Luxury Roundtable


How luxury brands can improve return on ad spend with partnerships

May 1, 2024

Advertising is a major brand builder and key driver of desire in luxury Advertising is a major brand builder and key driver of desire in luxury


By Aftab Aslam

The allure of luxury brands captivates consumers with promises of exclusivity, sophistication and timeless elegance.

Yet, behind the polished façade lies a complex web of challenges unique to luxury advertisers striving to optimize their return on ad spend (ROAS) within partnership and affiliate programs.

While traditional advertising channels have long been the cornerstone of luxury brand strategies, the digital landscape has ushered in a new era, reshaping the way these prestigious labels engage with their audiences.

Partnership and affiliate programs have emerged as powerful tools, promising heightened visibility, expanded reach and enhanced brand engagement.

However, for luxury brands, embracing these channels necessitates a delicate balance between preserving brand value and driving tangible results.

Fortunately, emerging tech capabilities are giving luxury brands greater transparency and control when it comes to understanding which types of partnerships and campaigns are making the greatest contributions to their short- and long-term goals.

Let us look at some actionable concepts that luxury marketers can use to enhance ROAS within partnership and affiliate programs.

Aftab Aslam Aftab Aslam

Getting strategic with attribution and commissioning
For luxury brands looking to maximize value within their partnerships, it helps to start with a strategic assessment of how conversions are being attributed and how partners and affiliates are being commissioned based on those conversions.

From an attribution standpoint, there are a number of ways to give credit for sales or other conversions.

For example, a first-click approach would give credit for a conversion to the first partner encountered by a customer—say, a content partner such as GQ, which might showcase a brand’s high-end watch on the wrist of an A-list celebrity.

In contrast, a last-click approach would attribute the sale to the site that drove the final sale, even if awareness and purchase intent were fostered elsewhere.

By working with a partner that can support a wide array of attribution scenarios, luxury brands are better able to control how credit for conversions is assigned depending on where the greatest value is being delivered.

In this same vein, luxury brands might want to consider implementing a dynamic commissioning structure that rewards partners based on the type of product or close alignment to brand values and considerations.

For example, sales for higher-value or harder-to-move items might be rewarded at a higher rate.

Likewise, marketers might want to ensure the partners that are simultaneously bolstering the luxury brand’s image among customers – prestige content brands or influencers, for example – are being rewarded for that additional value.

Diversifying partners based on value
For luxury brands, the strategic diversification of the partner and affiliate mix is important, particularly as it relates to maintaining an esteemed position in the market.

Prioritizing high-value partnerships ensures that the brand aligns with influencers, publishers and platforms that resonate deeply with their discerning audiences.

By forging alliances with partners who uphold similar standards of quality and exclusivity, luxury brands can extend their reach to affluent consumers who value authenticity and refinement.

Moreover, diversifying the partner and affiliate mix allows luxury brands to tap into varied demographics and markets, ensuring a broader yet still curated exposure.

This approach not only amplifies brand visibility but also fortifies brand perception, as associations with reputable partners – particularly high-visibility content brands – lend credibility and prestige.

In this regard, luxury brands might want to consider implementing suppressed codes within their attribution and commissioning. This enables brands to ensure codes given to certain partners – say, a deal code meant to be exclusive to Vogue readers – do not leak out into the broader affiliate ecosystem.

In doing so, luxury brands can ensure their brands are not being diluted by offers being promoted in unintended outlets.

Maintaining transparency and control
Above all, luxury brands must be able to maintain control within their partner and affiliate programs.

If a high-value brand cannot control – or, even worse, does not have visibility into – how a partner is promoting its products to its audience, it is putting itself at risk.

Marketers must be able to ensure that restrictions on how their brands and products are presented, priced and sold are being honored.

In this regard, luxury brands and their agencies should seek partners and platforms that provide visibility into how their programs are operating and how their brands are being presented.

At the same time, these platforms should give them granular control over how sales are attributed, commissioned and optimized.

Transparency and control for luxury brands is also achieved through dedicated ROAS reporting which provides granular insight into the overall efficiency of a partner and affiliate program.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR ROAS not only by partner, but also within your product inventory is essential for brands delivering a cost effective and successful program within a competitive marketplace.

Aftab Aslam is senior director of customer solutions for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Partnerize, London. Reach him at