Over the past few years, the affiliate marketing industry has drastically evolved. While the term “affiliate” denotes an official connection, it connotes an association or attachment not necessarily rooted in full mutual benefit. Conversely, a partnership implies a more solid relationship where both parties work together to navigate risks, improve efforts, and share in profits.
The affiliate industry traditionally involved two major parties: online advertisers and affiliates (also known as publishers). Advertisers are simply any company that pays someone else to help it promote and sell its products or services, and this side of the equation remains constant. However, affiliate marketing today has evolved into partner marketing—a channel that supports much more than just online publishers that post an advertiser’s link or banner ad to drive traffic and earn commissions. Today, a much wider range of both online and offline partners who are being rewarded on a performance-basis join affiliates in the partner marketing channel.
What do these modern marketing partnerships look like?
Mattel, the brand behind Barbie, Hot Wheels and other popular toys recently announced an expanded partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which will include the development of new toys specific to the Chinese marketplace. In addition to leveraging Alibaba’s B2C site Tmall.com, Mattel will promote the toys though other channels including the highly popular Chinese social network site, Weibo, as well as possibly moving into offline channels.
“We look forward to supporting Mattel’s growth through our robust data and commerce technology infrastructure, which will help to elevate