Episode #3- The Performance Marketing Spotlight w/ with Erin Killian-Kristyniak

About Our Guest

Erin Killian-Kristyniak, VP of Partnerships at Mavely, transitioned from working as a platform representative for Pepper Jam to becoming a publisher. She had always spoken highly of Pepper Jam and partners for all the amazing things she learned. Moving towards publishing was a bittersweet moment for her. With minimal experience in working with agencies, brands, and different networks under her hood, she wished to explore more in that area. Other networks usually restrict the level of access you get while sitting in that seat.


On Episode #3 of Performance Marketing Spotlight, Erin Killian-Kristyniak, VP of Partnerships at Mavely, joins the podcast where we take a deep dive into evolution of performance marketing and the increasing importance of influencers in marketing budgets. We discuss the challenges and opportunities for creators as they navigate external factors like the Congress meeting on the status of TikTok and the economy. Discover the value of performance marketing for creators and the new technologies available that are influencing how creators reach their audiences. Our guest speaker, who joined Pepper Jam in its early days, shares their experience overseeing program management and working with great brands and agencies. Finally, we explore Mavaly, a social commerce platform that is evolving with its influencers and brands to change the influencer marketing space, present new opportunities for creators, and deliver authentic content that resonates with audiences.


Marshall Nyman [00:00:00]:

Thanks. Hello and welcome to the performance marketing spotlight. I’m your host, Marshall Nyman, founder and CEO of nymon Co. Each episode, I will be bringing you someone with deep experience in the performance marketing space where they will highlight their experience within the industry. Today I have Arian killian Kristeniak, who is the VP of Partnerships at Maidley. Welcome to the podcast.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:00:24]:

Hi, great to meet great to see you, Marshall. So great to have the time to spend with you today.

Marshall Nyman [00:00:30]:

I know I’m really excited to have you on. Been a friend for a long time now, almost a decade, working together in the affiliate space. So definitely really excited to have you on. Let’s get right into it. Would love for you to introduce yourself to the audience so they can get to know you.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:00:48]:

Absolutely. So great to meet everybody today. I am Aaron Killian Christianiac. I am currently the head of partnerships at Mavly, which is a social commerce platform similar to LTK in the space. But for those of you that may have known me before, I spent almost 15 years at Pepper Jam and Partnerize overseeing account management, managing agency relationships for the organization, and helping to work with fantastic people like you, Marshall, which is where we connected via agency life.

Marshall Nyman [00:01:22]:

Yes, and I’m still there. But you’ve moved to the other side. Now you’re a publisher and no longer working for a network. That’s a pretty big change.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:01:35]:

It really was. It was a bittersweet moment because I will always only speak highly of Pepper Jam and partners and all of the amazing things I was able to learn on that side. But definitely a really different area, being a publisher and getting to work with all of the agencies such as yourself, the brands, and all of these different networks that, quite frankly, I didn’t have as much experience when you were the platform. Other networks tend to not let you get under the hood as much when you’re sitting in that seat.

Marshall Nyman [00:02:05]:

So I’d love for you to tell us how you got started in the affiliate marketing space.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:02:10]:

So that’s a really great story, and I had some fantastic friends who had started with Pepper Jam back in 2007, and I really had the opportunity to enter Pepper Jam right at the point where our affiliate network was launching. I actually started as a media buyer, and as the affiliate side of our business continued to grow, there was a need for a transition. So I moved from media buying, actually, to the affiliate side, starting to oversee different brands and programs and ultimately morphing into being an affiliate manager. So I started coming out of retail, graduating and then trying to figure out, where do I find my place? And it was really exciting to get into a business that was just finding its feet and an affiliate network that was literally just finishing itself, just getting set into the market and then being able to grow from the ground up. And then I was able to kind of, from there, spend a lot of time overseeing program management, overseeing a team, getting to work with some of the greatest brands and agencies in the world, and then to be able to kind of evolve. As I was sitting in Pepper Jam, so that I wasn’t sitting in that same type of seat the entire time I was with the business.

Marshall Nyman [00:03:27]:

Awesome. Yeah, you were there for quite some time, so you definitely saw a lot of iterations of the business. I think just thinking about just the last ten years working together, there definitely been a lot of changes. So I’m sure you’ve gotten a pretty good insight into kind of all these things that have been going on with the business. And definitely interesting to see how things have kind of shaped just in the affiliate landscape, really, over the last 1015 years.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:03:55]:

It’s not the same that it was ten years ago when you and I would have started back in the day. Coupon would have reigned supreme attribution being able to work with creators and influencers and tap a funnel didn’t exist. And loyalty was really just finding its footing. And to go from retail, me not being owned by a brother and sister out of Australia, to now watching that evolve, and then to be able to see just how the space has grown and how affiliate has gone from a small channel you should have to a channel you have to have. It’s been an exciting adventure to be a part of performance marketing.

