Below is an old letter I submitted to Marketing Week magazine, I found last night on my laptop. It was a furious reply to an article featured in the previous week in June 2006.
I am thankful to see even in just a years time the reputation of Affiliate Marketing is continuing to improve and I feel this is thanks to affiliate agencies, the merchants but most importantly the affiliate themselves.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the read.
Scare-mongering' is damaging affiliates
Source: Marketing Week Published: 15 June 2006
When are people going to realise affiliate marketing (AM) is not about "them vs us" and give affiliates the recognition they deserve?
I was disappointed to read yet another article portraying AM in a negative way (MW June 1). The article entitled "If you liked that, you'll like this" explained that AM is not all "win-win" - and that badly managed, it can damage your brand equity.
From my experience working for a leading AM agency and now managing the affiliate programme at Hotel Chocolat, I agree whole-heartedly to this message. My disagreement is the unnecessary level of scare-mongering within the article.
This obsession is damaging the marketing channel and harming growth. Most worryingly, it is harming the acceptance and credibility of AM within marketing departments, which results in it being considered as an "add on" to a campaign, instead of being fully integrated.
After using only vague, top line statistics about AM the article develops the message of the need to manage and protect brand equity. The use of emotive words to describe affiliate marketers such as "old Wild West", the need for "policing" and affiliates' habits of "hijacking" paint dreadful character images. I feel it is more the case of a few bad apples, which can surely can be re-educated, or could be suspended from a programme.
The report highlights two case studies, which is where the article really does not do AM justice. The first talks about the recent highly publicised legal action with the Tesco affiliate programme, a clear A-list company and high profile brand, which every reader instantly recognises and identifies with.
On the flipside, to sing the praises of AM it mentions a small online consumer offers site, Pigsback. Why not use a similar like-for-like A-list brand? Why not mention how many sales or percentage increases Apple achieved last year due to its phenomenally successful affiliate programme? Or state how well all the financial services companies have performed, even with the FSI compliance issues?
AM seems to be portrayed as the "underworld" of marketing and is not taken seriously. There is never a mention of how important it is for AM to be integrated into the whole marketing mix of organisations, to harness its huge potential.
There is reams of evidence which highlights AM as an equal or superior to other "traditional" methods. This is due to the highly measurable nature of AM in terms of return on investment. In an era when demands to demonstrate accountability have never been higher, AM is clearly the future and anything but "the old Wild West".