Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is Affiliate marketing a dirty word?

Have you noticed of late how many in the affiliate marketing industry appear to be moving (or should I say running!) away from using the term affiliate, which at the end of the day is just another word for publisher. Affiliates4U market themselves as A4U Performance Marketing Insight and their Performance Marketing Awards consign the word affiliate to the dustbin. Whilst that massive late entry into the affiliate space, Google plumped for the name Google Affiliate Network (GAN) only to rapidly close down this April and the term 'affiliate' with it.

As marketing moves with the fashion, this season 'Performance Marketing' is that eye catching black number that everyone seems to want - with affiliate stuff being cast off into the stockroom only to be re-badged and put back out in the shop window.

However, terminology is a huge, huge, deal in direct marketing - image is everything. The problem with the term affiliate I think, it that it's cites a form of marketing that directly puts the publisher in the spotlight rather than the advertiser, channel or purpose - it indicates no why's or how's to the outsider. Whereas performance marketing is clean and focuses on the mechanism that publishers, advertisers and networks all work to. So, as the term affiliate falls from grace and I predict it will soon be consigned to history, we are left with an industry full of affiliate executives, managers and directors.

With the industry's rapid evolvement, maybe it's time we all adopted Performance Marketing sooner rather than later to avoid confusing marketers who have enough conflicting terminology to deal with as it is.

Lastly, as the new cool 'Performance Marketing' tends to get banded around everywhere these days, I believe it's worth making a distinction. I think the true essence of Performance Marketing is where all those involved (advertiser, publisher, agency, network) are working on a risk performance basis. For me, cost per sale/acquisition (CPS/CPA) marketing is not performance marketing at all, as all risk is taken by the publisher (affiliate!). Lead generation marketing is where all parties are performing to ensure it works for all which is why the term 'Performance Lead Marketing' sums it up perfectly.


Anonymous said...

This is, you agree with the change, or you dont?

I think that Performance Marketing adequately explains what we do - everything is based on a performance metric (or at the very least is tracked back to an action). In addition, Affiliate Marketing has been around for 15+ years and has changed beyond all recognition, so a bit of a rebrand is well overdue in my opinion.

Also completely disagree with your last point - it doesnt matter where the risk lies as this has absolutely no impact on what a channel should be defined as.

Peter Bell said...

Interesting... thanks for the comment. I admit, I'm as caught up in it as everyone else. My performance marketing company runs a platform called Fuse Affiliate Network (FAN) so affiliate does work fine for those in the know, but performance is a better term. I think the status quo is confusing lumping cost per sale marketing in with lead generation campaigns as the two are very different. I see several campaign termed lead/action campaigns when actually they are cost per sale.

Anonymous said...

To me a affiliate is typically someone that owns or has exclusive access to nothing. They are simply try to profit by practicing arbitrage buying. A publisher is someone that actually owns a website or has exclusive rights to some sort of traffic. So typically when I think of the word affiliate, it does have some what of a negative connotation. But I am sure a lot of people see it a different way.