About Our Guest
David joined the Awin Group in January 2022, having previously been General Manager for Alibaba Group in the UK, Netherlands, and Nordics. David brings international digital expertise after 15 years in leadership roles at Alibaba and Google. At Alibaba, David helped hundreds of European businesses to launch their digital operations in China, while establishing and growing the teams in Northern Europe; at Google, among other roles he led the UK Retail & Technology sales and operations teams. With overall responsibility for Awin and ShareASale’s relationship with its customers, David’s focus is on ensuring that all customers, of all sizes, enjoy success and sustainable growth as they work with the Awin Group.
In this episode of the Performance Marketing Spotlight, host Marshall Nyman sits down with David Lloyd, the Chief Customer Officer at Awin. After telling us a bit about his origins and professing his tumultuous but undying support for his hometown Portsmouth FC, David takes us through his journey in the performance marketing space. David shares insights from his experiences at Google, Alibaba, and his current role at Awin. He discusses the unique aspects of Awin, its global presence, and the upcoming ThinkTank event, offering a sneak peek into what attendees can expect. Join us as we delve into the world of affiliate marketing and gain valuable perspectives from David Lloyd.
Marshall Nyman [00:00:03]:
Hello and welcome to the performance marketing Spotlight. I’m your host, Marshall Nyman, founder and CEO of Nymo Co. Each episode, I will be bringing you someone with deep experience in the performance marketing space where they will highlight their experiences within the industry. Today I have David Lloyd, chief customer officer at Awin and Sharecell. Welcome to the podcast, David.
David Lloyd [00:00:23]:
Thanks, Marshall. Great to be here.
Marshall Nyman [00:00:25]:
Very excited to have you on today. Let’s jump right into it. Would love for you to introduce yourself to the audience so they can get to know you a bit.
David Lloyd [00:00:30]:
I’m from the UK, as you can probably tell from my accent. Brought up on the south coast of the UK in a town called Portsmouth, which is a navy town. Went to school there till I was 18. Still support the football team, the soccer team there, which is a very disappointing experience because they had a period of being very good, and now for the longest time, they’ve been really very bad and don’t show too much sign of improving and get down there when I can. My family aren’t there anymore, but I still visit when possible. In terms of family, I am in a very long term partnership with a wonderful woman called Suzanne. We have a one year old daughter, like literally, she turned one two weeks ago, who is lovely. She’s called Sophia.
David Lloyd [00:01:13]:
Very, very joyful. Gives me a cold more or less every two weeks, which has been fantastic. But basically, apart from dealing with low level illness for the last six months, she’s been a real joy. And then look what else I probably didn’t have. I think like a lot of people who came into digital in the kind of didn’t necessarily have the most obvious background. I studied literature, I did english literature and french language and literature at university. I studied in Oxford, spent some time living in France, was pretty sure that I was going to be an academic or a teacher. But then around the time I was at university, just got really excited about seeing the speed of development on the web became pretty clear to me.
David Lloyd [00:01:52]:
I wanted to make my career there. And so from the kind of mid 2000s, really kind of focused all of my energy there and then beyond that, in terms of me, when I’m not obsessing about Awin and affiliate and performance marketing, I run quite a bit. I still occasionally play football, soccer, pretty badly, increasingly badly, I would say, and increasingly infrequently. And apart from that, yeah, I mean really spend a lot of time with my daughter. I’m looking forward to getting back to traveling now that she’s a bit older and I’m fingers crossed, can trust her not to cry too much on a plane.
Marshall Nyman [00:02:25]:
Well, I’m all about traveling with the kids, and we’ve gone all over the world with them on the plane, so it’s worth it once you get there. Maybe the flight sometimes is not so fun, though. And yeah, we’re dealing with all the same colds here. We got five, three and eight months. So when you go to affiliate summit, everybody’s like worried to get something. I’m like, I’ve already gotten everything. I’ve got all the antibodies. So I come back from an affiliate summit, I’m feeling good.
Marshall Nyman [00:02:48]:
So you got your start in the space in 2007 at Google. You were there for about ten years. Would love to hear how you got started and your experience.
David Lloyd [00:02:55]:
Yeah, sure. So before that, I was working in a kind of small advertising consultancy for about three, four years. Was very clear in my mind I wanted to move into digital. Had a great opportunity to go and work at Google back in 2007. And, yeah, I look, I had a variety of roles. You can imagine if you go back 17 years, which it’s kind of horrible to say that, right? 17 years, if you go back that far, things were really quite different. So the growth was incredibly high. There were businesses who literally significant businesses who literally barely had a website, certainly didn’t have ecommerce, were really only starting out in terms of digital marketing.
