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[PDLDN Panel Recaps] Adapting to Change and the Ever-Evolving Power of Partnerships Within the Marketing Mix

Jun 24, 2024

JAPAC Marketing Director

Affiliate marketing is fluid, and advertisers must continually adapt their strategies to stay ahead of their competition. As digital and commercial landscapes shift, the ability to respond quickly and effectively becomes paramount. Recently, at Partnership Day London (PDLDN), sessions were held to tackle the strategic shifts brands are implementing to mitigate risks and optimise performance. Expert panellists dove into the use of advanced attribution technologies, shifting, shifting the consolidation of the funnel, and exploring partnership dynamics within affiliate marketing to enhance performance and resilience. These sessions also highlighted the strategic use of rich performance marketing data insights to optimize affiliate activity, foster deeper integration with broader marketing goals and highlight the importance of the channel with business leaders.

The following highlights two important panels, firstly, discussing how brands are evolving their affiliate approaches to thrive in this dynamic environment and secondly, leveraging advanced technologies and strategic partnerships to drive growth and resilience.


Panel 1: Brand vs Performance: Is the Consolidation of the Funnel Allowing the Affiliate Channel To Take Centre-Stage?

Moderated by Emily Bedford, VP Customer Success EMEA at Partnerize, this panel featured experts from fashion, retail, and travel verticals, including Darren Cooledge (Affiliate Lead at GoCity), Makeda Seaton (Affiliate Executive at Love Holidays), Phil Twigg (Head of Digital at MandM Direct), and Sofia Chamberlous (Affiliate and Partnerships Manager at Harvey Nichols). They discussed balancing affiliate strategies with the shifting digital and commercial environments.


Navigating the Affiliate Landscape: A Turning Tide

The advent of advanced attribution technologies has significantly diversified the partner base and reduced dependency on last-click models. For example, coupon partners now represent just 17% of revenue contribution for Partnerize, demonstrating a shift towards a more resilient affiliate approach that prioritises diverse and more strategic partnership opportunities.


Adapting Affiliate Strategy in a Dynamic Digital and Commercial Environment

A pivotal piece of the discussion centred on the necessity for adaptation in affiliate strategies due to frequent changes in policies, such as those from Google. Panellists emphasised that the dynamics of the digital and commercial environments significantly impact affiliate strategies, necessitating continuous adjustments to remain effective. The importance of diversified partnerships was underscored as a critical approach to mitigate risks and enhance revenue streams.

Sofia Charalambous noted, “We’re targeted on different areas of the funnel as well, and we’re asked to spend budget on different types of partners that will touch on different types of the conversion funnel… it means less risk for us, because our program is just so diversified.”

Sofia Charalambous also added, “ROAS is key for us and margin must always be protected.  However, we are being challenged with new requests, including what can we do to support the upper funnel stage. Whether that’s working with influencers or content partners we want to be the authoritative voice for luxury fashion, not just at the conversion stage but at the first consideration and conversation.”

Makeda Seaton from Loveholidays shared, “We want to be the top holiday destination and inspire people to book a holiday with us.  With that..inspiration is key as we need people to know who we are and be inspired to book with us.  That’s why we have invested in a content team, built our team of influencers, travel bloggers and content partners to drive upper funnel interactions. Then drive them down the funnel to consideration with other partners and targeted closed users groups. We have varies commission models depending on where the partner supports the funnel and adjust the CPA based on that.”


Navigating Marketing Challenges and Volatility in a Shifting Economic Landscape

Recent economic fluctuations are significantly altering marketing strategies, impacting organizational goals and marketing objectives. The exploration of this shift revealed a complex scenario where brands strive to balance maintaining a market presence with the need to achieve performance metrics such as revenue and profitability.

Darren Cooledge shared, “In terms of objectives, the business sees the value of affiliates and wants to grow it. Yes, we need to maintain market share, but we also need routes to new customers or within a tight CPA budget.”

Sofia Charalambous shared, “We work closely with internal teams and pull budgets across marketing and PR to help level out costs of the fixed fee placements. It helps us to work with the partners on a longer-term basis and helps to sustain these relationships. Initially, it was hard to sell affiliate and affiliate tracking to other areas of the business, but now we have invested the time, and it is now paying off. I recommend brands reaching out to their PR teams and working more closely with them as our PR teams understand tracking links and it helps to prove the content ROI with the number of clicks and sales.”


