Leadership Perspectives

Take the Handcuffs Off Your Partnerships

Matt Miltenberger

Take the Handcuffs Off Your Partnerships
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

It’s a tale as old as time (or as old as marketing and advertising goes): a brand wants to increase its visibility to the market, sell more goods, or tap into a new customer base. Often, these businesses are leveraging a medley of services and technologies to help support their efforts. Many of these show their strengths when siloed specifically to their specialty, but lack the flexibility and sophistication to stretch beyond those boundaries when stretched beyond their limits. In our world of performance and partnership marketing, traditional tracking networks have largely relied on antiquated solutions that leave many users frustrated. A general lack of innovation has left many programs stagnant, and without much to leverage.

Most platforms will share common functionality at a base level: they’re all tracking some type of event from point A to point B, maybe through app or mobile, across several touchpoints, or along a conversion funnel. But what separates the good tech from the great tech really comes down to the details, some of which are easily overlooked if you’re not the person who is managing the nuances day to day.

Beyond these minor details, a strong technology is built with infrastructure that can evolve with your business. Not only does TUNE have the most robust two-way API on the market, we also have a team of professional solutions architects who can customize features for your unique business needs. We know brands can get access to APIs for reporting purposes – but what if you could manage most of your daily operational processes with them? *Lightbulb moment*

What we’ve done is turn many of these pain points into opportunities for greater efficiency. We have designed our platform to be your strategic solution, built with maximum flexibility. Because that’s what brands need to survive and thrive in today’s economy: flexibility. In this blog post, I’ll cover just a few of the ways our platform is providing that flexibility to more and more brands every day.

The Pain of Partner Onboarding

A common challenge I hear from brands and partners alike is how frustrating the onboarding and activation process can be with many of the traditional network solutions on the market. Delays with getting links, or even just getting through the door to be approved to a program, can take days or even weeks. This is particularly challenging when you’ve spent countless hours hunting for new partners or building rapport, only to be stopped on the doorstep.

The past few years have shown us that there’s a massive market of new partnerships, including creators who have dedicated fan bases and are eager to support brands they care about. What if you’ve spent weeks, or even months, building a relationship with a creator? In that time, you’ve discussed the value of your product, shared intimate details about the painstaking process it took to bring it to market, and the hours you invested to make it a reality.

At this point, you ask them to join your partnerships program. But wait! Your traditional network has red tape across the front door – so your new partner has to apply for the network, and in that process, provide substantiating evidence that they know how to promote brands. Then they must be approved by the network, which is typically done on a first-come, first-served basis. Once approved, they are added to a massive marketplace with hundreds of thousands of other partners, leaving virtually no visibility for their individual brand. And, finally, once a partner is officially active in your program, generating links for them can take even more time – so you’re restricted by your platform capabilities before you can even get started. 

At TUNE, we understand the difficulties this presents to businesses looking for flexibility and autonomy. We’ve designed our technology with this in mind, so you can bring partners on board within seconds. (You read that right – seconds.) As the business owner, you dictate the master terms and conditions partners must abide by; you can control whether they are automatically accepted or if you prefer to put them in a queue for further evaluation. Once your partners have accepted the terms, they’re in and can get a tracking link in under a minute; our links propagate in real time, and they don’t have to be assigned a specific insertion order.

Many marketers still find it difficult to bring influencers, podcasts, and other new media onto traditional tracking platforms because of this lengthy sign-up process; gone are those days with TUNE. And because our platform generates links in real time, it allows you to work with any partner type you want. If you want to test a unique B2B campaign, a syndicated piece of content, and a display ad network, all at the same time, you can make that a reality on one platform – TUNE’s.

Automation and Program Hygiene to Scale

Many program managers spend an absurd amount of time dealing with operational needs before they can invest time thinking strategically about how to grow their business. For example, dealing with application approvals alone can take hours each week to evaluate the quality of the partner in question. And that’s just scratching the surface.

I often hear from colleagues how much time they spend reviewing individual campaigns for not just performance, but traffic quality, and how much this slows them down. They might see a huge spike in traffic over the weekend, but it’s coming from a sub-affiliate network, so they have to spend time drilling down to find which specific partner was responsible. Or they launched a campaign earlier in the week to generate more leads, but find out a sizable percentage were fraudulently driven by bot traffic. Now what? I guess they’re spending the rest of the day (or even week) figuring out how to reverse those transactions, negotiate with partners over non-qualified commissions, and try to sort through what’s legitimate and what’s not.

