Interview with Matthew Wood (A4UExpo)

Fri 3 April 2009 15:08, Joost de Valk

Interview with Matthew Wood (A4UExpo)

(This article was posted on Yoast.com earlier).

Next month Amsterdam will see the first A4UExpo Europe, the European counterpart of the highly succesfull A4UExpo conference series in London. I though it would be interesting for all of you to do an interview with Matthew Wood, the genius behind all of this.

Hey Matthew, could you quickly introduce yourself and a4uexpo?
Sure, I’ve been involved in Affiliate Marketing for over 10 years. I started off by subsidising my university ‘drinking fund’ by developing, optimising sites for Google with a little Arbitrage, Google Adwords, Developing true Content Sites.

I even managed to travel a bit of the world whilst tweaking affiliate websites roving with my laptop through Australia, Asia, Fiji, Canada and the USA – Certainly a great affiliate lifestyle!

Things have become more serious though as I now employ a team of 7 who work from our offices in Bristol in the UK who develop more complex sites such as Pricecuts.

A4UExpo initially grew from our networking events that we organised alongside our forum for many years around the UK, with informal gatherings of affiliates, networks, agencies and merchants. However we realised we must change the format when over 600 people attended an event in London and we had to close registration early and limit numbers from each company!

This gave us the confidence to invest upwards of £100,000 in our first Conference at ExCeL in London back in 2007. Thankfully it was a huge success and we’ve since been back in 2008 and grown attendance by 30% - This April we boldly decided to expand the Conference into mainland Europe with our event at the RAI in Amsterdam.

You've decided to come to Amsterdam and make a "Europe" version of your conference, why?
We just love Amsterdam :-) Seriously though, after both the 2007 and 2008 conferences we were besieged with requests to expand into mainland Europe, and we felt the time was right to take our conference model to a neutral territory for a Pan European Event. We didn’t want to programme a light version of the conference either, which is why we’ve gone for the two full days, brining over 68 Speakers from around Europe to the conference and offering an astounding 46 unique sessions to attend. This is even larger than our show in London last year!

The internet and Affiliate Marketing in particular is also very strong with good broadband penetration in most countries. Our mission with a4uexpo Europe is to spread the word and gain increased publicity for the channel to media planners, agencies, merchants and the press.

It’s time that as a community we all shout to the world just how effective Affiliate Marketing is. That way more budget gets assigned to Affiliate Marketing as a channel and we all win.

Of course we’ll need to show those brands how to embrace the sector effectively to get the most from it – and that’s where we can help.

Affiliate Marketing simply put is not an out of the box solution; it needs hard work and effective management to make it a success.

What's the difference between the UK and the rest of Europe, from an affiliate's stand point?
The UK along with Germany is recognised as being the most mature within Affiliate Marketing. I’d say in fact they are even more advanced that the market in the USA.

This does mean that lessons have been learnt from Publisher and Advertiser activity, and this knowledge can be passed on, and new opportunities can be discovered by knowledge sharing.

Whilst similar opportunities exist in all countries they are at different maturity levels. For instance Cashback or Loyalty, accounts for a huge proportion of affiliate activity in the UK at 25% compared to just 5% in Germany. However what is common across Europe is that SEM remains the key driver within Affiliate Marketing based on both Organic optimisation within Google and Paid Search Activity being conducted on a Performance Basis.

Other than local nuances across sectors and verticals, the opportunities for cross country collaboration, standardisation, and monetisation are immense. This is one of the key reasons to bring the whole of the Affiliate Marketing Sector in Europe together in one place, at one time. The business and relationships that could be formed by pro-active delegates is what makes it all worthwhile.

What do you look forward to the most on A4UExpo Europe?
Everything! The agenda this year is awesome; we’re really proud and honoured to have attracted so many knowledgeable experts from within Affiliate Marketing, Search and Peripheral Channels.

Naturally I’m looking forward to your sessions Joost, and the numerous conversion optimisation and SEO panels we have scheduled, and also the famous networking opportunities that we offer.

This April for instance we have three parties in Amsterdam only open to conference delegates. Our gentle (ish) pre conference bash at the Rosarium, the middle evening party where we’ll be heading to a lively Central Amsterdam Venue and Club and finally our After Show Party where we are planning on hitting the Urban Beach and then offering everyone the opportunity to head once again into central Amsterdam to a special venue that will be announced very soon, just next to the canals for the Queens Day celebrations.

The networking at a4uexpo is what sets us apart, especially in an Industry where relationships really can make the difference between an Affiliate Programme being promoted, or not.

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