Publishers and Commerce 2021

Content Publishers Drive Evolution in the Affiliate Channel

About This Report
Here’s how publishers are developing and expanding their ecommerce monetization strategies, and how brands and retailers can partner with them to drive purchases in the affiliate channel.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

As consumers increasingly use media content to discover and research products and brands online, publishers are forging an increasingly meaningful place in the customer journey. Publishers are instituting ecommerce strategies that now position them as retailer and brand partners capable of driving conversions. And marketers are recognizing publisher partnerships as valuable ways to shorten the funnel.

How are publishers monetizing through ecommerce?

Mostly through affiliate commerce partnerships with brands and merchants. But new use cases and content strategies are emerging, including those offered by social commerce and affiliate-driven online marketplaces.

What drove affiliate marketing revenue growth in 2020?

Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 was a massive year for revenue growth in the affiliate marketing channel. Driving this growth were the surge in consumer ecommerce spending, rising numbers of online shoppers, and heightened marketer demand for outcome-based performance.

How is affiliate evolving as a performance marketing channel?

The affiliate channel is still primarily used as a performance marketing channel, largely dependent on last-click attribution and commission-based payment models. But some affiliate network platforms are becoming more technically sophisticated, offering multitouch attribution tools that allow marketers to reward publisher touchpoints throughout the funnel. Likewise, even though most deals are still paid on a cost-per-action (CPA) basis, publishers are also attracting more flat-fee and hybrid-structured deals.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report investigates how publishers are growing ecommerce monetization through the affiliate channel, and how their appearance in the channel is helping to propel evolution in affiliate marketing, as commerce and content continue to converge.

KEY STAT: In a May 2020 Gartner survey, 65% of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing executives worldwide expected to spend more on affiliate, or partner, channel marketing in 2021.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Publisher Ecommerce Monetization
  3. Affiliate Commerce and Content Publishers
  4. How the Affiliate Channel Is Growing
  1. How Publishers Are Expanding Affiliate Commerce
  2. How Marketers and Commerce Content Publishers Are Working Together
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. Insider Intelligence Interviews
  1. Read Next
  2. Sources
  3. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Nilla Ali
Senior Vice President, Commerce
Interviewed February 26, 2021
Camilla Cho
Vox Media
Senior Vice President, Ecommerce
Interviewed March 5, 2021
Ceres Cueva
Rakuten Advertising
Vice President, Publisher Partnerships
Moksha Fitzgibbons
Interviewed March 2, 2021
Ben Gafni
Vice President, Business Development
Interviewed March 18, 2021
Matt Gilbert
Interviewed March 3, 2021
Jackie Goldstein
New York Post
Vice President, Commerce
Interviewed March 13, 2021
William Hamer-Jones
Vice President, Partnerships
Interviewed March 16, 2021
Leilani Han
Head of Business Development and Partnerships
Interviewed March 11, 2021
Sarah Henry
Senior Director, Content and Influencer Marketing
Interviewed March 22, 2021
Brian Hovis
Senior Partner and Head of Performance Marketing
Interviewed March 17, 2021
Jeffrey Imberman
Head of Sales and Brand Partnerships
Interviewed March 12, 2021
Mike Jacobs
Vice President, Performance Marketing
Interviewed March 18, 2021
Walter Knapp
Interviewed February 25, 2021
Jason Lepore
General Manager
Interviewed March 4, 2021
Aaron Levant
Interviewed March 3, 2021
Brian Lovett
Director, Product, Commerce
Interviewed February 25, 2021
Kelly Merkel
CJ Affiliate
Vice President, Publisher Development
Interviewed March 17, 2021
Scott Messer
Leaf Group
Senior Vice President, Media
Interviewed February 19, 2021
Evan Moore
Vice President, Commerce Partnerships
Interviewed March 18, 2021
Lauren Newman
Senior Vice President, Revenue, US
Interviewed March 10, 2021
Mike Peralta
Future plc
Chief Revenue Officer
Interviewed February 25, 2021
Nicole Ron
CJ Affiliate
Vice President, Global Marketing, Product Marketing, Creative and Business Systems
Interviewed March 17, 2021
Bryce Widelitz
CNN Underscored
Senior Director, Business Development
Interviewed March 3, 2021
Karolin Wilkens
Assistant Manager, Partnership Marketing
Interviewed March 23, 2021
David A. Yovanno
Interviewed March 1, 2021
Kate Spies
Senior Vice President and General Manager
Interviewed March 10, 2021

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Read This With Insider Intelligence


Audrey Schomer


Ross Benes
Senior Analyst
Bianca Carasus
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst