Jeff Molander over at ThoughtShapers conducted an interesting roundtable-type discussion among affiliate marketing insiders the other day in reaction to Commission Junction’s Link Management Initiative announcement.
The talk is worth listening to or reading in full, but here are a couple of interesting comments:
Jeff Nienaber of Allstar Directories had a couple points that I thought stood out:
I think if anything, CJ wants to quantify to Google, and to Yahoo, and MSN, how big of a player they are in the space. They have an ad budget aggregated number that they can throw around.
….[They] recognize the threat of Google and the Yahoo Partner Network….absolutely ValueClick is a media company [CJ is a ValueClick-owned company]. Google is a media company. This is one on one competition; it’s on the front lines. One of their arrows in their quiver was CJ, but this is definitely a response to Google’s position within the media market. Yes, they have to move. They have to do something. Google’s killing them.
Affiliate marketer Nate Griffin looked at it from the seller’s P.O.V.:
I think that really is a question; who really has control, who benefits from this control, do I really benefit from this control, do I want this control? Or, am I more comfortable letting the affiliates innovate ways of selling the products, or getting people to click through to links? I think there’s a lot of strength in letting affiliates be creative with the link format. I think that’s where you get things like the Product Showcase Creator, GoldenCan, and things like that, it seems that the platform is somewhat open to innovation, and there’s a question in my mind whether or not this makes it closed to that kind of innovation, now that CJ wants to control that innovation.
On Nate’s point: The way I understand it, CJ is concerned with the fact that large retail sites (the ones relying on affiliates to drive traffic to their sites) have to answer to the brand advertisers. The brand advertisers are quite concerned with shoddy, data-driven “link farm” type sites are connected to their brands through retailer sites. It dilutes their brand, makes them look cheap. (Think of designers that don’t like their stuff being sold at bargain-bin places like TJ Maxx or Filene’s Basement because it devalues their brands.)
This space is so complicated, though, I’ve only begun to understand it.