Why Smart Affiliate Programs Leverage Performance Partnerships – By Robert Glazer

by Jenae Reid on August 28, 2017


The smartest and most forward-thinking companies leverage Performance Partnerships in their affiliate programs– or they are moving in this direction. Why? Because this framework brings much-needed clarity and definition to an affiliate program, something that has been lacking to date in the performance industry.

For a relationship to be considered a Performance Partnership, the following elements should be present:

  1. There must be a CPA element. This means that the partner brings a certain behavior to the table, and once that behavior is delivered and tracked, payment is then made in real time. Unless brands can make a clear connection between the results they’re getting, and the amount of money they’re paying, there’s no clear performance link.
  2. Transparency is essential. The early years of affiliate marketing were plagued by a lack of transparency. A lot of large affiliates refused to disclose their tactics. They claimed that this was for proprietary reasons, but it’s clear that a lack of transparency increases the chances of questionable, or even fraudulent, behavior.

    A more partnership-oriented mindset is that transparency is about developing a quality relationship and having clarity, understanding, and ease about what’s being done to promote and represent the brand. In a performance partnership, you know what your partner is doing and how they’re doing it.

  3. There is a real relationship. Affiliate marketing is often anonymous. You may pay for thousands of leads or sales without truly understanding where they came from, or developing a relationship with the partners who brought them to you. That’s not the case with a Performance Partnership.

    Performance Partnerships are about knowing and trusting what your partner is doing, which requires quality communication. Companies are opening their eyes to the fact that there is no real difference between many of their business development and partner relationships and relationships they have with affiliates. Therefore, they are beginning to redefine these relationships, seeing affiliates as partners.

  4. A real-time tracking and payment platform. Performance Partnerships use real-time tracking platforms to handle operating agreements, tracking, and payments. These platforms also provide transparent real-time reporting to both parties. For some, this may mean adopting a traditional affiliate network solution. For others, it may involve engaging a software as a service (SaaS) platform.

    At present, many companies keep their non-affiliate relationships separate from their affiliate programs, even those who could benefit from the technology. In years to come, ideally, everything will be managed in one place. If all the above conditions are met, you can consider an arrangement to be a Performance Partnership. If not, you can’t be sure what you’re entering into.

Business development partners, influencers, and others who have traditionally been perceived as separate from the affiliate model all have a part to play in the Performance Partnership ecosystem. And the companies that leverage this framework in their business will experience the dramatic results that transparent, performance-focused, brand-supportive partnerships can offer.


Robert Glazer is Founder and Managing Director of Acceleration Partners and author of Performance Partnerships.

This article appeared in issue 39 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in July 2017. https://issuu.com/affiliatesummit/docs/feedfront-39



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