By design, affiliate solutions providers are partial to the channel because we know well the value and efficiency it delivers to brands and partners every day. But this partiality isn’t a blind faith that we enter hoping the data to support this works in our favour. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s pouring over data point after data point making sure we have it right. But after a long tenure in the digital marketing industry, you naturally begin to reflect on how affiliate—despite that fact that it produces a 12:1 average ROAS — still isn’t fully embraced by many marketers in the same way other traditional primary sales and marketing channels are.

Interestingly, it is many of these same marketers who are struggling to make their ad strategies and investments work over the long haul. It is these same marketers who are lip biting and white-knuckled while trying to figure out a solution to how they are going to afford the inflating cost to stay omnipresent throughout their consumers’ journey. With the cost for access to Facebook, Instagram and Google audiences only continuing to increase, marketers must seek a scaled subsidy to optimize the overall unit economics of their business and affiliate marketing delivers on that critical need. The combination of diversified scale delivered through innovative technology and outcome-based pricing models is the blueprint for creating operating leverage and ultimately, turning advertising into a profit centre. When leveraged properly, affiliate proves to be the dark horse in solving for the modern marketers’ dilemma.

It is this thinking that prompted us to take action in terms of proving our own beliefs, our own affiliate claims. Again, we see an array of marketers, across advertiser verticals, accompanied by rich publisher partner diversification, making affiliate work for them every single day. To help us support or disavow our own affiliate convictions, we turned to the gold standard in market research. In October 2019, Pepperjam commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a survey of 170+ executive-level marketers to share their raw thoughts about the value the affiliate channel brings. These respondents had to lead their organization’s digital strategies–including affiliate–and were charged with ensuring overall revenue growth. And channel partiality aside, the survey proved us right.

Overall results indicated that affiliate marketing is ranked as a top-three channel for customer acquisition (ranked #1 by the majority of those respondents) and is relied on as a proven and critical revenue driver by all respondents. To put this distinction into perspective, 20% of respondents ranked affiliate as their top choice for customer acquisition followed by paid and organic search (16%) and display (15%). Survey respondents also indicated that they valued the affiliate channel when it came to pricing flexibility and felt the channel offered greater transparency and brand safety as compared to other paid channels.

The timing of these findings comes as no accident. Marketers are in the middle of a transition with more and more seeing the light when it comes to prioritizing a channel that offers scale, automation and a pay-for-performance model as a viable means to achieving operating leverage. They are declaring enough is enough by refusing to settle for the status quo affiliate mentality and are re-prioritising affiliate as a central growth strategy. These intuitive decisions are coming from growth marketers–those that seek a better, more efficient way to engage with consumers and convert them into high lifetime value marketers. These are the marketers who are leading a true digital revolution.

If you’re a marketer tired of this status quo affiliate mentality, you have the power to take control of your affiliate program and join the growth marketer’s revolution. In the meantime, you can read all about the study’s findings here. 

*Findings from an October 2019 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Pepperjam