Affiliate Nerd Out

Why Partnerships Are The Future of Marketing with Robert Glazer

April 10, 2024 Dustin Howes Season 1 Episode 79
Why Partnerships Are The Future of Marketing with Robert Glazer
Affiliate Nerd Out
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Affiliate Nerd Out
Why Partnerships Are The Future of Marketing with Robert Glazer
Apr 10, 2024 Season 1 Episode 79
Dustin Howes

Embark on an insightful journey with me, Dustin Howes, and the unparalleled affiliate marketing expert, Robert Glazer. We've stitched together a tapestry of conversations that will not only enrich your understanding of affiliate marketing's role in the fabric of modern business but also offer a humanizing glimpse into the lives that drive this industry forward. Robert, a seasoned professional who juggles the roles of a father, husband, and thought leader, shares his astute observations on the sector's evolution and its potential trajectory through 2025, emphasizing the irreplaceable value of human connection in an era where technology is rapidly reshaping our landscape.

Our dialogue traverses the transformation of workplace culture and the blossoming of partnership marketing, tackling the sensitive handling of employee exits and the serendipitous success of Robert's "Friday Forward" newsletter. Experience the candid exchange about the friction points that still challenge the affiliate marketing sphere, including the need for greater collaboration. We shine a light on the exciting technological advancements breathing new life into the industry, with a special nod to how agencies like Acceleration Partners are harnessing AI and automation to elevate their service game.

As we peer over the horizon to the future of AI in marketing, we underscore the importance of adaptability and diverse skill sets for professionals navigating this landscape. Listen in as we unpack the imminent convergence of affiliate marketing with broader business disciplines and the strategic evolution of career paths within this space. You're in for a treat – a conversation that seamlessly blends personal anecdotes with forward-thinking strategies, culminating in a dialogue that will leave you inspired and informed about the dynamic world of affiliate marketing.

Publisher out there, go check out their easy javascript functions on WordPress sites. It works like magic to add up to date CTAs within your blog posts. Go see it for yourself at dustinhowes.com/acom

This is a tool all publishers out there need to be utilizing, go to dustinhowes.com/nuc for a 1-month free trial and a demo of the product. Please use my link to enable my content making addition. Dustinhowes.com/nuc

For more tips on how to scale your affiliate program, check out https://performancemarketingmanager.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Embark on an insightful journey with me, Dustin Howes, and the unparalleled affiliate marketing expert, Robert Glazer. We've stitched together a tapestry of conversations that will not only enrich your understanding of affiliate marketing's role in the fabric of modern business but also offer a humanizing glimpse into the lives that drive this industry forward. Robert, a seasoned professional who juggles the roles of a father, husband, and thought leader, shares his astute observations on the sector's evolution and its potential trajectory through 2025, emphasizing the irreplaceable value of human connection in an era where technology is rapidly reshaping our landscape.

Our dialogue traverses the transformation of workplace culture and the blossoming of partnership marketing, tackling the sensitive handling of employee exits and the serendipitous success of Robert's "Friday Forward" newsletter. Experience the candid exchange about the friction points that still challenge the affiliate marketing sphere, including the need for greater collaboration. We shine a light on the exciting technological advancements breathing new life into the industry, with a special nod to how agencies like Acceleration Partners are harnessing AI and automation to elevate their service game.

As we peer over the horizon to the future of AI in marketing, we underscore the importance of adaptability and diverse skill sets for professionals navigating this landscape. Listen in as we unpack the imminent convergence of affiliate marketing with broader business disciplines and the strategic evolution of career paths within this space. You're in for a treat – a conversation that seamlessly blends personal anecdotes with forward-thinking strategies, culminating in a dialogue that will leave you inspired and informed about the dynamic world of affiliate marketing.

Publisher out there, go check out their easy javascript functions on WordPress sites. It works like magic to add up to date CTAs within your blog posts. Go see it for yourself at dustinhowes.com/acom

This is a tool all publishers out there need to be utilizing, go to dustinhowes.com/nuc for a 1-month free trial and a demo of the product. Please use my link to enable my content making addition. Dustinhowes.com/nuc

For more tips on how to scale your affiliate program, check out https://performancemarketingmanager.com

Dustin Howes:

Hey folks, welcome to Affiliate Nerd Out. I am your Nerd-erator, dustin Howes, spreading that good word about affiliate marketing. My guest today is the legend Robert Glazer, who is founder and CEO of lots of things in the affiliate industry. Robert, thanks for joining me in the Nerdatorium today.

Robert Glazer:

Thanks, Dustin. I don't think I've been in a Nerdatorium before.

Dustin Howes:

Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but that's my coined phrase right there, all right, TM. Yeah, awesome. If you'd like to be in Robert's seat right there, go to dustinhousecom slash, nerd and drop an application to whatever topic you want to talk about and nerd out about Our question of the day for the public what trends in partnerships are coming in 2025? I would love to hear from you in the chats. Please drop a line to us, but without further ado here, robert, who are you?

