As we reflect on the remarkable journey of impact.com and our industry in 2023, I’m thrilled to share the incredible successes and highlights achieved by our global team. I’m truly thankful for the chance to collaborate with such a talented team of over 1,000 impact.com colleagues spread across several offices around the world — from New York to Cape Town to Tokyo. And what unites us and motivates us is our shared passion for making partnerships happen and our vision to be the global standard platform that creates, manages, and scales all types of partnerships.
And what a journey we’ve all experienced in such a short amount of time! Our industry has seen incredible shifts in the past few years, and impact.com has been at the forefront of these changes. If 2022 was about exploring the potential of partnerships, then 2023 was the year we boldly heeled into the winds of progress.
Partnerships of all types — with influencers, with commerce content publishers, with other businesses, as well as with customers — are the inspiration and driving force behind our progress. And despite a tough year around the world — from war to economic uncertainty — we remain focused on uplifting our industry as a whole. Together, we are not just setting sail; we are shaping the winds and propelling ourselves into a brighter, more promising 2024.
Today, impact.com is the global, standard management platform at the forefront of the partnership economy. The platform supports more than 225,000 active and productive partnerships for more than 3,500 customers who are partnering with creators, publishers, customers, traditional rewards affiliates, as well as with other businesses on our platform.
With our confident and clear vision, we remain focused on empowering transformational growth for brands, publishers, creators, agencies, and other partners through the power of partnerships.
As 2023 comes to a close, I want to share some of the progress we’ve made this year.
It’s important to first acknowledge the immense transformation our industry has undergone as a result of shifting consumer behaviors and the decline of traditional advertising.
The first thing people do today in their buying journey, different from even a few years ago, is they seek out what other people have to say about a brand or product. They’re reading reviews and searching TikTok and YouTube, where they can see the product and hear what other people have to say about it.
And especially in a tough macroeconomic environment, people are looking for information on where they can save money. Buyers today are actively searching for relatable and reliable sources of commercial information, and this behavior has completely disrupted traditional marketing and advertising channels.
Buyers want to learn about a brand from other people and hear directly from other customers when evaluating products and services. And it’s this kind of transparency and authenticity that helps build trust and loyalty.
As brands collaborate with various partners, a common theme emerges, a theme that defines a new category for partnerships: Brands no longer have complete control over the messaging that matters. But they do have the ability to form a more authentic connection with their target customer through partnerships. And this is key to being relevant to today’s buyer.
And what’s interesting is that this behavioral shift comes at a time when customer acquisition costs are at an all-time high, jumping over 220% in just the last 8 years. Traditional advertising has gotten more expensive, with high concentrations of spend going toward the top few platforms; while conversely, tracking capabilities and visibility have only gotten worse.
This shift in behavior partly explains why we’re noticing a clear trend of partnerships commanding a more prominent seat at the marketing table. In a survey by Advertiser Perceptions, more than half of the brand respondents said they plan to specifically increase their influencer marketing budgets and that they’re pulling budgets from legacy media channels to fund it.
And this makes sense as the partnerships channel is a cost-effective and ROI-driven channel that aligns perfectly with the modern buyer’s journey. Partnerships reach customers at various places along the buying journey and offer brands the opportunity to strengthen their connection to customers, diversify their marketing channels, and drive tangible results.
After decades of overt advertising and selling manipulation, consumers finally feel they have access to an open and authentic system. Brands and partners will be successful going forward if they keep their focus on the end customer experience and stop interrupting and disrupting their natural online behavior with traditional ads.
Rapid growth & strategic initiatives:
And impact.com has expanded to meet this demand for the partnerships channel. In 2023, we welcomed over 1,000 new customers, including renowned brands like SeatGeek, Hydro Flask, Daily Harvest, Pepperstone, and Endeavour Group, along with 70 new agency partners.
In pursuit of our vision to service all types of partnerships, we proudly introduced the impact.com / creator platform — the world’s first influencer marketing platform, which allows brands and creators to discover, create, manage, and scale full-funnel influencer marketing programs, all from a single interface. We know that marketers and customers need innovative technology to stay ahead of the constantly changing curve, and we’re proud to have created an industry-first influencer partnership management platform that fills that need.