What if I told you TUNE has tools that are natively built into the platform to proactively combat these situations at a campaign level, and that you can automate them? Tools such as performance automation rules, which allow you to set specific criteria and then get instantly notified if something seems off. That sub-affiliate driving a massive spike? Let’s set up a rule that tells you which source (i.e., partner, page, specific article, or more) is responsible so you can get in front of it. Those fraudulent leads coming through? Use TUNE’s time-to-action features to ensure all leads are being ingested within a proper time frame.

TUNE’s powerful controls don’t just enable you to automatically combat issues like these; they can also help you block a partner in their tracks before they turn a small problem into a big one. What’s more, these tools make testing new partner types or campaign structures far less risky, which means scaling your program can be done without diluting your traffic quality; every click that comes through TUNE is instantly put through a quality filter and presented in a separate report, so you can rest assured you’re combating illegitimate activity and keeping a record of every action.

Data Accuracy and Customization

Several traditional platforms have a delay when pulling in data to their system. It’s not unusual to see hours between when a click or a conversion takes place, and when it shows up in your account. In some cases, waiting that long for performance data to populate might not be a showstopper – but I’d argue that optimization and growth can move much more efficiently if you can get what you need quickly to make informed decisions. The beauty of our platform is both brands and partners are getting access to immediate performance data, so collaborating on optimization efforts can be done without any details being lost in translation.

TUNE pioneered the postback as a server-side tracking solution years ago, and it remains the standard in accuracy, speed, and sophistication today. Postbacks enable marketers to reduce their reliance on third-party cookies, future-proof their partner programs, and filter first-party data in real time. This makes tracking everything from a typical retail conversion event to a multi-touchpoint lead funnel incredibly simple. And since postback tracking allows you to customize what events matter most, you aren’t restricted to data fields that may not be valuable to your business, and you can structure the links to build customer cohorts along the way. TUNE’s technology allows you to add additional event trackers right in the interface, so there’s no need to worry about going through a network solutions team or getting stuck in a setup queue. The brand remains in control of which customer data fields to include on a link, all done at a campaign level, which means getting granular data by partner type or source is fast and accurate. Partners can even be granted the ability to append unique variables to their links.

With our Firehose product, you’re getting the best of both worlds: the real-time data ingestion into your private TUNE program, and simultaneously feeding that data into your internal systems. A powerful tool when you’re comparing multi-channel data and deciding where to point the ship next.


Whether it’s apparent or not, brands need flexibility. Period. They need the ability to onboard a new partner quickly and easily. It doesn’t matter where they drive traffic from, or how long they’ve been active. The only criteria should be the one each business sets for itself, not what a network limits you to. They need data – and they need it fast and reliably. A growth manager shouldn’t have to spend hours sifting through potentially fraudulent data or tell an influencer they have to follow a lengthy process just to support their products. They don’t need another pretty graph; they need to know that if a link needs to be updated, it can be done in real time, without compromising their campaign progress.

No longer are you relegated to a set of strict platform guidelines that leave no room for coloring outside the lines. Or ones that tell you what you should be tracking, rather than listening to your business needs. Some technologies pride themselves on a mentality shaped around a closed ecosystem, and quite frankly, it’s putting handcuffs on your business before you even get started. Brands need real solutions. Real data. Real control. The landscape has evolved and continues to reinvent itself frequently – work with the technology that hoisted those sails. You deserve it.

And if you need something custom built to help accelerate your program or simply make your daily life easier, just drop us a line, and TUNE’s Professional Services team can work their magic for your business.

Ready to learn more about how the TUNE Partner Marketing Platform can unlock your growth potential? Email us at [email protected] or request a trial.

Matt Miltenberger

Matt Miltenberger is the Head of Sales for the East Coast region at TUNE. He has spent the last 10 years in the e-commerce and partnerships space, helping several enterprise-level and emerging businesses in the retail, health and wellness, fintech, travel, and mobile verticals accelerate their growth. He most recently spent nearly five years with a prominent partner marketing agency, and can often be found tinkering in the kitchen with new recipes.

Leave a Reply