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2023 Affiliate Industry Survey Results: brands and agencies focus investment on targeting and reporting transparency

Jul 11, 2023 by Michael McNerney

Our just published 2023 Affiliate Industry Buyer's Guide and affiliate platform matrix revealed critical insights about how and where brands and agencies are investing in technology to improve their affiliate performance. Here’s a topline of those findings.

Brands and Agencies Identify Biggest Tech Gaps


According to the research, brands and agencies have different perspectives on the tech shortfalls of our industry, with brands rating targeting and reporting deficiencies as the most significant. On the agency side, our respondents saw issues in targeting, partner discovery, optimization automation, and reporting transparency. 

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


Here’s how each group rated current affiliate tech gaps:


“What are the biggest gaps in affiliate technology available today?”

Brand and Agency Respondents


Area Brands Agencies

Audience Personalization/Targeting 41.5% 18.6%

Partner Discovery 4.9% 18.6%

Optimization Automation 12.2% 19.8%

Reporting Transparency 36.6% 24.4%


Mike: the agency figures only ad dup to about 80%. Why?

Planned Tech Investment


Three-quarters of our agency respondents are increasing their tech investments in 2023. For brands, the figure is about half. 


Where will your planned tech investments be directed?

Brand and Agency Respondents


Answer Agencies Brands

Yes 74.4% 47.8%

No 25.6% 52.3%

Agencies seem more focused on tech investment because proprietary IP and technology are increasingly important for agency differentiation. Both agencies and brands reported that a majority of their tech investment is to create in-house solutions versus purchasing third-party offerings.

Brands and Agencies Tech Investment Priorities for 2023


Our brand and agency differed somewhat on where they were focusing their tech investment in 2023. While both groups listed better tracking and reporting as their highest priority, brands rated more complex commissioning capabilities second, while agencies focused on better partner discovery. 


What primary improvements are you hoping to create with increased technology investments (choose up to 2).”

Brand and Agency Respondents


Item Brands Agencies

Better Tracking and Reporting 63.2% 61.3%

More Complex Commissioning 36.8% 6.5%

Access to 3rd Party Integrations 21.1% 7.1%

Better Partner Discovery 15.8% 37.1%

Better Self-Service Tools 10.5% 24.2%

Placement Optimization 10.5% 21.0%

Additional Services 10.5% 0.0%


The strong agency interest in partner discovery should come as no surprise given that increasing the number of publishers in programs a primary task for these service providers. Agencies’ other interests appear very focused on achieving operational excellence.


Brand interest in more complex commissioning and third-party integrations seems to reflect their growing commitment to deeper data analysis and more accurate incrementality measurement. 

Networks/Platforms Give Their POV on Tech Gaps and Business Threats


While improved tracking and reporting are the highest priorities for brands and agencies, Networks and Platforms believe the biggest industry gaps lie in partner discovery and optimization automation. 


“What are the biggest gaps in affiliate technology available today?”

Network and Platform Respondents


Feature/Capability Percent Citing

Publisher Discovery 32%

Optimization Automation 21%

Audience Personalization/Targeting 19%

Reporting Transparency 11%

Robust Commissioning 7%

Other 11%


When asked about the biggest potential threats to their businesses, they cited cookie deprecation challenges and direct competitor activity. Here’s a ranking of those threats as assessed by the networks and platforms that answered our survey.


“What are the biggest threats for affiliate platforms/networks and the competitive landscape today? (select up to 3).”

Network and Platform Respondents


Industry Development Percent Citing

Cookie Deprecation/Targeting Limitations 44%

Direct Competitors 42%

Privacy Restrictions/Disclosure Requirements 37%

Measurement through Other Channels 35%

Brands Building On-House technology 26%

Publishers Building In-House Technology 14%

Other 11%


One area that has received some buzz of late is the idea that influencer platforms might try to replace affiliate networks as these two spaces continue to collide. Our recent coverage of influencer networks discussed this issue as well as how the leading affiliate solutions are working to play a greater role in influencer management. 


In subsequent discussions with network and platform leaders, many told us they expected the affiliate provider space to continue to consolidate, with existing participants acquiring other providers or outside tech companies purchasing multiple providers in order to establish a stronghold in our vibrant and fast-growing industry. 


The 2023 Industry 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. 


Read other coverage of the 2023 Affiliate Guide Results:


2023 Affiliate Buyer’s Guide:, 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?