David Lloyd [00:03:30]:
So there was just tons and tons of opportunity to go and educate those businesses, spend time with them, help them understand how they could improve their digital presence. Also the ecommerce, the efficiency of it, the effectiveness of it, build their brands online. And that was really what I spent most of my time doing. So I was really always on the sales and account management teams, initially working with an extraordinary range of businesses, from tech to oil, to ecom to some finance customers, eventually settled and really focused in on retail. So I spent a lot of my time there working with retail brands. Built and grew the home and garden team there in the UK and in Ireland, the fashion team. So I spent a lot of time working with fashion brands in the UK and across Europe, ultimately leading the retail and technology team based in Dublin. So I used to commute to Dublin, I’d live in Dublin four days of the week and then come home to London three days of the week, and that was a really kind of great opportunity for me.
David Lloyd [00:04:26]:
Right. I think I ended up working with so many different businesses at so many different stages of their evolution, seeing the impact that digital could have on their business. That was incredibly exciting, and I learned a huge amount. So it was a pretty cool ten years, made great friends, had a lot of fun, managed to take a sabbatical in the middle of it where my partner and I spent several months living in New Delhi, where we worked for a charity that was very much focused on women’s rights and girls rights, keeping girls in education, preventing domestic abuse as much as possible, all these kinds of things. So you had tons and tons of opportunity there and it’s something. Yeah, I look back on with a lot of happiness. Yeah.
Marshall Nyman [00:05:02]:
I mean, I’m sure in the late 2000s, early 2010, it was probably a really exciting time at Google and be able to take a sabbatical like that. Seems like they really supported their employees and so always nice to hear be able to do something like that.
David Lloyd [00:05:15]:
Yeah, it was remarkable. It was a nice place to be. The business was great. There was also just way too much food, way too much free time. So I reflect on it and I look back and I look at photos of myself from the late two thousand s, and it’s very apparent I spent a lot of time eating.
Marshall Nyman [00:05:32]:
I think it was in those office environments, all those free meals and everything. So then after Google, you made the pivot to Alibaba. What did you do at your time at Alibaba?
David Lloyd [00:05:43]:
Yeah, so they came to me, I think this was in 2016, and at the time I was working at Google in Dublin, and the remit there was initially to be the business development director. So really look for opportunities to grow. Alibaba, which has a ton of different business units in the UK and northern Europe. Just within about a month or so of joining the company, I became the managing director for the UK and the Nordics. A little while after that, I took on the Netherlands as well. So really most of northern Europe was in my remit and it was a variety of stuff. It was a really fascinating place to work. Right, because the landscape in China is changing all of the time.
Marshall Nyman [00:06:23]:
David Lloyd [00:06:23]:
The pace of development there is incredibly fast. Businesses spring up incredibly quickly. So even now, just two years on from leaving, I’m probably out of date. But if I think back to when I was there, China was probably half of the world’s e commerce, more or less. It was the number one market and it was bigger than, I think, the US, UK, Japan combined. It was just an extraordinarily large market, and Alibaba had a huge share of that consumer market. So what we were doing was saying, well, are there learnings we can take from there and build marketplace businesses in Europe? Some of which we did. Can we work with travel agencies with locations around Europe to help them attract chinese consumers who like to travel, particularly a couple of times a year around Chinese New Year and Golden week, what they call an autumn festival.
David Lloyd [00:07:10]:
And we did a lot of that. But the real focus and where I ended up spending the huge majority of my time was, apart from building the team, was helping brands from the region to launch themselves in China. And so there’s a very large Marketplace, Alibaba operates in China called Taobao. There’s another part of that called Timor and Timor. Taobao is like a huge, huge marketplace. You can find basically anything on there, right? It’s probably got a billion listings and phenomenally popular. Timor was a marketplace as part of Taobao where you could open brand stores. So a brand would go there.
