential of the partnerships space is affecting their organization:
"In the past, partnerships and affiliates were always managed by the same person. But our approach to the space was reactive and based on a partner network relationship -- we evaluated potential partners that approached us. Now, partnership is carved out as a distinctly broader opportunity than affiliate, and we are focused on forging relationships with fewer but more relevant and scalable partnerships."
Amy Hourigan provided some excellent perspective on how Wotif is tackling the partnerships measurement challenge. Like virtually all brands active in the space, performance metrics like sales and revenue are critical. But there is also strong recognition that partnerships deliver other, brand enhancing benefits:
"We are looking at ways to test how a partnership can work more effectively as a part of the cross-channel marketing mix. How does someone exposed to a partnership change their customer behavior as a result? We're looking at the channel not just for acquisition but rather how it also affects longer-term customer behavior."
That is important to note because there is a wide variety of ways in which people shop, as well as geographic cultural lines. Some of the unique partnerships and ideas coming out of the Australia and APAC markets are a direct result of these distinct market characteristics. Platform research shows that a far larger percentage of total shoppers interact with partner marketing than are credited to the channel with their final clicks.
Cormac Jonas of Global Savings Group discussed the characteristics of the Australian market and how these drive significant innovations, often ahead of other regions. He pointed to billions of dollars in business driven by the channel in ANZ and across APAC, and the innovative ideas that helped drive these remarkable results:
"I think Australian businesses take advantage of the opportunity to learn what works in other regions, but also recognize that this market is unique. Worldwide, there is a wide variety of shopping behaviors and cultural differences. Marketers in this region understand that, and really look deeply into what they can learn from it. From there, I have seen first-hand how unique partnership ideas come out of this market before any other region conceives of them."
Fireside Chat with Jochen Gross, adidas Senior Manager of Partnership Marketing eCommerce, Europe.
Partnerize CMO Jim Nichols conducted a fireside chat interview with adidas's Jochen Gross. adidas has an outstanding reputation for commercial success in partnerships. Jochen said that the core idea of B-to-B-to-C underpins that success. He and his team have built a process and approach that have been successfully applied to two brands across 19 European markets.
Jochen's vision for the partnerships team is as a nucleus bringing measurement and accountability to all of the adidas and Reebok brand collaborations. For example, sponsorship:
"We can offer them an additional business model to their existing agreements, and put into their hands a means to measure revenue, conversions, and engagement. That's a powerful proposition."
Jochen pointed to a broad range of opportunities to introduce precision measurement to marketing initiatives that traditionally have relied on soft metrics. As every marketer knows, large blocks of most marketing budgets are invested without a proven, precise means of measuring their effectiveness and overall value to the brand. Jochen Gross is on a mission to change that across his region.
"We want to be a measurement hub or consultancy within adidas. We want to educate teams on how to manage product and service partnerships across the region."
Keynote Address: Naomi Simson, Co-Founder, Big Red Group
For millions around the world, Naomi Simson needs no introduction. Widely known as an entrepreneur and business leader, Naomi co-founded the Big Red Group (BRG) with business partner David Anderson in 2017. BRG is all about serving experiences to different audiences through its various brands: RedBalloon AU & NZ, Adrenaline, Redii.com. BRG also includes Marketics, the exclusive distributor of Albert AI in ANZ. According to a recent Hitwise study, BRG is purported to be the third largest experience gifting business in the world.
Simson delivered a powerful address on the critical importance of consumer trust to building a strong, vibrant business. She highlighted many of the fundamental changes in consumer attitudes from Boomers and Gen X to today's Millennials, and how the experience economy is impacting the outlook of consumers:
"I see this trend in my daughter. She and her friends are having a competition of how little they own. The goal is to be able to pack everything in two small boxes and go. It's a totally different mindset. They have no intention of ever owning a car, a washing machine, etc. We as marketers need to shift the way we think about the job we are hired to do. Experience is everything. The brands that win will underpromise and overdeliver on experience."
In her powerful and personal style, Simson explained how Big Red Group lives that principle every day, and how association with great partners that share the belief in the importance of customer experience can help enhance the sense of trust that brands embody.
One big focus for the Big Red Group is in leveraging AI and big data analysis to uncover customer needs at an individual level. "Customers are not targets. They are individuals that want and expect us to understand them and deliver better experiences based on their preferences and needs."
Big Red Group company Marketics is the exclusive partner and distributor of a solution called Albert in Australia and New Zealand. Albert helps businesses drive down the cost of customer acquisition and increase positive commercial outcomes. Albert autonomously delivers the right message at the right time to engage the right customer audiences for a brand. Delivering a persistent and constantly evolving series of messages based on rich data science helps companies acquire customers more efficiently. Naomi Simson discussed the important role that Albert played in her recent business successes.
"When we speak to customers in their language, when we listen to what they want to be heard, when we deliver unique personalised experiences, we are far more likely to have resonance and build trust.
To further reinforce her vision and experience for Albert, Simson asked Luke Calavassy, Head of Innovation for Cellarmasters, to discuss his experience. Cellarmasters is a very successful, 36-year-old direct-to-consumer wine business. Their mission is to connect great winemakers and grape growers to wine-passionate Australian consumers.
"As we grow and change, we must constantly consider how we can engage with customers - how we can have that deep relationship with the customer and develop trust. We need to make sure we are presenting the right wine at the right time to the right customer. All that is super important," Mr Calavassy said.
“It takes courage and trust to do something differently. But what I knew without a doubt was that continuing to do it the ‘old way’ was never going to deliver new results.
“The speed of change and the quantity of digital data needs a state-of-the-art solution that will continually learn and evolve as the digital marketing landscape changes, moment by moment. At some point we just had to bite the bullet and take the plunge – and I am so glad that we did it when we did because every day counts now in this world."
Cellarmasters engaged with Albert and saw a strong improvement in customer acquisition and a deep reduction in average cost per sale by applying this technology.
Product Vision: Matt Simmonds, Chief Product Officer, Partnerize
Continuing with themes of AI and machine learning, Partnerize Chief Product Officer Matt Simmonds discussed three major trends in the partnerships arena, and how our company was responding with important new features to help clients drive even better results through The Power of Partnership. We'll be making public announcements about these revolutionary new capabilities in the next few weeks.
Trust. Strategy. Smarter decision making. A powerful combination of ideas. Thanks to all who attended this year's outstanding Innovation Day Sydney.