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Did you notice the coup that took place right under our noses? In a growing number of organizations, the partnership channel has quietly surpassed paid search as the biggest revenue breadwinner. In retail in particular, brands are finding that their partnership channel is the biggest driver of new customers with the lowest customer acquisition costs.

According to Wolfgang Digital’s 2019 KPI report, the average retailer generates about 20% of its revenue from paid search, but partnerships are proving even more lucrative. Lenovo, for example, drives 25% of its revenue through the partnership channel, which is growing 50% YOY. And far from being unusual, those are very typical figures for companies fully invested in the partnership model.

Did you see the signs? 

Perhaps the signs were all there. Clicks on Google properties dropped 9 percent from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019 (QoQ), Wordstream reports that about 1/4 of all accounts have less than 1% conversion rates. Meanwhile, ROI is increasingly impressive in the Partnership EconomyTM, with the top businesses seeing up to $18 in earned media value for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing alone. 

It’s the people you know that you trust

One likely reason for this realignment is changing consumer attitudes about ads in general. A few years back, a  Nielsen study reported that the #1 most trusted source of advertising is “people you know,” whereas ads came in at the bottom of the list, including ads served in SERPs.

With Forrester estimating that  75% of world trade flows indirectly, it’s not surprising that channels, partnerships, and alliances are becoming the new big revenue drivers for forward-thinking organizations. But Forrester analysts also emphasize the importance of having automated infrastructure to manage those partnerships: “As brands increasingly use channels, partnerships, and alliances as a primary vehicle to reach customers, managing these relationships in a consistent, predictable, and productive way is critical.”

Get growing with your hidden advantage—partnerships

If paid search isn’t revving your growth engine like it once was, it may be time to put more partnerships in your business plan’s fuel tank. For tips, check out our eBook, Partnership Automation Is the Future, or go full monty—no stealth mode!—and contact a growth technologist at

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