Editor’s Letter: The Sun Shines Through

Have you driven down Main Street lately? If your town is anything like mine, you’re seeing a lot of empty storefronts with “For Lease” signs in the window. My favorite bagel shop is gone after more than 20 years in one location. A hot new restaurant closed before I could even try it. Even a thrift store shut down after decades of service to a local charity. How bad is it when people can’t afford second-hand stuff at bargain prices?

It’s a tough time for small business people, where cash flow gets tricky when vendors pay late and customers push back on pricing. Merchants slash prices to attract customers, but that narrows their profit margins, effectively adding to the economic pressure. And despite recent upticks in economic indicators, it looks like this holiday season will be another downer for consumer spending.

All this means, of course, it’s a perfect opportunity for smart online marketers.

Online sales are rising as shoppers save gas and shoe leather by seeking out the best values on the Web. Performance marketing tools and techniques get better every single day. There are now more than 400 ad networks, ranging from tiny mom-and-pop operations to companies listed in the Inc 500. And performance marketing veterans seem more committed than ever to stomping out the ethical lapses that hurt their industry.

Now it’s up to you. Whether you’re an affiliate, network, agency or merchant, this season will test your ingenuity, business savvy, ethics, design skills and guts. If you fail to rise to the challenge, you’ll probably have an awful season. If you make the right moves, you’ll seize the opportunity and charge ahead.

Revenue Performance is here to help, with a holiday sampler for stories and columns that can help anyone on almost any level of the performance marketing industry.

First, please take note of our pull-out supplement, the Online Advertising Blue Book. The Blue Book is designed to help smart affiliates connect with the right networks. Eric Reyes, who has written many of our best feature stories in the past, edited the first issue of this new magazine for our publisher, mthink.

We’re very pleased to welcome back Senior Writer Susan Kuchinskas, who was the founding managing editor of Revenue five years ago. She’s contributed two superb stories for this issue, including our cover story, Seasonal Sunshine, which offers specific strategies for boosting clickthroughs and conversions in the current environment. Kuchinskas has also analyzed the increasingly segmented world of ad networks in her second feature for this issue, providing a much-needed map through an ever-thicker maze.

In our feature interview, media guru Clay Shirky talks about the evolution of new media, including performance advertising, from being quirky and cool to “boring” and fully integrated into our lives. You may be surprised to learn why boring is good.

Our columnists have still more ideas. Designer Pedro Sostre goes against the grain by talking about how product features must outweigh aesthetic consideration when designing in a recession. Affiliate manager Paresh Vadavia tells how to sell luxury goods when consumers are pinching pennies. Jim Lillig explains which networks will be best-positioned to avoid the inevitable shakeout. Rebecca Madigan updates what the Performance Marketing Alliance is doing to stop taxation of affiliates.

New to this issue are columnists Mike Evans, who reviews some popular mailing programs, Jay Weintraub, who opines about ethics in continuity programs, attorney David Klein, who discusses proposed regulations affecting fake blogs and articles, and Geno Prussakov, who outlines the risks when affiliates sign up for multiple networks.

We can’t do much about the economy. But we hope this issue brings a little sunshine into your holiday season. Now, if I could only figure out where to get a good bagel.

Cheers!
Tom Murphy, Editor