I haven’t had much to say about Groupon for about a year now. That’s because the deal site wasn’t doing much that impacted my clients or affiliates in general.

The company went from the darling of Wall Street with its high-flying IPO to the bane of small businesses that blamed the company for deals that hurt rather than helped. This resulted in Groupon’s stock price plummeting 89 percent. Then, CEO Andrew Mason was fired fueling rumors that Groupon was nearly dead.

But early this week, Groupon launched the Groupon Partner Network, an ecommerce platform for affiliates that helps them easily find all Groupons offer in one place. Groupon already has nearly 10,000 publishers but was running its affiliate program through Commission Junction.

Much like Yahoo, Google eBay and Amazon, which all run their own programs, Groupon’s own network allows publishers access to a marketing toolkit, which includes links and banners, widgets and advance notification of featured deals. This enables Groupon to control all aspects of this channel rather than working with a third party network.

The Group Partner Network, now available in 30 countries, is designed to give affiliates a variety of tools including retargeting and a suite of publishing tools to help increase the visibility and distribution of merchants’ deals and drives purchases through Groupon.

Groupon partners have access to multiple resources, including: real-time reports, which enable partners to run reports on daily sales volume, impressions and click-through rates and export to Excel; a link creation wizard, which consists of multiple tools for creating high-converting links to Groupon, such as browser bookmarklets and smart widgets based on category, geolocation and retargeting; and open APIs, which provide access to deals from the Groupon marketplace, as well as orders and commissions, according to a statement released by Groupon.

Groupon says it expects to migrate most content publishers in its current affiliate program to the “Private” GPN by the end of the year. Going “private” is a growing trend among well-branded advertisers and one that will be picking up speed over the next couple of years. eBay did this a number of years ago as well.’

To encourage sign-ups, Groupon is offering higher commissions to those who join before September 30.  10 to 12 percent for Groupon Local deals, 6 to 8 percent for Groupon Getaways, and 5 to 8 percent for Groupon Goods. After that date, commissions will drop to 10 percent for Local deals, 6 percent for Groupon Getaways deals and 5 percent for Groupon Goods.

This could be a good move for Groupon to help get more revenue from a wider variety of marketing channels as competition has increased. Recent figures from Internet Retailer stated that direct email marketing is only bringing in 40 percent of the business. This is down from 45 percent in Q1 2013. However, Groupon is doing better with its mobile application with nearly half of the transactions in June came through mobile and that’s significantly up over last year.

Let’s hope that affiliates and merchants can get more out of Groupon with the new Partner Network and that Groupon will continue to evolve and innovate as it did when it basically started the daily deal boom.

One last comment I’d like to make: I like the Groupon reference to affiliates as “Partners”. The word “affiliate” seems to have a many times unintended, untrue and unsavory reputation. Recasting affiliates as “Partners” or even as “Publishers” is a smarter way to refer to this group of commission-only sales people that advertisers big and small have come to rely on. We work with the best partners/publishers/affiliates in the industry.  If this is a more effective and positive way to refer to our marketing channel, then I’m all for it.