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Social Media Portal interview with Sarah Parsonage from A4u and A4u Events

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 28 September 2012

Social Media Portal interview with Sarah Parsonage from A4u and A4u Events

Social Media Portal profiled interview with Sarah Parsonage, managing director of A4u and A4u Events about the forthcoming a4uexpo London 2012 conference

a4uexpo logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your full name, job title and role (what do you do there) at A4u (and for the a4uexpo London 2012)?

Sarah Parsonage (SP)
: Sarah Parsonage, managing director of A4u and A4u Events and I oversee the management and strategic delivery of A4u and our event program

SMP: Briefly, tell us about a4uexpo London 2012, when is it scheduled?

SP: a4uexpo London is the largest European Performance Marketing Conference. It takes place on the 16th and 17th October 2012 at the Hilton Metropole. Now in its 10th year, the a4uexpo series has grown and developed to reflect the innovation and evolution of Performance Marketing over the last 10 years.

With over 40 individual sessions and panel debates from across 100 speakers, we ensure that a4uexpo really does put content and education at the heart of the event. It’s also the perfect platform for meeting with the top advertisers, publishers, networks, agencies and technology providers in the industry.

The heritage of A4u allows us to stay at the cutting edge of performance marketing. It means we have our finger on the pulse when it comes to what’s currently affecting the industry and what is likely to in the future. The site’s standing enables us to programme and structure an agenda from a huge amount of submissions that incorporates the latest strategies, technologies and innovation as well as harnessing debate on the future of the industry.

This year a4uexpo really will be bigger and better. I am of course going to say that, but it’s true! Every year we innovate to ensure that we meet and exceed expectations for every single delegate, speaker, exhibitor and sponsor.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

SP: Our target audience ranges across the various individuals practicing every facet of Performance Marketing. We cover Search, Social, Attribution, Display, M-Commerce and Affiliate subject areas. All demographics are considered such as networks, agencies, advertisers, publishers, technology providers and even member of the press.

The whole event is targeted at individuals who may be well versed in Performance Marketing or those that are completely new to it. It is of vital importance that a4uexpo educates those that are new and inspires the old, so to speak. As we can see we plan the event with every single demographic in mind.  

Photograph of Sarah Parsonage, managing director of A4u and A4u EventsSMP: What is it that a4uexpo London 2012 does that’s different to other events in this space?

It is a well known fact that the event space within digital marketing is becoming saturated. The result is that visitors expect more, especially in the last few years. Businesses are becoming smarter about what event to attend, speak at and or sponsor, which in my view is a good thing. It puts pressure on us as organisers to constantly innovate and constantly redefine ourselves. It ensures that we deliver and nothing is more vital when you’re a ‘paid for’ model such as ourselves.

a4uexpo is different. It’s unlike any trade show. We create a Performance Marketing community for two days that enables our visitors to learn and network in a structured and targeted environment. There will always be the option to refuel with coffee and a two course hot lunch. There’s complimentary Wi-Fi and networking bars along with a host of fantastic and quirky features that we have become renowned for.

SMP: How the days are structured – what’s on offer?

SP: OK, we could be here a while. To keep it brief, the event pans two days beginning with our first conference session at 9.00am. Twenty individual presentations and panel debates across three different tracks then follow. The conference agenda is intertwined with a host of features in the exhibition hall such as

Meet the Agencies provides an opportunity to chat with the top agencies across performance marketing. You can discover the brands they represent and how they might be able to support your programme.

The Digital Clinics run in the afternoon and offer a selection of intimate conversations with leading experts. They cover everything from digital law in performance marketing to funding and investment. You can expect clear strategic advice on how to take your business to the next level.

The Street is a new facet of the exhibition hall. It enables those new to a4uexpo to experience the exhibition hall floor and meet with the leading players at a reduced investment.  There are numerous other exciting features, which I’m afraid I can’t mention just yet.

Day One culminates with Vertical Speed Networking. An intense environment will be provided for Publishers, Advertisers and Agencies specialising in Fashion, Finance, Telecoms and Travel to meet in a quick fire round over a beverage or two. Think of it as speed dating, but without the romance.

The exhibition networking drinks reception this year is the perfect down time to have a drink and meet over thirty five exhibitors before heading to the official networking party this year at Jewel, Piccadilly. The complimentary bar will support conversations started during the day.

We then get up on Wednesday morning to do it all over again. A full itinerary can be found at

SMP: What will be the highlights of the a4uexpo London 2012 conference?

SP: Everything that I have just mentioned.. ;-) I have a few personal highlights. ‘Stop raining on my Parade, where the Director of Performance at 7thingsmedia David McDermott will identify and analyse the direct correlation between the types of weather we have and online sales patterns is one. I believe it to be a very prudent topic this year.

Another session I will be attending is ‘The PR boot camp’. Established Public Relations agency, 10yetis, and Affiliate Window’s Head of Public Relations will have many interesting points to make. It’s an interactive session that will uncover how to become a social media expert as well as discussing PR strategies that work.

Finally I am looking forward to an interesting debate on how KPIs could be causing an industry monopoly, a hotly debated subject at the moment. I have numerous more favourites including ‘Understanding Stateside Affiliation’ from an American-based agency. If I had my way I would go to every session.  

Other key highlights will be our previously mentioned digital clinics. The kind of advice on offer is not something a lot of people have access to. However it’s critical to building a successful business strategy

How could I forget our parties?  They never fail to make a night to remember! I don’t want to give anyone else’s plans or secrets away, so I will stop there.

SMP: What are the most important things that attendees can take away from the A4uexpo London 2012?

SP: Put Simply: Education. Just the three or four sessions I have outlined above showcase how delegates will be taking away useful, real-time advice. Top hints and tips from people that have succeeded and failed. Our speakers know how to make these strategies work to drive a smarter more financially viable programme.

For many years affiliate marketing has been tarnished with a dirty name, but this is simply a case of a lack of knowledge or understanding of the channel and the wider facets of Performance Marketing. However perceptions are beginning to change and at a4uexpo we educate those that are both new and old to the channel. Throughout the event they’ll learn about the complexities and rewards of the channel, which in my opinion is invaluable.

Next up is networking. a4uexpo is a fantastic opportunity to meet with clients you haven’t seen for a few months. You can schedule a meeting that has been on the cards for weeks. Of course, there’s also the opportunity to meet new clients. Our model ensures that the audience at a4uexpo is made up of decision makers that are keen to do business. So expect to take away a lot of business cards!

Other takes aways will include exhaustion and some memories. They might be either good or bad depending on the quality of the dance moves this time around.

SMP: Tell us about ‘performance marketing’ and how that has changed over the last year (or couple of years)?

SP: As I touched on previously Performance Marketing evolves constantly; in the last year we have seen a greater emphasis on long tail and content sites, with a focus on incremental sales and the use of data to execute campaigns smartly. This has led to a greater collaboration between advertisers and publishers, especially with the emergence of brands and affiliates using social media to generate engagement and revenue.
Affiliate is driving the emergence of Performance Marketing enabling the wider marketer to measure ROI and accountability and with this comes the onus for the industry to professionalise itself, to step up a level and innovate in order to stay ahead of the game. A lot has been said of next year being a huge learning curve on the demands of advertisers, networks, agencies and technology providers to reap the available reward if they can continuously engage, influence and reward customers, either via technologies, content led campaigns or adopting effective m-commerce strategies, whatever it looks like being that bit smarter will drive significant revenue for those involved. This topic features heavily at a4uexpo as we examine how we as an industry can meet the demands of the consumer. It is hugely exciting to be part of such a phenomenal industry and it is our responsibility at A4u to support this. 

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far (and for this conference)?

SP: By my very nature I can be inherently impatient. I wouldn’t call it a low point as such, but I become quite quickly frustrated by the general lack of knowledge about the industry and the lack of respect it receives. I want to be able to change people’s perceptions from the top e-commerce directors to radio 4. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I hope a4uexpo goes a long way to achieving this.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far (and for this conference)?

SP: Ha-ha! There are too many to mention. We are very lucky to have a phenomenal team at A4u who are passionate about what they do. They believe very much in the mission, if you like, behind a4uexpo, and what we are setting out to achieve. Seeing it all come together is a big rush.

SMP: Is there an early bird discount (if so, when does it end)?

SP: There is, but it ends on Sunday (30 September 2012). So be quick! We also have a lot of other pricing options tailored to suit different people; have a look at for more information.

I will also give all SMP readers an exclusive 15% discount which can be used on a full conference pass MISSPARSNIP15 this code can be entered online during the registration process.

SMP: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

SP: I have talked a lot about the importance of a4uexpo and the incredible features that make it what it is today. However, none of this is possible without the support of our sponsors, exhibitors, and speakers who support A4u, me and the event. So a huge thank you to each and every one of them.

SMP: Best way to contact you?

SP: I can be contacted via:

Twitter @missparsnip
Sarah Parsonage on LinkedIn
@a4uexpo on Twitter and #a4uexpo for the hash tags for the event
@a4u for affiliate and performance news and hash tag #a4u

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast and lunch?

SP: Err blueberries and yoghurt for breakfast and a pesto chicken flatbread and pretzels for lunch. I have a pretzel addiction.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

SP: Introduced them to Hendricks!

SMP: If you weren’t running or working on the a4uexpo London 2012 (or doing what you do) what would you be doing?

SP: Making pasta in Italy. I still might.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

SP: Croatia last month, surrounded by only a few sheep and some goats, which was absolutely luxury.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

SP: Coffee.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

SP: Mmm time travel, but only to go back in time to the 70’s or 20’s for the music and the fashion. I am happy to let the future happen.

SMP: One of your favourite brands using social media?

Louboutin or Liberty’s.

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