David Lloyd [00:07:45]:
And if you were a brand of any size, the smart thing to do when you enter China was not to launch your own website, to try and sell from that. It was to go onto Timor and to open a store within there. So rather than going to the high street and opening your own shop, you go to the shopping mall and rent some space, because that was the shopping mall where everyone went to shop, and that was T Mall. So I spent a lot of time doing that. We literally launched hundreds of brands onto the platform in China. I think the last time I looked back at the numbers, just UK brands from that work we were doing were turning over about 4 billion pounds. So I guess at the time, like five to $6 billion, probably worth less now, but five to $6 billion on the platforms in China. And that was where I really spent most of my time.
David Lloyd [00:08:25]:
The rest of it, I was kind of focused on payments business, Alipay, which was very popular. But honestly, there was just a ton of stuff. It’s a sprawling business interested in a bunch of different areas. And to give you one kind of small example, on top of know, I remember relatively early on traveling to Denmark, that was one of the regions I was responsible for and doing a deal with danish crown, who are a huge, huge pork producer. Pork incredibly popular in China, and signing a deal to open up what I think was the biggest kind of pork production and processing business in China from an overseas company. We did similar deals with seafood. So every time I thought I knew what I was know, selling fashion, selling electronics, they’d tell no, do tourism. So my third day, I went to Lapland and helped launch a rebrand of the platform with apparently Santa Claus and a bunch of chinese influencers.
David Lloyd [00:09:21]:
So I was learning about travel. Then they say, oh, I do payments and then just when you thought you nailed it, you found out you had to become a seafood expert. So it was a really amazing opportunity. Kind of bewildering in terms of scope. It was very hard work, but enjoyably hard work. But by the time I came to the end of it, I was there pretty much five years. It felt like ten. It was incredibly fun.
David Lloyd [00:09:45]:
But the other thing I’d say about that is, at least for the first two years, pre pandemic, I used to go to China once a month for a week. And so if you do that from the UK and it would be even worse from the US, you’re basically guaranteeing yourself two weeks of jet lag. A I also. I definitely looked a lot older at the end of it versus when I started.
Marshall Nyman [00:10:04]:
Well, I’m sure that was an experience and sure you learned a lot. Sounds like it really kept you on your toes for sure. Well, after spending some time at Alibaba, you made the switch to Awin. You’ve been there now for two years. Would love to know what made you want to move over there.
David Lloyd [00:10:19]:
Yeah, it was a few things, right? I mean, first of all, I felt ready. So when the opportunity came up, I was really interested to look for a board role. We’re a relatively tight team managing the company, looking for a company that was clearly kind of healthy, successful and great record of success, which Aewin has, but had a very kind of clear growth opportunity as well, a really clear pathway. And then the other element of it was the team. And I spent a lot of time with Adam, our CEO, Verpi, our CFO. Go. And it sounds really simple, but we just got on very, very well and you almost have to aim off for that. I think when you’re interviewing a job, if you get on with the people so well, you have to almost check yourself and say, well, is the job right, is the company right? Because I can tell the people are right.
David Lloyd [00:11:03]:
But it really ticked all of those boxes. Huge opportunity, tremendous people, and not just the board, but really all of the people in the company. Big opportunity to expand internationally, but also in terms of different product areas. And all of those things just really excited me. Awesome.
Marshall Nyman [00:11:17]:
So why don’t you tell us a bit more about Awin and the role you serve as CCO?
David Lloyd [00:11:21]:
Yeah, I could go on for hours, but I sense you don’t want that, so I’ll try and give you the short version. So Awin, we’ve been around for about 20 years and it’s great because our CEO Adam has been there pretty much since the start. He spent almost his entire career in the company and he has this unique perspective where he. I think he started it. I think he started in one of the tech teams, became an account manager, has worked his way up through the organization pretty quickly and really understands every element of affiliate marketing. And that’s great because as somebody new to the space or relatively new two years ago, having somebody like that who can kind of guide me through some of those pitfalls and the things he’s seen before has been incredibly useful. So we’re about 20 years old, we’re roughly 1400 people spread around the globe. We have very strong teams, I would say in terms of size, in terms of size of business in the UK, Germany and the US, but we also have teams all over the place.
David Lloyd [00:12:14]:
So I don’t want to name all of the offices because I’ll inevitably forget one and then end up offending one of my team. But I think we have offices in about 1314 countries growing all the time. We have 25,000 brands working with us on the platform. We have about 270,000 active, like sale active publishers working with us. And yeah, I mean, what we’re about is creating connections between them. I mean, you know affiliate marketing really, really well. I’m sure you know it better than I do because you’ve been around the space longer than me, so I’m sure there’s a lot you can teach me about it. But the way I view it is our job is to make it very, very easy for advertisers, for brands to find the right partners who can grow their revenue, grow their brand and deliver great ROI.
