Labels in the Affiliate Marketing Industry

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Over the past couple weeks there have been a couple different articles about affiliate marketing that wrongly label or categorize affiliates.

The first one that comes to mind is Anne Howard’s article (sorry Anne, your linkbait won’t work with me) which you can read about on Revenews. Basically she painted the entire affiliate industry with the “spammers” brush citing examples of “Punch the Monkey” ads on Facebook.

Are there spammers in the affiliate industry? Of course.
Are there great business people who bring value to their customers in the affiliate industry? Of course.

Are there shady insurance salesmen that try to rip people off? Of course.
Are there legitimate insurance salesmen who provide a great service to their customers? Of course.

Are there crooked nursing homes? Or course
Are there well managed care facilities who help families and the elderly? Of course.

Are there terrible journalists who don’t do their research and don’t get the facts right? Of course.
Are there quality journalists who provide accurate reports on their topic? Of course.

When you start using broad terms to describe any group of people or any industry there will usually be a shred of truth to it but as a whole there is no way I would categorize the affiliate industry as “spammers”. I have been in this industry for 14 years or so and I have met many, many more quality people in this industry and great businessmen and women than I have met scammers and scumbags.

The second article is on and is about the Top 10 Cookie Stuffers. The go on to list 10 companies and while some may or may not be cookie stuffers in some aspect of their business for the most part I wouldn’t classify most of them as “cookie stuffers”.

When I hear “cookie stuffing” I first think of my reaction when I get a pack of Oreos but then I think of cookies that are placed on a users computer when there was no click to the merchant. I haven’t done any exhaustive research into all these sites but from what I have seen and what I know about these sites, many of the sites listed there require a click before the cookie is set.

Are these sites the shining examples of ethics in the affiliate industry? Probably not. Some of them use parasitic tactics to overwrite other affiliates cookies, some of them “trick” the customer to click on a link before they can see a coupon, and some of them just turn text from participating sites into affiliate links. But none of those tactics are what most of the affiliate industry considers “cookie stuffing”.

I don’t know if there is a way to properly educate everyone on the planet about all facets of the affiliate industry so from time to time we will all be explaining affiliate marketing to someone and they will equate it with unethical practices, spamming, or deception and there is really nothing we can do about it. But when stuff like this comes from journalists and researchers that have done no apparent research. There is plenty of information out there on both these issues and these “journalists” just need to do a bit of simple research and fact checking.

Example 1: If you say “Maybe a clue is Facebook’s large presence at the Affiliate Summit and other events for “affiliate marketers,” often referred to as “spammers” in the online marketing world.” maybe you want to do some research and send an email to Shawn Collins or Missy Ward who run the Affiliate Summit conferences and see if Facebook has a big presence there. Maybe you want to find a few affiliate bloggers and ask them about “spammers” and what does constitute affiliate spam. Maybe you want to see if “Punch the Monkey” ads really do run or have ever run on Facebook.

Example 2: If you want to know about “cookie stuffing” maybe you should search for “cookie stuffing” and if you find the Wikipedia page you will see the definition “Cookie stuffing occurs when a user visits a website, and as a result of that visit receives a third-party cookie from an entirely different website”. That definition implies that no further action other than visiting a website is required to get stuffed with a cookie. If you then look at the sites listed and see that they do require a click you might think about not labeling them as “cookie stuffers”

There is no doubt there will be more articles like these in years to come as there has been in years past. This industry still has a lot of growing to do and there is still a lot of education that needs to be done to the public about this industry and what it can offer to the end consumer. But it is very frustrating when articles like these two go out when it is clear there has been no research done or no background work done from the writers.

I have no problem with articles about the negative aspects of this industry and there are plenty more of those that need to be written but it would be nice to see some positive ones from the media now and then as well. There are plenty of good things happening in the affiliate industry and we need to see more written about that. If you want to accurately label the affiliate industry here are some better ideas:

Charitable Fund Raisers

Incredibly smart marketers

Great businessmen

People willing to help beginners

Ethical marketers

Ethical Affiliate Networks

Affiliates who add value to their merchant partners

Those are a couple to start with anyway…




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