Michael Jaconi from Button discusses increasing utilization of affiliate marketing methods and mobile commerce technology during this pandemic.
The technology powering the affiliate channel was unfortunately built in a different era without the modern marketer in mind. It relies on three parties integrating—a publisher, a network, and an advertiser (and sometimes even more)
1. Tell us about your role at Button.
As the co-founder and CEO of Button, I work alongside our amazing team to build a better way to do business in mobile through commerce-driven models. As a leading mobile commerce technology company, Button powers mobile growth for the world’s largest brands and publishers, while offering consumers more seamless, enjoyable shopping experiences. With each action taken, brands make sales, publishers earn revenue, and consumers get exactly what they want at the tap of a button.
2. That’s great, I can’t wait to dive deeper into how Button is building towards that future. But first, could you tell us about your journey into this market?
Definitely, I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur and it wasn’t until my time at Rakuten almost a decade ago that I found my foothold in this market. While at Rakuten, I witnessed the explosion of mobile-first companies in Asia, and specifically in China. Their internet economy was primarily in mobile, and it was dominated by commerce and actions that consumers take, instead of advertising.
Meanwhile, I looked at the US and how broken the traditional advertising models were over here, particularly in mobile, which resulted in high costs for brands and poor user experiences for consumers. And that was my impetus for co-founding Button—I wanted to create a win-win-win solution for all parties involved in a transaction: enabling brands to acquire new customers at the moment they are ready to purchase, allowing publishers to earn more mobile revenue in the process, and giving users more seamless shopping experiences across the mobile ecosystem. I felt that a business dedicated to these principles could become a dominant platform of the future if we were able to make commerce, not ads, the dominant fuel for the digital economy.
3. How does Button build a better way to do business in mobile? And why do you think that commerce, not advertising, is the future of the web?
Because a digital economy built on commerce transactions is more sustainable than one built on views or clicks. As marketers are increasingly looking for profitable ways to drive growth, vying for impressions or clicks alone is a monetization strategy with an expiration date. And the current pandemic has only accelerated the shift in marketing spend from advertising to conversion-based marketing
Button initially focused on bringing this model to new-economy brands like Uber, who became our first partner. Over the past 12 months, we’ve set our sights on establishing an evolution within the affiliate industry whose methods of doing business are still woefully behind the rest of digital media. Affiliate marketing is a $70B market that is poised to grow, but it’s also a market that is stuck in the past—one that is almost universally transacted through static one-to-one partnerships between brands and publishers. Today, 80% of brands are running affiliate programs and they cite it as one of their most profitable marketing channels. Yet, it remains their least scalable, least precise, and one that they struggle to grow because of the aforementioned reasons.
4. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve specifically in affiliate marketing?
The technology powering the affiliate channel was unfortunately built in a different era without the modern marketer in mind. It relies on three parties integrating—a publisher, a network, and an advertiser (and sometimes even more).
Because this integration of the three parties began decades ago, personalization, targeting, holdout groups, and incrementality aren’t capabilities that are a part of the underlying infrastructure of affiliate marketing. Importantly, those marketing capabilities are all integral components for growing budgets.
5. That sounds like quite a challenge. What then, are the innovations you have launched this year to make the affiliate channel more dynamic?
We launched the Button Evolution™ product suite this summer. Evolution is the affiliate industry’s first suite of personalization and intelligence products, including our newest product, Actionable Intelligence. This newest product provides marketers with the ability to find the optimal offers in affiliate to achieve their objectives—whether that be to drive volume and/or profitability. Companies like Uber and Groupon have already witnessed tremendous results through Actionable Intelligence. Uber Eats, for example, was able to scale revenue by 45% and drive a 100% increase in app installs while maintaining a stable return on ad spend through more precise targeting.
6. What differentiates your technology from other offerings in the mobile marketing/affiliate marketing space?
Evolution offers the following features that no other company can offer in the mobile affiliate channel today:
● Offer pricing elasticity testing
● Publisher personalization and targeting across networks and publishers
● Real-time campaign controls
● Incrementality testing and holdout groups
● Direct integrations with an advertiser CRM and/or DMP
● A privacy-first, centralized data policy instead of multiple data ingestion touchpoints
And we’re just getting started! Our team is working daily on enhancements to improve the ease of use of Evolution for marketers.
7. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture. Could you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Here’s one that I took of Button during a recent virtual happy hour (as we’re still working remotely through Q1 2021).
8. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
Here at Button, we are driven by the Japanese philosophy of anticipatory hospitality called Omotenashi—the ability of a host to predict what a guest wants. Our team embodies that spirit so not only do they support our customers and stakeholders with unparalleled service, they also support and inspire me, and one another, with that level of thoughtfulness and care.
9. What movie inspires you the most?
10. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
United Airlines for travel, Acorns for saving money, and Nest for seeing my babies.
11. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
Blocking off a few hours early each morning to make sure I’m writing and following up with team members efficiently.
12. What advice would you like to give to other technology startups?
Treat every day like Day One. That means staying flexible, staying skeptical, and staying driven. Don’t shy away from the gritty bits of running a business; in fact, embrace them.