A “radical change in the way consumers interact with brands”: Ross Negus of Impact on the Partnership Economy

The partnership management platform Impact recently acquired unicorn status after raising $ 150 million in a fundraising fundraising event that increased its value to $ 1.5 billion.

Here we make up for it Ross Negus, Corporate Account Manager at Impact, to find out what the life of a unicorn looks like, and why the partnership economy is a growing opportunity for brands today.

Tell us more about your role – what does a typical day look like?

My role can really boil down to solving problems with customers and prospects, navigating and understanding their goals, KPIs, and any gaps in their current systems. It is about discovery; help identify how they can achieve their goals; show how we work at these brands, while reflecting on customer issues and projecting results.

When I joined in 2015, Uber and Airbnb were two of Impact’s biggest customers and that told me everything about the company’s potential. There has been a dramatic shift in the way consumers interact with brands in recent years – they don’t fully trust advertising in the traditional sense, preferring recommendations and reviews. People want those unique and authentic customer journeys that happen between brands, partners, reviewers, and influencers.

You say partnerships have become the third and fastest growing revenue channel for organizations. What does the “partnership economy” refer to and what are the benefits?

Essentially, the partnership economy is a modern way of thinking about growth. Some branding approaches have been centralized and corrected. The focus has been on Google and Facebook and fairly rigid approaches to acquiring new customers.

But the partnership economy connects you, globally. Such growth can be achieved through these connections – and leveraging partnerships is often the fastest route not only to growth, but also to trust. With the best partnerships, you don’t feel like you’re being sold, providing a pleasant customer experience.

What has been both your biggest challenge and your greatest achievement during your time at the Impact so far?

I have been here for six and a half years. Looking back, the biggest achievement is where we are today. We started with just four of us in London – the first commercial office outside of the United States. At the time, we were an unknown company in the UK. Being a part of this trip has been amazing. So many things have happened. And to see what we’ve accomplished in those six years is remarkable. We went from an unknown entity, to disrupting competition, to the one everyone is talking about. First they ignore you, then they laugh, and then they fight you. Today they are fighting us all. We are a force to be reckoned with.

Conversely, the biggest challenge was to enter the unknown market. In these early stages, people don’t know you and don’t want to see you. You have to deal with ever-changing competition from people who are established and know how to sell against you. And it wasn’t just the technology that was unknown; it was what the term partnership could mean that was also unknown.

What do you think was integral to achieving Unicorn status through Impact?

The brands we work with have been absolutely integral. If we look at some of our longest-serving customers, such as Getty Images, Lenovo, Ticketmaster, and Uber, those early adopters really made this journey with us.

They gave us that initial reach and it had a snowball effect. The customers who trusted and understood early on that technology is everything have been absolutely critical. Those who were looking for a market-leading platform from the early days; these customers have helped us to continue to innovate, to move forward in terms of adapting to local nuances, etc. They remain our polar star and we have grown up with them.

It’s fair to say that we certainly took advantage of competitors’ slowness to respond and improve their platforms, but the big change came in 2019 when we raised $ 75 million in funding and then announced our new model: partnership automation. Historically, many brands have outsourced their relationships with affiliate networks, but we have offered a platform on which to manage affiliate relationships, in addition to all other types of partnerships, directly and with a degree of Considerable automation, which would drastically reduce the number of hours involved in the process.

We also amplified our message on all types of partnerships, not just on affiliation, which was a highlight; now everyone is talking about partnership marketing. We presented a new ocean of opportunities where brands could embrace this pay-for-performance model and then start working with any single reference partner.

I wouldn’t say we were just lucky, more about identifying great opportunities and having a strong response when that was what was needed. This is thanks to the great Impact team who not only anticipated the direction in which the market was going, but was then able to steer it to a large extent.

How has life in the company changed since then?

We have matured a lot. It’s about solving problems with customers, and we’ve pioneered the automation of partnerships. Being part of a category defining organization is a unique opportunity. And as demand has increased, so has the business. We now have 850 employees and streamlined processes. The leadership has been very supportive throughout the journey, from startup to Unicorn and throughout this maturity curve. With optimized processes, we are a finely tuned engine, which evolves alongside everyone in the partnership economy.

What’s next for Impact and what do you think its legacy will be?

We have come to disrupt affiliate marketing and that is exactly what we have done. We are now the essential partnership management platform. We are changing the way businesses develop; how they envision acquiring growth through partners. Partner marketing is now a much more streamlined automated process and it never happened without the vision of the Impact team.

We will continue to be the de facto platform for global partnerships. It’s exciting. In many ways, this is just the beginning of the journey and the continued shift in spending from Facebook and Google to the partnership economy. The legacy of it all is growth.

Our focus on growth also starts with our people. We are a people-oriented organization. These people are building technology that helps brands grow, while Impact advances careers, alongside its partners – like a kind of business development toolkit, enabling growth for everyone. This legacy will stay with us forever and everything is driven by the innovative spirit of our founding team. They are passionate about our goals and with their dedication and support we have built this incredible team – a team that has innovated to support the most advanced companies in the world, enabling them to grow and evolve. In this way, he really changed the world.

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