Version Who? – Michael

Hi Michael! Let’s get into it, How long have you been in the performance marketing industry?

I’ve been in the industry for 5 years now. I started off in performance marketing at ContentClick which then got acquired by Revcontent.

And now you’re at Version Two, what do you like most about working here?

Ooo so I would say that Version Two aims to bridge the gap between scalable offers and true brand quality.

What i’m most excited about doing is bringing some really interesting and unique emerging brands to market and introducing them to affiliate marketing. I’m also looking forward to connecting top affiliates to brands they might never have thought about working with in the past.

The way I see it is we want to match the best with the best.

We hear that you in-fact had a background in archaeology. That’s quite the career change! Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I did indeed! I ran projects as far as afield as the Caribbean. I’ve gone from archaeology to affiliate marketing, having been an antique dealer for a short while in between. My friends say I’m just working through the alphabet. Maybe i’ll be a zookeeper one day!

Ha! The Caribbean sounds like a pretty nice place to spend your days working. What sort of companies/brands have you worked with in your career?

A huge mixture, some notable brands off the top of my head are Time Inc, Red Bull and The Telegraph

Nice! And in regards to networking, which affiliate conferences would you recommend?

Affiliate World is for sure my number one. Great for business and the social side is unrivalled. Affiliate Summit a close second. And everyone should do MWC at least once in their lifetime if they’re a fan of mobile tech.

Noted! Are there any newsletters you subscribe to that you’d recommend?

WHAT THE AFF is a great one for know how. STM is a good one too. Oh, and Archaeology Magazine!

What new things do you see happening/working in online marketing for in 2019?

I think this will be a big year for ecom, and we’ll start to see a changing landscape. We all know the issues that the world of affiliate marketing has faced of late, which is exciting for us as we look to disrupt the market with our unique take on the industry, and where we think it’s going. That’s what we want to be a part of.

Version Who? – Tom

Hey Tom! Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Sure, so I have been in the Digital Advertising World for the past 5 years. I went straight from a Business Management & Marketing degree into becoming an Account Manager at a Native Advertising company – ContentClick. I started off spending my time helping publishers optimise their pages and ad positions in order to increase engagement and ultimately revenue – some of the publishers included Unilad, LadBible and Archant Media.

When ContentClick was bought out by Revcontent I transitioned across to sourcing my own leads, jumping on calls and closing deals. Over my 3 years at Revcontent I went from a Junior Rep to a Senior Rep, finishing my time there as the top sales Rep in the company globally! I enjoyed looking into new areas of opportunity that we weren’t utilising to help grow revenue streams.

Wow ok, sounds like you managed to squeeze in a lot of experience! And now you’re at Version Two.. how would you describe the atmosphere in the office?

Yeah, I really enjoy it, the atmosphere is great! We all know each other from previous jobs, so we know how to get the best of each other and how to get things done quickly and efficiently. I would probably describe us as a ‘work hard, play hard’ company. Everyone is more than happy to get stuck in to get stuff done and move the company forward, but we also love to enjoy ourselves with company meals, activities and the odd drink! Oh and I can’t forget the two great canine employees we have each day with us in the office, it’s always great to have them around.

Sounds like a great place to get stuck in. I wanted to ask you about something that’s a bit of a hot topic at the moment… What is your opinion on black hat/white hat advertising?

Ooh okay, that’s something we talk about at Version Two quite a lot!

Black hat advertising has been around for a long time, it is still used a lot and can work very well for people who do use it. However, we personally would rather build things for the long term. Compliant offers, compliant traffic sources and making sure what we do has longevity. Rules, regulations and continually updated compliance policies (not to mention better technology across the board), make black hat advertising difficult to be approved on networks – and to sustain if you are lucky enough to get it running in the first place.

We know a lot of people that have been burnt and are beginning to move to white hat. As with anything the early movers have an advantage. People are wanting quality offers that offer a great product/service and that has longevity, without risk of being blocked or kicked off traffic sources. Here at Version Two we only focus on white hat ads – we position ourselves to only run quality offers or campaigns that give people real value and are sustainable at low risk.

Ok, interesting, so you clearly keep your finger on the pulse. Do you find things like affiliate conferences worthwhile going to?

Absolutely. For me there are 3 main reasons to go to the affiliate conferences:

  1. Meeting up with my current affiliate partners, talking through further strategy and continuing to build the relationship.
  2. Pre-booking meetings with companies or individuals that I’d like to work with. Discussing options and building a rapport so that we can look to grow business together.
  3. Networking. I usually find I end up talking to a variety of different people that don’t seem to have much relevance to me and my current focus, but you never know what opportunities or changes may come along in the future. I’ve found myself changing strategy and realising I already know some great people in that area, so those general chats and introductions end up being invaluable.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

Golf, Gym and Eating! I’d love to get out and play more golf to try to become as good as I can, but it can be quite hard to find the time. So this usually results in me doing a gym workout and then undoing the health kick by eating too much!

Haha, yeah the weather in the UK isn’t the best for playing lots of golf. What gets you excited at work then?

I love seeing positive results from the time and effort that has been put in. It shows that your actions have been useful and ultimately working towards a positive end result for both your customer and the business.

Finally, we’ve seen Pushvertise being mentioned on the website, can you give us a bit more information about that?

Yeah of course! Push notifications have been around a little while but ads really started to gain traction with mainstream marketers through 2018. This is where we see Pushvertise as a really exciting part of the company for us.

Pushvertise is all about sending timed Push Ad offers straight to a users mobile directly before, during or after an event. It’s about getting the right message to the right user at the right time. Timing is often forgotten in digital distribution channels as everyone is ‘always-on’. Pushvertise schedules ads to send at times of elevated engagement.

Can you give us an example?

Right, let’s say a big football game is happening tonight with kickoff at 8pm – we can push a timed offer out at 7.45pm which offers a free bet, or enhanced odds on the match in order to get elevated results as the user is already engaged at that time with the game.

Pushvertise is not only for Betting offers, but it can also be used for offers on food deliveries and taxi rides to name a few – the possibilities are immense.

Version Who? – Joe

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.