Full Steam Ahead with Helen Southgate

Our new affilinet MD Helen Southgate was recently interviewed by PerformanceIN.com who asked her to share her industry thoughts, past frustrations and future plans. Read on for more.

Southgate, who has spent the last three years at BSkyB; where she was online marketing controller in strategy and planning, said she has big plans for her role as UK MD at the European performance marketing network –  and is not afraid of ‘ruffling a few feathers’ along the way.

Having started on Monday, after talks with affilinet’s chief executive officer Dorothea Von Wichert-Nick only a couple of months ago, new girl Southgate said she is raring to get stuck back into the affiliate marketing industry which, before BSkyB, she spent eight years working within.

Southgate, who also did a one-year stint as chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Affiliate Marketing Council, previously worked at online marketing company Deal Group Media (dgm) as head of affiliate; which involved taking responsibility for 200 plus clients and more than 20,000 affiliates.

Southgate had not thought about leaving BSkyB at the point when she was approached by affilinet, but had always envisaged returning to a role within the affiliate marketing sector; despite becoming disillusioned with the industry at times.

“Back then I got a bit frustrated about the way the industry was going as it wasn’t moving as fast as I think it should have been,” Southgate said.

“This is now a chance for me to put my money where my mouth is and get back into it and see what I can do.”

She said having experience from the client side of things has given her a better understanding of where affiliates sit within the wider, not just digital mix, but entire mix; incorporating online, offline and multi-channel aspects.

“My view is that if the affiliate market is to continue having longevity then it needs to grow with the digital industry. While the industry is doing well, it also has to innovate and evolve and I think networks play a key part in that,” Southgate added.

Southgate, who said the European and UK markets are doing ‘very well’, said her new role is about taking the UK market to the ‘next level’ – through working closely with affilinet’s other European MDs.

“I think we can be a bit a little bit arrogant in the UK to think that we do everything better than everyone else,” Southgate said.

She said while the UK may be ahead of the rest of Europe, there are some ‘really exciting things’ happening over in some of the other territories; things that could be implemented in the UK.

In terms of the role of technology within the performance marketing sector, Southgate said affiliate networks have always been ‘fantastic at innovating around technology’ and she feels the industry is big enough for technology providers, networks and agencies to coexist.

She also said the importance of evolving technology is vital, but so too is having the right staff.

“From a network perspective you just have to get better at what you do, always develop and never rest on your laurels. You always have to be doing something different; it’s about looking at what is around the corner,” Southgate begins.

“It’s not just about technology; it’s about people. It’s about knowledge and about getting good people working across clients and the affiliates – people that understand not just the role of affiliate marketing, but the role of affiliate marketing within the digital space/within the marketing mix.”

Southgate said she has always held the team at affilinet in high regard, with many experienced staff having been at the company a long time. She said without having top-notch staff, then having the best technology would be irrelevant.

Southgate, who said if you are an advertiser or affiliate without a mobile-optimised site then you are ‘massively behind the game’, also stresses the crucial role networks have when it comes to providing data.

“It is about understanding the customer journey, customer behaviour, the data behind it, conversion metrics, clicks, traffic etc, on different mobile devices to optimise sales and purchase value,” she said.

“Success will come down to what data we as affiliate networks can provide affiliates and advertisers to make that really work.”

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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