Robert Glazer:

That's complicated. I guess I'm a father husband, business I guess entrepreneur, so I have a few different hats, some writing too. But yeah, I've started a few businesses, particularly in the partner marketing space, and over that time sort of used writing and thought leadership to when I originally had acceleration partners and then sort of expanded beyond in partnership and leadership. So I spend time kind of writing about topics that I think are interesting and that can help other businesses and people who are looking to learn and grow.

Dustin Howes:

Beautiful. I love that you went down the father and family man route first. A lot of people just jump in with their professional careers, but I find myself saying the same thing.

Robert Glazer:

Just love that you can probably correlate that to how old people are, and I think so. When you're in your midlife crisis, you start to think more about what matters and how you define yourself, so I probably would have answered that differently five to ten years ago I see, I see you working or whether I want to admit to my children at different points in their life. Absolutely.

Dustin Howes:

Well, you have been an incredible inspiration to me throughout the years. Your voice in this industry has amplified everything that we do and it's an absolute honor to have you on here and I want to thank you. Years ago, probably before you would remember maybe the first time you met me or at least I met you you were on stage and you were saying the future is building a course about affiliate marketing and teaching the public how to do it. And, uh, I, I dropped all my things and I went out and built that course so courses are hard.

Dustin Howes:

They're not. Yeah, it's a lot of work. It is a lot of work and six years later, I wish I would have never done it, but uh, it is. It is so hard, uh, beating my head against the wall trying to get people to buy a product that they don't think they need. But uh, incredible uh story from you and, um, a great start to my career thanks to your words of wisdom there all right.

Dustin Howes:

Well, glad I could help awesome uh, and speaking of journey, like you've been in this industry 20 plus years, what are some of your highlights throughout this journey here?

Robert Glazer:

yeah, I think the highlights are probably a couple things one, watching the industry kind of come to fruition and have a seat at the table and move from this kind of fringe thing that no one wanted to talk about into sort of a core acquisition channel, and I think that's been an evolution. And the industry has a lot of different components. There's stuff that I think about affiliate marketing, that I go to a conference and there's people buying and selling mobile Russian traffic and I'm like I don't even know what that is or means. So I think that was a nice evolution.

Robert Glazer:

But look, this industry, this will be a theme consistently. It's about people and it's about people and connections. And while there's a lot of exciting technology and stuff, I think marketing and even with AI, we were losing the human component and I think that that's essential to both the channel and our lives and sort of you know, having meaningful relationships. So to me, that's one of the you know, the fun things about this channel and the thing that comes endemically with it. I always describe it to people as sort of it's half tech and half people, and I think that's always been true.

Dustin Howes:

That's well said, and I lean on the partnership side of things and love the relationship factor of this industry more than I do the tech side of it, and your journey started with a like setting up coupons for folks.

Robert Glazer:

If I'm not, yeah, if I'm not it was like a coupon broker, you know, for this brand called tiny prints, that because just because that was the way of tracking for them. And then you know, really seeing that opportunity and then getting asked to help them build a program. And then kind of, I knew the industry from the publisher affiliate side and I was like, look, you could use the things that I'm doing, you could do the publisher affiliate side. And I was like, look, the things that I'm doing you could do with an affiliate program. They're like what's that? And so I dove in and asked a lot of questions and, frankly, a lot of things just didn't make sense to me. There seemed to be way too many people making easy money and it just looked too easy. And I dove in and understood all that. But it was this dichotomy of seeing like, wow, there's a lot of bleep here, like, but there's also a pretty interesting opportunity and and the high end of white glove. And when I saw that one of you know, when I saw sort of a bunch of these, this was, this was sort of the age of the pure play. When I first entered the pure playcom, that didn't really have any sense of brand. This was sort of the age of the pure play, when I first entered the pureplaycom, that didn't really have any sense of brand and I kind of had the foresight to say, like this is a really interesting channel. But once these brands come in, like this kind of stuff, this Russian mobile traffic and all this stuff over here is going to scare the crap out of them. And so it seems like there's an opportunity for sort of more of a white glove solution to this. It seems like there's an opportunity for sort of more of a white glove solution to this.

Robert Glazer:

And I ended up kind of running that program by default when the company sold for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Robert Glazer:

It was an all content program.

Robert Glazer:

We had to shoot a lot of the things in the industry and we worked with ShareASale and just a whole bunch of things that went against the grain because the things that other programs were doing didn't make sense to me.

Robert Glazer:

And you know, then the people from Tiny Prints kind of spread out all over the valley it was a big win and they started calling can we build that program again, can we work with bloggers and content sites? And because everything was just coupon and loyalty and fraud, you know for the most part. And so then I got help. And you know, this is no one starts an agency intentionally, from what I found, and you know, so I did as much as I could do that I got someone to help me, like another person to help, and then I turn around and and, um, you know, running an agency, but that was sort of the Genesis from this tiny prints program, which just had all these mom bloggers that were obsessed with the product and and and were writing about it and they were like the first kind of high end photo holiday cards.

Dustin Howes:

That's awesome, uh great, when you have a product that the people love and you don't have to really jam it down their throat to get them to promote it. They're actually using it, they're having fun with it Always a better fulfillment for that content. So it's been 17 years since Acceleration Parts, since you started it, and what do you think are some of those big keys to your guys' success for being around so long?

