Understanding the 5 Types of Affiliate Partners & Their Value

We break down the five main types of affiliate partners you're most likely to come across in an affiliate program. Learn what makes each of these partner types unique, and whether they're right for you and your goals.

Squaredance team

June 16, 2023

Education is Key in Creating Effective Partner Campaigns

Growth and sustainability are the cornerstones of virtually any successful business. This is why Squaredance takes pride in supporting the small and medium-sized companies, who don’t have the same volume of resources that their enterprise-level competitors do.

And yet, for businesses that are still learning how to establish strong, long-term partnerships with other affiliates, it can be difficult knowing where to start, or which types of partners would be the best fit for your business.

With this in mind, we’ve put together some useful information to help you better understand what affiliate partners are, and the different types that you can access through Squaredance’s partner marketing platform.


What is an Affiliate Marketing Partner?

An "Affiliate Marketing Partner" is a strategic partnership that directly promotes your business by directing traffic via trackable links. Comprising of individuals, businesses, or even other affiliate programs, these partnerships are instrumental in enhancing your brand's visibility and reach. Each visitor who clicks on these links and subsequently converts - makes a purchase or completes a desired action - results in a commission earned by the affiliate partner. 

Thus, affiliate partners serve as an integral subset of marketing partners. Leveraging affiliate marketing presents an advantageous opportunity for Direct-to-Customer (DTC) brands to expand their market presence by engaging with the pre-established audiences of their affiliate partners. The ultimate benefit? Increased business growth and a more extensive customer base.


What are the Different Types of Partner Affiliates?

There are five main types of affiliates that you can access through partner marketing platforms like Squaredance, each with their own benefits and problems that they solve. 

Media Buyers

Media buyers are the partners that will work with your marketing team to purchase advertisement space for your brand’s ads.

They negotiate on your behalf with each marketing channel to ensure that your ads receive the best possible placement, at the most effective times, and run for efficient durations. All while making sure that you don’t go above your paid advertising budget.

More importantly. Media buyers use their own resources to buy ads on your behalf, which saves you from having to worry about things like long ad testing phases, trying new marketing angles, testing new audiences, etc.

For instance, Unicorn Innovations is a performance marketing company that specializes in purchasing ads on TikTok and Facebook. Since 2019, Unicorn Innovations has generated over 113k new customers and 1.9M+ unique clicks for the brands they service, just through Squaredance.

Media buyers are one of the most popular forms of affiliate partners, because effective campaigns with these partners can generate massive growth. For example, one media buying team, AppArc, has earned $1M+ in revenue alone for the brands they’re working with.

These types of partners can help you scale your affiliate program quickly. They have the ability to buy large amounts of traffic, which can lead to more immediate sales and revenue for your brand. This also improves predictability in your campaigns.

If the media buyer believes they can generate a sale with lower CPA than the brand’s payout, they will heavily promote the offer. Your brand simply pays for each sale generated by the media buyer.

Since media buyers use paid advertising (i.e., search, social, and display ads), they can provide you with more predictable results, as long as they're given a strategic set of constraints. Media buyers can be helpful if you need to hit specific revenue targets, or if you have a limited budget for your affiliate program, as they can drive high volume of traffic and immediate sales increases.


Publishers most often consist of partners like review sites and SEO bloggers, who will promote your brand on their website, and in some cases, within their own content.

This also includes publication companies/houses (i.e., DotDatMerideth, Buzzfeed, etc.), which make-up hundreds of digital ‘magazine’ publications. In fact, these types of publication companies are the biggest drivers of publisher affiliate marketing.

Publishing affiliate partners get paid when the links embedded in their website provide an agreed-upon outcome for your business (typically lead generation or conversions).

This is another form of affiliate partner that’s very popular. Publishers allow brands access to their entire audience base, as well as give you the opportunity to reap the benefits of the credibility that publisher has already established.

One of the biggest differences between publishers and other popular affiliates like media buyers is that while large media buyers can generate more traffic and awareness, these tend to have a slightly lower conversion rate. On the other hand, review sites and blogs likely have lower traffic numbers, but they’re capturing engagement from consumers in the middle/bottom of your funnel, so they likely have a higher conversion rate.

Honest Brand Reviews is a publisher that specializes in helping consumers discover and connect with new brands, so they can make more informed shopping decisions online. Although they've only been a part of Squaredance since mid-2021, Honest Brand Reviews has already managed to achieve a top campaign conversion rate of 14%, which has generated 9,000 new customers and over $400k USD in revenue through affiliate partnerships.

