Getting to know… Matthew Wood at Existem

Matt_WoodAs he came in the top 10 at the affilinet poker tournament, we spent the weekend in Palma getting to know Matthew Wood, the brains behind all things a4u. And as a4uexpo is just round the corner we thought we’d give you a bit of an insight too. Make sure you buy him a beer at the event to get all the goss from SEOOktoberfest 🙂

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Spontaneous, Creative & Unpredictable

We’re excited to be supporting the event as platinum sponsors again and it seems that there are lots of new things happening at A4U Expo this year. What features are you most looking forward to?
I don’t think anyone could pinpoint a conference quite like a4uexpo! Part of that is down to the very industry that we work in being so fast paced and exciting. And delegates in our industry certainly expect more! Thankfully the move to The Hilton Metropole gives everyone a scrumptious, all you can eat two course lunch on each day so you won’t go hungry. We always like to freshen things up so this year we have new Health Clinics. 16 experts from companies such as Google (who I’m sure affiliates will be asking about Panda), DC Storm, ComScore and Yahoo! Will be on hand for 1-2-1 advice on both days, a great value add for delegates.
In addition a number of leading agencies will be on hand on day two for ‘meet the agencies’ 100+ brands are represented from British Airways to Liberty of London. This gives delegates a controlled meeting point to meet up and do business.
The popular speed networking will also be returning at the end of day one for those that prefer a bit of structure. The rest can head to the expo hall drinks reception for networking and a beverage before preparing for the evenings party at Foundation bar.
One thing to remember about our show when you are walking around is that we don’t allow anyone from the street to attend, all 1000+ delegates have paid to attend so are performing at a high level in our industry. You won’t have any wasted conversations, but you must network to get rewards!

The conference programme is looking impressive again this year, what “hot” topics have emerged whilst planning the programme?
Thanks, I think this year’s agenda is one of the best yet, diverse yet with 3 simultaneous tracks 100% relevant. Hot topics? – A big demand for SEO and especially the Panda update. We have no other than Google hosting a whole hour Q&A for affiliates!
We’ve a great session on building super teams (that one’s a bit off the wall) however sessions on Attribution, Mobile Tracking, Facebook Strategy and also Managing and Deciphering Data are hot this year.
I’d urge people to take a fresh look, as 50%+ of our speakers are brand new this year.
Agenda – day 1
Agenda – day 2

When did you launch the affiliates4u forum and what did you set out to achieve? Have those objectives changed over the years that the forum has been running?
The very first inception of the forum was in 1999 in a bright blue form and it’s had various incarnations since. I never really took it seriously as a business until much, much later as I was concentrating on my affiliate activity. Back in the day, I used to do mass arbitrage with millions of keywords and had a rather large suite of niche websites which funded my travelling after university.
After a stint teaching in Thailand and travelling around the southern hemisphere I gave myself 6 Months on my return to hit £100k of earnings from affiliate related activity and I achieved it. Otherwise I would have been living in Welwyn Garden City working for tesco.com as a Graduate, and we’d probably not have this event today!

A little birdie told me you have a regular tradition in the Existem office… what is your ‘word of the week’ this week?
Honestly. It’s all about vocabulary expansion! Last week it was Moron, (don’t ask) but this week it’s Brilliant! – much more fitting.

How did you start off in affiliate marketing and what have been the notable changes in the industry since the early days?
My first website was all about entering competitions and subsidising university lifestyle, who didn’t have a freebie type site 10 years ago?  I moved into arbitrage as mention above, sold quite a few concert tickets for paltry commissions but on a mass scale and also had some decent gift experience websites that provided a decent income in addition to some nice affiliate days with Dan Mountain and in later years Graham Keen from buyagift.co.uk.
I had some smart joint ventures with developers and we shifted out some clever stuff – I used to hold number one positions for a suite of key terms including loans, secured loans, mobile phones and home insurance to name just a few. Just a shame they were on MSN and not Google!
It is fair to say Affiliate Marketing has changed significantly over the last few years. Those that have not adapted or diversified have vanished, that’s incredibly sad but unless you add value, thin affiliate models should always be seen as short term, risky affairs.
Today, smart affiliates are building huge email marketing lists, using social as a tool for their business model and adopting mobile technology.
I think if you can second guess where your advertisers want to be in 12 months and provide that platform before they even realise, then you’re onto a winner.
I always talk about how important it is that merchants put themselves into the shoes of an affiliate, that’s still crucial however as affiliates we often don’t reverse this scenario and that’s a mistake. We can become wrapped up in our own hype sometimes without understanding the objectives, ROI pressures and strategies of our partners.
The industry itself, seems in a way more compact than the earlier years; our mission as an entire industry must be to put affiliate marketing; (though we should be calling it performance marketing) into the limelight once more as a value add partnership where both collaboration and trust can reap huge rewards. We could argue that too many affiliates have built business models that are too close to the end of the customer journey. I think we’ll see this change over the next 12 months with a continuing trend of technically savvy affiliates especially within the social and mobile sectors embracing new performance models for revenue generation.

Being born and bred in Bristol, what are the top 3 things you would recommend to do in the city?
I would say head over to watch a game at Ashton Gate (Bristol City) – but frankly right now I’d probably stay in the bar!
Bristol itself however is a gem. Small enough to know people within the community but big enough to keep you entertained with micro cultures all around the City. You couldn’t get anything more different than Clifton Village and Stokes Croft for example (try those searches in Google Images!)
If you are heading down, I’d say a) give us a shout and b) head to The Harbourside, Clifton Village and the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

You’ve just come back from Oktoberfest, what was the most interesting news/ tip/ fact you picked up?
SEOktoberfest for me was just astonishing. I’ve never been in a room with so many knowledgeable, smart and frankly amazing entrepreneurs and minds in once place.
Sadly for readers, it’s a little bit like Vegas as in what happens at Oktoberfest stays in Oktoberfest.
However if you buy me a beer at a4uexpo, I might just let you know 😉

Make sure you register for the event and come to see affilinet on stand 50. You can get 10% discount of the ticket price when you enter the code ‘AFFILICLIENT10′.

Serena Masih

Serena Masih

Serena is responsible for affilinet’s marketing strategy in the UK and for raising brand awareness through events, PR and other marketing activities.
Serena Masih

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