Tiger RunningAre you a tiger? Or a gazelle? Hunter? Or Prey?

I was chatting to someone at ASW about the hordes of newbie affiliates flocking to the sessions in which they were effectively paying to be pitched. Scattered through the schedule were the so-called “gurus” of our industry, offering to lead the uninitiated through the affiliate marketing jungle. For a price, of course.

An hour later at lunch, the restaurant I was in had on a nature program about Africa, where herds of tiny, 12” high gazelles known as dik-diks serve as prey for a variety of predators. In essence, every animal with sharp teeth in the middle of the food chain goes after dik-diks. They are the newbie affiliates of the animal kingdom.

I joke, of course. Except that it does ring true on one level and it make me wonder, as the climate for performance marketing changes, who are the big beasts that will die off and which smaller creatures will evolve into the new kings of the jungle?

We are finally beginning to see networks making use of big data and intelligent optimization algorithms. Will this mean that smaller publishers and advertisers get pushed to the margins of the market? That’s what happened when Google introduced their Generalized Second Price auction for search ads which is designed to extract as much profit from the market as possible. How will new networks compete in a big data-optimized marketplace when they have no data with which to work? Google offers an illustrative example here too in the way in which Microsoft’s Bing has never been able to compete because with one tenth of Google’s search traffic, Bing’s algorithm could not help but be less efficient.

So we are entering a new world. The big, slow-moving giants will die off and faster, nimbler competitors will rise. Are you an elephant? Or a cheetah?

I’d love to know your thoughts. Best answers to be featured here over the next few weeks. Email: editor@mthink.com.