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MARCC Roundup: Fireside Chat with Nick Pahade, CEO of Crowdhere

Dec 14, 2022 by Michael McNerney

Our Fireside chat with Nick Pahade was the first of a series of live discussions hosted by Martech Record on December 6th in New York City as part of Marketing, Content & Commerce. This discussion was supported by our partner Awin.

Nick Pahade, CEO of CrowdHere, investor and advisor in a portfolio of adtech/martech companies and former leader at various agency holding companies, sees the current state of the market as both a moment of insecurity and of opportunity for marketers and brands. Many of them are pulling back from platforms, which Pahade said is a natural response in moments of insecurity and uncertainty. Many are looking to put their dollars toward “tried and true” tactics. But others may seize the moment to differentiate themselves and try something they haven’t done before.

“I do think there’s an opportunity for those who are a little bit scrappy to differentiate and kind of get one leg up on the competition,” he said.

A certain “scrappy” tendency has always been at the heart of affiliate, even as it has matured and grown to almost defy a single definition, Pahade said. When he first got involved in affiliate, it still included a lot of clickbait and opportunity for fraud, he said, which gave it a sort of “bottom-feeder” reputation. At that time, it was seen more as a tactic and less of an overall strategy, which has shifted.

“The affiliate space has evolved quite a bit to where those are still issues, but it’s no longer just bargain basement promotional opportunities,” he said. “As people look at their bottom line and they can see that affiliate ultimately adds the ability to generate a tremendous amount of action or revenue on people’s PMI’s, they pay attention.” At the end of the day, moving the needle is what brands really care about.

Affiliate has gone far beyond promotional discounting and now includes influencers and brand ambassadors, making it harder to describe affiliate with one, distilled definition.

“I think there are a lot of questions and I think there’s a lot of things that aren’t really defined,” Pahade said. “I think back to the affiliate managers I hired – there were very discreet budgets, and they could use last-click attribution to help define what conversions were. I’m not sure that’s good enough now.”

Now even the idea of a creator has changed, Pahade said. The democratization of creating content is opening up new avenues and opportunities and making it all the more important that brands find ways to best take advantage.

“We’re finally at a point where there’s not a lack of content,” he said. “We are now at a point where we need to use technology to better manage the workload of that content creation and the distribution.”

Though he doesn’t want to be a cynic, Pahade said it can be frustrating to see the industry talking about some of the same issues it was facing a decade ago.

Still, the changes in the industry as well as the changes in consumer understanding and expectations are impossible to ignore.

“There is innovation happening,” he said. “Sometimes that innovation happens naturally and sometimes it happens because there’s a pistol pointing at your head. I think that times like right now, there’s a little of both and I think that’s a good thing.”