The Partnerize team was in full throttle on 21st September, 2023, at the Darling Harbour wharf to kick off Partnership Day Sydney, Partnerize’s premier industry event, on board the Starship Sydney yacht. Hosting 150 of the industry’s latest and greatest advertisers, agencies and publishers, the event highlighted thought-provoking panels, expert keynotes and rich discussions of the future of the category.
Upon guest arrival, they were greeted with coconuts and gelatos and as the yacht set sail, Partnership Day had officially kicked off. Adam Brownstein, SVP, General Manager – JAPAC, welcomed everyone on board before handing over the stage to the keynote speaker, Mark Beretta. Known to many as the Sports Presenter on ‘Sunrise,’ Australia’s top-rated morning show, Mark brings a wealth of experience that transcends television. He delved into the critical themes that today’s marketing leaders face: resilience in a rapidly evolving landscape, building teams with a collective vision, and effective message crafting. Drawing inspiration from compelling stories like the rise of the Matildas, Australia’s women’s national soccer team, Mark provided actionable strategies for not just surviving, but thriving in the modern marketing world.
The Evolution and Future of Partnership Marketing: Unleashing the Power of Affiliate and Partnerships
Over the past few years, partnership marketing has witnessed a remarkable evolution, driven by advancements in technology, changing consumer behaviour, and the increasing need for strategic collaborations.
As such, the first panel discussion of the day was on the evolution and future of partnership marketing. In this engaging discussion moderated by Saskia Keller, Senior Director of Customer Success APAC, the topic explored how this dynamic field has transformed in recent years, discussing the key changes, emerging trends, and the potential for innovation within the space. Saskia was joined by Rob Sexton (Flight Centre), Emma Smith (Adore Beauty) and Luke Simonsen (PetStock).
The panellists discussed the innovative approaches that have propelled partnership marketing forward, sharing their insights on cutting-edge techniques, technologies, and platforms that have revolutionised the way businesses approach collaborations. When asked how affiliates have helped businesses to deliver on key revenue metrics, Emma Smith from Adore Beauty said, “As a revenue-driving channel, the performance channel drives a higher portion of our demand. At Adore Beauty, we use the [partnership] channel to drive our reach for a lot of different promotions we run. There are different levers that we pull to drive demands depending on the partners we work with, like cashback affiliates that we use for our pop-up sales, mega sales or company wide events as they are great for driving short term demand. Then we also have our content partners, who can be harder to quantify but extremely valuable for us as we really want to make sure that our programs are focused on driving incrementality. So, getting in front of different eyes and telling our story through the contents is important for us.”
Rob Sexton from Flight Centre added that although they are new to the channel, it helps in driving diversification. He said, “We, like other companies, have spent too much money on paid search, particularly Google. Anytime we needed to finish a month or a quarter really strong, or we saw targets that were super aggressive, there would be primarily one place we would turn, to drive that goal. It’s just simply too risky because every additional booking is costing us more, so we wanted to diversify our media channel. Search will always play a role for us and drive a lot of value but we need to look elsewhere. If we can get our online revenue at half the cost of what we are getting now that’s a really powerful story to be telling our internal decision makers.”
One of the most interesting findings from the panel discussion was the importance of brand partnerships for the future of this channel. Luke Simonsen from Petstock mentioned, “For Petstock, brand partnerships are extremely important. Looking beyond traditional partners and turning to our peers and friends to explore opportunities outside the normal realms, and benefiting from each other’s customers and doing something that doesn’t cost a lot of money is valuable.”
Emma reiterated her experience at Adore, “At Adore we are trying to grow the parts of our program that’s hard to attribute so brand partnerships is one of them. Traditionally, we have been very performance focused, as in everything required a promo code and needed to be tracked. So now as a business, we are looking at strategies that are a great cultural fit. We make sure we concentrate on our reach to scale our business, so things like brand partnerships and content, we see these as valuable in determining which metrics can help us so we can justify our investments.”
The Rise of Affiliates: Why Affiliate Continues to Grow and What’s on the Horizon for 2024
To discuss what’s on the card for publishers in the coming years, our panellists Jade McDade (Skimlinks), Pascale Helyar-Moray (Super Rewards), Sophie Stickland (Cashrewards) and Matt Fry (Furthr) joined this discussion with Partnerize’s APAC Director of Partnerships, Kelly Guerin.
