What Influencers Think About Affiliate Deals vs. Up-Front Payment

Aaron Marsden
Jun 24, 2017 · 6 min read

As many of you know, the influencer marketing space is still in its infancy.

Brands are just starting to figure out the best practices for working with influencers, and influencers are just figuring out the best practices for working with brands.

At this point, we can confidently say that influencer marketing can provide huge benefits for almost any brand that leverages it.

However, a lot of best practices when working with influencers are still in the dark.

The question that we see most commonly in the influencer marketing space is,

When establishing a business relationship with an influencer, it’s important that both sides of the party are happy with the deal in order to achieve successful results (obviously).

But in a lot of cases, brands and influencers don’t manage to negotiate the best deal possible for both sides. And in those cases, it’s almost always because of payment issues.

When we asked ourselves why brands and influencers just couldn’t manage to get their payments down pat, we didn’t have a clear answer. So, we decided to find out ourselves.

We went around and asked a number of influencers what their opinions were about affiliate deals (or pay per sale deals) versus getting paid up front, or in a monthly payment system. And we got some interesting results.

Here’s what we found:

Micro-Influencers are likely to accept both forms of sponsorship payment.

When we asked Twitch.tv livestreamers if they would accept both an Affiliate Sponsorship and an Up-front payment sponsorship, the results were pretty similar.

As you can see from our research, a majority of micro-influencers said that they would accept an affiliate deal if they were presented with the option:

While most of the feedback on this question leaned towards the “Likely” answers, we still got some answers from influencers who leaned on the side of “Not Likely”, or “Not Happening”.

If we look at the responses we got from asking if micro-influencers would accept an Up-Front payment sponsorship, we see a bit of a difference from the last bit of data:

For this question, a great majority of influencers answered that they were “Likely” or “Very Likely” to accept an Up-Front payment sponsorship. We actually didn’t manage to get a single “Not Likely” response to this question. (Although we did get a “Not Happening”. Looking at you Greg.)

And this data makes sense for our sample group. Most of the influencers that we received responses from were Micro-influencers.

Micro-influencers are still figuring out the influencer marketing space, just as brands are, and are still in the process of forming a solid foundation for their sponsorship experience and pricing themselves. So it makes sense for a lot of these influencers to take any sponsorship they can get.

But what happens if we ask the same question to larger influencers?

What was really interesting after looking back at our data was that a large majority of influencers who revealed that they had 5000 followers or more answered a bit differently when asked the same questions above.

In fact, 50% percent of larger influencers said they are “Not Likely” or simply won’t accept an affiliate sponsorship, while the other 50% percent leaned towards accepting affiliate sponsorships.

Data for non-micro-influencers when asked whether or not they would accept an affiliate sponsorship deal.

However, the data we recieved when we asked larger influencers whether or not they would accept an up-front payment sponsorship stayed pretty consistent to our other findings:

So what does this mean?

From the data, we can reasonably conclude that as an influencer's follower count goes up, the less likely they are to accept an affiliate deal.

In other words: The bigger you go, the more cash you’re going to have to put up front.

However, this doesn’t necessarily tell us that all influencers prefer one sponsorship method over another.

So, we decided to ask which method of payment they preferred overall. Here’s what we found:

2/3rds of influencers said they preferred to be paid up front for their sponsorships.

After looking at the results from this question, we can see that 68 percent of all of the influencers we asked said they preferred to be paid up front for their sponsorships:

Now, there could be a lot of different reasons for this. Some streamers ultimately feel more comfortable promoting a product or service when they know they’ve already been paid.

Furthermore, some influencers feel that when a brand offers them upfront payment, it’s showing the influencer that they are confident in the ability of their content to drive results.

Not only that, but when an influencer is paid up front, it may show them that the brand values their content highly, and respects its capabilities.

When looking at affiliate deals vs. up-front payment sponsorships, we also found something interesting between the two:

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Influencers are more enthusiastic to promote your product or service if they have the money in-hand.

After asking our influencers whether or not they would be more enthusiastic to promote their sponsorship if they were paid up front, the results were extremely one-sided:

Over 80% of influencers of all sizes said they would be more enthusiastic to promote a product or service if they were paid up front.

You may be wondering,

Well, when we look at different channels of Twitch.tv live streamers who have accepted affiliate deals from larger brands, we can immediately see something in common with all of the influencers:

Their affiliate sponsorships hardly ever see the light of day.

After examining a few of the larger League of Legends players on Twitch, we can see that the only mention on their affiliate sponsorship deals are at the very bottom of their info section, where viewers are hardly likely to visit:

On top of this, if we actually watch their streams, the only mention of the sponsor throughout the entire broadcast is a quick logo on their screen. No recognition from the influencer themselves.

However, it doesn’t quite work like that when influencers are paid up front.

With up-front payment, influencers are much more obligated to give you the promotion that you’ve paid for, and in turn, your promotion attracts a lot more eyeballs.


And that’s all for now!

We hope that this post shed some light onto the different payment methods out there when working with influencers on any platform. Hopefully you have a good idea now of what payment method you think is best when hiring influencers.

What are your experiences with different influencer payment options? We’d love to get your feedback.

Thanks for reading!

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Aaron Marsden

Written by

Content Marketing and Growth at PowerSpike | https://power-spike.com


PowerSpike is a Marketplace for @Twitch Sponsorships | Discover. Create. Monetize.