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After decades in the martech industry and spending two years researching and writing the definitive book on partnerships, CEO Dave Yovanno has some unique insights into the evolution of the channel.  

He shared some of those insights in a new episode of PartnerUp: The Partnerships Podcast, where he joined hosts Jared Fuller and Michele Albanese to talk about the evolution of modern partnerships from the first consumer mutiny against advertising to the most innovative new brand-to-brand partnerships. 

Tune in here or watch the video version below to hear the full podcast and learn how partnerships have become the essential go-to-market strategy for all kinds of businesses and products, from steak to SaaS. 

Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Consumers take the helm

Where Dave is concerned, any discussion of partnerships and the partnerships economy must start with the fact that the consumer today is in full control of the buying journey. We’ve come a long way from the days when ads told consumers what to think and buy. “They’re no longer doing what you’re telling them with an ad. And in fact, they have outright disdain for that disruptive, interruptive behavior of advertising,” he says.

As internet-empowered consumers were emancipating themselves from ads, digital influencers began to emerge who were passionate about certain products, giving rise to the phenomenon of the unboxing video and the connection between online content creators and purchase decisions.  

Advertising was already losing the modern consumer, and the loss of cookies, retargeting, and measurement technologies put the final nails in the coffin. That set the stage for the rise of a new channel: Performance-based referral partnerships based on trust, authenticity, and value to the customer.

From interruption to integration

The sales paradigm has also shifted. Today, successful partnership leaders are putting the consumer experience first rather than injecting themselves into the consumer discovery process in a disruptive way. Instead of asking how they can capture the conversion, they are asking: how can I make life better where the consumer already lives?  That shift has led to some of the most effective brand-to-brand-to-consumer (B2B2C) and brand-to-brand-to-brand (B2B2B) partnerships out there, such as Qantas’ long standing partnership with Airbnb, Canva’s integration with Hubspot, and the newly minted partnership between Disney+ and Target

It has also led to a more consumer-minded approach to choosing partners. Dave uses Winc Wines as an example. The brand knows its customers care deeply about how their products are sourced and produced and how they treat their employees and the environment. So Winc honors those values in the partners they choose.“ Winc is looking to partner with other businesses not based on the highest commission return on a referral,” says Dave. “It’s based on ‘who’s a really good match for my consumer?’”

A channel for every stage of growth

The podcast discussion also explored the diversity of businesses for which partnerships are now driving growth, including itself.’s integration with Shopify not only exemplifies a new breed of B2B2B partnership, it also demonstrates how partnerships work for SaaS companies and how powerful partnerships are as a channel for small merchants. 

“If you’re a new store on Shopify, are you going to get in there and pay an $11 CPM for a Facebook ad? Or do you want to push a button and activate the pre-installed integration so you can go to work acquiring revenue,” explains Dave. 

Partnerships are also solving challenges at the other end of the business maturity spectrum. “If you’re a Microsoft doing billions and billions in revenue, can you realistically rely on a brute force sales team to grow revenue 50 percent every year at that scale? It’s impossible,” he says. “You have to thrive on a partnership strategy at that scale.” 

Tune in to learn more

For additional insights on the state of commerce content, the importance of interoperability, Dave’s favorite woodworking YouTuber, and much more, listen to the full podcast here

Or to get your own partnerships journey started now, reach out to

Watch Jared Fuller and Dave Yovanno talk partnerships on the PartnerUp Podcast:

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