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Crains: Affiliate Marketing is All Bad

Last week there was an article posted HERE which talked about some affiliate marketers such as Adam wellington of UpSurge Media who are working to change and ‘reform’ the affiliate marketing industry.  While the article brought up some excellent points, it had an overall negative tone of the current and past history of the performance and affiliate marketing industries.  The approach the author took was quite biased, which is why I wanted to take a minute to respond to the article directly.

The ‘Shadowy’ Industry?
The article starts by introducing Adam Wellington, who began affiliate marketing when he was 16, and now runs UpSurge Media, which made $3.8 million in sales last year.  Adam is now 23 years old and a great success story of the industry.  The author, however, suggests that Adam is part of a group of marketers who are, “trying to bring the shadowy affiliate marketing industry into the light of day.”  While there can be no arguing that there are some bad apples in this industry, the same can be said of every industry in the world.

It doesn’t take much searching to find corruption, shady practices and other ‘shadowy’ strategies in companies large and small of every type.  From large banks (obviously) to small mom & pop stores and even churches, there are endless examples of people making bad choices.  Affiliate marketing is not immune to this, it certainly isn’t any more ‘shadowy’ than other industries.

A Few Bad Apples
The author goes on to suggest that because performance marketers are paid for generating sales leads, they often, “cross boundaries” in ethics.  Of course, this is true of some marketers.  The fact is, any time you introduce a pay for performance compensation structure, some people will take it too far.  The obvious example is the ‘slimy’ used car salesmen.  The entire used car salesmen industry has been broadly painted with the same negative brush because of a few bad apples.  It seems to me that the author of the article is attempting to do the same thing here.

Stability & Ethics Are Nothing new to the Performance Marketing Industry
The over arching theme of the article is that these new marketers are attempting to come in and revolutionize the performance marketing industry, and ‘rescue’ it from corruption.  The article completely ignores that groups like the Performance Marketing Association (and others) have been around for years.  These groups have helped to bring stability and ethics to the industry for quite some time.

The “Ethical Pocket”?
Toward the end of the article the author quotes Evan Bailyn, who runs First Page Sage, who said, “There’s a pocket of people doing it ethically, so to speak.” This is just one more example of the post seeming to indicate that it is the majority of people and companies that are behaving poorly, and only a small number who are involved in ethical performance marketing.  The fact is, however, that there are many companies which are making hundreds of millions of dollars per year, and a very legit and ethical manor.

Performance marketing companies are working with some of the biggest online and offline industries to bring them sales which they would otherwise be missing out on.  These types of companies demand that their customers are brought to them in a ethical way, or they wouldn’t participate in performance marketing.  The fact that performance marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing and advertising strategies around indicates that companies of all types are happy to do business in this area.

While the article was interesting, and did indeed bring up some interesting points, I felt it was written in a very bias way which needed to be called out.  The affiliate and performance marketing industry has been fighting those trying to label it as an unethical marketing option for years.  It is time marketers start standing up for ourselves and show the world that performance marketing is not only extremely effective, but ethical as well.


Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattin
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.


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