Tech talks, Paul Harrison, Global Head of Business Development


In our latest tech talks blog post, we are taking the time to talk all things tech and publisher with our very own Paul Harrison, Global Head of Business Development. From API to content monetisation and the challenges of expanding in new markets, read on to find out more…

Tell us about your role and the team/technology that you handle at Kelkoo Group?

I manage a commercial team responsible for identifying revenue opportunities and growing our network of traffic partners. I see my role as being a link between the Product / Engineering team and the commercial needs of the business, gathering feedback on the latest industry trends and the latest publisher use cases for our API and feed solutions.

The team that I am building started over a year ago, a lot of our publisher opportunities are international, and that’s reflected in my team and the fact that we are able to work with publishers in as many countries as possible. That’s the way that the industry is going and it’s how we have built success in the publisher side of the business, through scalability, and that’s a theme that we always lead with; “You’ve got a concept that works really well, let us be your partner to help you scale it, build it and launch it across many countries.”

We provide the content and the tools that publishers require to build a good looking website, providing a first rate experience for the user.

What changes have you witnessed in the affiliate marketing landscape during the past two years?

I have seen the quality of product feeds improve the past few years– product feeds are now fuller and richer than ever which is great news for publishers – the better the input the better the output – it means our traffic is more relevant and better converting than ever.

Ad fraud continues to grow in the industry as fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated – spotting the fraudsters is a key part of the job which is why we employ a variety of checks and measures to stop fraudsters from gaining access to our network in the first place.

Specific to our space we’ve seen some publisher types that used to rely on Google for a lot of their traffic be squeezed out, as we’ve seen less of the ‘trickle down’ effect on Google search results. A lot of that demand is being taken by the product listing ads, so as a user you are not drawn down that search results page – there’s less inventory if you are trying to generate traffic from Google as a search publisher. Some publishers have also become competitors. We have to be sensitive to that, but it doesn’t preclude us from working with any publishers – we still like to establish ‘frenemy’ relationships. When you position it like that, publishers understand that there is an incentive to both cooperate and compete with us. If we did everything in-house and didn’t give access to the feeds, we would have a lot more control but we wouldn’t have these opportunities.

So, what I am seeing is partnering with other companies, other publishers, the size of the ‘pie’ becomes larger as you have an exponential growth opportunity. It’s an interesting eco-system, only publishers that provide value for consumers survive so we want to associate ourselves with those high quality publishers.

How does Kelkoo Group stand out compared to other tech companies?

Our people – having a vibrant, international team means we huge experience. For publishers, having a friendly, expert that help take their successful concept in one country and scale it to 25 countries is unique. Our publishers are an extension of our business – when they succeed so do we. In fact, since I joined we have rewarded our publishers by paying them more than 75 million Euros for providing us traffic that converts for our merchants. Another key strength is our sole focus on e-commerce, this specialism allows us to spot trends in one country and repeat them in other countries. We also have a broad range of experience working with different types of integrations. All types of publishers are welcome to work with us e.g. coupon sites, price comparison sites, ad networks, browser extensions etc. so we can always find a way of working.

What challenges do you feel that publishers face when it comes to increasing conversion rates via traffic acquisition channels?

It’s important to look for a partner that is able to provide good support, and we’ve always prioritised that– having a named point of contact, an account manager for you that you can just pick up the phone to if you have any areas that you want to work on together. We are pushing more and more on the quality side as our quality mix is better than it’s ever been, so our overall standard to be accepted as a publisher with us is now higher than ever.

That’s also a challenge as we only know if the traffic is good once it’s been launched. We ask all of our publishers for evidence of performance before they join – we police each opportunity closely. We have to say ‘no’ to as many publishers as we say ‘yes’ to.

Control is another challenge – choosing an adverting partner that allows you to have a say in the look and feel is important as publishers often put great effort into building a great site only for it to be let down by poor advertising.

What tips can you provide on managing content monetisation effectively?

You need to be granular and have an understanding of the yield, while never losing site of your bounce rate. For me, the worst thing is to pay for a visit and then have them ‘bounce’ off your site without clicking on something that is earning you revenue as a publisher. Whether that’s them clicking on one of our ads, or another ad – it has to be a monetised action. There are various techniques which we offer and that’s continuously developing to ensure that monetisation rates are high.

How can publishers compete for traffic when the effective cost-per-click has increased significantly over the past year, due in large part to the Google/Facebook advertising duopoly?

I think that the way that the regulatory authorities are leading the charge is the strongest focus than it’s ever been on both sides of the Atlantic, not just in Europe where we are very closely involved in keeping checks on the duopoly. We have very successful publishers that don’t rely on Google at all. If you are merchant looking to access an alternative ecosystem and gain additional reach then Kelkoo is a perfect provider and a perfect partner. We always are seeking to diversify our traffic sources, and in fact when I attend events you a negative attitude amongst the publisher community towards the power the duopoly has. Kelkoo gives much more flexibility, publishers can decide the look and feel of their website and we work closely in a partnership approach. Our publishers work with us for 7 or 8 years, they are looking to build something with us. We are all about building long-term relationships, in fact we have been offering publisher solutions for fifteen plus years and we value those relationships.

Diversifying traffic sources is so important – it’s no longer possible to rely on your traffic from just one source, a blend of traffic from different sources at different price points is the way to go – provided you can drive the appropriate performance, it’s really all about finding the right traffic.