David Lloyd [00:12:56]:
And very, very easy for publishers to find brands who they can easily support, who they can easily integrate with, who their audience can make a ton of sense to. And so that’s what we’re really, really focused on, is making it as easy as possible, as scalable as possible for businesses of any size to partner. And then when I think about what that opportunity looks like, and this is why I was so excited to join the business, I really think that we, not just awim, but the actual entire affiliate marketing industry, can command a lot more space in the minds of cmos and ceos than we do today. Because we know that the big tech firms tend to take roughly three out of every $4 spent on advertising. Whereas you’ve got $4 in front of you and one’s going to Google, roughly one to Facebook, one to Amazon, and then you’ve got $1 left out of your four, and it has to go on the entire rest of the Internet, which is a challenge, right? That’s a scale challenge. It’s a complexity challenge. And what I think Aewin can do really, really well is say, come talk to us. It’s not straightforward, come talk to us.
David Lloyd [00:13:53]:
And we can find all of the richness of the Internet, all of these amazing publishers, from incentive partners, through influencers, content sites, technology partners, brand to brand partnerships, we can find the right partners for you. We can deliver great ROI, but we can also deliver brand benefits. And that for me is really exciting. So that’s what Aewin is doing, right? Creating as many of the right partnerships as possible and then enabling them incredibly simply, and then trying to drive scale and ROI for brands.
Marshall Nyman [00:14:19]:
And you hit the nail on the head when you’re talking about having a budget and plan and stuff like that. And I think as an affiliate manager, many times for many brands, there was always the other channels that seem to get. When you said one of the four, I think it’s even less than it probably a long time ago it seemed like we were getting maybe 5% of the pie and maybe now we’re getting ten or 15% of the budget. So it is trending upwards. But yeah, it’s definitely a battle. But I think people are starting to see the value in performance based marketing. And so I think the uptick over the last few years, especially with the economic environment, has been huge.
David Lloyd [00:14:55]:
Marshall Nyman [00:14:56]:
So what are some things that make Awin truly unique?
David Lloyd [00:14:59]:
I mean, there’s a few, right? It’s very sold quickly, but very importantly and very honestly say to people, the culture in the company is phenomenal. And it was a big part of me wanting to join and I felt very lucky that they offered me a job because when a company with a culture like that offers you a job, it kind of makes you feel like, okay, you’re doing something right. I look around, I consistently feel new, and that’s because people want to stay in the company. So I’m surrounded by people who have been there 7810, 1214 years, the CEO has been there nearly 20. And it’s a really special environment where people support each other and want to grow, but also they’re focused on customers. And the feedback we get from the customers we support is really outstanding. Right. I’m constantly being sent kind of quotes, getting feedback from customers that are incredibly important to me in terms of the way we support.
David Lloyd [00:15:45]:
So that’s one part I think the other piece about Awin that I think makes us really unique and it makes it an exciting place to work is we’re truly global, right? We are really genuinely present across continents. We have significant offices and significant client bases all around the world. We do have very strong markets, as I mentioned, right? UK, us, Germany, among others. But we have great growing business, growing incredibly quickly in southern Europe, for example, in APAC, in Australia, in Latin America. That makes it a very exciting, genuinely global company with brilliant people, brilliant customers and publishers all around the world. So I think that’s important. Then the other piece that we’ve really been focused on has been we’re offering an increasingly differentiated proposition to advertisers. So we’ve spent a lot of time launching last year a good better breast proposition, or what we call a one access, a one accelerate, and a one advanced where we’re able to cater to customers needs really specifically.
David Lloyd [00:16:41]:
And so you don’t have to just have one version of our platform. If you’re an SME that wants kind of simple, scalable solutions, we’ve got that with Awin access. If you’re a power user who’s been doing affiliate for a long time and has really complex needs and huge programs, we have Awin advanced. And if you’re then in that kind of body somewhere in between and not sure, we have Awin accelerate. They’re all brilliant at what they do. What it enables us to do is to really design around the customer and that’s very powerful for us. Awesome.
Marshall Nyman [00:17:07]:
What’s been your favorite part of working at Awin so far?
