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The array of partnership types out there gets more creative every day. B2B partnerships across verticals or apps; brand partnerships with podcasters and livestreamers; publisher partnerships from cashback sites to niche news outlets — it’s an exciting time for partnership innovation. 

Despite that diversity, there are certain mandatory components that make or break any kind of partnership, whether it’s a micro-influencer or a deal site. Communication is one. Clear goals are another. And then there’s content.

Content commerce is the key 

Engaging content is what connects an audience to your partner and engages them with your brand. We refer to influencers, bloggers, and the like as “content creators,” but content has a role to play in just about every partnership.  

Content is clearly on the minds of partnership pros out there, because during our livestream, Influencer verzuz affiliate: where the two channels differ, align, and win, our industry panelists were queried heavily on the topic. You can read the Q&A below, Meantime, some content on the value of content! 

Content resonates (in part) because ads don’t

Digital consumers are now used to doing their own research online when they make a buying decision. While ads may touch part of that journey, they have less influence and credibility than ever. To discover and evaluate new products or services, consumers typically look instead to influencers they know, sites they trust, and businesses they already rely on. 

This has definitely been the case during the pandemic. More than ever, home-bound consumers have turned to online resources to navigate the pandemic’s unfamiliar landscape. Digital news outlets saw an uptick in readership and subscriptions, even while ad revenue fell. In response, publishers and media houses began generating “best of” articles, reviews, and buyer guides on supplies and goods consumers were actively looking for. 

That interaction creates an ideal environment for businesses to find new audiences and customers on a CPA basis. 

Content creators can fuel your overall marketing strategy

Engaging, original, and authentic content is at the heart of a healthy influencer relationship. What’s more, that content can have long legs for a brand. 

Any material produced by your influencers (assuming you have ownership) can be repurposed for your wider marketing efforts. It pays to encourage your influencers to cross boundaries and produce content that might also be suitable for other venues like press releases, your brand’s social feed, even ads. 

Content advice from our “affiliate verzuz influencer” industry guests

Thank you to panelists Becca Bahrke: CEO Illuminate Social / Talent Partnerships Loki Artist Group, and Casey Runyan: VP and Managing Editor at Brad’s Deals, for taking time to answer some of the questions we couldn’t get to during the chat!

Audience question: Can the panelists share their thoughts on content affiliate partnerships like reviews/blogs/article sites that are produced and monetized through affiliate programs?

Casey Runyan:  In general, I think it’s a smart move on the part of these sites. In practice, I see good examples of it, and I see bad. Sites that do this well are those that are doing it with integrity and respect for their audience. But I also see a lot of low-quality and sometimes dishonest content being monetized. I do worry that the bad players will have a negative impact downstream and create confusion with consumers as to which sources they can trust.

Audience question: What are your thoughts on using influencer assets for branded content ads on paid social and using assets such as banner ads on affiliate? 

Casey Runyan: My personal belief is that people have been trained to ignore traditional banner ads because they are so ubiquitous. At Brad’s Deals, if we want to use a banner, we will work with the brand to develop custom creative that matches the brand’s campaign creative and aligns with the Brad’s Deals look and feel. The result is a more organic experience that consumers will not just dismiss as an ad. 

Becca Bahrke: I think this is a great add-on to partnerships and also serves as a brand endorsement from that personality and diversifies the content you have in-house.

Audience question: Where does content come into affiliate partnerships? 

Casey Runyan: I think that really comes down to the type of publisher you are talking about. At Brad’s Deals, we are content-driven. My team of editors are shopping experts who write about great deals in straightforward, authentic language. Other publisher models, such as coupon sites, are different. But for us, content is the foundation of everything we do.

Audience question: What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of affiliates vs influencers on durable goods? Is one channel more effective for durable goods vs nondurable goods? 

Becca Bahrke: For a durable good, the influencer industry is just going to add to general brand awareness and help cultivate a lifestyle the brand wants to align with or add to overall brand storytelling. For non-durable goods, an influencer marketing strategy that includes call-to-actions to purchase, instagram stories, etc. is likely going to be the focus.

I think each brand needs to think about where their consumers are and what their shopping habits are if they’re debating between the two channels. A marriage between the two is typically going to be the strongest option. 

Audience question: Would love to hear thoughts on how some forms of affiliate marketing could be considered damaging to high-heat brand campaigns (e.g., Yeezy, Ivy Park) and recommendations on how to approach affiliate marketing for these types of activations.

Becca Bharke: There’s definitely a level of aspiration that you want to reach with a brand like that, and there’s a concern that you might make it too accessible by diluting through affiliate marketing. You want to clearly vet every channel or influencer involved in the campaign and ensure they fit the lifestyle the brand is trying to cultivate. 

You can get more highlights and insider advice from the livestream in this roundup: Who rules, affiliates or influencers? These experts might change your view. Or browse more audience Q&As in Want to win buy-in for your partnership program? Learn from these pros

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