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, I think it's our people, our team, our culture. We've gone through a lot of growth, a lot of iteration and even bringing on a financial partner and even through all of those things, I think we've stayed the same DNA and a focus on quality and innovation. I think those are the two things we've made really a hallmark around. And also, you know our core values, but I think we've always tried to be high quality. We tried to kind of be there for those brands that wanted to take this on, that needed someone. You know, if you had a large global company saying like, look, we want to do this, but we're basically like giving you our brand a, the license that we need to be, trust this person, and I think we we kind of earned that trust and and, look, we innovated and and we're at the forefront of a lot of changes in the industry. You know, starting with, I think the first time I probably got my name around was I took a pretty broad shot at the affiliate network conflict of interest model and wrote an article that pissed a lot of people off. But interestingly, years later and execs at those networks and stuff come to me personally or like you were totally right, like I couldn't say that at the time. But you know, it's interesting, it's a little bit full circle for me because sometimes I'm like, look, this just is what it is. It's a little bit full circle for me because sometimes I'm like, look, this just is what it is.

Robert Glazer:

You can't say that there's not a conflict, because there's literally the dynamics of how this works, where you get paid more, the buyer pays more, the more the seller pays. It's like real estate. You could say that you're mitigating it, you could tell me what you're doing to make sure that doesn't happen. But you represent both parties in the same transaction, right, and it's not that different from real estate. And you have to sign all kinds of special waivers. Interestingly, massive lawsuit and settlement this week that's totally going to change real estate on decoupling buying and selling, saying that it's in huge conflict of interest in real estate and so now the sellers have to pay for the sellers and the buyers have to pay for the buyers and they can't talk to each other about it. So it's kind of an interesting full circle moment because I use real estate a lot as an example of explaining why. Like look, the network actually makes more. It's the inverse thing the more that the publisher makes. So that's not a great incentive to crack down on fraud and kick people out of a program.

Robert Glazer:

And by the way, if you go to any of these account managers 10 or 15 years ago, they're getting asked about the performance fee, the performance fee, the performance fee. So if you believe in behavior and incentive, they are not gonna do anything to put their performance fee at risk. And that means not asking why this affiliate has a 40% conversion rate and stuff like that that are in the program. So I think that was the first content piece, when I realized that this industry really doesn't have any content and I saw kind of an opportunity for some thought leadership.

Dustin Howes:

And you've taken that journey a long way, especially what you're putting out there today. We have a comment Kristen, Big Time Evans there. Tiny Prince was one of my first successful affiliate partnerships.

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, people made a lot of money with Tiny Prince and, like I said, it was all like mom sites and content bloggers and it was like an early influencer program pretty much.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, awesome. And another point on acceleration partners there like, yeah, awesome. And another point on acceleration partners there. Something that stuck out to me on a TED Talk you did years ago was about mindful transition and this journey of not having a two-week solution when people leave their jobs anymore. Is that still hold up true, almost like eight years later?

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, we still have a program. It's called Career Engagement Program. I am less involved with it, but the basic premise again was like look, we're trying to build this world class culture, we're doing this stuff, and the way people leave is this two weeks notice thing, or we give two weeks. And it just didn't feel right and it was like how do we? This seems strange.

Robert Glazer:

And we kind of had this test case with someone who wasn't working out, was on a performance plan, and we kind of had an open discussion. We're like look, is this what you want to do? And he was like no. And we're like all right, well, you don't have to leave tomorrow, but how about you start interviewing and we'll start looking for your replacement and let's try to like, over a couple months, like get you to a different job. And we did this kind of openly and we made some mistakes, but we were like this is a better way.

Robert Glazer:

So the whole concept of this thing was look, when people wanted to leave, they could start a discussion or talk about something was wrong. We weren't going to walk anyone in the door and, conversely, when we sensed that it might not work out again, we could start a discussion and say look, we're all big enough, you can work here for a few months, even if it's not going to work out. But we tried to figure out ways to just make. We're not in a lifetime work environment anymore, but we're running the same playbook that companies ran for years around this and two weeks notice is a very American, arbitrary thing. The manager doesn't think it's enough time when their mentee bails on them, but they've been told by their parents to do it. So you know I wrote a book on it too. I actually have just rewritten the book, which is more of a playbook of like how do you demystify this and just change how people leave your organization?

Dustin Howes:

And have you seen a lot of companies acquire this kind of tactic that?

Robert Glazer:

you preach. I haven't seen a lot, but what's interesting is when I've spoken about it, when people found in my work, they found my TED talk and they were like God, I feel better, like this was bugging me too, and they've tried it. Almost everyone has been told me that they are just pleasantly surprised, like how much better it is. So it's clearly not widespread, but in a lot of people, the people who are like it won't work are usually the people who haven't tried it. I've had a lot of people reach out. I've had people follow up after they heard me speak about it or otherwise and say I did this and I'm probably not even doing well, and it was just so much better. I just tried a real conversation and it was, and it was definitely like a better choice awesome.

