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2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: impact.com, CJ, Rakuten Lead in Platform Usage

Jul 5, 2023 by Michael McNerney, Publisher, Martech Record

This year our survey asked two additional questions: 1) Which affiliate platforms/network have you ever used? and 2) Which affiliate platform are you currently using? The purpose of these questions is to give the reader context for the rest of the survey. Our panel of 275 affiliate marketing experts is North American based. The 2023 Affiliate Platform Buyer’s Guide details panelist demographics and shows that impact.com, CJ, and Rakuten have the highest rates of past and current usage among brands and agencies.. 

Brands/Agency “Ever Used” Figures

 

The Guide, which solicited perspectives from more than 275 brand, agency, and publisher leaders, showed impact.com the most used among both brands and agencies in platform experience, with more than 90% reporting ever using the platform. 

 

Percent Reporting They Have EVER WORKED with the Platform

Platform Brand /Agency

 

impact.com 91.5% /96.4%

CJ 78.7% /89.1%

Rakuten 68.1% /80.9%

ShareASale 66.0% /87.3%

Awin 55.3%/ 68.2%

Partnerize 52.6%/ 73.8%

Avantlink 31.9%/ 46.4%

Tune 19.1% /41.8%

Refersion 19.1% /36.4%

Admitad 12.8%/20.0%

PartnerStack 8.5% /25.5%

Webgains 8.5%/ 14.5%

Everflow 6.4%/ 12.7%

 

Second most used network CJ showed about 80% experience among brands and almost 90% among agency leaders. 

 

Just under 70%  brands, and more than 80% agency team members have used Rakuten. ShareASales’ 66.0% and 87.3% ever-used, sister company Awin’s 55.3% and 68.2% and Partnerize’s figures of 52.6% for brands and 73.8% with agencies demonstrate that while there are leaders, the affiliate network/platform market is still highly competitive and fragmented.

Awin and Partnerize both started in the UK and have since grown to be global players. impact.com, CJ and Rakuten all have their affiliate platform/network origins in the US, explaining higher lifetime usage. 

Across every brand, agency-side experience figures are higher than for brands due to how many agency leaders simultaneously perform services for multiple brands. This gives them more opportunities to gain experience with different platforms. 

Get your copy of the complete 2023 Affiliate Industry Guide here. 

Brands/Agencies: Current Platform Usage

 

When asked about their current usage of platforms, impact.com again was most used among brand respondents, followed by ShareASale, CJ and Rakuten.

 

On the agency side impact.com led with 85.1% current usage on the agency side, followed by ShareASale. CJ and Rakuten who each enjoy current agency usage of more than 50%. 

 

High current usage rates indicate strong business momentum and a competitive market for affiliate marketing platforms/networks.

 

Percent Reporting They CURRENTLY WORK with the Platform

Brand Brand/ Agency

 

impact.com 57.4%/ 85.1%

ShareASale 25.5% /62.7%

CJ 21.3% /54.4%

Rakuten 19.1%/ 50.9%

Partnerize 12.8%/ 42.7%

Awin 10.6%/ 38.2%

Partnerize 12.8% /42.7%

Avantlink 10.6% /18.2%

Admitad 10.6% /5.5%

Refersion 4.3% /13.6%

Tune 4.3% /12.7%

Everflow 2.1% /6.4%

Webgains 2.1% /4.5%

PartnerStack 0.0% /11.8%

 

Publisher Experience Insights

Because most publishers will work with any network or platform that can drive “critical mass” revenue, publishers have significantly higher experience levels with every platform than brands and agencies. The data show a similar pattern of leaders and challengers as the figures for brands and agencies.

 

Experience with Networks and Platforms

Publisher Respondents

 

Platform Ever Used Currently Use

 

impact.com 97.0% 95.5%

CJ 92.4% 89.4%

Rakuten 95.5% 87.9%

Partnerize 95.5% 96.9%*

Awin 93.9% 83.3%

ShareASale 87.9% 74.2%

Avantlink 72.7% 59.1%

Refersion 47.0% 27.3%

Tune 40.9% 19.7%

Webgains 34.8% 27.3%

Admitad 22.7% 19.7%

Everflow 21.3% 13.6%

PartnerStack 12.1% 10.6%

 

* Higher score for current Partnerize usage is due to write-ins of retired platform identity Pepperjam, representing 4.7% of the brand’s total.

 

Note that publishers' scores for Awin, Partnerize, and Webgains are disproportionately higher than their brand and agency scores because many publishers support international audiences. Internationally, these brands have higher market shares than they hold in the US.

 

The 2023 Affiliate Platform Buyer’s Guide offers rich insights on both product experience and ratings of capabilities that can help you make better decisions about choosing the right tool for your needs. The Guide is free for download by active industry participants. Download this insights-rich resource now. 

 

Coming soon: Read other coverage of the 2023 Affiliate Guide Results:

 

2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: impact.com, CJ, and Rakuten lead in platform usage in 2023

2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: Richer respondent pool provides broad industry perspective

2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: Brands say reporting, tracking, and network quality most important

2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: Networks and platforms cite biggest threats to their businesses

2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide: Which companies won awards this year?