How can an advertiser tell the difference between a good network and a poor one?
Until an advertiser gets a taste of lead quality from a given network, it really is difficult to tell if the network is solid or full of risk. While not a foolproof method, taking two minutes to double check the age of the network will likely help you concentrate on the better ones. Poor networks are generally mismanaged and tend to not stick around that long. When you find a network that’s been in business for over a decade, at least you know the business is well-managed, affiliates are getting paid, and advertisers are coming back for repeat business.
Is it possible for the performance marketing industry to police itself in any meaningful way?
It’s certainly possible, but would be an uphill battle that I suspect won’t happen anytime soon. The industry is pretty wide now. Would you police affiliates, advertisers, networks or traffic sources? Policing each requires a different approach, and no single approach could police every facet of the industry. So while possible, I suspect things will continue pretty much as is, with occasional governmental intervention when a small group within the industry inevitably decides to push boundaries.