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Partner & Affiliate Marketing Research: The State and Future of Partnerships Global Survey 3/4

Jul 16, 2021

CMO, RevLifter

This is the third post in our partner and affiliate marketing research series. It summarizes a small slice of the data available in our The State and Future of Partnerships Global Survey recently fielded across four continents. This massive study, which solicited the opinions of 1,200 senior marketers and leading brands, was developed to give the industry a better sense of marketer attitudes toward the partner and affiliate program businesses and their role in company revenue.

affiliate marketing research study

In today’s post, we’ll review the data that relate specifically to the types of partners that drive the most sales in the channel, brand leaders’ priorities for partnership and marketer assessments of the future potential for partner and affiliate sales growth.  

The Diversity of Major Partners

Over the past 5 or so years, we have seen the world of partnerships and affiliate marketing programs change and expand far beyond the affiliate channel. It now includes working with loyalty partners or influencers, for example, or creating business alliances between major brands. Given this, we asked these brand leaders what percentage of their total sales were driven by various classes of partners, and garnered the following results.

Affiliate marketing program partnerships (traditional affiliates and long-tail partners) account for a large share of total sales (46%). Non traditional forms of partnership — that is, those outside of the traditional definition of affiliate — also represent a strong and growing share of total revenue, with media companies (26%), influencers (14%) and brand-to-brand partnerships (9%) now accounting for 49% of the total.

affiliate marketing research - partner revenue classes

These data were frankly surprising to us. We were well aware that the share of total sales from partnerships was growing rapidly, but had no idea that our marketers would say they drive almost half of total partner sales.

Partner Management Platforms and Affiliate Networks

Just over half (52%) of the brand leaders surveyed say they work with an affiliate network to manage online marketing partnerships. One third of those (17%) work exclusively with a network. 56% work with third party partner management software, of which more than a third (21%) work exclusively with third-party software. The variety of management methodologies likely reflects the diverse nature of the forms and structures of partnerships as well as the relatively young state of the category versus other marketing channels. No approach yet dominates across partnerships.

affiliate research - marketing affiliate networks versus partner management platforms

Tomorrow’s post will conclude this series with data and insights on partner marketer priorities for the next 12 months and what marketers mean when they say “partnership” versus “affiliate”.

affiliate marketing research study

To download a free copy of our partner and affiliate marketing research in PDF, click here.

Note: Partnerize is the new trading name for Performance Horizon. Partnerize makes it easy for brands to form, manage, and make payments to their partners, whether they be affiliates, influencers or other major brands. Visit our homepage for more information about our services, case studies from customers, and our company. Contact us for information on the survey and our services.


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