Dustin Howes:

Um, and another big voice you have is Friday forward. I absolutely love this newsletter that you do. Uh, you had a consistent run of every Friday for so long run out of ideas. Yeah, yeah, uh, really incredible. Like when did you start to to think that this was a good idea, and like gain traction, and stuck with it.

Robert Glazer:

So the origin story was I was at sort of a leadership retreat and one of the focuses every morning was sort of this 10, 10, 10, like quietly think for 10 minutes, read something positive for 10 minutes and write for 10 minutes. And when I got home I sort of kept this up and I was thinking about the reading. Like some of the reading positive stuff was like chicken soup for the soul-y and that's kind of not my vibe. I like inspirational stuff, but I like stuff that kind of makes me think. And so I was thinking, oh well, I'm going to read and write and I kind of have some of these quotes I've saved and these stories I saved, and why don't I? I'll just start sending a note to my team every week and it won't be about our business. And I sent these notes for like a month or two and I honestly I didn't know if anyone was reading them and they were called a bunch of different names like Friday Inspiration or Friday Food for Thought, and I kept messing with it. But then a couple of people wrote back and they're like I love this, or I sent this to my sister. I sent it to my brother.

Robert Glazer:

I was actually at an EO event and I was talking to some other CEOs about things that worked in our organizations and we were fully remote at the time. I said, look, I send this note every Friday and people seem to like it and I like it, and it's a good practice to think about these things and put it on. And they said, well, send it to us, we want to take a look at it. So I added them to the list, or someone else added me to add their brother-in-law or husband to the list. And a couple of them wrote back like this is great, we'll just send this to our company every week. One started his own, but the other's like we'll just forward this along. This is great. I was like, huh, I kind of wonder if people outside the company would have interest. They seem to be forwarding it.

Robert Glazer:

And so I was managing it all manually. You know I was managing it all manually. So I set up a newsletter list. That was just. It looked like a regular email. I dumped a couple hundred friends and family on it.

Robert Glazer:

I sent that first one out and I waited for, like the get me the bleep off of this like thing. What the hell is this? But people started forwarding it and replying that they liked it and signing up for it. And you know, a couple months later the guy wrote an article in inc this is the only newsletter I read and 2,000 people signed up. And then three years later there was people in 100 countries, 100,000 people signed up. So it just kind of took a life of its own and so it's been sort of a keystone habit for me. I'm 500 weeks in writing, I think, or 424, something like that. And what's interesting is people always say well, it wasn't about business, it helped our business, it had nothing to do with our business, it was a separate site. It was interesting when I would go to conferences or affiliate conferences, be it London at some event or Affiliate Summit West, and someone would come up to me and I wrote a lot of content.

Robert Glazer:

They never said I love that five affiliate tip thing you wrote last week, but they would always comment on this newsletter, and so I think it ended up creating some market awareness of who I was and what we were doing and otherwise.

Dustin Howes:

For example, at the last conference I saw you. That's exactly what I brought up. I love the topics you talk about, and it's not all about just marketing, but it's life lessons.

Dustin Howes:

I don't think it's ever been about marketing, it's life lessons and being a better person, which is so missed out in this industry. I just love it. I'm so glad you're sticking with that. So, with this 20 years of partnership marketing, let's get into the grunt of it. But we got to look back first. What do you think in this industry has not changed over the years that you've been in it?

Robert Glazer:

I think it's that people component and I think what's interesting and I always try to explain this to people is a lot of partners make a decision to work with a brand because of the brand of the affiliate or the partner program, not because of the brand of the brand, right, and because they're known for being good partners and reliable and otherwise.

Robert Glazer:

And it can be very different from the brand orientation Right, you could have just pick someone like I don't know, like a well-known brand like Nordstrom, right, you could say, look, premium, whatever brand, but they could have a horrible reputation as an affiliate program, right, and that will stop people from working with them because they're like look, we don't hear from the people. There's no, they cut our commissions when the tracking went out, they didn't make it, and so there's really like this thing where I think you develop and it's the opportunity for agencies you develop a brand as a program or whether are you the type of person that companies want to work with or otherwise, and that's a real competitive advantage in a world that's all auction-based and all digital-based and there's not a lot of competitive advantages left. So I think that people component has been a constant and the notion that you can overperform or underperform based on the reputation of the affiliate program itself.

Dustin Howes:

Excellent, all right, and as far as the future goes, what do you think has changed for the worse throughout our times here?

Robert Glazer:

I don't know that it's worse, but I don't think it's better. And that's still like this industry for all the people like you and I know each other, periphery does not work together as an industry for the greater good. I know there's the PMA, but like over the years, like people have advocated for things that benefit them, you know, other than the state tax thing that brought people together but the big players all hate each other. They've never worked together. They're always trashing each other, like in other industries, the large players on the services side.

Robert Glazer:

I think that's not true On the tech side. It's been true for a long time. In these other industries. People come together and they agree on standards, they agree on what fraud is and they try to push the industry forward. And I think that still held the industry back is that people are not at the large companies, they're not good at working together. It started with the CJ LinkShare hatred of each other. It went to the Impact Partnerize hatred of each other and it's just sort of carried itself on as a as a you know, I think, a theme.