Marshall Nyman [00:04:35]:

Yeah, it’s definitely been really interesting. And I think it went from that mom and pop. Now you see, like, a lot of these big media companies are the main players in the space. There’s definitely a lot of new players coming as well, and a lot of new offerings. So that’s definitely interesting. And Mavely is definitely a newer offering. So I’d love to tell you I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about what Mavely does so our audience can hear a little bit about it.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:04:58]:

No. So I was really terrifying to make a change when you’ve been with a business for 15 years and to go somewhere new and somewhere that was just emerging, but really exciting. So Mavly actually started a few years ago as just an app, a technology to connect moms, quite frankly, to different offers and deals that they knew and love and to be able to go out into the space and share them. And that’s really where its footing started. But as obviously the shape of that business started to grow, there was the idea of, okay, well, there’s this affiliate opportunity, there’s an ability to connect all of these different brands and leverage our creators in a different way. And so Mavaly has really morphed into this true intermediary type of advanced technology to allow what we call everyday influencers to be able to leverage our technology to find and work with the brands they know and love, both on an affiliate basis. So continuing to earn on a percent of the sale, which we all absolutely love. It’s why we do what we do, but also be able to work with them on more specific, dedicated influencer campaigns. And so we’ve really tried to solidify ourselves as not just trying to stay up with the norm, some of the competitors, who so many of us know and love, quite frankly, in this space and help to develop what influencer marketing really is about and to continue evolve so that we have something that continues to grow with our influencers to meet those needs as well as the needs of our brands. So we’ve really evolved into this amazing, constantly growing social commerce platform that really allows for that ease. And our goal is not just easy for the brands, but especially easy for the creators. I am a small creator. It’s hard for me to find the ability to go work with the brands I know and love. They don’t have the time, they don’t have the scale. And what Mavly allows is for so many of the everyday influencers, whether small or really big, and businesses to make it easier to make those connections and help to build relationships. That’s all affiliate is. It’s building relationships. And we try to make sure that we do that with a technology that’s constantly growing to be able to help change the space.

Marshall Nyman [00:07:18]:

Yes. That’s why everybody calls it partnership marketing. At the end of the day, it’s all about those relationships that you foster.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:07:26]:

Yes. The people you know yesterday, you will know tomorrow, whether here or somewhere else.

Marshall Nyman [00:07:33]:

The person I had on the last episode said the same exact thing. So it’s pretty much you work with people in the space, they go to another place, you still work with them. So it’s definitely good to keep those relationships strong. What’s your favorite part about working at Mavely?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:07:50]:

Loaded question. I’ve had the opportunity to work with giant global brands and to be able to have such a broad reach. And that’s really exciting with Mavaly because it’s still evolving and there’s still so much potential and opportunity. What’s exciting is to be able to have a hand in watching that growth and actually know that the things that I’m doing on a daily basis are helping to change the scope of the space, both for our everyday influencers, our brands, and quite frankly, for our business. So it’s nice to be able to have a hand and to help shape what something is looking like where it’s continually growing, and help to be an expert, to continue to drive what we all know and love today. Just keep pushing it forward. So it’s something a little different, it’s constantly keeping up with need. And that as the space goes from X to Y, we’re already at Z. There’s something new, there’s something different. And I think with Mavaly, it’s exciting to be able to get your hands dirty, to be a part of that, and to be a part of a change that, quite frankly, we’ve been watching happening in the channel for a few years and to continue just to solidify where it’s going to end up going forward. So for me, that’s exciting because you know me, Marshall never sat somewhere very long. I’ve always wanted something new. And to be able to have your hand in something different all the time is just something I think that’s exhilarating and allows you to learn more. So I love that part.

Marshall Nyman [00:09:22]:

Yeah, that’s definitely exciting. And Influencers just become a bigger and bigger piece of affiliate over the last year. So I know more and more brands are definitely trying to tap into it and figure out how they can make it a bigger part of what they’re doing. So what type of brands are a great fit for Mapley? Or what would you look for in a partner, for a successful partnership?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:09:43]:

No, that’s a great question. I think that where Mavaly is found a sweet spot is really in traditional retail. So some of our clothing, apparel, home, cosmetics, beauty, health and wellness tend to do incredibly well. Mavaly’s brand footprint has actually grown well over 200% or more over the past year. And we work with some of the world’s leading retailers right now. So exciting to be able to do that. And what we find resonate is, while brands are important because brands, a lot of those bigger box retailers, retailers that reach a broader type of audience, they tend to resonate and it allows for more authentic content. But we work with other niche brands, new emerging brands, and really it’s about trying to find and have them enter the space in a way where they can introduce themselves to new creators to help create authenticity. I think the big thing, what we’re seeing with influencers is about creating authentic content that works for your audience, that you’re not promoting someone for the sake of promoting, but you’re promoting something you know and love. So what we find is that brands that our creators know and love perform the best. And what resonates with that everyday influencer’s audience? What do they want to see? And that’s ultimately what drives what we do in order to identify and onboard new brands. And every day we’re constantly adding fantastic new brands and retailers to give our creators more choice and more reach and what they can deliver back to their own audiences.

