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Going Indie? Risks & Benefits of Moving Your Program Off a Traditional Affiliate Network

Going Indie? Risks & Benefits of Moving Your Program Off a Traditional Affiliate Network


Looking to move your program from a traditional affiliate network? Here are some key benefits and risks to consider before making the jump.

You're an established affiliate program: you know your top partnerships inside and out, have tapped into everything your network has to offer, and are now ready to venture out on your own. You want your own branded program, technology and direct relationships. It's time to graduate to an independent program (aka Indie). Here are the benefits and risks to consider as you go.

The formula for migration success

If you have already made your decision on the partner marketing platform that will power your program, congratulations! Next step is to move the program. 

As a general rule, migration risk can be thought of as a function of three variables: (1) technology fit, (2) program management support (in-house, OPM, or agency), and (3) internal preparedness.  For you math buffs, consider this formula:

Note that by increasing your preparedness, you exponentially improve your chances for success.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume you already have tech and program resources squared away.  Now, let’s discuss how you can be well prepared on Day One.

Migration prep: a trip around “The Dial”   

When moving your program, consider this adage: a solid flight plan makes the journey seamless.  With a network, you have been employing the pilot to fly a commercial plane.  With a partner marketing platform, you are the pilot of your own private jet; the controls are now yours.  In a migration, your job is to take off, navigate the headwinds, and set the wheels down successfully.  Like a successful flight, a successful transition should feel uneventful.  Prepare yours with a plan that includes the three phases of successful partner programs: strategising, operationalising, and optimising.


Priority one should be migrating historical program data so that you start with a strong fact base.  Second should be maintaining competitive benchmarks to preserve a strong value proposition.  Policy development will also shift to you, so keep good counsel nearby. 



Once strategising is complete, your next priority should be adding the right partners, offers, payout structures, and policies to your new platform before launching.  Communication is key here. 


After the transition, revisit your original program assumptions.  Program management is a big cycle, and greater granularity is now in your hands.  Make sure you have the discipline, skills, and personnel required to evaluate and improve with a regular cadence. 

In closing

When you unbundle services and technologies from a traditional affiliate network, it is critical to replace them with a strong technology foundation and program management resources.  Transition is merely the first step.  The more you can prepare your internal team, partners, and executives for the move, the more successful you will be for this event and your new life as an independent program. 

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Brian Marcus

Brian Marcus

    Brian Marcus has been shaping the performance marketing and e-commerce communities — as a digital marketer, as a platform owner, and as a platform evangelist — for over two decades. In 2002, Brian launched into eCommerce, leading customer acquisition at JC Whitney, a century-old cataloger destined to move online. 

    From there, he went on to build two global marketing platforms, one at Google (Google Affiliate Network) and the other at eBay (eBay Partner Network). Brian was VP of Marketing at Teespring, an eCommerce platform and marketplace for designers and creators. And now, Brian serves as the VP of Global Marketing at TUNE, a SaaS partner marketing platform for enabling marketing partnerships. 

    Brian is a Chicago native, a Cubs fan, and a music fanatic. He now considers Seattle his home and spends his free time enjoying the Pacific Northwest with his family. He earned his BA from Grinnell College (in Iowa) and his MBA from the University of Chicago (Booth).

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