It Is Time For Performance Marketers To Grow Up

by John Lemp
January 31, 2013

OPINION

Performance marketers, it is time to grow up.

This is a call to action for all networks, affiliates, and advertisers. Performance marketing is one of the fastest growing industries in history and its not going away. According to Forrester Research, in 2014 US affiliate marketing spending is projected to hit over $4 billion and this monumental rate of growth
shows no sign of slowing.

Our industry includes some of the most creative, innovative people in the world, yet we lack the one thing that is needed in order to drive performance marketing to the next level: unity. We, as the leaders of the affiliate and performance marketing industry, need to stand united around a single common
goal of agreeing industry-wide compliance standards.


As leaders, we are paving the way for a whole new marketing medium and in so doing we are shaping the future of both marketing and commerce. Performance marketing is the great equalizer. For the first time in history, anyone can compete with the largest brands in the world; the ability to market and hence create a new product or brand of the future is truly open to anyone.

The problem is that in pushing innovation in marketing forward, a multitude of different compliance approaches have been developed, and that typically has resulted in much finger pointing from network to network. No network can ever admit to being perfect, yet each has learned lessons they could share with others. We need to turn these lessons into industry standards that all of the major players can agree on and enforce. Only then can the industry we all love finally take that great leap forward.

This should not be taken necessarily as a criticism. Most industries go through a similar process of maturation. After the explosive growth of the convenience and fast food sector, companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Burger King, and General Mills were publicly shamed for the “obesity epidemic” sweeping the nation. The result was that the top players in the food companies collaborated to create disclosure standards for calories and ingredients. These self-imposed initiatives have greatly improved perceived consumer value of the food industry as a whole and of the individual companies themselves.

We need to learn from such examples. We understand our industry in a way that outsiders cannot. We are the ones on the front lines, watching the overall trends and the day-to-day currents of performance marketing. Because of this, we must be the ones who come together and commit to industry wide
standards that all must follow.

This is the only way to put us back in control of our own destiny and improve both consumer perception and market sustainability of the performance marketing industry as a whole. I have personally spoken with many of the largest players in this industry that agree with this approach and I invite the leaders of this industry to join me in giving full support to organizations such as the Online Trust Alliance, IAB, NAI, PMA and ECPM.

These organizations can provide the platform for a unified affiliate marketing industry by connecting, informing and advocating for our industry, and
speaking with one unified voice.

With one voice we can ensure that our market continues to thrive. It is time for action, organization and unity among us all. Our first step should be
to create a comprehensive set of self-regulation policies that cover each of the various areas of performance marketing, such as advertiser landing pages, pub landers, SMS, email marketing, etc., and the responsibilities for each party involved. The next step should be to enforce these guidelines with the people we do business with. Only then will the $4 billion dollar industry we have all collaborated to create be able to protect consumers effectively. In the end, if we can come together to protect consumers and advertisers, we will protect ourselves and our industry.

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About John Lemp

John Lemp is the owner and CEO of Clickbooth, The Exclusive CPA & CPC Network. With 10+ years of experience in Internet Marketing, he is both an industry leader and innovator.

View all posts by John Lemp

3 Responses to “It Is Time For Performance Marketers To Grow Up”

  1. Laura Wolf at Toucan-Marketing Says:

    I agree that compliance is a great issue alongside with innovation. The only way a marketer can increase revenues and stay in the game is to be able to keep themselves updated and change with times. Thanks for the eye-opening article.

  2. Alson Says:

    Compliance is not the only issue. We as affiliate/publishers hava to be protected as well. We are doing a very risky business here. We get the work done before getting paid. There’s no upfront for us.

    There should be industry wide landing page guidelines and rules. Especially the pixel firing. The same offer converts differently on different platform or network. We need industry wide standards for the tracking part as well.

    Anyone with some budget to burn can put up a non-converting offers to waste our traffic testing on it. At the end these “advertisers” are getting near-free traffic.

  3. Angel Djambazov Says:

    Innovation will continue to stagnate as long as there is the near complete disregard by the major networks for proactive compliance. All the networks are at fault for turning a blind eye but the CPA networks are especially complicit. And yes, Clickbooth is NOT excluded from that statement.

    It is true that all the networks pay lip service to compliance. Some like CJ even have the audacity to charge extra for it. But networks that are proactive are rare to find. While far from perfect in its efforts, only ShareASale makes a concerted effort.

    To thrive, innovation must be rewarded. When affiliates cheat the system and when networks fail to enforce compliance, it hardly creates a safe and inviting environment for those innovators.

    One only has to look at the Digital Point case, or Zango’s implosion, to have an inkling of how bad it is.