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European Innovation Day Boldly Explores the Future of Partnerships

Apr 30, 2019

We recently held our second annual European Innovation Day event in London, and it was by all counts, a smashing success. Taking place at Landing Forty Two at The Leadenhall Building, attendees were treated to thought-provoking discussions, world-class networking opportunities, and amazing views.

Partnerize Innovation Day Sean Sewell

If you are unfamiliar with our Innovation Days, they are a global series of events we deliver in cities like London, San Francisco, New York, and Sydney. The purpose is to bring together the true thought leaders of the partnerships space in a particular region. For more background, see our recent post on Innovation Day in Sydney.

For a quick re-cap of the day, here is the video of the event. More detail on all of the content follows below.

Our theme this year in London was The Future of Partnerships — an exploration into how our dynamic realm of partnership is evolving and expanding at warp speed. With more than half of leading brands reporting that partnerships drive more than 20 percent of total company revenue, it’s clear that we’re moving into a whole new realm. Innovations linked to advanced data, AI, and mobile tracking are propelling us ahead in new and thrilling ways.

Partnerize Innovation Day Toby Willis Expedia

Keynote Address: Toby Willis, Technical Program Manager, Expedia

Our inspirational keynote speaker, Toby Willis, has a unique perspective on the importance of partnerships and collaboration. Having lost his vision as an adult due to a degenerative retina condition, he shared his personal story of re-learning how to navigate society, calling it the “best thing that ever happened to me.” Toby spoke of how losing his vision forced him to get out of his comfort zone and be a better person. 

In thinking about his experience, he cites the importance of working with others, both to get what he needs, as well as to make the world a better place. This has helped him realize that, “the world doesn’t need to be accommodating to blindness, it needs to be accommodating to everyone.”

Another valuable lesson in partnership comes to life in Toby’s relationship with his guide dog. Their ability to communicate without language, in real time, mutually sharing information about a situation is remarkable. It is a partnership that evolves and gets better over time. But the difficulties Toby encounters when traveling with his guide dog, as he often does for speaking engagements, brings to light the need to make travel a more inclusive experience for everyone. Similarly, voice recognition technology can change the life of someone unable to interact with technology for whatever reason. He stressed our collective opportunity as product owners and being in technology to make a huge difference for the 1 billion people in the world with disabilities.

Toby’s message translates to the partnership arena in ways many of us may not have realized. For example, virtual reality is another key area where we can innovate. It’s becoming an integrated component of the brand experience, whether in retail, travel, or other uses. The problem is that many people can’t participate in the visual aspect of it. Again, an opportunity to bring in other aspects, such as sound and touch. As Toby says, “If we don’t think about folks with various types of experiences in the world then we miss out on opportunities to make it richer for everyone.”


Fireside Chat with Mattias Nordlander, Senior Manager, Online Marketing,

Partnerize Head of Sales EMEA, Robin Ward, sat down for a fireside chat on the evolution of partnerships with Mattias Nordlander, Senior Manager, Online Marketing, According to Mattias, partnerships are becoming more important at and are receiving more recognition across the organization. What started as mainly affiliate marketing focused, has  broadened in scope to include all forms of partnership marketing.

When it comes to finding suitable partners for the brand, Mattias first and foremost asks if they are driving, or can drive, incremental value. Proving incrementality is another way in which the industry is growing and evolving. Before, there was a much more narrow view of what was driving a sale than we have today:

“We think of it as a value chain, we think about where the user goes, what’s the journey like, and are we adding value at every touchpoint. What’s considered as lifetime customer value and can we extract that.

Mattias also spoke of the critical role of testing and analyzing the vast amounts of data that we are able to access today. “We very much have a test and learn mentality where data speaks for everything. We want to test everything. We share that information with our partners because it’s a two way street. Data is core to everything we do. As long as we can gather appropriate data, we’re happy to try different and new things.”

At, much of the focus on data ultimately comes down to the customer. As a customer-centric brand, they constantly look at how customers behave at various touchpoints and how they can improve user experience. This includes looking at what partners are driving activities. Partners are highly involved with getting existing customers to repeat purchases, and to understanding  what and when they are booking.

When it comes to B2B partnerships, it is critical that everyone across the organization understands the vision and buys-in to the strategy. Mattias said the important thing is that their team can prove they are delivering strong value through partnerships.

He closed by telling attendees, “The definition of partners is wide; content publishers, cashback, sponsorship. Partnership in this room is around the quality of customers.”

Toby asked everyone in the audience to leave the event committed to opening their minds up to new ideas.

“Offer everyone a seat at the table and listen to what they have to say to make products better for everyone. Imagination is key, it’s integral. I don’t think you can be a designer without imagination. It’s hard to think about innovation without imagination. Be willing to put yourself out there.”

Partnerize Innovation Day Panel2

Panel Discussion on The Future of Performance Marketing, featuring Jenny Cossons, Chief Partnerships Officer, Lyst; Vivien Man, Strategic Partnerships Manager, TransferWise; Kate Brooks, Performance Marketing Manager, Farfetch; and Bas Weiler, Senior Manager Partnership Marketing at adidas

Partnerize Head of Customer Success Emily Bedford moderated a powerhouse panel on the Future of Performance Marketing. As the partnership space continues to change and grow at an incredible pace, it’s truly exciting to bring together marketing leaders from major bands to hear their thoughts on where the industry is going. Vivien Man of TransferWise spoke of the importance of finding the right partners for success:

Now that performance partnerships are becoming more integrated, it’s not just about a feature on a landing page or being included in a newsletter. We have to look at how our product fits into our partners’ customer journey and how it adds value to both sides not just from a revenue point of view but also the benefit it brings to the customer.  We look to build long-term sustainable partnerships with partners who can capture intent. Transparency and alignment with brand values are also keys to partner success.”

For adidas, an important aspect of partnership means being exposed to new audiences and establishing trust. Bas Weiler explains:

“Everything we do that embodies partnership is a win-win for everyone. We look for partners that have more to gain by working with us. But those partners also have better knowledge of their target audience, so we look to use that information to reach new consumers. We trust them as a partner, they should trust you as brand.”

Jenny Cossons of Lyst stressed the importance of working across teams to drive growth through partnerships:

The way people view partnerships has changed. Today we focus on 3 key partner stakeholders – affiliate, performance marketing (both on and off platform) and brand marketing. Often teams get siloed into certain streams but really you need to take a holistic approach when it comes to partnership marketing so you can ensure you deliver the best value to your partners.”

Product Vision: Matt Simmonds, Chief Product Officer, Partnerize

Continuing with the theme of the Future of Partnerships, Partnerize Chief Product Officer Matt Simmonds introduced our latest product innovation using AI and data science, Intelligent Partner Discovery. This demonstrated that our product strategy aligns quite well with many of the themes of the day, such as the need to partner smarter and to use data and insights to drive better results.

Thanks to all who attended this year’s amazing European Innovation Day and shared their ideas on the Future of Partnerships.


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