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Affiliate has moved past its original, bottom-of-the-funnel focus and is becoming a channel where brand building and performance marketing can work hand-in-hand. 

This evolution is due – at least in part – to premium publishing brands entering and validating the affiliate arena. Well-known names are opening their inventory to a wider marketing mix, including:

  • Media companies exploring commerce revenue (such as Forbes, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal)
  • Major financial brands getting involved in card-linked offers
  • Technology brands embedding white-label rewards programs
  • Prominent influencers promoting products to their followers

This arrival of premium publishing brands creates a fascinating situation. For the first time in the affiliate space, the publisher’s brand can be just as recognizable, trustworthy, and influential, as the brand of the product being advertised – if not more so. 

This creates a two-way street where advertiser brands can benefit from the halo effect of their publisher partners just as much as those publishers benefit from advertising the right brands. It’s a bit like the relationships CPG brands have with grocery stores. In the same way you might try out a new breakfast cereal or snack food because it’s displayed on the end cap at your trusted neighborhood Kroger, consumers are being introduced to new brands through everyday websites and apps. Of course, placing ads on premium publisher sites has always been possible – the difference is it can now be done on a performance basis. 

The halo effect is particularly evident in the influencer space, where some content creators have incredible brand recognition and often resonate with their followers more strongly than traditional media brands. Today, consumers frequently discover brands and purchase products due to recommendations from their favorite YouTubers or TikTokers.  

For marketers investigating which affiliate partners will help them combine brand building with performance, here are four key things to consider:

1. Look for partners that can give your brand a lift  

Premium publisher brands and advertiser brands now co-exist in the affiliate space, so brand marketers shouldn’t be afraid of partnering with a publisher that has stronger brand awareness than they do. If the publisher is resonating with the consumers you want to reach, it can give your brand a bump.

2. Check that the partner aligns with your specific audience 

An affiliate partner might have a recognizable, trusted brand. But is it recognized and trusted by the audiences and demographics that are buying your products? Or by groups that you want to expand into? An influencer may have millions of followers but that will only help your brand if those followers are part of the market you want to reach. 

3. Leave your own perceptions at the door 

It’s easy for marketers to disregard certain publishers or content creators because they don’t consume the content themselves. But it’s important to put aside your own perceptions and try to understand your audience. If you’re a Gen X marketer, for example, you might not watch MrBeast YouTube videos, but if you’re trying to reach a Gen Z market, you can be sure a large proportion of them are among his almost 150 million subscribers. 

4. Take the testing opportunity 

The affiliate channel is the perfect place to try out new things. New markets. New models. New creators. New messages. You don’t need to dramatically shift the direction of your entire marketing strategy – you can just test different options, measure the results, and see what works for your brand.  

As affiliate marketing evolves, its rising tide is lifting all brands – both advertiser and publisher. With that in mind, there no longer needs to be a trade-off between the long-term investment of brand building and the short-term revenue generation of performance. Affiliate can deliver the best of both worlds. 

Kim Riedell, SVP Partnership and Affiliate Outcomes, brings more than 20 years’ experience to her role with Matterkind.  Known for leading high-performing teams that create innovative solutions for the ad tech industry, Kim is responsible for managing the team and setting the strategy for affiliate and partnerships outcome-based marketing solution.  
With a career that has spanned startups to large organizations, Kim has grown teams in influencer, affiliate, addressable, and social markets. With experience in SaaS, client services and operations, product marketing, and building omni-channel solutions, Kim’s previous roles include VP, Customer Growth at, Chief Customer Officer at Mavrck, and SVP/GM at Advantage Sales and Marketing.  She’s also held executive roles at Digilant, Valassis (now Vericast) and Commission Junction. 
Currently residing outside Boston, MA, Kim holds an MBA with honors from Simmons University and a BA in Communication from the University of New Hampshire, and is a current member of Chief, a private network designed to drive more women into strong leadership positions.  An avid skier and runner, Kim enjoys spending time in the mountains with her husband and twin daughters.