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Industry Guide Coverage: The Stories Behind the Numbers

We’ve just published the second edition of the Martech Record Affiliate Industry Guide, and the data reveal exciting insights into the forces driving change in the market. Here are some points to ponder about seven companies profiled in this year’s report.

Avantlink is expanding on its historical strength in sports and outdoor in various categories. The company has made new investments in product, with a particular focus on data tools, enhanced tracking, and usability. These changes may be contributing to the brand’s solid performance throughout the survey. Avantlink also enjoys higher ratings from brand marketers versus agencies.

Awin saw some positive advances in this year’s survey, which reflect the company’s growing footprint in the US. Historically, Awin’s business has been strongest in Europe, but North America has been a big focus of late. Awin is clearly growing its customer base in the US and is considered a strong alternative on most tech, network, and service measures. Significantly 58% of respondents reported experience with the Awin platform.

CJ performed very well in this year’s report, with many of its already strong scores up from a year ago. After years of being treated as a cash cow by previous owners ValueClick/Conversant and then Alliance Data Systems (ADS), CJ’s parent Publicis is committed to more aggressive investment in both tech and people. That capital expenditure appears to be paying off in buyer and partner perceptions, as scores climbed on several attributes and ratings. Further, CJ continues to be the favorite solution provider among publishers who have used the platform. The company has invested a great deal in building its publisher network and value proposition throughout its history.

Everflow has a greater presence in our data this year than in the 2021 report. We credit this to a broader audience sample for this year’s data. While last year’s survey sample leaned heavily into true enterprise programs, this year’s sample has greater representation from medium-sized brands, where Everflow’s Starter program is increasingly popular.

Impact continues to outperform competitors on a broad range of measures in the study. Its scores on Market Presence, Best Technology and Best Ease of Use are significantly above its next closest competitors. We believe the company’s clear and distinctive “partnership cloud” positioning and aggressive investment in product and go-to-market are key drivers here. It’s clear that people are impressed by the Impact offering, and it continues to grow its user base footprint at a fast clip. $260M+ funding has helped the company make the strategic investments necessary to grow into new markets, recently acquiring Pressboard to enhance it's publiisher offerings. Further, Impact’s scores across both agencies and brands are very strong – the company’s decision to focus primarily on tech while looking to agencies to provide services has made it more than a few friends among the marketing services set.

Partnerize: In the press announcement after it acquired Pepperjam in 2020, the company signaled a shift in positioning by promising clients and partners a combination of great technology and available professional management services. This is a classic strategy for competing with tech-only vendors on one side and services companies on the other. The narrative goes that tech platforms like Impact offer tech only, while the networks are chiefly service-provider businesses. Partnerize believes that there are brands seeking a combination of tech and services from a single vendor. The company’s recent client growth demonstrates that this positioning has legs. But not surprisingly, Partnerize gets lower scores from some agencies, who are understandably less interested in a software + service model.

PartnerStack is new to the survey this year and seems to be seeing success focusing on service B2B affiliate marketers. Historically, the primary industry networks and platform providers have devoted relatively little attention to the B2B segment. As more B2B businesses become aware of the great returns available in this industry, PartnerStack has found a potentially lucrative and underserved market.

Rakuten continues to have many passionate brand fans, with generally high scores for its tech, network, and management services. The company’s strong reputation managing branded apparel and accessories continues; Rakuten is rated the best tech for apparel and fashion across all respondents. But Rakuten's strength is by no means limited to those categories. Among agencies, Rakuten tech and service scores are second only to Impact. Publishers rank Rakuten highly on many dimensions.

Refersion saw an increase in its market presence this year, likely because of the growth of Shopify, where it is a leading provider, and the growth of influencer marketing, where it was an earlier mover and has a relatively strong brand presence.

ShareASale, Awin’s sister business, enjoys a leadership reputation for providing tech and services to newer industry participants. It gets top ranking as the best platform for individuals just getting started in affiliate. Both Awin and ShareASale are included in our tracking because each brand is marketed in the US. While ShareASale does enjoy many large clients, it also has a strong footprint in medium-sized and emerging brands, which may be a strong asset for the combined business as those brands grow and potentially seek a more enterprise-focused toolset like Awin.


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

Download a copy of the full report here.

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

Agencies and Brands Share Different Platform Perspectives

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