Over the past seven or so years, the affiliate industry has been growing by at least double-digit percentages. Since the pandemic, and even in 2023 with increased cost of living pressures, these figures have continued to soar due to consumers shifting their buyer behaviour into more digital channels. Consumers are hunting for better offers, more cashback and more loyalty incentives than what they’d typically receive through online stores alone. The rising cost of living is only helping this channel’s growth to increase as a marketing favourite due to the commercial modelling associated with performance partnerships. On discussing this growth of performance marketing stemming from the increasing costs of living, Sophie Stickland from Cashrewards mentioned that, “In this current situation, we have found our members leaning more into cashback platforms to help with their savings. From one of our recent cost of living surveys we have found that 82% of the participants said they would most likely turn to cash back programs to help with relieving some of their financial pressures. So, I think now more than ever, those members are becoming more savvy about how they are spending.”
Pascale Helyar-Moray from Super Rewards had a different take from her business point of view as Super Rewards rewards their members on everyday shopping, providing superannuation cash back. Based on her personal experience she said, “The shift in the last 10 years has been absolutely incredible. So when I came across a gap in the market when it came to gender equality, the fact that women in this country retire with roughly half the amount of superannuation as men, I turned to affiliate marketing and my background experiences on ecommerce and finance to create Super Rewards. Women and men who are on, say parental leave, are not paid super during the time, but they are working regardless in their daily lives. So we want to ensure that they get paid super cashback by doing just that, whether it be grocery shopping or booking their holidays.”
The panel also had an interesting and thought provoking discussion on the evolution of partnership marketing, where affiliate marketing has come from and where it is going. Jade McDade from Skimlinks, spoke about the publishers’ transformation from traditional print media to discovering new channels to earn revenue. “If you think back to the days of print where all traditional publishers started with advertising, you had so many pages in newspapers and so many ad spots to fill. And then once they are sold, that’s your revenue. But then with time, there came more channels to publish in like television and social media. The caveat is that budgets didn’t necessarily get bigger but they are spread thinner. So there’s a constant challenge for publishers to grow revenue year on year across different channels. So for publishers looking for new revenue streams, and merchants and retailers looking for more cost effective ways to drive outcomes, they have evolved from an unaccountable print environment where they paid a high premium but had no guarantee on readers’ visibility, as opposed to now where they can only pay for their results and they have this huge range of channels to capitalise on.”
In terms of the future of this channel and what people can expect, Matt Fry from Furthr had only one thing to say, Card Linked Offers (CLO). He forecasted, “In the next two to three years, anyone who is a card issuer in Australia won’t be competitive without issuing a merchant funded card linked offering as part of their card.” Matt spoke about JP Morgan’s CLO, Fig, signalling this upcoming change. He also gave an example of Apple’s credit card customer in the US, getting Netflix, Doordash and a couple of other offers pre-baked as a package. He continued, “It’s definitely where we see the quick growth coming from simply because cards are ubiquitous, everyone has them. If you can incorporate affiliate networks to do the tracking side of it and you have got the architecture already deployed, it will work across all merchants and all customers because they already have their card. Imagine having a reach for brands, having to tap into a CPA model that’s cheaper and more cost effective than Google and Facebook. That’s where we are going.”
This year to make Partnership Day more interactive, there were several roundtable sessions sponsored by Cashrewards, Skimlinks and Blue Light Cards. Each of the sponsors brought their own discussion points to the table highlighting their business objectives, plans for affiliates and practical takeaway tips to support brands in their day-to-day affiliate program management. Joining the sponsors, there were a few roundtables hosted by Partnerize.
The sessions included:
Cashrewards: A dollar saved is a dollar earned: Where the cost of living meets cashback in Australia
Skimlinks: Tis the Season to Boost Your Affiliate Campaigns
Blue Light Card: Elevating affiliate marketing with Corporate Social Responsibility
Partnerize and Are Media: How to Best Engage Publishers with Content Commerce
Partnerize: Global Capabilities: Moving Your Program Beyond Borders
Partnerize: Successful Partnership Programs: Discovery Through Case Studies
Be on the lookout for video highlights from this year’s Partnership Day Sydney or check out last year’s video highlights by visiting the Partnership Day SYD Content Hub right here.