Marshall Nyman [00:11:31]:

Awesome. What do you think some of the challenges that creators are currently facing right now?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:11:37]:

Oh, that’s another fantastic question you look at right now, just the economy and where consumer intent? Is that’s an inherent channel challenge that I think our creators face that’s outside of them. For instance, the Congress meeting on the status of TikTok and what’s going to happen with that platform for creators that leverage that as a primary form of promotion, that’s a barrier. If that changes, how do they continue to find their voice when the real estate they’ve been leveraging, which isn’t theirs, gets taken away? So I think one of the biggest challenges our creators face is when they leverage so many of these fantastic channels that we do all know and love that it’s not theirs. And so at any moment, any reason that can be turned off. So how do they continually find other mechanisms, other channels and joint combinations in order to ensure that they’re reaching their audience, not just through one specific area, but that they’re diversified? And I think that diversification for creators is huge in order to allow them to grow and find additional opportunities.

Marshall Nyman [00:12:53]:

Yeah, I think diversification is important anywhere and I think being able to have a website or somewhere to drive your users to outside of just your social property is probably very valuable. And with everything going on with Tic TAC right now, I think yeah, it’s definitely scary for creators because it’s a huge economic driver. I think that’s one thing that people don’t understand is that it’s not just a social platform, it’s also a commerce platform because people are going on there to make those buying decisions. You’re talking about where people are making those decisions. This is one of those places. So I think pulling that out from traders or just the general market will definitely have a major effect. So I don’t think they’re going to just turn it off for the US. I think that’s probably a little bit extreme because of the economic tie to it. But I think there’s definitely a lot of things where creators are scared because maybe TikTok that’s their biggest channel is not going to be anymore and they got to look at maybe Instagram or another way of driving interest around them. So I think that’s definitely a good point that you bring up and very curious to see how it all shakes out.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:14:02]:

No, I think that and on top of that, you have all these unusual external challenges for creators and then how do they fit into a performance model? As performance marketing has changed for creators, it actually gives them more opportunity to earn, but there are still barriers to what that earning potential looks like. And how do they ensure that all of the efforts that they are investing their time, their dollars into are reaping that type of strong reward? So how do they balance and how do they leverage performance effectively in order to see those types of rewards at the end while balancing other initiatives that they may have? So I think that even how we’ve worked with them continues to be an ongoing challenge that they manage through in order to ensure earning potential. Is there maximization of ROI? All of those buzzword terms that we all love, but at the end of the day, it is a business for them. So they need to make sure that they’re earning. And so how do they find that through the performance channel? That isn’t just paid dollars? Because I think the value in performance marketing is the long term, it’s that evergreen earning and how do they continue to build towards that so that they have that passive stream in all of the other efforts they’re doing.

Marshall Nyman [00:15:20]:

Yeah. So you touched on kind of like the current state of things. So would definitely be interested to hear a little bit of the future state on where you think influencer marketing is potentially headed.

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:15:34]:

I look at where we’ve been and to know where the evolution of performance marketing has shifted, and to watch that evolution, to move from basically the bottom of the funnel to the top of the funnel as one of the key drivers is that content influence creators, because really, that’s what we’re talking about, I think are going to continue to be very much so solidified in their position from a performance marketing position, and that there’s only going to be more value assigned to this particular sub vertical within the channel. The idea of top of funnel activity, utilizing influencers and creators for search for new brand discovery and to effectively manage those relationships on a performance type of basis is only going to, I think, entrench it more. And I think what we’re just going to see is that some of the new technologies you’re looking at, all of the Chat GPT, how is that influencing, how creators can leverage and reach their own audiences? How do they work with brands more effectively to deliver this authentic messaging and then I think, unique partnerships that will kind of expand into other areas. This is going to stay at the forefront and all of these social platforms are going to continue to get stronger. I don’t think TikTok is going to disappear tomorrow. There is too much money tied to it. Instagram is making huge changes to reemerge as that performance type of platform where they had maybe not been as strong in the past. And you’re seeing, I can remember Pinterest first entry into affiliates so long ago it doesn’t even count. And to watch their reentry and then all of these different subchannels to be able to kind of tie into this isn’t going to get smaller. Instead, I think it’s just going to become more important and I think it’s just going to be understanding how do we continue to reward, how do we effectively work with these types of creators and understanding what their ultimate value is. And I think how creating scale and efficiency, that’s really what it is. The reason Amaz and different other platforms exist is to have that intersection creating scale inefficiencies so that you can manage through all of those fantastic relationships but not need to do it one to one. And to be able to do it holistically.