Publishers can offer you a level of niche expertise that other affiliates can’t. They often have a deep understanding of your niche market or demographics, which means they can create content that resonates with your target audience. This can also lead to more qualified lead traffic and higher conversion rates.

Links from publishers can improve your website's search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, which can help drive more organic traffic to your site over time. These SEO best practices help  publishers build your brand’s credibility online.

For instance, backlinks offer value, because they tell Google’s algorithm that your content is reliable and valuable enough to include your links within its own content generation. Keyword-rich content helps you drive organic traffic, by giving Google (and other major search engines) the tools it needs to put your brand in front of the right customers.

Also, publishers are often interested in building long-term partnerships with brands they promote. In turn, this can lead to ongoing exposure for your brand and a loyal customer base, which is useful for supporting long-term growth and scalability.

They may drive less volume than media buyers, but these partners are fantastic for growing your brand awareness and boosting your SEO functionality.


Creator affiliate partners include social media influencers and content creators, who have spent time establishing a substantial base of followers for their own brand across various social media channels.

These affiliates are quite popular with some brands, but the results they provide may be inconsistent compared to other types of affiliates; especially if these partners are servicing niche markets that contain a limited range of demographics.

Creators (such as UGC creators) can bring a fresh perspective to your affiliate program using authenticity and creativity. They can create unique content that showcases your products in new and interesting ways. They can also showcase your products in a real-life setting, which helps potential customers visualize how your products can improve their lives.

Email Marketers

Email marketers are a modern-day twist on traditional email marketing campaigns. These affiliate partners nurture your brand using promotional links built into targeted email campaigns.

Finding the right email marketer can be extremely beneficial to your growth strategies, as your brand will be able to access these affiliates’ collection of email lists. This gives you the opportunity to reach a wide range of new targeted customers, and potentially connect with them directly through their own inbox.

Email marketers get paid when the promotional links built into their emails are clicked and lead to a predetermined outcome (i.e., leads, conversions, etc.).

They can create targeted promotions for your products, based on their subscribers' interests and behavior; allowing for more personal experience for your audience. Since email marketers have an existing email list, they can promote your products to their subscribers multiple times. This can help encourage repeat customers, which leads to ongoing revenue for your business. 


Agencies are the experts in affiliate marketing that can help build your brand. They’ll build, oversee, and scale campaigns on behalf of you and your brand, so that you can maximize the efficiency of each campaign you’re running.

These affiliates have the experience and expertise necessary to understand how to create outstanding campaigns that effectively facilitate what you and your other affiliate partners need to succeed.

Agencies are typically paid by taking a commission from effective campaigns, as a set amount for each campaign (at set durations of time), or a combination of both.

If you don't have enough time to handle a partner marketing program, consider onboarding experts to help. The potential growth it could offer your brand outweighs the costs of leaning on agencies to get your partner marketing set up.


The Importance of Affiliate Marketing for Direct-to-Customer Brands

With the increasing popularity of affiliate marketing, brands utilizing these types of partnerships effectively have a distinct advantage over brands that aren’t using them.

Not only do affiliate partners give you access to market segments that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own, but it gives you the opportunity to take advantage of all the credibility that these affiliates have established over their business’ lifetime.

Social proof is one of the most effective drivers for consumers in today’s marketplace. Brand affinity (falling in line with the customers’ own set of beliefs) is more important than ever.

When you’re partnering with affiliates that have strong support from their own customer base, your brand immediately becomes attached to all the emotional connections that the affiliate has built with their customers.

On top of all that, using partner campaigns effectively helps your brand stay consistently relevant against competitors and visible within your market, which is essential in the increasingly oversaturated ecommerce digital marketplaces.


Access the Highest Quality Partners from a Single, Intuitive Platform

Find Your Perfect Affiliate Partners on Squaredance

So, what different types of affiliates are the best choice for your brand? It really depends on your marketing strategies, the audience you’re trying to reach, and the goals you’re trying to achieve.

Let’s be honest, digital advertising is broken. Not for the Fortune 500 brands that have seemingly limitless resources, but for the small and medium-sized businesses trying to carve a path in their shadow.

Squaredance gives you the freedom to discover a whole new world of partners, while maximizing your business’ ability to scale and grow. We’re making affiliate marketing for direct-to-customer brands available for everyone, using direct communication, an easy-to-use partner marketing platform, and all the tools you need to succeed.

With real-time performance results and creative approvals to ensure your brand is always being represented accurately and engagingly, Squaredance has everything you need to find your next perfect partners.

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