Give me “affiliate managers who aren’t idiots,”  was the demand of one publisher when we asked what they looked for when choosing a network, while another said, "what i care most about is that they don’t shave or scrub my business. I’ve seen that happen way too often." 

The survey we recently carried out for the BLUE BOOK Top 20 ranking of leading performance marketing networks gave us some great insights into what’s bothering people right now.

We asked one question about what people feel are the key factors to consider when selecting a network partner.

Tracking accuracy, network reputation and fraud prevention were rated as the most important factors, just what you’d expect at a time when the industry is swirling with rumors of networks going bust and being tied up in class action lawsuits. What was just as interesting though were the comments that respondents made in the “other factors” section.

Affiliate managers came up again and again. “Good ethics and affiliate managers that aren’t lazy,” summed up the demands of one assertive affiliate. While we all know that AMs are important to any successful network, it’s clear that for affiliates wanting to make money, the AM they deal with is critical.

Ultimately, like so much in life, it comes down to taking care of people. Affiliates are looking for networks that look after their publisher’s interests as well as their own. I look for, “industry experience, zero fraud on the network side (shaving, scrubbing, etc.), weekly payments and caring for their publishers,” said one. Another stated that, “making on-time payments and representing the interests of affiliates rather than just merchants, are both VERY important.”

The availability of effective technology and tools got several mentions. “Coupon feeds are extremely important, with codes listed as a column,” and “good tools, easy deep-linking, easy to use voucher code listings,” were typical of these comments.

Some particular concerns surfaced with regard to the problems roiling the industry. “How do the network’s Terms & Conditions for publishers handle indemnification and liability issues. Do protections pass to the advertiser or just to the network?” came from someone who seemed to have some experience with such matters.

Another had a laundry list of what they look for: “policies regarding parasites and toolbars; responsiveness to problems; website uptime vs the constant downtime of some network sites; ease of use and load time of reporting functions; availability and ease of creating or loading individual product links from all merchants.”

Finally, our favorite comment came from one discerning respondent: “Putting ‘very important’ and deal-breaker’ at opposite ends of the spectrum makes no sense. What idiot designed this survey?”

Guilty as charged, Judge.