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Market Landscape Map: Affiliate Tech

Mar 14, 2024 by Michael McNerney, Publisher, Martech Record
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Affiliate marketing goes by many names: Commerce Media, Performance PR, Partner Marketing, etc. What Martech Record means when it uses any of these terms is that an advertiser pays a commission to a publisher for an action that results in a sale. It is exciting that that this tactic is being employed by almost anyone who creates content - leaving us with many terms to describe a underlying action. This evolution brought affiliate tools to mainstream advertisers, resulting in storytellers, branders (is that a word?), PR teams, editorial leads and others employing affiliate tools. Many people in these roles don't like the term affiliate marketing. The term can impy non-incremental sales and it is difficult to get credit (and paid) for branding and storytelling while using the term affiliate marketing.  

Nonetheless, technology that sources partners, sets up relationships with partners, reports performances and pays partners is central executing an affiliate, commerce, performance PR or partner marketing campaign. 

You can down download our industry map at the bottom of the article.

This industry map is our initial effort to capture the types of technology used to build these campaigns. The market is fast evolving and we are not perfect. There are categories and companies that are surely missing. And there are companies that span categories. Maps like this require imperfection. But it is a start. We will update this quarterly, and would love to hear from you.

What did we miss? Let us know at publisher@martechrecord.com

Here are descriptions of each category: 

Affiliate Networks/ Platforms are technology that do the following: 

  • Provide advertisers with access to a network of affiliate & commerce publishers
  • Provide the capability for the advertiser & publisher to set up an affiliate relationship 
  • Enable transactional  tracking capabilities on all relationships
  • Reporting platform
  • Establish an economic relationship between advertisers and publishers
  • Pay publishers based on agreed upon parameters 
  • Sometimes have a service component
  • Who uses this: advertisers who rely on affiliate publishers (read our guide here) and Publishers looking to find Advertiser partners.

Link & Tracking Management are tools that do the following:

  • Provide affiliate tracking & reporting 
  • Usually provide tracking across channels
  • Usually do not have a publisher network or service component 
  • Can be paired with an affiliate network or stand along
  • Who uses this: advertisers who don’t need a network, or service and want to integrate affiliate into their other channels 

Subnetworks: Platforms that aggregate similar publishers to create scale on a single platform. 

  • Scale is created by grouping similar audiences, content types or technology solutions. 
  • Who uses subnetworks: 
    • Publishers will often use subnetworks to go access to advertisers (Skimlinks) or content (Sovrn)
    • Advertisers will use subnetworks to gain access to a certain content type(Flex Offers) 

Finserv networks:

  • Publisher networks that aggregate financial services audiences. Regulation and high margin products makes this audience ripe for aggregation.
    • There are often different offerings based on the size and scale of a publisher.
    • These platforms often handle a lot of the compliance necessary for this vertical.
  • Who uses finserv subnetworks?: financial services advertisers & publishers.

CPC networks are networks that are able to arbitrage search terms via their vast array of owned and operated properties and SEO & paid search expertise. 

Influencer networks: provide advertisers access to a network of influencers and provide influencers a platform to access and get paid by advertisers.  This can be CPA based built on top of the traditional affiliate networks or Flat Fee / Campaign based as well depending on the platform.

Pay per call platforms: generate leads via phone and web. 

Card Linked Offers (CLOs) are offer tools that: 

  • Banks and financial institution use to access deals from brands that help drive customer loyalty (this about the offers you get when you login to your credit card site) 
  • Advertisers use to reach targeted audience high intent (and access to credit) 
  • Publishers can use to integrate a white label solution and offer deals to their audience
  • Gives access to offers that users can opt in to on a Publisher site or app and receive some type of discount or reward when using a specific card.

Coupon Solutions aggregate coupon codes, update links and create feeds to make accessing coupons easier for publishers. They are used by:

  • Publishers to automate the process of updating coupon codes (still very manual). 
  • Brands for distribution of coupons to a broader audience 

Amazon 3rd Party platforms and tools are used to track sales on Amazon has traditionally been straightforward: revenue. How much revenue did you drive. You placed products on Amazon and Amazon sent you a check. Don’t ask any questions. However, with new incentive structures there is more data and with more data there are now reporting platforms that help you understand attribution. 

Affiliate Content Management tools allow you to optimize placements, links and content across your network of publishers. 

White label solutions allow anyone with an online audience to leverage affiliate tools to monetize their website. For example: banks with a huge amount of users can plug in Wildfire’s white label loyalty tools - allowing website users to access deals from retailers. 

Analysis and Optimization tools allow publishers (and sometimes brands) to understand the value of different placements, incentives and content types. For example, Affilimate gives commerce publishers insight into which content types drive what revenue, allowing them to optimize where on the page certain products are promoted. 

Program growth helps you augment any network or service you’re already working with to automate the discovery of new publishers

Compliance tools monitor how your partners are presenting your brand and ensure they are complying with parameters you put in place. This is especially relevant in the financial services space where non-compliance with SEC regulations can be costly.

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