In advance of Website Magazine's upcoming issue on affiliate marketing, we have kept our virtual eyes and ears open for developments in the performance marketing space.
One of the most exciting in my opinion is a new conference for affiliate marketing managers - AMDays.
The event is being organized and chaired by Geno Prussakov, a Website Magazine contributor and the author of Affiliate Program Management - An Hour a Day. I had the opportunity recently to speak with Geno about the conference as well as the state of the affiliate marketing industry as a whole and what attendees can expect from AMDays.
The Affiliate Management Days (AMDays) event focuses on education and discussions for affiliate managers, and will take place on March 8-9, 2012 in San Francisco. I've spent a long time in the industry and this is the first event I am aware of that focuses exclusively on affiliate management.
Website Magazine: For those that are unfamiliar with the practice,
explain affiliate management. Is it limited to merchants selling tangible goods?
Geno Prussakov: No, it isn't. Affiliate program management presupposes the management of any
affiliate program, campaign, or a number of campaigns. Regardless of whether
you're selling tangible or virtual goods, service or anything else, if you have
an affiliate program, it must be managed. The key components of affiliate
management are recruitment of new affiliates, activation of recruited but
stagnant ones, monitoring affiliate activity and policing compliance with your
affiliate program's rules, maintaining a constant and consistent communication
channel, and optimizing your program (from landing pages to creatives, and from
affiliate-geared motivation campaigns to customer-oriented promos... all based
on ongoing testing, as well as competitive intelligence).
Website Magazine: Tell Website Magazine readers about the ecommerce
industry's need for a conference such as AMDays.
Geno Prussakov: According to the findings of Econsultancy's Affiliate Census 2011, among the
main reasons for not promoting merchants after signing up for their affiliate
programs affiliates highlighted: poor commission potential (20.7%), poor quality
links (18.7%), slow acceptance to program (14.8%), and bad follow-up
communication (8.4%). All of these are connected with the larger problem we have
in the industry -- abundance of uneducated merchants and, as a result, numerous
un- and mis-managed affiliate programs. There is a tremendous need for an
ongoing merchant and affiliate manager education, and Affiliate Management Days
is here to fill this need.
Website Magazine: So this event is primarily targeting e-business owners
and affiliate managers?
Geno Prussakov: Yes, we're we are positioning ourselves in a very targeted way: the event on all
things affiliate management. The main goal of the conference is to make more
educated merchants and affiliate managers -- equipped to manage and run
successful affiliate programs. Hence, also our choice of location here -- San
Website Magazine: How has affiliate management changed over the past
few years? What challenges and opportunities are present now which affiliate
managers may not be aware of that they would discover at an event such as AMDays?
Geno Prussakov: A few years back we didn't have efficient platforms to affiliate-track phone
calls, we had no developed (and rapidly-growing!) mobile, social wasn't here, we
didn't engage in re-targeting, and didn't have platforms to track multi-channel
performance marketing activity (including the offline). The face of affiliate
marketing, and conjugated affiliate management, is changing together with the
transformations in the surrounding digital marketing landscape. And you're
right, the resulting opportunities, as well as challenges, will be the subjects
of our discussions at the
Affiliate Management Days professional forum.
Website Magazine: Where is fraud most prevalent in the affiliate
marketing industry today? Is the fraud issue more about affiliate managers
recruitment strategies or their approach to compliance policing and enforcement?
Geno Prussakov: Whether you call it "fraud" of unethical activity (some prefer the latter due to
the very specific connotation of the word "fraud"), I'd say that the top five
areas for it are: (1) paid search and (2) domains (trademark violations and
brand hi-jacking), (3) email and (4) social (lots of spamming), as well as (5)
To answer your second question: you can prevent much on the recruitment/approval
stage, but things do slip through the cracks on continuous compliance policing
is a must. Thirdly, you also want to stay on top of things by self-educating
(via blogs, podcasts, online forums, and events like AMDays), as new threats
spring up regularly.
Website Magazine: Is it easier or more difficult now to motivate
affiliate marketers than in years past? Should there be different incentive
strategies for those just starting out versus the super-affiliates?
Geno Prussakov: Affiliate motivation is one of my favorite topics. There's a whole chapter in
my newest book on it. But I'll
try to stay brief here... Individualized consideration and affiliate
categorization are the two keys to keep in mind when approaching the subject of
motivation. Some of your affiliates will be willing, but not able; others --
able, but not willing... yet others, like the "super-affiliates" you've
mentioned, know exactly what they want to do with your affiliate program, and
don't require much extrinsic motivation at all. So, first, categorize affiliates
by the primary method of promotion that they use. Then, segment them by what
situational theorists call "maturity level", and tailor your incentives
accordingly. Be creative, interesting, contagious and also remember, that your
final goal is to develop more super-affiliates -- or go from extrinsically
motivated affiliates (which is good for beginning ones) to those who are fully
intrinsically-driven, or motivated from within.
Website Magazine: Legislative issues continue to plague the
performance marketing industry. What would be one thing that you'd advise
merchants to do here?
Geno Prussakov: The "one thing" that I'd advise is comply. There are several legislative
challenges that we're dealing with, and the two that cause the widest resonance
now are: (i) the affiliate nexus tax laws that have been ratified in some
states, and are being considered by others, and (ii) the Federal Trade
Commission's rules regarding testimonials and endorsements, which view
merchant-affiliate relationship in sponsor-endorser light. With the tax laws, I
encourage merchants to be affiliate-friendly, and do everything possible to
collect the tax in the affected states, keeping affiliates from those states in
their programs; and lobbying in states that are only considering. With the FTC's
endorsement rules -- educate your affiliates on the necessity of displaying the
necessary disclosures, and then police compliance.