Integrating Affiliate Marketing with Broader Digital Strategies for Multi-Channel Success

Affiliate marketing activities are increasingly integrated with broader marketing strategies, including PR, social media, and other digital marketing efforts. This integration aims to leverage partnerships for achieving wider marketing goals and optimizing performance across various channels. Sofia Charalambous remarked, “Although our goals haven’t changed, how we work internally has definitely changed. We’re now a lot more embedded in loads of other teams, for example, collaborating with PR and content to bring a performance measurement to upper funnel activities. And we are being tasked with looking at more than just revenue.”

Makeda Seaton from Loveholidays indicated, “We work with our Social Media team when we are collaborating with new influencers and use affiliates as proof of concept and performance as it’s easier to track based on the number of bookings.”

Phil Twig at MandM commented, “When it’s performance based it is so much easier to sell it in to the business.”

The panel highlighted the strategic shift from traditional last-click models to more nuanced attribution methods, enhancing the resilience of affiliate strategies against market fluctuations. The discussion underscored the importance of a diversified partner base, with a reduced reliance on coupon partners, to optimize performance and mitigate risks in dynamic digital and commercial environments.


Panel 2: The Ever-Evolving Power of Partnerships and Affiliates within the Marketing Mix: The Leaders’ Perspective

Moderated by Aftab Aslam, Senior Director of Customer Solutions at Partnerize, this panel brought together senior industry leaders to discuss the dynamic and expanding role of partnerships and affiliates within the broader marketing landscape. The session featured Matthew Higgins (Managing Partner at Dentsu), Sam Richards (General Manager Partnerships at UniDays), Jenny Cossons (Chief Partnerships Officer at Lyst), and Julia Deutsch (Senior Global Partnerships Manager at Charlotte Tilbury). They offered a multifaceted view of how this channel has evolved, its current significance, and the challenges and opportunities it presents.


Evolution and Significance of Affiliate Marketing

The panel began with a discussion on how affiliate marketing has shifted from a niche strategy to a crucial element of the marketing mix. Matthew Higgins highlighted the untapped potential of affiliates compared to tech giants like Google and Meta, emphasizing the need for more integrated and strategic use of affiliate partnerships.

Matthew Higgins stated, “Affiliates hold untapped value and massive potential compared to tech giants and primary marketing channels like search and paid social. The ecosystem is incredibly broad with enormous potential for relationships and customer experiences.”


Challenges and Opportunities

The discussion then moved to the challenges that prevent deeper investment in the affiliate channel. Julia Deutsch emphasized the importance of moving away from last-click attribution to understand the true value of affiliate partners throughout the buying process. She also highlighted how overcoming these attribution challenges helped her specialist team operate in an more agile, data-informed way, reporting with greater accuracy to the wider business and make more strategic decisions on budgetary investment.


Julia Deutsch noted, “At Charlotte Tilbury, we work with a diverse range of partners across the funnel to drive success. From upper funnel content and editorial partners to lower funnel cashback and rewards partners, every partner type plays a crucial role. Our pro-affiliate culture ensures that all parties have a seat at the strategic table.”


Strategies for Gaining Senior Leadership Support

A key part of the session focused on how to garner support from senior leadership. Sam Richards advised being clear about goals and objectives to create strong collaborative campaigns. Julia Deutsch stressed the importance of being a good steward for the affiliate channel by demonstrating tangible solutions and avoiding departmental biases.

Sam Richards explained, “At UniDays, we’re leveraging member data through user verification to deliver valuable insights to our partners. With member consent, we’re creating closed user groups and gathering data on member behaviours to help brands optimise their strategies.”


Future of Affiliate Marketing

Looking ahead, the panelists shared their predictions for the future of affiliate marketing. Matthew Higgins foresaw the ongoing rise of tech partners and the integration of social platforms with affiliates, opening new doors for brands. Sam Richards predicted that AI would enhance the value delivered to partners, driving efficiency and automation, while privacy and consent changes would continue to shape the landscape. Julia Deutsch highlighted the potential impact of technologies like ChatGPT on content and affiliate strategies, showcasing the ever-evolving nature of the industry.

These sessions at PDLDN underscored the growing importance and evolving nature of affiliate marketing. With the integration of advanced technologies and diversified partnership strategies, brands are better equipped to navigate the dynamic digital and commercial environments, driving growth and resilience.


Stay tuned for session recordings and in the meantime, to learn more about the power or partnerships, you can get in touch here















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