In the first of our Version Who series we interview Joe, the man behind Version Two.

Hey Joe, can you tell us a bit about your background?

Hi! I’ve been in digital for 11 years. Started by selling local online advertising to car dealerships. Then managed partner marketing activity for online retailers including Ocado, Interflora and ToysRUs. We had a cool model where we could monetise post-checkout pages, emails and other customer touch-points with complementary value-add offers for their users. It was similar to modern reward marketing.

For the past 6 years I’ve been working in Native/Content Recommendation space, first with ContentClick and then later managing Revcontent’s UK business. We introduced tons of brands to Native as a performance channel. I loved getting down in the data to find opportunities to scale activity or reduce a clients cost per acquisition.

So I guess moving into performance marketing has been a fairly natural step then for you. Have you always wanted to start your own business?

No. No way! Honestly, ask me when I started out and it would probably be the last thing on my list.  I thought it was scary as hell and didn’t think I could do it or handle the pressure. As time went on I realised that I enjoy the methodology of trying to change things for the better. I’ve always been very process driven and it’s much easier to affect process when you have a stake in the outcome. 

Oh wow okay! What made you decide to start Version Two then?

Well, the team and I were spending the majority of our time selling brands on CPC and CPM media but measuring and scaling against their eCPA or CPL goals. That included consulting on strategy, user journeys and optimisation of traffic sources but we were limited to just the one platform that employed us. I wanted to be able to share our process across more channels and partners. Working on a performance basis seemed like the next logical step to keep our interests aligned with the client.

Yeah it makes sense to play to your strengths and what you already know. What do you think makes Version Two different to other performance marketing companies?

I’d say there are a few things:

  1. We don’t work with many advertisers. This sounds counter-intuitive but our position is that we only want to work with clients we know we can really perform for. 
  2. We offer first class landing page creation and optimisation free of charge. It always amazes me how much media – literally millions of pounds –  is bought to pages poorly setup to hit their objectives. We often build entire funnels for our clients that has a huge impact on profitability. We are only paid for leads, customers or installs so it’s in our interest to have confidence in the landing pages we work with.
  3. Media buying. We have an in-house team that have bought 8 figure performance media across native, search and social. That means tons of knowledge, data and learnings we can apply to our clients’ campaigns.

Nice. I guess owning a company means you have to stay in the know at all times. What do you think is the next big thing to look out for in performance marketing?

Ooh, tough one. I’d say firstly brands are getting better with conversations. It’s no longer good enough to chuck up “ads”, tell a one-sided story and expect people to buy from you. Users expect brands to be authentic with their messaging, consistent across multiple platforms and earn the right to engage.

Secondly, I think 2019 is where we will see Push Ads become mainstream. You can reach millions of users directly on their device with notifications tailored to that exact location or moment in time but hardly anyone is doing this and even fewer doing it well. I’d love to change that.

Interesting… I guess we’ll have to stay tuned! Where do you go to keep your finger on the pulse?

Great question. You can read about the latest trends on sites and in corporate newsletters but, personally, I find the most value on forums and Facebook groups. STM, Affiliate Fix and Elite Promoter forums create a space where everyone joins in to help each other. It’s amazing how much value people give away completely free of charge.

…And on more of a personal level, how do you like to spend your time when you switch off?

Dogs. Travel. Lego. It’s all I need. The dogs spend most days in the office with me, they’re seen as part of the team! 

Finally, any tips for anybody wanting to start out in the industry?

Yes! Be a sponge and move fast. You’ll meet tons of awesome companies, people and ideas. The people who tend to flourish are always networking without knowing it. They absorb information and build relationships often applying it months or even years later.