Dustin Howes:

That's interesting because you hear the voices out there preaching about how this affiliate industry helps each other and grows with each other, but you have that incredibly different perspective from that top up.

Robert Glazer:

I think the people at the ground level right. But when you think about, I can't think of something where all these large companies agreed to maybe one market, to come together and do something that advocated for the industry or for brand safety or otherwise that elevated the end. They just end up. You know, it has been true for a long time.

Dustin Howes:

One of my favorite sessions at Affiliate Summit each year is when they get the CEOs of each network up there, and I used to facilitate that and they fight with each other, right.

Robert Glazer:

So I mean, yeah, it's acrimonious, it's not? I think that's what people like about it. It's like the affiliate throw other right. So I mean, yeah, it's acrimonious, I think that's what people like about it. It's like the affiliate throwdown right. But yeah, this has been going on for years. Again, I think there's the PMA and industry stuff and people involved. That sees it, you just can't. It's been a struggle and I think in other industries they're just much more effective in advocating for the industry.

Dustin Howes:

Agreed on that point Like that All right, so from the future of partnership marketing, what has changed for the better that you've seen throughout the years?

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, I think the name partnership marketing has been a change for the better, if you remember seven or eight years ago. The industry is trying to rebrand itself for a long time, right, because A people don't know what affiliate means. They confuse it with affinity. Also, affiliate implies a loose relationship, not a hotel affiliate versus an actual partnership. As I describe the industry, it's business development supported by technology. So I actually think settling into that name partner or partnership of, as I described the industry it's business development supported by technology. So I actually think settling into that name partner or partnership marketing has also expanded the tent of you know whether it's influencer or B2B or what are the other types of marketing that we could be doing through partnerships that are enabled by technology.

Robert Glazer:

And I think the tech got a lot better right. So for for until the SAS players came along, you know and this is what happens like CJ and Linkshare were cash cows and I've written this in my book and they, you know they were making tons of money and not reinvesting it, and the tech got really old and and it just nothing was was changing and I think them coming in and shaking that up. I think there's been a lot of improvements on the tech side and innovation and coming from that doesn't happen when it gets monopolistic or duopoly oriented. So that's been exciting to see and my reflection of talking to all these companies and brands at the last Affiliate Summit was there seems to be this like middleware layer, like it used to be publishers, and then kind of networks or software and there seem to be all these kinds of people that are figuring out how to add functionality and features in the middle and enhancements to that sort of pub. You know affiliate merchant dynamic, and that's where a lot of the innovation is right now.

Dustin Howes:

Gotcha and in terms I had a question pop up from Victor here and he said loving conversation so far, curious on how acceleration partners is leveraging AI and automating. Currently it's that's a tough one to get into, but in general, like the industry itself, like how are you adapting to AI, for example?

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, look, we're trying to separate the froth from the reality and I think and again, what we want to do is what's all the manual things that our employees are doing? That's kind of not fun and can be better done by a computer, so that then the human can jump in and leverage that connection in the right place. So we have a CTO, we've been doing a lot of stuff with reporting and insights and analysis and notification, and the whole point is that our managers can kind of wake up and look at a dashboard and get a lot of intelligence on what's going on in their program and then reach out at those critical moments. This affiliate seems to be jumping up and well above their standard deviation doing well, well, that might be a discussion of what are you doing or how can we do more together. So sometimes it's too good to be true. So we're looking at a lot of this as sort of backend tools. We also, as an agency, we have a lot more data than an individual program, so we are really able to do interesting stuff with trends and lift. And what would it look like if, if you gave this partner 8% or 10%, what would you possibly expect on a, on a return.

Robert Glazer:

So I think a lot of people are are are thinking that we use AI to get rid of all the people and all that stuff. People don't know how to use this. A lot of these self-service software things don't do very well because people don't know how to leverage them and there aren't experts. So we want to have the best tools driven by data where you would say look, why am I going to run a program by myself? These people know what they're doing. They have much better data, much better. Why am I going to run a program by myself? Like these people know what they're doing, they have much better data, much better tools than I have. They have all this uplift analysis and all these things that they can run and do.

Robert Glazer:

But that's what we're trying to look for. It's probably more machine learning than AI in terms of crunching all the data and figuring out where are there missing opportunities, where, again, looking across all the programs we've had or otherwise, and the people that were in it might pop up and say, dustin, these seven affiliates aren't in your program and the gap analysis just told us they'd be great for your program, right? No individual program can do that and what we learned over the years is no brand is going to spend the money to figure that out just for one. Affiliate program is no brand is gonna spend the money to figure that out just for one affiliate program.

Dustin Howes:

That's pretty wild, and so you're using it as a value proposition for the next clients and the keeping the churn down from your existing.