David Lloyd [00:17:10]:
I think probably it’s contained in my last answer. Right, which is the global nature of it, going around the world, spending time with our teams and customers. I was in Vegas last week at SW and amazing to see some of the customers we have there, but also just brilliant to spend time with our team who are just such a committed, smart, thoughtful group of people there in the. So that I would say has been my favorite part. Getting to know the teams and the customers all around the world.
Marshall Nyman [00:17:36]:
The FaceTime makes a big difference. Anytime you get to meet somebody and even if it’s just for a few minutes, it definitely changes the relationship. And with affiliate marketing, it’s all about the relationship. So yeah, definitely getting in front of people is helpful.
David Lloyd [00:17:47]:
Marshall Nyman [00:17:48]:
Right. Well, Awin brought back think tank in 2023. I had the opportunity to attend last year and excited. I just bought my tickets for this year as well. Tell us what we could expect about the event and why so many of us are excited about this year’s I.
David Lloyd [00:18:02]:
Think it’s going to be great I mean, I know there was a lot of passion around think tank, and we brought it back last year after the pandemic and really excited about what we’re going to do this year. So there’s a bunch of stuff. First, what’s different this year? I’m definitely going to be there, which I wasn’t able to be last year because I had a commitment elsewhere in the world and I was kind of gutted to miss it. So I’ll be there. I hope I’ll see you. I’ll be there, too. We will have a ton of attendees. Really quality group of people from advertisers, publishers, really keen to spend time with each other, building relationships.
David Lloyd [00:18:34]:
I’m told pre pandemic had a kind of welcome happy hour where we could get together the day before the event. So spread it across two days, really network with people, get to know those faces you haven’t seen for a while. That’s going to be there this year. We’re going to have great external speakers, so kind of watch this space for the announcement on those externals. We have customers, partners who want to get on stage, and I think that’s going to be really special. The awards ceremony, which I know is a highlight for people, there’s a ton of stuff, and what we’re also making sure we do is make space beyond what I think will be a really excellent lineup of speakers. Great opportunity to kind of socialize, for brands, partners to get together one to one. So we create a lot of space for one to one meetings, bilaterals, where you can really kind of threshold deals and work out how you want to work together.
Marshall Nyman [00:19:17]:
So a great opportunity to get that FaceTime that we were just talking about and enhance those partnerships that you’re looking to grow.
David Lloyd [00:19:23]:
Exactly that. Exactly that. And you said it right. This industry is really about relationships, and we’re really focused on building those.
Marshall Nyman [00:19:30]:
Perfect. And one last question before we wrap. What’s been your favorite part of working in the performance marketing industry so far?
David Lloyd [00:19:36]:
Great question. My favorite part, I’ve made a lot of really good friendships, like really special friendships with people across the companies I’ve worked in. And if I’m really honest personally, that’s been my favorite part, like the people I’ve got to know and spend time with from around the world. But if I think really kind of professionally, what I love is the fact that you have this constant opportunity to prove your value. And that’s really important, that there’s a ton of innovation, the way people market, the way they advertise, the way they connect to consumers is constantly changing, right? And there’s constant innovation in the space, but you still always have this opportunity and in fact, this requirement to prove your value. And actually the kind of geeky, kind of very numbers focused part of my brain loves that, loves kind of work out well, what does that value look like for you? Understanding the challenge, saying, what’s your challenge? What’s the value we can bring to you? And then really thinking about how we bring it. And that is fantastic because you don’t have to make it up, you don’t have to BS, it’s real, but sometimes you have to work hard to show it.
Marshall Nyman [00:20:38]:
I guess I’m a geek too, because I’m a numbers guy as well. Numbers don’t lie, so I think that’s a good way to wrap. I really appreciate you coming on. A lot of great insights. A big thank you to David from Awin for joining the podcast this week. Great insights on your background and how we can leverage affiliate marketing and use Awin as a platform for success. What is the best way for listeners to connect with you?
David Lloyd [00:21:00]:
David? Normally LinkedIn. LinkedIn. I’m very findable, so if you look for me on LinkedIn, it’s pretty straightforward and I love to hear from people and always happy to give people my email address as well when they contact me.
Marshall Nyman [00:21:12]:
Perfect. We’ll make sure to reach out if you have any questions. Again, end thank you to David. If you’ve enjoyed this content, please give us a like or a follow. Thank you for joining us. I am Marshall Nyman, host of the performance marketing Spotlight, signing off. Thank you.