Affiliate marketing may have started as a kind of side hustle for bloggers and others who were making the majority of their revenue through ads or other channels, but with the rise of influencers and the huge abundance of spon-con on social media, the idea was to take advantage of one’s presence to make some money and give a huge sales boost. For a product, brand, or service that has taken on a life of its own. And to underscore that, today the company that created a marketplace to help connect individuals and businesses in that larger set of relationships announced a major funding round.
Impact – which created a partnership management platform that allows brands to engage people for influencer marketing, affiliates or business development on a larger scale; It also allows publishers to connect with brands and influencers; It provides the infrastructure to track this content and generate revenue around it – closing $150 million in funding on a $1.5 billion valuation.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is leading this round with the participation of Providence Public. The company will use the funds to continue expanding its partnership network as well as the kinds of tools it builds for brands, agencies, and publishers.
Impact operates what it calls a “partnership cloud” — a bit like a “marketing cloud” — and targets what it calls the “partnership economy.” Those who use affiliate marketing or influencers to spread the word about their products; Those who make use of their character or content to do so; And those content platforms can all use Impact to interact with each other and manage their business operations within it.
“We started out as a platform that was used mostly in a private market environment,” David A. Yovanno, CEO of Impact, said in an interview. “We were the first to have a product and technology product in the affiliate area. We call this category ‘partnerships’ but we didn’t come up with that term, our customers did after they started using us in innovative ways.”
Influence has seen a huge boom with the rise and spread of influencer marketing and scams. Last year, the New York startup topped $100 million in annual recurring revenue, with its clients on the list of some of the biggest names in technology, retail and more, including Lenovo, Microsoft, Uber, eBay, Amex, Capital One, Disney and NBC’s Peacock, Walmart, Target, lots of D2C brands and some other huge tech companies I’m not allowed to name… Altogether, their client list has grown 50% in the past year.
Spon-con and related marketing techniques have been on an upward trend for years, resulting in progressively larger deviations in the 60% commitment that brands typically devote to online advertising to get the word out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the last year of COVID-19’s life has been a special boost: People who spend a lot of time online, and much more time stopping to work for hours on social media rather than engaging in the physical world, have led to a rush. Bigger for brands that take advantage of this landscape to get their names in front of potential buyers.
The market hurdle that Impact developed to fix reminds me somewhat of the challenges in the digital music industry: at first, and frankly right now, it’s still hard for rights holders in the music world to accurately and efficiently track space and time. Music is used, and then to collect revenue based on that, particularly when that music is used via the long tail of user-generated content.
A similar scenario exists in the spon-con world, especially when you think about how videos are sampled and sometimes spread, with these users wandering far from their origins in the process.
Thus, the play that Impact presents here is not just an accounting play and providing a marketplace for entities to discover and interact with one another, but potentially a big data play to track how and where content will be used and interacted wherever that is. happen to be. If the space continues to grow as it seems, then that means a bigger job and more investment required to keep track of the space.