7 Must-Consider Partner Types in 2022
By William Hamer-Jones, VP Partnerships & Affiliate
Sponsored content from our partner Matterkind

April 20th, 2022

The affiliate marketing and partnerships space is changing and expanding in fundamental ways. While traditional affiliate types like cashback and deal sites continue to play an integral role in maximizing results, new partner classes are emerging with enormous sales potential. Ours is a transformed affiliate landscape, and savvy affiliate marketers are out in front of all this change.

These new partner types also provide fantastic opportunities to create synergies with other parts of a brand’s go-to-market strategy. Strategic affiliate leaders embrace them as part of holistic marketing programs that maximize brand value by putting each customer at the center of a personalized program to shape the entire customer journey.  

Capitalizing on these new opportunities contributes to conscious marketing, a principle pioneered by Matterkind that helps ensure we constantly deliver value to the customer. By being relevant, authentic, and purposeful in all our partnerships, we weave our brands into customer lives in powerful and lasting ways. As you look for opportunities to grow your brand in 2022, put these seven partner types at the top of your “must-consider” list.

Mainstream Publishers

Any partnership requires effort to cultivate, so we must choose

the best potential growth drivers from among the thousands of

opportunities available. This is one of the fundamental ideas that

help us take a more data-driven approach to the category.

Traditional or mainstream publishers are just such an option.

By mainstream publishers, we mean high-quality, content-driven

media businesses that readers seek for information and ideas.

Examples include online magazine brands like Real Simple or

Conde Nast Travel and pure-play content sites like TreeHugger,

All Recipes, and Wirecutter. Many of these brands built their businesses with pay-for-exposure CPM advertising. But in 2022, they are aggressively pursuing performance marketing dollars. Here’s why:

 

  • Google, Facebook, and Amazon now capture 64% of the “tradigital” media dollars, leaving little left for quality content brands

  • Addressable  buying, which has propelled the growth of the tech giants, often undervalues the importance of content and high-quality editorial. The audience is king, context a secondary consideration

  • Publisher recognition that performance dollars enable brands to capture more of the true value delivered by high-quality content and brand credibility

Mainstream publishers have hired large teams to develop content and marketplaces to attract affiliate program dollars. These initiatives are powered by the same affiliate links that help us track sales on the traditional affiliate publishers. Sales from such partners are strong and snowballing. To take just one example, Buzzfeed reported in its January 2022 S-1 that it drove more than $500M in brand sales via performance links in 2020.

If your brand delivers high-quality products/services and is willing to develop content and promotional media that offer genuine value, these publishers can be a great source of net-new growth.

Influencers

eMarketer estimates that influencer spending will exceed $4B in 2022. But what do brands get from their investments? Many brands are looking to affiliate teams to help provide concrete answers.

Historically, influencers were compensated on a pay-for-activity model, like $X dollars for each tweet, blog post, or other placement. Today, many influencers – especially among the micro-influencer segment encompassing individuals with 10-100K followers – will work fully or partially on a pay-for-outcomes basis.

Working with influencers can also bridge better integration across your internal marketing organization. You can architect the most potent programs with social, PR, and lifestyle teams. These internal and agency teams often welcome affiliate involvement because they are under tremendous pressure to demonstrate accountability.

At Matterkind, we drive strong results in the influencer space. For example, my team just finished research for one brand that showed a 35% increase in total program sales after adding influencers to the mix. While no individual influencer is likely to drive the same sales lift as a top cashback or deals site, the channel can deliver substantial revenue in aggregate.

BuyonSocial Platform Opportunities

Leading social platforms like Facebook and Tiktok have launched solutions in the US to help brands connect with members and drive more sales. Using these tools, customers transact without leaving the social environment. Further, these transactions may be more profitable to the brand than sales delivered by discount-centric publisher types because they may reach less price-sensitive buyers.

Again, working with social platforms creates additional collaboration opportunities within your organization because affiliate teams bring accountability to social media buying programs. Matterkind has pioneered strategies to optimize social and other spending across channels based on revenue and profitability, helping clients increase ROI for their entire go-to-market program. Buy on Social also affords a great example of why holistic planning serves brand interests better. Many brands choose not to measure Buy-on-Social with their affiliate network or platform.

 

A marketing and agency team focused on the best opportunities across channels can ensure that each channel receives the investment appropriate to its potential business value. 

Mobile Partners

New tech companies have transformed modern life in so many ways, from tap-to-pay to handheld entertainment. Many mobile platforms are now receptive to performance deals. They can be great potential new partners, helping brands engage with millions of people in often less price-focused contexts than traditional affiliates.

For example, my team has developed innovative programs with DOSH in which the peer-to-peer payments leader gives its users brand discounts. Similarly, card-linked offers, redeemed primarily through mobile, have become top ten partners for many leading product and services brands. Credit cards, loyalty card programs, and other affinity businesses drive significant sales volumes for many Matterkind clients. 

Higher Education Student Communities

Student communities provide unique access points for brands looking to reach young people. For many of our clients, these groups have become considerable volume drivers. They are also a great way to engage the next generation of loyal customers, influencing decisions that lead to a lifetime of brand loyalty. 

As with traditional publisher relationships, student communities require carefully crafted strategies to ensure authenticity. Students embrace this commercial community participation when brands deliver genuine value. My team has developed wide-ranging programs that combine modest discounts with information and perspective that round out a brand’s presence in these communities. We partner with brand marketing teams on programs that drive sales and enhance brand differentiation. These venues deliver outstanding value when you get it right.

Podcast Partners

Podcasts are fast emerging as a critical revenue channel for affiliate. The scale of the podcasting category is enormous and growing daily. Industry experts estimate that there were 2,000,000 different podcasts available in 2021, and many podcasters are now open to performance deals. 

The beauty here is that the focused audiences give you an ideal opportunity to pinpoint your perfect customer profile and borrow credibility from the podcaster personality. My team constantly reviews the podcast environment to identify the best potential voices for specific brand needs. It’s a complex challenge to get podcast partnerships right, but the potential payout is remarkable.

Brand-to-Brand Partnerships

Last but certainly not least are brand-to-brand partnerships, in which two different businesses work together on a performance basis. It was harder to get brands to work together pre-pandemic because barter and rev share didn’t fit their existing revenue models.

Post-pandemic, many brands understand the importance of rethinking

their approach to reaching and connecting with customers.

They look to performance partnerships as a new way to drive brand

value and provide secondary revenue streams. By finding appropriate

brands with which to partner, you can create new ways to reach and

influence purchase decisions. 

Conclusion

There has never been a more opportunity-filled time to drive growth

and change through partnerships. In 2022, make it your priority to

consider these powerful new partner classes. These great new partnerships also provide collaboration opportunities with other channel teams. Replacing channel centricity is the fundamental idea behind the Matterkind model, and we’d love to help your business achieve these goals. Get in touch if you are interested in speaking further. But whether or not you decide to work with us, it's time to recognize that a customer- versus channel-centric program is essential to drive maximum results. Think holistically and work with others to help achieve your vision of a broader and more connected partner ecosystem. 

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Matterkind, IPG’s activation intelligence company, drives better business outcomes while putting the customer experience first. Through the lens of conscious marketing, they employ ethical data, through patented applications, to deliver addressable activation intelligence. Matterkind strengthens connectivity between brands and their audiences, through trusted partnership, excellence, and expertise. Matterkind is a part of Kinesso, the marketing technology unit of The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (IPG).  For more information, visit Matterkind.com

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