Taking Ownership of Publisher Growth

Published by Chris Tradgett 18 August, 2020

Brian Marcus

This article is based on a joint webinar by TUNE and Publisher Discovery on publisher growth. We joined with Brian Marcus, VP Global Marketing at TUNE to tackle the issues around growing your affiliate program.

It’s no longer enough to ‘set and forget’ a new program; affiliate managers need to be always looking for opportunities to find and engage with new publisher partners – and even new types of partners to stay ahead of the competition.

We’ve all heard how the ‘Pareto’ principle plays out in affiliate – 20% of affiliates deliver 80% of revenue or worse. The discussion covered how to avoid this and how to extend your reach to new affiliates – by making recruiting a central strategy.

Building an Operational Rhythm

Setting up a program from new is always a major challenge, and we would always recommend that you establish a ‘rhythm’ to your workflow. As you grow into a more mature program, it’s easy to relax into working your existing partners. An active affiliate program should always be adding new partners – and looking to publisher growth to keep it fresh.

We often hear that it’s difficult to find new affiliates (for which of course, we have an answer!). Remember that the affiliate space is constantly evolving – and you need to be looking for ways to extend your reach. Also, remember that your competitors may well be recruiting too – and probably after your own top publishers. So you need to recruit just to stand still.


If you start with your existing program and analyze what’s working. Identify where your success is coming from; which vertical, type of affiliate, geo or campaign. Once you have this established, you can build from that by finding and recruiting your most relevant new publishers – with the best potential.

The ‘old school’ method is trawling Google for sites to contact; you can of course use SEO backlinks to try and find partners. Bear in mind however, that may only be 3-5% of SEO links who are actually affiliates. You then have the issue of educating them about affiliate – with varying success rates. Publisher Discovery only shows sites with affiliate links.

USA Fashion affiliates

It pays to analyze your competitors affiliate programs – and identify any gaps – for which Publisher Discovery is an ideal tool. Even in our platform, there are around two million affiliate websites -linking to over 400,000 advertiser programs. So you need to whittle it down.

affiliate funnel

The platform allows you to apply filters – by vertical – by country – then by traffic score. As in the example below, the 9,000 sites in the Women’s Fashion vertical, trims down to 4000 just in the US.

Then, removing low traffic sites whittles it down to 1000; a reasonable (though still large selection) from which to choose to reach out and engage with. Your target list!


By continuing to analyze, you can make sure you’re still on the right track – and keeping your program fresh. Have a thought for any potentially useful new geos you could work – or explore other related verticals to identify further potential partners.

And – don’t forget as you reach a wider base of affiliates you are tapping into the affiliates’ wider audiences – and new customers. So growing your affiliate base gives you a Win/Win/Win!

It’s about getting a flow going – and keeping the momentum going in your recruiting rhythm. Look out for new ‘successes’ – and try and replicate them by checking for ‘Lookalikes’ in your target list.

Brian showed how the TUNE Connect Ecosystem – supplemented with the global affiliate view in Publisher Discovery gave their advertisers the most complete affiliate recruitment platform.

Make sure your program is set up using tracking and commercial structure appropriate to each partner. All affiliates are NOT alike. Watch out for any drop-offs and for your winners and replicate those.

As Brian also put it in the webinar – ‘Rinse and Repeat’!

Take Ownership

You really have to take ownership. Affiliate Management is not like adwords – a ‘one and done’ activity. It’s an organic and agile environment – and you need to remain agile to keep winning. Publisher growth is an essential part of that.

Affiliate Communications

Don’t forget also that whatever size the affiliate publisher is – this is not a ‘media buy’. Affiliates are people and as such you need to build that relationship with each one – even if elements of what you do are automated.

Communicate regularly – and where they like to communicate. Use email of course; but social channels can often deliver better response rates and engagement. OPMs such as  AM Navigator use social channels widely for affiliate communications.

Above all, whatever size of advertiser you (or your client) are, this is your business and you need to take ownership of your publisher growth to drive the success you need.


The webinar conversation of course ranged more widely than this. You can see the recording of the full session below.

You can also check for other upcoming webinars and Events page.

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Chris Tradgett


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