The first ever ShareASale + Awin ThinkTank was a success, filled with packed meeting schedules – over 700 partner meetings total! – exceptional networking and fun events in a world-class (but still quite chilly) city. View our highlights below.
Welcome happy hour
The Awin Group began ThinkTank with a bang, hosting a happy hour overlooking the famed Chicago River on Wednesday night at the Westin River North. Guests mixed and mingled over craft cocktails and delicious desserts sponsored by Fanatics in a more relaxed atmosphere, with palpable anticipation and excitement for the days ahead.
Speakers + sessions
Newly-appointed VP’s and hosts, Alex Forsch of Awin and Sarah Beekow Blay of ShareASale, kicked off the main conference day by sharing a brief welcome and offering a general update on the acquisition and resulting partnership between the two networks. Both expressed excitement towards the event as a marker of the benefits that come from joining forces and expanding partnership opportunities to our clients. After fueling up on a full breakfast bright and early Thursday morning, we hit the ground running with educational sessions and discussions.
Our first session centered around industry trends for 2018, with a special emphasis on compliance and regulations. Awin’s Director of Global Strategy Kevin Edwards presented on four key international trends (available to explore at length in the recently updated Awin Report) and how upcoming regulations like Europe’s GDPR and ePrivacy are impacting the channel around the world. Following Kevin’s presentation, Gary Kibel of Davis & Gilbert LLP provided attendees with a high-level overview of advertising law and FTC compliance and disclosure.
In our second session, Melissa Salas of Indi.com offered an inside look at a video marketing platform and technology geared towards digital influencers and discussed how this can help empower advertisers’ customers to become brand influencers. Hannah Turnes and Corinne Julius of Etsy closed out the second session by sharing tips and tricks for brands looking to better motivate their current affiliate base. They featured real-life examples of their newsletter tactics, communication and recruitment strategies.
Thursday morning continued with an expert-filled Q&A panel. Featuring a strategic mix of affiliates, retailers, and agency representation, the panel consisted of Alexis Caldwell of RewardStyle, Ehab Zahriyeh of Forbes, Wade Tonkin of Fanatics, Morgan Chemij of HP and Alison Chew of Acceleration Partners. Hosted by Rachel Honoway of Rust Built, Inc. and Type A, the panel offered insight in to performance marketing best practices, and panel members shared real-life examples. We heard direct feedback on how various teams were navigating the changing tides of the channel, how the channel is viewed within the greater context of their marketing departments, the emphasis and rise of targeting mass media partners, the challenges of running a data-driven program, and more.
Following the presentations and panel, attendees transitioned to roundtable discussions of their choosing. These small focus groups provided the perfect chance for intimate conversations with other attendees and industry experts, enabling participants to contribute on shared concerns or questions and to generate actionable takeaways. Topics covered included: mobile growth and optimization, expanding into international markets, technology and product updates on the networks, mass media recruitment strategies, among many others.
1:1 partner meetings
Closing out Thursday day were the 1:1 partner meetings. These scheduled meetings allowed advertisers and publishers to network, plan strategy and trouble shoot in an intimate setting. Furthermore, attendees were able to put email addresses and names to faces, developing deeper business relationships.
Following a full day of networking, education and thought leadership, ShareASale + Awin hosted ThinkTank attendees at Pinstripes for some fun and games. Sponsored by Proozy, guests we treated to bocce, cornhole, giant Jenga, and caricature artists, as well as drinks and sweets. What a great way to end an already amazing Thursday.
For the first time, ThinkTank held its own joint Network Awards. These inaugural awards honored the esteemed Awin Group network collective for innovation, performance and growth. All current clients with an active program were eligible to receive a nomination, and nominees and winners were selected internally after thorough review of program performance on one or both networks.
To see the complete list of winners and nominees, please click here.
Help Us, Help You!
Bringing ThinkTank to a close was the “Help Us, Help You!” session. This informal, optional session allowed clients on both networks to share their most difficult questions, comments, concerns, or ideas that would make the experience on ShareASale or Awin more pleasant.
Thank you to our clients, partners and friends who attended the first ever Awin Group ThinkTank. This wouldn’t have been a success without you. Awin + ShareASale look forward to seeing everyone at upcoming conferences and events throughout the remainder of 2018, including IRCE, GLOSSY New Face of Beauty and Affiliate Summit East.
To see all photos from ThinkTank, please click here.