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10 Top Technology Driven Digital Marketing Agencies - 2017

Performance Horizon: Turbo-Charged Performance Marketing

Malcolm Cowley, , CEO
The internet has increasingly tightened its grip across the globe to the point where it is now inextricably interwoven into our daily lives and habits. This phenomenon has come to define younger generations, who are considered digital natives. In addition to having profound implications for our own behavior—such as rapidly dwindling attention spans—the internet and other technology have also completely transformed consumer expectations by granting people unprecedented control over when, where, and how they consume media. Moreover, although pop-up ads and sites replete with spam have always incited hostility, the recent upsurge in ad blocker use has revealed that irate consumers will act when empowered to do so. This has had significant consequences for how advertisers interact with consumers.

Advertisers must adapt to this new environment by adopting a new attitude towards online advertising: “You don’t lead a customer to a product, you find products for your customer.” Brands must therefore provide consumers with relevant and personalized ads to ensure the best possible consumer experience. But as brands scramble to meet these elevated expectations, they are also responsible for navigating a plethora of online advertising channels, maximizing their budgets, and—most importantly—generating return on investment (ROI) and return on ad spend (ROAS). The online advertising behemoth has many offshoots, including mobile, video, search, display, social, and affiliate. But according to a 2015 Internet Advertising Revenue Report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the IAB, affiliate marketing is the only online advertising channel that provides a 14:1 return on ad spend, making it one of the most efficient channels.

Although the traditional affiliate model has been mostly limited to cash back or coupon sites, today it is evolving to accommodate partner marketing. Emerging as a top level online marketing approach, partner marketing incorporates broader partnerships such as comparison engines, aggregators, mobile apps, social media, and blogs. Brands benefit from partner marketing by leveraging collaborations on a performance-based commercial model and directly connecting with their partners. This evolution can be attributed in part to limitations of working with 3rd party networks in traditional affiliate models. “Although better data and more sophisticated technology is shaping the digital partner marketing industry, a lack of transparency into program performance can force even the most seasoned advertisers to stagnate,” remarks Malcolm Cowley, CEO, Performance Horizon. Powering tremendous growth for digital marketers, Performance Horizon offers SaaS solutions for advertisers to connect directly to their marketing partners at a global scale while driving higher revenue margins entirely through one platform. The company enables brands to optimize partner performance, manage partner and product spend, and easily integrate data into existing workflows and systems. “Our technology is particularly compelling for brands working with thousands of partners internationally that require software to manage these relationships at scale,” says Cowley.

Generating Results by Enabling Transparency

Established in 2010 by a group of affiliate marketing veterans, Performance Horizon has grown remarkably in a short span of time and its platform currently serves 200 customers and 160,000 marketing partners across 183 countries. As the world of marketing becomes more data-driven and performance-based across all channels, the company helps CMOs modernize marketing activities through an advanced and comprehensive performance platform that offers tracking, reporting, global payment, and partner management capabilities. By providing advertisers and their partners transparency around shared metrics, Performance Horizon enables open communication and better optimizations aligned with all parties’ goals.

The Performance Horizon platform allows brands to measure the performance of digital marketing partners in real-time and provides detailed analytics for optimization and attribution purposes. The solution collects, ingests and maintains large data sets for highly granular assessment of partner contribution, product or Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) level profitability, and sophisticated reward strategies. With the last-click rewarding mechanism by itself increasingly seen as insufficient, Performance Horizon enables brands to access as many meaningful data collection points (i.e. engagement with content assets, dwell time, etc.) and insights into the consumer journey as possible. “Although performance-marketing technology increasingly allows advertisers and partners to better understand each other, its true value lies in the actionable insights it provides on consumer tendencies and behaviors,” explains Cowley. Once advertisers integrate their learnings into creative delivery so that the optimal property results can be delivered to their customer, the subsequent business impact should speak for itself.

Performance Horizon has developed actionable, real-time insights that help clients better understand the path-to-conversion, campaign and message performance, all the way down to the ultimate sale. Performance Horizon insights not only provide vivid details like partner contribution, comparison, interaction and ranking data, but also consumer journey and life time value.


Our technology is particularly compelling for brands working with thousands of partners internationally that require software to manage these relationships


“Furthermore, our insights allow you to recognize the value each partner brings by giving you visibility into the number of consumers carrying out repeat purchases,” says Cowley. For longer-term performance optimization, seasonal heat maps decipher consumer habits over time.

Performance Horizon has also developed industry-specific pre-configurations to better suit the requirements of retail, travel, financial services, telecom, and gaming companies. The company not only helps clients integrate the platform and migrate all existing partners, but also offers best practices and provides tools, training, and support in over 80 languages for seamless technology and data processing integration. Moreover, the platform’s high-performance transaction infrastructure is also capable of handling billions of data points. Finally—to top it all off—Performance Horizon’s global payment infrastructure supports 91,686 currency routes in 183 countries that are processed and settled accurately the same-day once the funds are released from the advertiser. “We not only help partners to receive direct payments from advertisers across 50 currencies, but also meet the most demanding compliance and data protection expectations,” explains Cowley.

When digital performance marketing agency iProspect managed adidas’ affiliate program through traditional affiliate networks in four markets, each location had its own account manager with little to no correspondence between them. A lack of shared insights as well as no centralized reporting, budgeting, and forecasting prompted the agency to seek a better alternative. “The agency wanted to truly understand the internal challenges and margins with in the client’s affiliate channels,” states Cowley. After evaluating multiple solutions that would allow the agency to migrate their client’s affiliate management entirely in-house, Performance Horizon stood out as the best-in-breed partner.

Once the agency integrated Performance Horizon’s technology, they could immediately spot trends, shift budgets, and drive revenue growth to match margins for the client. The platform’s insightful metrics also allowed the agency to add incremental value for the client and perform targeted promotions based on seasonal trends, product-level tracking to identify higher margin products, and analyze promotions to determine which campaigns were creating more traction. With Performance Horizon, the agency was ultimately able to reach its three predetermined objectives: centralization of budgets, consolidation from multiple networks and an enhanced performance-based model.

"Although performance marketing technology increasingly allows advertisers and partners to better understand each other, its true value lies in actionable insights"

Next Generation Performance Marketing

Firmly believing that all aspects of partner marketing can be improved through innovation, Performance Horizon constantly strives to keep up with current technology trends. “We pride ourselves on being a technology partner—not just a software vendor—and we especially look at how enterprises have introduced disruptive technology into marketing functions that did not use technology before, such as the early days of CRM and programmatic media buying,” says Cowley.

In the days to come, Performance Horizon has large efforts under way to scale development, prioritize clear customer-oriented product development, and expand their global support. “Over the past year, we’ve benefitted greatly from the experiences and feedback from key digital marketing partners, tech companies, and—most importantly—various clients that give us a head start on two of our ongoing initiatives,” reveals Cowley. In addition to developing multi-channel, cross-device capabilities for their core platform, the company is also devising strategies to align performance compensation and product-level profitability for increased revenue generation. “Our abilities to consistently think big, be tenacious and deliver on our promises have been the driving forces behind our success and will continue to guide us in the future,” affirms Cowley.

According to forecasts from Forrester, the U.S. affiliate marketing spend is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2020 at an annual rate of over ten percent. With their unique experience managing the partner programs for the Global 2000 and proven ability to effectively consolidate fragmented marketing partner programs on one platform, Performance Horizon has emerged as the leading digital marketing tool to accelerate business development and profitable customer acquisition.