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, the biggest mistake that people make look if I can be a SaaS firm. Awesome, everyone wants the 10 times revenue versus the whatever valuation. But we know that we're a services firm. That is our value proposition. But I think any services firm at scale these days needs to have a sense of tech enablement, and so that's where we're focused on how do we make sure our service has the best tech enablement and it just makes it a no brainer to work with us. And again, I think this is where networks, even in agencies, have a huge advantage. Like much different to make decisions with data from 100 programs than data from one.

Dustin Howes:

And do you think the industry is ever going to get to a level where you can make an agency strictly off of software, like you don't have, uh, the relationships you do essentially I don't know, like maybe 10 years from now.

Robert Glazer:

But we kind of tried this with programmatic and everything went automated and then it all became a mess and everyone was like, look, I don't know which, no one can vouch for, which creative I had, where it's showing that it's not showing up on a terrible site. And there was a massive pullback after everything went programmatic because no one could vouch for it. Right, they couldn't. They'd say look, I don't know, I don't know which creative it was, I don't know where it was, I don't know which site it was on. And everyone's like that's not okay brand like, if you're just a, you know Acmecom online, it's what value you sell. But this is where people miss. And I think we were ahead of that transition when we realized that when multi-channel brands came into the space, they were not going to tolerate the behavior that had existed in the pure plays, who just didn't give a crap about their brand. They were just like whatever, if we sell, we sell. And so that equation is a little bit complicated. And look, ai is going to change a lot of stuff. But I think there's still always that relationship thing. There's still like are you going to screw me when the tracking doesn't work. Are you going to do this? And look, there's a cost benefit. It could be millions of lines of programming and thousands of dollars of NVIDIA chips and are you going to try to solve that problem for $3 million at some point, I think?

Robert Glazer:

Look, ai stuff is not cheap. That's why NVIDIA stock is worth $2.5 trillion or what it is. It is not cheap to build and set these things up. It will get cheaper, but I'm sure I'm never in the maximalist. There'll be no agencies. There'll be no whatever. People have been saying that for years, but the truth is, look, you have to have an expertise and you probably have to have some tool set that you bring in with you, and I actually think it's the agencies who have the opportunity to develop the AI and bring it as part of a solution. I mean, think about a company like they're not going to go figure out AI for accounting and AI for marketing, and like their vendors are going to come to them with solutions.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, I'm just waiting for that AI to show up that says, hey, here's your brand. Here are all of the affiliates in this database that will fit into your exact niche and are going to be a good fit here. There's your contact information. We're going to reach out for you automatically. That's just machine learning, that's not even AI.

Robert Glazer:

People have been trying to do that for years. But that's basic machine learning. That's just processing data faster, a Vast amount of data. We've been doing versions of that for years on our recruiting and there's some products out there. But again, I think the difference with, like a generative AI what an actual AI is, it's creating words and putting stuff together. That's not there. So you can see again, like could it recommend a newsletter? Could it recommend, you know? But again, could it recommend a newsletter? Could it recommend a newsletter based on a trend? And then our affiliate manager says it Again do you think an agency or a network is in a better position to build that? Or some affiliate manager trying to get his team to drop $100,000 on a software project? We just know that that doesn't work.

Dustin Howes:

Gotcha Leanne John Soden, another leader in this industry for content creation. What will the next five years look like for affiliate managers? It's a really good question, tying into this.

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, I read a chapter on people in my book and I think the interesting discussion is more around like this notion of the partnership department as things come around from all pieces of the organization. I think it's more about partnership management and the different pieces of that and understanding the recruiting and the data piece and the relationship piece and the accounting and finance piece. And are we going to have tracks? So the problem and I think Awen was endemic of this for years in the UK which is they had all these great kind of managers. They kind of get to 25 years old and then there's kind of no mid-level roles and so they'd all go in-house or they'd leave the channel because there weren't director roles and SVP roles and otherwise. And so what I'm hopeful is that as all this stuff converges and people realize, look like this is now this partnership channel, they bring the stuff in the organization. You start having these roles where people can stay and grow into it.

Robert Glazer:

So many people left the industry because there just weren't growth roles, right, there weren't higher level, there wasn't a, you know, there was an affiliate manager. But then what it reminded me my wife was in her 20s was this thing called the Child Life Specialist working with kids in the hospital and the industry is like 95% people in their 20s, because there's kind of like one chair in a hospital that stays there for 20 years and then there's like one other role and there's just not a growth path, right. And if you assume that people want to grow, so I'll be excited when I start seeing you know affiliate managers being on the partnership team, stuff from business development coming over and starting to see you know director and VP and SVP and I think eventually CPO. Right, this is our chief partnership officer.

Dustin Howes:

Interesting. I love John Labrudo. He goes from companies and taking a director of affiliate marketing and I rarely see that kind of title for anybody in this industry.

Robert Glazer:

It's super rare and there's enough demand, by the way, that if you don't offer the ladder, someone else will. So that's the. If you have a really talented person and look they're hard enough to get and this is why people work with it. It's, first of all, it's hard enough to get a great affiliate manager that has experience and then you gotta keep them. You know, in an industry where there's more demand than supply and you don't have these large networks that used to just train all of these people up, because a lot of them aren't doing services anymore, so they're not used to be trained, and you don't have, like you know, I don't know you don't have 100 new affiliate managers that are created every year because there's no formal. It's not like you go to Google and learn search or you go to Facebook and learn social and then you go into the world. You know the networks just aren't the same sort of leverage in terms of size and building and training anymore and the SaaS platforms aren't doing that.