Our commitment to innovation was also the tip of the spear of our strategic investments. We were proud to announce the acquisition of best-in-class customer referral software provider SaaSquatch in September. SaaSquatch’s technology helps brands build trust with new audiences through their own customer base — turning loyal customers into trusted advocates. SaaSquatch’s technology has the flexibility to handle the most advanced customer referral programs, giving brands the ability to reward advocates for any behavior they choose. impact.com’s platform integration with SaaSquatch allows brands to now build stronger customer partnerships through a single platform.
A year of integrations and product features:
We also remained at the technological forefront with cutting-edge innovations and integrations – key to underpinning our growth and our clients’ performance. We expanded our strategic collaboration with Google with an enhanced integration powering affiliate link deals across select Google properties. We also integrated with BigCommerce’s Channel Manager and became a certified app in the HubSpot App marketplace.
We also released several new product features, from Workflow automation, to Promo Code Monitoring, to a new Mobile App. A notable new feature was our Branded Portal add-on for enterprise-level brands. The add-on provides a fully customizable environment where brands can collaborate directly with creators to meet their specific program goals. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to roll out this exciting new opportunity!
And it was gratifying to see that commitment to innovation recognized. This year, we were proud and honored to have been recognized with more than two dozen leading industry awards globally for delivering innovative technology solutions and leadership in the partnerships industry. Notably, impact.com was named “Best Overall Martech Company of 2023” by the Martech Breakthrough Awards, and our groundbreaking technology was named “Partnership of the Year” by the US Partnership Awards for Walmart Creator. And most importantly, our work with our clients was recognized this year. Various awards highlighted our successful campaigns with clients and agencies like Solo Stove and Purple Orange, Revolut, Ellos, Myer, Silverbean, and many more!
We were also honored by the response to our thought leadership contributions in the partnerships industry. We published several key reports that dove into the intricate relationship between brands, partners, and consumers with Digiday, Adweek, and our own “State of Influencer Marketing in 2023” report.
We were proud to launch our “Marketing is Hard’ campaign and website to dive into the challenges marketing teams are facing today and how the partnerships channel and impact.com’s platform can help them achieve a better customer experience and drive ROI.
With all of these great findings and content, we were thrilled to dig deeper into these topics with customers and prospects at our flagship Partnerships Experience, or iPX, conference in New York. We hosted an exclusive group of over 500 attendees and heard from nearly 40 speakers across two days of great content and learning opportunities.
But we couldn’t just keep that to New York! We also hosted iPX London and iPX Sydney for nearly 400 attendees. Both events brought together publishers, creators, advertisers, agencies, and other partners to discuss the future of partnerships.
We also represented the industry at global events like DMEXCO, PI Live Miami, and more. Additionally, we hosted our own events, like our iPX Connect, Creator Edition in Los Angeles and our Partnerships “IRL” gatherings in cities across the U.S. These events were aimed at bringing brands, creators, and partners together to learn and collaborate with one another.
We also dove into the fourth season of our podcast, “The Partnership Economy,” and were thrilled to reach over 120,000 downloads and be recognized with a Gold Award in the Marcom Awards! Our episodes feature a line-up of fascinating guests from Uncommon Goods, Apollo Neuro, HubSpot, and more. We believe in partnerships and sharing knowledge within our industry, and we’re excited to continue doing so with all of you.
Wrapping up 2023 and looking ahead:
As we celebrate this year’s accomplishments and look ahead to new innovations in 2024, impact.com will be closing our offices for the final two weeks of the year to allow our teams time to relax and recoup. We appreciate your understanding and assure you we’ll be back in the new year ready and refreshed on January 2.
So as we approach the start of a new year, we are not merely setting sail; we are heeling into the wind. Our strategic investments and commitment to providing necessary resources will guide brands, publishers, creators, and agencies to successful partnerships and revenue growth.
Thank you for being part of this extraordinary journey. Here’s to a healthy, joyful, and prosperous 2024, where we continue to foster partnerships and set the global standard in our ever-evolving field.
All the best for the New Year!