Marshall Nyman [00:18:22]:

Great. One thing that we definitely talk a lot about with our clients is attribution for influencers, it tends to not drive as many clicks or conversion as some of the other affiliate partners. So I think a lot of times they’re trying to compare two things that aren’t the same. How do you look at attribution? How do you maybe tell somebody, hey, it might not have driven a ton of direct sales, it might not have driven a ton of clicks to the site, but that post got a ton of traction, a ton of likes, and so you can see maybe the correlation on their site. How do you talk to brands about that from an attribution standpoint?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:19:01]:

That’s a great question. It’s a constant education, quite frankly, and understanding what brands are using in order to attribute reporting back, quite frankly, we challenge our brands to help us see beyond just those single data points. So can we leverage multi touch Attribution? Can you better identify where are we in the click path versus where other people in the click path can we leverage let’s go old school, we’ll go coupon code tracking. Can we look at some of those other initiatives to figure out where are we in the funnel? And then asking them to measure where is the immediate data? And then starting to look at the organic lift over the next 30 days, 60 days, 90 days? Because there will be the halo effect. I saw it today, but I bought it in a month from now, and I bought it as a result of that. So looking at that organic lift, after running specific opportunities, looking at that traffic to the website, looking to see, can you tell me where I fit into the click path, can I at least see what that looks like in order to better tell that story and say, this is where we saw success. We’ve actually done that very recently with campaigns that have been focused on trying to drive towards performance. But looking at only this data set didn’t show the whole picture. And when we expanded the data into looking at the different touch points, different areas for looking at data, and specifically, even when applicable, because not all brands are promotional, looking at code redemptions, we could see the lift long term and we could see the growth. But we needed to look outside of just that finite data set in order to do it. So it’s just about what are we using? Can we get more if we don’t have it? Let’s measure against what we have consistently over X amount of time in order to gauge that engagement and what the possible lift could be.

Marshall Nyman [00:21:06]:

Excellent. All right, got one last question for you. Do you have any predictions on the future of performance marketing?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:21:16]:

Predictions on performance marketing, I think it’s going to continue to actually be significantly more important in budgets. Old school was always X amount of a target. Anything above this was bad for performance. I think as you continue to see overarching costs for all of these different platforms continue to increase, I think that you’re going to see performance marketing contribution significantly grow. I think that you’re going to see some of those major platforms, I think actually trying to become more specific, targeted partners. And I think that you’re going to see everybody move more towards influencers, whether brands are doing it in house, whether the performance networks or traditional affiliate networks are building more into that. I think that you’re going to see that influencer is going to shift from this outside type of area and it’s going to come completely in house. They’ve been dancing around each other for a few years, but as we are looking to figure out, how do we actually engage consumers in an effective way, it’s not linear. I just don’t buy based on how your marketing team tells me to. And I don’t want to be sold something, I want to learn about something. I think you’re just going to see this become so much more at the forefront and there’s still going to be value to other areas, but I think how they play together is going to change. So I think you’re just going to see the idea of influencer being the buzzword. It’s not going to be the buzzword. It’s just going to be an integral part going forward, and it’s going to be an extension that’s very much so found everywhere you look.

Marshall Nyman [00:22:58]:

Yeah, I agree. There’s definitely no slowing down. It’s only ramping up. And it seems like there’s a lot of great growth in the channel and in the space and a lot more people just leaning into affiliate. And I think the performance side of things is just very interesting for brands as they kind of head into this maybe downturn or recession, and it’s a good way to maybe take a different look at your budget than you have in the past, as you mentioned. So a really big thank you to Erin for joining today from Mavly. Really excited to have you on the podcast. Some really great insights on how you can leverage influencer marketing in your performance marketing campaigns. What’s the best way for listeners to connect with you?

Erin Killian-Kristyniak [00:23:39]:

So definitely hit me up on LinkedIn. I am always on LinkedIn all the time, so please check me out. Otherwise, my email is erin at Mavely. Life not super hard, so you can always reach out to me and I’d really love to hear from everybody. So shoot me a note, say hello.

Marshall Nyman [00:23:59]:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much again, Aaron. It was really nice having you. I am Marshall Nyman. I am the host of the performance marketing spotlight. I’m signing off. Thank you for joining joining us today, and have a good one. Bye bye.