Dustin Howes:

Yeah, yeah, and continuing on on, where's affiliate managers gonna be going in the next five years. Do you think like we're a job that can be like dissolved eventually in the next five years by AI, like and have that leadership position, but then all the technology is taking away the lower rankings of the affiliate managers?

Robert Glazer:

uh, yeah, look, I think if you're, if you're just doing basic stuff, that that that a machine can do better, that's not a good value proposition, so you need to upskill. To me, the competition comes more from business development and otherwise, as these things converge. So does the person who comes from the affiliate background say look, business development, I want to teach you how to learn this performance thing and the software thing and bring it to all of our business development and scale, because the opportunity to me of partnership marketing is business development at scale. That's a multi-trillion dollar market. How do you scale all the current business development partnerships in the world? So that's where, as these things converge, you have an opportunity to either show that you're ahead in the things that you've learned, or you might get usurped by someone who brings more of the partnership background and says look, I don't need you to sort through spreadsheets all day, I've got a tool that does that. But if you've got a Rolodex, if you've got relationships, if you can open deals, if you can do these things and you know how to recruit, then I need it. But I have this chart in my latest book.

Robert Glazer:

To me there's no, and this is part of my pitch of pitch around agencies. There are a couple places, like the guys at fanatics or otherwise, where they have multiple experienced people. But the affiliate like the perfect affiliate manager is is a bunch of disparate components and so it's not usually contained in one person. Right, when you think about you need like right brain creative new offers. Otherwise. You need left brain brain creative new offers.

Robert Glazer:

Otherwise. You need left brain kind of fraud management and reporting and whatever, and you need like a recruiting person who has a sales or business development mindset that is cold calling and reaching out and building the program. And then you need some other stuff too. Those aren't like usually in one person, it's usually like a cross-functional team. Aren't like usually in one person, it's usually like a cross-functional team. And I don't know a lot of companies that have been able to build two or three or four person teams with people that actually have real industry experience. And that's part of our value proposition is look the team has. We build a team that already has all of this and you don't have to worry about it.

Dustin Howes:

I love that and I like to stay in my lane. I like to be on the phones and talking with people and doing the outreach Right.

Robert Glazer:

You're not the compliance, it's all the same thing, but you're not the compliance person. You're the development person. Right, but both are needed.

Dustin Howes:

Absolutely All right. Well, any last thoughts on where do you think the future of partnership marketing is heading here?

Robert Glazer:

here. Yeah, I think convergence is my big term. I think we've already seen influencers start to fold in. I think elements of PR, I think our clients and our business model is built around people looking for help on an integrated partnership marketing model. I don't think you would call your SEO or SEM firm in five years and ask them to help with their affiliate program. You'd call a partner marketing specialist firm and say I've got a bunch of these pieces and I think we'll see other pieces come in.

Robert Glazer:

I think there's this whole B2B piece that everyone's been talking about for a while and channel marketing. That sort of sits concurrent to partnership marketing. I think it'll start to fold in. I think companies will have one partnership management tracking system. It will be like having management tracking system. It will be like having a shopping cart. It will be like having a CRM.

Robert Glazer:

It will be like having a Marketo or a HubSpot or something like that and all of the different partnerships are going to feed into that from a tracking, measurement and payment sort of platform and I think it's going to come from business development and affiliate and influencer and all these different things. You're not going to need four or five of these programs. That fundamentally, when you think about it, an influencer management software and affiliate management. It kind of does the same thing. So I just think I think we're going to see a lot of convergence. I think when the M&A market opens again, probably in the next year or two, I think you're going to see a ton of consolidation in the affiliate industry as people look to add features and get bigger.

Dustin Howes:

All right, and so the ones that are the affiliate managers and influencer managers with that skill set, are they going to be the most employable that can continue those relationships on that?

Robert Glazer:

Yeah, I think the ones who again can cross those boundaries and aren't siloed will be the most important, or who can say look, let me, you know biz dev team, let me explain to you how this affiliate infrastructure or the software that we have, or this network that we use or otherwise, could be leveraged for the stuff that you're doing over here Totally manually, cause I think it's the same thing.

Dustin Howes:

Gotcha All right Time to defend your posts, sir. So I searched your, your LinkedIn, for a little something and this isn't anything sketchy of my podcast and I am starting to wind it down. I just can't do this much on the content side and do all the things and it is a very time consuming endeavor and I just admire your concept of you're doing all these things for a very long time. Acceleration partners going on 17 years and elevate 330 episodes for Friday, forward going, you know, 425. Like, how do you stick with things for so long?

