Profile of a Growth Marketer is an ongoing series where we feature performance marketing industry leaders from around the globe.
Navigating the global expansion of an affiliate program is complicated, to say the least. The most successful companies understand that it requires having a strong, knowledgeable team on the ground who will ensure cultural nuances and customs are considered every step of the way.
So, what’s it like to develop and grow an affiliate marketing program in the APAC region?
We asked David Zhao, Uber’s Senior Regional Growth Marketing Manager of APACX to share his insights.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR ROLE AT UBER AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN IT?
I head the affiliate marketing and job board marketing team in Uber’s APAC (Asia-Pacific) region. I moved to Singapore and into this role after a short time with Uber China. Prior to Uber, I was in a role with Amazon China overseeing the online marketing activities for Amazon’s global selling business.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WEEKDAY LIKE?
It always starts with calls with our global team members from U.S. (thanks to the 16 -hour time difference between San Francisco and Singapore), followed by an hour working on emails that piled up during the night.
In the morning I work with the regional operation team as well as our city teams on the ground to get business updates and calibrate our program priorities in different countries. In the afternoon it’s usually a lot of time diving into our program performance metrics and figuring out what’s going on as well as interacting with the Acceleration Partners team to review our progress, come up tactics, explore ideas and meet publishers in person.
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT WORKING WITH UBER’S AFFILIATE PROGRAM IN APAC?
It’s a new frontier. This makes it possible to try new things and to keep learning. It’s an entirely new program for Uber, we only brought it to the region about 10 months ago. There’s a lot of room for us to explore what works in the region, try different approaches and meet a lot of new partners. At the same time, the fact that the region is so varied (14 countries with 10 languages), it drives you to have an open mind about learning local business context, understanding best practices for doing business with local publishers in the region and grow the program in a local, relevant way.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN ONLINE MARKETING TODAY?
Online marketing/online advertising has evolved at a very rapid pace. New concepts and technologies keep emerging in this field making it very challenging to stay focused, especially in terms of measurement. Yet, this is exactly what online marketers need to do. It’s essential to focus on and deliver measurable returns, regardless of which channels are being leveraged, the size of the marketing budget, etc. The key is to bring value back to merchants based on their investment in online marketing.
Also, with the increased levels of sophistication in the tracking and attribution technologies, there are more and more layers between advertisers and target audiences. Advertising fraud has become a norm that every online marketer must tackle. If the industry cannot manage this well, it will seriously jeopardize the image of online marketing.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW HAS THE AFFILIATE MARKETING MODEL ADDED VALUE TO UBER’S ONLINE MARKETPLACE?
Uber has been a very growth-driven startup. As such, we’re leveraging almost all online channels to acquire new users. Among all these online marketing channels, affiliate brings the most efficient acquisition returns given its CPA-based nature.
What’s more is that Uber’s business is also very locally-driven and city-driven. Affiliate marketing enables Uber’s acquisition efforts to reach customer segments that other channels cannot cover.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING WITH ACCELERATION PARTNERS?
The Acceleration Partners team basically work as an extension of our own team. They are affiliate marketing experts and keenly understand Uber’s business and way of working. This gives me great confidence in their handling/management of our affiliate program operation. And since the team members overseeing Uber’s APAC affiliate program have a lot of industry experience, they bring different perspectives into our business based on their knowledge of the business practice.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT THE AFFILIATE MARKETING IN ASIA-PACIFIC?
Asia-Pacific is still in the very early stage of affiliate marketing as publishers are not familiar with – or willing to – work on CPA model. There is still a lot of work to do in the region to mature the concept, develop the publisher base and scale-up the affiliate marketing business.