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Industry Guide Coverage: The Great Services Divide

One of the most interesting findings in the recently released Martech Record Industry Guide was how advertisers and agencies rated services teams for the various providers. It revealed an emerging distinction between “customer-success-style” and “managed services” support.

On the dimension of service, people utilizing a managed services model rated different providers highest than those that relied on the customer success model. Rakuten and CJ tied for first place with four-and-a-half out of six stars for managed services. Partnerize took the top spot with five stars for customer success, and CJ took second with four-and-a-half stars.

The historical model in affiliate was for networks to provide managed program services for many clients. While some brands also involved their agencies in program management, the networks played a day-to-day management role for many large and small programs. We call this the managed services model.

As the affiliate industry grew and brands increased investment in the channel, a second type of service model emerged. Designed for brands and agencies that wanted to do much of their day-to-day program management themselves, this model more closely resembles the classic “customer success” model in the SaaS industry. Solutions provider teams provide strategic assistance and advanced tech support in the customer success model but do not manage day-to-day program elements like recruiting, commission-setting, and reporting.

One of the significant drivers of the “customer success” model has been the rise of the OPMs and expert affiliate teams within full-service agencies. These expert affiliate agencies and their clients want to control the data and make program decisions without an additional intermediary. Brands that work with agencies believe they can get better strategy, results, and service from an OPM or a full-service agency with a strong affiliate team.

Many providers provide both types of service, but networks like CJ, Awin, and Rakuten were historically known for managed services, while tech-centric providers like Partnerize focused on customer success.

Impact is absent from these top rankings, which has a top spot on many other survey elements. But it’s important to understand that Impact focuses primarily on delivering technology and automation. They often recommend that brands that want managed services rely on one of their many agency partners.

As advertisers explore their provider options, it is essential to understand this distinction and the relative scores of different vendors on these types of services.


These topline metrics just scratch the surface of what is available in the complete guide. Here are just a few elements of what’s included in this unique and valuable report:

  • Best Platform for Brands, Agencies, and Publishers

  • Feature Ratings for 12 Technology and Usability Measures

  • Best Platforms for Product Types (e.g., retail, travel, etc.)

  • Extensive analysis


Read More Coverage of the 2022 Affiliate Industry Buyers Guide:

Guide Announcement and Topline Results

The Elite Buyers Guide Panel

How Publishers Rate the Affiliate Platforms

Who Made Gains in the 2021 Buyers Guide?

On the Record

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