Robert Glazer:

Look, I think you need to know why you're doing it, and I think you need to do things for the right reasons, and all these various things that I do are all connected to sort of my purpose and my why, and so I can't remember now if I mentioned this on the air or off the air. We were talking before, but a couple of years ago I had a book release and I went on a bunch of podcasts and there were some pretty well-known people and they had started podcasts and a year and a half later I had another book coming out and I went back to all of them and half of them weren't doing their podcast anymore and I think they were doing it for the wrong A. They thought it'd be easy. They were doing it for the wrong reason. They were trying to help their business by doing a podcast or otherwise, and so I'm really clear.

Robert Glazer:

Part of the podcast is picking people that are very aspirational that I want to learn from, and this is my chance to have one hour. It was my one shot to have one hour with them in a conversation. So if you told me this person would get on the phone and talk to you for an hour, I would do that any day of the week and in doing that I think I'm trying to create some value and hopefully then that value people want to listen and then that has value to advertise or otherwise. But I'm not looking to get anything out of it. I'm not.

Robert Glazer:

It's not. It's like having a kid to save another one, like I think a lot of people do a podcast like I'll start this so that it helped my business over here. Look I. There are a couple of people I don't invite or don't have or otherwise cause and people don't understand this. But if doesn't, it doesn't fall under my rubric of like this is my one chance to have this conversation with them and I probably can't have it again. If I can have the conversation with you at a party or otherwise, then, like you know, that doesn't fall under it.

Robert Glazer:

So I think it's very important to us to have these rubrics of what we do and what we don't do and again understand fundamentally why we're doing it. So I these are conversations that I would love to have with people. I might not get to have them otherwise, and that's enough for me. It's not trying to drive some other unrelated thing, it's not. You know, it might lead to speaking, but it's not like a shill for my speaking business or otherwise. So I think that's the thing, yeah.

Dustin Howes:

I found it very interesting in my journey for these 80 episodes is I did it to start drumming up business for my course and other ventures that I was doing my business and consulting, but it turned into a twofold really educational, like it's fulfilling my educational portion of me upskilling and then, secondarily, my connections throughout this industry have grown immensely throughout this time.

Robert Glazer:

So everybody's got their motivation, yeah, and probably the less you pushed it for that other stuff, the more it helped it. And look, I can give you an analogy. People come to me all the time around affiliate and they're like I want to be an affiliate, what should I do? What kind of site should I start or otherwise? And I was like, look, this is backwards, like the sites that we work with and the sites that I know and I've seen have been great, like they love something, whether it was barbecues or cell phones or otherwise, and they wrote about it and they were passionate about it.

Robert Glazer:

And then, once people trusted them and they had a following, then they had a modernization opportunity. They didn't jump in and say how could I make money or what should I write about that makes money. They wrote about something that they wanted to write about and they ended up making more money by doing that. So I've not seen a lot of people be successful, try to jump in as publishers who aren't in some programmatic world by trying to start with a what do I get out of it, rather than how do I give value to it?

Dustin Howes:

Well, said All right, and before I let you go, you've got another book coming out.

Robert Glazer:

Moving to Outcomes. You want to tell us about that, yeah, so Moving to Outcomes is out. It's sort of the sequel to Performance Partnerships.

Robert Glazer:

I was going to go back and do an update to Performance Partnerships but interestingly we made a lot of predictions in that book and talked about stuff that was going to happen.

Robert Glazer:

And I read tim ferris talking about why he has never gone back to the four-hour work week and he felt like it was like stepping on the grasshopper on the path and that once you do that, you kind of like I can't go back and update that and changed because also, one of the reasons was every company in the industry changed its name and otherwise I was like as soon as I opened, that I lose the benefit of. This was written from a point in time and a perspective and some of the stuff that we were really right on it would lose that benefit because you'd be like, did he change this or otherwise? So we kind of wrote the sequel and it was definitely much more targeted towards the C-suite than the affiliate manager, kind of explaining at a high level to the marketing executive why there is this shift towards outcomes and how partnership marketing can be part of that solution. So we ended up, after starting to edit that book, kind of writing the sequel instead.

Dustin Howes:

Well, funny, that's a great story, leanne Johnstone says. I will have to get you on my podcast for when a new book comes out, a new book is out.

Robert Glazer:

So it's been out for a little while. The next books are not marketing books. So yeah, it came out last year. It's done great. And what I never anticipated from Performance Partnerships is that it became kind of the training manual in the industry. So many people reach out and they're like, look, I was at a publisher, I was at a network, I was at whatever. I was given this book on day one because I didn't know what affiliate was. Every other book on affiliate marketing, other than Gino's probably, was about like how to make money and as a publisher in affiliate marketing. And so what's been cool about that book is that it has kind of become the training manual for a lot of people as they kind of start their job in the industry.

Dustin Howes:

It's been my most suggested book of all time. Partner Performance, partnerships is was a staple of my learning and getting me to this point in my career staple of my learning and getting me to this point in my career and I want to thank you for making that book and for being and joining me here today. Robert, appreciate your time. Thanks for having me, dustin. All right, folks, we'll see you out there. Keep on recruiting, take care.

Success in Affiliate Marketing Industry
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Challenges and Innovations in Partnership Marketing
The Future of AI in Marketing
Future of Partnership Marketing
Future Trends in Business Partnerships
Industry Training Manual