Building relationships is a key part of Affiliate Marketing, but it is also something that is important throughout the rest of Summit. We pride ourselves on the relationships we build, whether that is with clients or partners, as strong relationships can have a huge impact on client success. Today we are pleased to share a blog takeover from one of our newest Affiliate connections, Impact, who are a partnership automation platform. Here’s what they had to say about all things Impact, Affiliates and the future of this channel…
Tell us about yourself, your background and what led you to your current role?
My name is Alex Gordon and I’m part of the Channel Partnerships team at Impact. Our technology enables advertisers to scale and optimise their partnership programmes through automation tools. As part of the Channel Partnerships team at Impact, my role is to identify and work with the ecosystem of businesses that support our clients in their growth. This spans a broad spectrum from digital agencies to e-commerce engines and other tech partners.
I’ve been in the affiliate industry nearly three years, having experienced both the traditional network and SaaS approaches to partnership marketing.
Who is Impact and how has the company evolved?
Impact is a partnership automation platform that streamlines the day-to-day process of managing a partnership channel. Through speaking with clients and agencies, I’m always reminded that automation is necessary when I pause to consider how broad and productive the partnerships channel can be for businesses of all sizes. The last five years has therefore seen Impact evolve its product to support the partnerships that our clients are discovering. For example, the recent acquisition of ACTIVATE helps support influencer marketing at a brand awareness level, and Mediarails, which was acquired in 2018, has enabled our clients to recruit new partners that sit outside of the traditional network reach. The momentum in this approach is being noticed and we achieved a major milestone for the company in July this year: Impact secured $150 million in funding, valuing the business at $1.5 Billion. It’s exciting to be working for a unicorn and it points us towards a potential IPO in 2022.
How has the pandemic impacted Impact?
Like the majority of businesses, Impact adopted a remote-working policy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. From the beginning, it was important for our organisation to accommodate for any uncertainty felt by our clients, partners and employees. Our global offices each experienced their own challenges, but through wellbeing initiatives, global huddles and flexible working arrangements we were able to remain focused on our roles and continue supporting our partners and clients. In addition, we introduced four company-wide holidays throughout the year to allow teams to share a day of rest.
Now that the majority of restrictions have been lifted, we are looking forward to returning to our offices and are eager to catch-up with familiar faces in our industry.
What sets Impact apart from a typical affiliate network?
Automation and diversification are some of the key pillars that lead businesses to join Impact. Beginning with automation: an inherent strength of being a SaaS provider is that we can place a lot of our resources into developing ways to make account managers’ lives easier. Processes such as validations, partner recruitment and reporting are all necessary tasks, but there is an opportunity to automate what is typically repetitive and time consuming. As a relationship-focused industry it makes sense that our clients have the ability and time to forge valuable relationships, and thus shouldn’t be bound to these manual processes.
Automation also increases the opportunity to diversify the partner mix, as the logic beneath any type of partnership is fundamentally the same: an incentive in reward for an action driven. If these processes can be automated, then they can be replicated and scaled, and therefore clients can place more of their time into nurturing and maintaining relationships.
Secondly, the idea of ‘unbundling’ technology and services is something that Impact has championed since its inception. Today, around 45% of all of Impact’s clients leverage some type of strategic support, typically provided through a specialist agency. One of the main benefits of the unbundling approach is that advertisers are free to select the service that is aligned to their goals, and as such, Impact has a team (which I am part of!) that is dedicated to matching advertisers to the agencies that have complementary strengths, knowledge and experience. Similarly, agencies may feel that Impact would be the ideal platform to help Client A reach their goals, and we will coordinate our resources to find the best solutions.
What changes have you seen that will benefit brands looking to enter the Affiliate space?
The partnerships channel is unique in that it can respond quickly to shifts in consumer behaviour and technological demand. It can’t go unnoticed that certain types of partners have emerged within the past 5 years that have completely disrupted the way in which we think about brands and feel incentivised to buy their products. Take Youtube – it’s one of the first places I turn to when researching new technology. I feel that the reviews are often thorough, authentic and aimed at people like me. I can then use their link in the description to buy the product, perhaps pick up a discount, and I feel like my problem has been solved. This is just one scenario, but the partnerships channel helps brands, new or old to the channel, to tap into the audiences that are going to deliver value to them.
Youtuber Influencers might have sat in isolation to the channel a number of years ago, but through technology such as Impact, these influencers can be integrated into a brand’s partnership programme alongside their existing partners. Each of these partners are delivering their own value, so it’s testament to the channel and that it is now in a position to have influencers, B2B, content, traditional affiliate and ambassadors all represented in the mix. As with any investment, increasing diversity is the key to success.
How do Impact tackle the question “Affiliates are stealing the sale at the end?“
Impact enables our clients to work with lots of different partners, not just affiliates. In order for advertisers to understand what value affiliates, or any type of partner, are driving within the path to conversation, we have built powerful user journey insight reporting. From this data, our clients are able to exercise optimisation strategies so that the value that partners provide is being represented in the way that they are rewarded. Therefore we encourage the use of our dynamic commissioning tool that allows our clients to configure a commission payout structure that rewards partners when they achieve a specific action. The idea of developing commissions structures in this way is to promote transparency between advertisers and their partners, thus mitigating any concern that a certain type of partner has stolen credit from another.
What are your top tips for the rest of 2021 and looking into 2022?
The latter part of 2021, and hopefully most of 2022, will give our industry the chance to get back together and collaborate in new ways. There are so many exciting and innovative new partners emerging, so the channel will continue to demonstrate how valuable it can be for business growth, especially when rebuilding post pandemic. Therefore my tip to any company that is investigating partner marketing is to define the audience that would deliver value to their brand and come and have a chat with us about how we can access it through partnerships. Likewise, to any company that has a growing or mature partner programme, we’re always open to having conversations around automation and diversification.
Over the course of lockdown many of us have also picked up new hobbies; learning the guitar, baking sourdough loaves, or even getting on a bike. 2020 proved a period of reflection and innovation for many of us and my final tip is to not lose the new skills that this uncertain period has pushed us into, both in the business world and in our personal lives. Keep persevering everyone!
If you want to discuss Affiliates and how you can get the most from this channel, get in touch with a Summit expert today at [email protected].