Button, a three-year-old app-focused affiliate network, yesterday announced a $20 million funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners.

The New York-based startup allows publishers to tie in their apps with commerce apps via deep linking, so users don’t have to leave the app in order to make a purchase. Current affiliates include Foursquare and Condé Nast Traveler, whose integrations with Uber and Hotels.com land them an affiliate fee for any sales driven as a result. 

According to co-founder and CEO, Michael Jaconi, the group’s objective is to give consumers what they want before they know it by tapping into the high-intent nature of on-the-go mobile searches.

“When we started, we had a mission to build a platform that would give consumers anything they wanted at the touch of a button. We felt that Google had done that in desktop, but we didn’t think a company had really figured it out in mobile,” said Jaconi.

“Our goal was different, yet perhaps as ambitious. Rather than relying on users starting with us or typing in a search box, we thought mobile introduced a different paradigm.”

Button’s total funding to date amounts to $34 million, with the latest round providing a springboard for further investment in “people, products and partners”, as well as expanding a global footprint which so far includes 70 countries.

While these sound like rather general business plans, more specifically Button has its eyes set on pursuing large travel deals, a vertical in which Jaconi suggested to Business Insider there is growing opportunity for capitalising on consumer intent; “If you search flights and hotels, you should be able to book in a deep-link flow.”

Old models, new opportunities

Often criticised for lacking in innovation, especially in meeting the demands of today’s consumer behaviour, the affiliate industry should take some encouragement from Button’s most recent haul.

While display advertising – especially mobile banners – continues to fall shy of the mark in terms of quality and conversions, Norwest’s injection suggests there’s appetite for affiliate integrations that provide a service, and more organic transactions as a result. 

In a recent article by Digiday, Jaconi stated that Button is working with around 50 content apps, but that number continues to see growth as more publishers and brands look towards the opportunity of ‘contextual marketing’ on mobile users.

“Every retailer’s goal is to grow the number of app users,” said Jaconi; “Google and Facebook are two reliable places for companies to find app users, but the reality is, there’s far more purchase intent of, say, travelers inside Condé Nast Traveler than Facebook. Retailers should tap in that conversion.”