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Let’s face it, the demands of brands for transparency and diversity of partners is changing and challenging the old affiliate norms. There will be agencies that seize the opportunity to expand the types of partnerships they manage for brands, and there will be agencies that don’t. Those that don’t shift their mindset and become more nimble, may lose out. Big time.

Every day, I receive requests from some of the biggest brands that are looking for outsourced partner management (OPM) services. These include:

“We need an agency that will:”

  • Help us diversify our partners with more content and upper-funnel relationships
  • Bring on more strategic partners that will really drive growth
  • Help us recruit and engage influencers to promote products on a performance basis
  • Recruit more partners that specialize in driving in-app conversions and new customer acquisition

If you noticed, no one (or at least almost no one) is asking us to help them find an agency that will recruit the top 20 cashback and coupon partners. That’s not because those are not important partners (because they are for most brands). It’s because those partners are not creative and don’t take work to find and recruit

Real, meaningful, partnerships take thoughtfulness and hard work. Don’t be tempted to join the bandwagon of skeptics who treat influencers and bloggers as being a fad, or just a bunch of hype. Sure, many advertisers are still behind on accurately measuring ROI against influencer marketing. They know it’s important, they see the value for branding and often see a correlated lift. But they haven’t pinned down the exact impact on revenue because they have not had good tracking. Forrester estimates that brands will be spending 60-70% more on influencer marketing by 2022. In reality, partnership programs are diversifying at an even faster clip.  

Brands want new, creative, and productive partners – plain and simple.

But, some agencies are slow to innovate. Traditional Affiliate Marketing is what they have always done. For the most part, that is going to continue to keep them afloat, for now, because of the sheer volume of brands still entering the performance partnership model for the first time.

In 2018 alone, Impact saw the number of agencies managing performance-based programs on our platform, almost double. We saw a 100% increase in the number of brands looking for agencies to help service their programs and over 150% in the number of programs agencies brought to Impact. The demand for outsourced partner management services is growing fast.

During this same time period, unfortunately, we also saw a surprising number of missed opportunities where an agency’s canned services did not align with the new initiatives and partner verticals that a brand wanted to be in. We saw a lot of brands decide to just manage their partners in-house because the agencies they engaged with could not bring more strategic or creative partnerships to the table.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, what is the opportunity for an agency that traditionally has offered affiliate management services? Expand the scope.

Think of all the partnerships that a brand engages with, just to run their business. They may have technology partners like cart abandonment tools, eCommerce platform providers and a Mobile Measurement Platform. They may run an affiliate program on a network. They likely have influencers they work with (often without any tracking) and even content publishers managed by separate teams (and on separate platforms) even though they pay them on a performance model.

Disparate systems creating disparate data and managed by disparate teams. What a major opportunity!

Never before has there been so many ways to track and credit such a variety of partners on global scale. Never before have so many partners been open to a CPA model and capable of such sophisticated promotional methods across customer’s devices.

Just think if some agencies stopped calling their offering “affiliate management” and started calling it “Partnership Management” and built teams around specific partner verticals (content, technology, loyalty, etc). An agency that offered a broader scope of partner types could supplement or replace multiple teams within a brand rather than just managing a piece of the pie. This is bold… but it’s not crazy. A few agencies have made a step forward in the right direction, changing the language they use, even their company names to include “Partner(s)” in the name or at least as their term for anything performance relationship.

Yet, fewer agencies have fully immersed themselves in actually promoting and executing on management service outside of traditional affiliate.

So, where do you start?

  • Start with a new name. A more inclusive term than “affiliate”- and enforce its use within your company.
  • Engage your customers to find out what other partnerships they engage with for new business.
  • Find them some more of those and bring them under your team’s umbrella
  • Then start talking about it!

I have witnessed some creative partnership teams bring together incredible new partnerships for their customers that they never would have found at an “affiliate” conference. That type of creativity will make your agency irreplaceable.

There is so much more for agencies to help brands with and no one is better positioned to do this than OPM agencies; they understand performance best. Challenge yourself, your team and your company to think bigger and more audacious with the types of partners you can deliver.

If you are an agency and/or have any questions about how Radius Certified agencies can help you optimize your partnerships, email

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