CJ and Azoogle: What Really Happened?

Last week the affiliate space was abuzz with news that Commission Junction ousted AzoogleAds from its network. Because AzoogleAds is a CJ affiliate that grew into it’s own revenue sharing network, many industry watchers claim it was just a matter of time before CJ wised up. Others say that the heyday of CJ and the other big networks is officially over. Still others claim it was a matter of ethics or maybe spite.

Since the news came out, I’ve spoken with most of the parties directly involved, a few who claim to know what went down, and others that are best-known for giving their opinions on the implications of such matters. I think there’s a little bit of he said/she said going on and each party is definitely putting it’s own spin on the story.

Joe Speiser, co-founder of AzoogleAds called the move by Commission Junction “flattering,” adding that his company was clearly “dangerous enough from ValueClick’s point of view” to warrant giving up the “nearly 80 percent of traffic we brought in on the eBay campaign.” EBay is CJ’s biggest campaign. Speiser also commented on a blog that CJ was threatened by Azoogle’s growing presence.

However, the word from the CJ camp is that Azoogle had multiple violations of CJ’s code of conduct, therefore giving CJ plenty of ammunition to end the relationship. Still, insiders call CJ’s move shrewd – waiting to end the relationship until Dec. 27, thus making sure it gets all the holiday revenue Azoogle is sure to book.

I’m still digging to get to the whole story. What I know for sure is that I’ll have a more fleshed out version of the story for our next monthly newsletter. It will be delivered directly to your desktop (if your signed up of course) on January 4, 2006.

And I expect the issue of alternative networks to remain on the front burner well into the New Year. The topic of the rise of alternative networks was already on our editorial calendar for our May/June issue when the CJ/Azoogle situation went down. Talk about good timing (for me at least). Since our deadlines are far in advance of that delivery May date, I’ll be reporting that story all next month. If you want to chime in on the issue, give me an email jingle (lisap@revenuetoday.com).

And for those of you attending the Affiliate Summit 2006 in Las Vegas in January– expect some fireworks on this topic. A session titled “the Future of Affiliate Marketing” will put Todd Crawford, vice president of sales at Commission Junction, who some say was key in CJ’s decision to drop Azoogle (along with some top ValueClick brass), on a panel along side of Azoogle’s Speiser. Hopefully, moderator Peter Figueredo, CEO of NETexponent will only have to light the match on that can of gas. Steve Denton, of LinkShare, Rob Jewell of Gratis Internet, Beth Kirsch of LowerMyBills.com and David Lewis with 77Blue will also be on hand to share in the fun. I wouldn’t miss it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the holiday fun. Lisap@revenuetoday.com