The first ever U.S. installment of our global Innovation Day event series took place in San Francisco on May 15th. Over 130 marketing leaders from global brands and partners descended on the Bluxome Street Winery for an afternoon of insightful discussions and networking. Of those, more than 40 attendees traveled more than 1,500 miles to join us at this event.
The program focused on the theme of “Creative Change,” with the speakers and panelists sharing ideas on how they are changing the paradigms at their companies and driving extraordinary growth through partnerships and creative thinking.
We kicked off the event with a fireside chat between JoAnn Webster, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships at Expedia Group, and our CMO, Jim Nichols. Their conversation centered on the keys to building mutually beneficial brand-to-brand alliances, the benefits of these relationships, and how the creative process plays a role in forming smart collaborations between brands. According to JoAnn, it’s crucial to understand the goals and needs of potential partners.
“It’s about understanding their strategy, needs, and capabilities, and how that ties to our goals and purpose,” she said. “In thinking about strategic partnerships beyond affiliate marketing, it’s about finding a way to take care of both sides, as well as finding an emotional tie.” In the travel sector, this can come down to being able to find a “lifestyle extension.”
While stressing the importance of data, JoAnn imparted two final key points to the audience: that scale is only relevant when it brings you the right audience, and that it’s critical to understand people not purchases.
Next was a fireside chat between David Galvan, VP Digital Partnerships at MasterCard and our own CRO Pete Mycock. When discussing how a technology company in the global payments business can leverage strategic partnerships, David stressed the importance understanding the culture of technology companies as prospective partners. For example, in working with big partners like Lyft, Netflix, and AirBnb, partners need to understand those businesses.
“Our team came together and took ownership of every technology partnership from the top-down. We centralized those relationships and prioritized the things we put in front of our customers,” he said. “The culture at MasterCard needed to adapt to what our team was doing.”
David discussed how “Creative Change” at MasterCard means innovation focused on a variety of areas such as of payment credentials everywhere, IoT, and building the technology to support those things while maintaining security.
“Whatever the world evolves to from a service perspective, people will still have to purchase stuff. The core of all the products is the ability to transact in a safe, secure manner. In a lot of our deals, we’re happy having a 1:1 relationship with the merchant.”
The final content segment of the afternoon was a high-level panel discussion on topics including innovation, data and attribution, and cross-device strategy across borders. The panel was hosted by Will Goff, Performance Horizon’s Director of US Client Services and Integrations. The panelists were:
- Eric Stein, CRO at Branch
- Jennifer Zhang, Managing Director at TrendPower
- Cormac Jonas, Director of Travel at RetailMeNot
The panelists weighed-in on the importance of accurate cross-channel attribution. “Think about the customer journey. If you can’t see the key points across that journey and track those touchpoints, you have a huge gap to fill,” according to Branch’s Eric Stein.
Cormac Jonas of RetailMeNot noted, “Three or four years ago, you had clicks, orders, and sales. Now, in travel, we see origin/destination data, booking windows, and we see these by market. This richer data can inform your promotional strategy.”
The panel discussed the differentiation between partnership and affiliate marketing. Jennifer Zhang offered, “Affiliate marketing has lost an opportunity with the growth of social media and influencers, such as those on Instagram. We need to keep an open mind regarding all kinds of partners and treat all partnerships that are driving value the same. It’s about quality of engagement, not quantity.”
Cormac added, “Affiliate marketing is lead generation and partner marketing is where you are working together to achieve business goals. It’s a more active relationship.”
After the program, speakers and attendees stayed for networking while enjoying partnership-inspired wine and food pairings.
Our next Innovation Day is set to take place in New York in the fall. Thanks to all who made it out to our first-ever US Innovation Day, and we hope to see you in New York!