Highlights of Anne Howard’s Ridiculous Flaming of the Affiliate Industry

In an article focusing on the Facebook IPO, technology reporter and CEO of RushPR Anne Howard veered into eyebrow-raising, highly speculative territory with a out-of-context attack on the affiliate marketing industry. She tried to tie the falling value of Facebook’s IPO with affiliates using Facebook as an advertising channel:

Maybe a clue is Facebook’s large presence at  affiliate summits* and other events for “affiliate marketers,” often referred to as “spammers” in the online marketing world. Affiliate marketing is a loosely used term to describe “performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

“These are the people behind the “Punch the Monkey” ads and the flashing banners telling you that you’re the millionth visitor and the winner of a a nebulous prize if you’ll just take a survey and give them your credit card number. They are also responsible for all those tweets taunting you to click on unwelcomed links and for those completely irrelevant comments on your blogs with a link to a service. Comments so pesty that many of us with blogs have been forced to disable our comments box. Of course, not all affiliate marketers are spammers but a LOT of cleaning up is needed in the industry.

Anne seems to have mistaken MySpace for Facebook since that’s where such ads were once prominent. She also seems to have no concept of how ads are brokered by a variety of non-affiliate networks like Gorilla, remnant networks like MSNDR, or DSPs; otherwise she would understand that such ad types could be initiated by any marketing firm, not just those that deal in the “nefarious” affiliate industry. It should be noted that we are talking about an article/post where the author’s name was spelled wrong by the publication Hollywood Today (at least they are consistent on being heavy on the hype and light on the research).

Affiliates quickly responded with Shawn Collins, co-founder of Affiliate Summit, countering Howard’s allegations of spamming and attacks against the industry as a whole:

  1. While there are some bad eggs, like any industry, it seems awfully careless to label a large group in such a manner. It would be akin to stating that online news reporters are often referred to as yellow journalists.
  2. The examples mentioned by Ane Howard (“Punch the Monkey” ads, questionable contests) sound like either media buys or pop-ups from spyware/malware. Is there any data that people who engage in these shady practices are also Facebook advertisers? I’ve been advertising on Facebook since they started offering the option, but not for affiliate offers.

Collins then invited Howard to attend this year’s upcoming Affiliate Summit East in August. Howard declined the offer.  There were some Twitter exchanges including Howard’s shrill cry that affiliates were “harassing” her on Twitter.  Since the incident the following disclaimer has appeared at the end of Howard’s article.

*affiliate summits is not used to refer to a particular set of conferences. It  simply refers to summits that has to do with affiliate marketing. Hollywood Today apologizes  if readers construed it to mean otherwise.

It seems more than a little bizarre that Howard took the time to go after affiliate marketing in an article about the Facebook IPO when there are serious questions around the handling of the IPO itself. When combined with her unwillingness to share the research she used to reach her opinion of affiliate marketing, it seems to support Collins’ interpretation of the strategy behind her article:

  • Write linkbait
  • Hope for traffic
  • If you get called out, label yourself as a victim
Even more bizarrely Anne Howard took to posting here on ReveNews in the comment section of an article we ran last January titled The Ugly Underbelly of Affiliate Marketing. Latching on to the title she took to labeling herself as a victim stating:

“Thanks for writing this post. I wrote an article in which I labeled AM using certain practices as spammers and have been harassed non-stop on my blog, twitter, facebook and even emails ever since. The response from Affiliate Marketers surely hasn’t helped to change my opinion for the better.”

The article is a challenge and a discussion on ethics within the industry by Justin Clark. While it does point out practices and thought processes that need to change in the industry, the fact it was written by a long-time affiliate marketer and published here on ReveNews indicates that the industry itself is constantly working on improving.

It would appear that Howard never took the time to read the article. At least she is batting a thousand when it comes to doing her research.

17 Responses to Highlights of Anne Howard’s Ridiculous Flaming of the Affiliate Industry

  1. While there is that disclaimer about “affiliate summits” now, the original version of the article specifically named Affiliate Summit…

    “Maybe a clue is Facebook’s large presence at the Affiliate Summit and other events for “affiliate marketers,” often referred to as “spammers” in the online marketing world. These are the people behind the “Punch the Monkey” ads and the flashing banners telling you that you’re the millionth visitor and the winner of a a nebulous prize if you’ll just take a survey and give them your credit card number. The fact that Facebook is courting these advertisers might be the answer to the paradox of growing advertising revenue in the face of brands giving up on it as a viable advertising medium. On the other hand, relying heavily on advertisements revenues from spammers hardly seems to be a viable strategy for a large public company.”

    • Not surprised she started out personal. Even more ridiculous she singled out Summit which is one of the classiest events (marketing or otherwise) all year.

      • I was a bit confounded by the reference to Affiliate Summit, since she has not attended any of the 20 Affiliate Summits to date.

        She indicated on Twitter that she’s attended affiliate marketing conferences in San Francisco, but I haven’t seen her mention them by name, yet.

  2. Reason says:

    Ane Howard needs to do some homework. Yet another person who totally does not understand what affiliate marketing is really all about.

  3. Eric Souza says:

    I’ve been following this and am heartily amused. As a former journalist myself, it’s easy to see how people think they know something and splurt their opinions. I liked her imaginary opinion about what happens at those durned affiliate summit get together things. Seriously, I want to start a fund to fly her to ASE, just so she can be held up to mock.

  4. […] article (sorry Anne, your linkbait won’t work with me) which you can read about on Revenews. Basically she painted the entire affiliate industry with the “spammers” brush citing […]

  5. Oli says:

    “for “affiliate marketers,” often referred to as “spammers””
    She seems to be a pretty good at making herself look like an idiot. Spammers would be spammers, affiliate marketing is simply a revenue model for marketing.

    I get the feeling she saw the success of the last article that broad labelled the IM industry and thought she could cash in.

  6. James Martell says:

    She’s clearly a little “thin” in her research. I hope she doesn’t quit her day job.

  7. What research? Because Ann did not call me for her research specially since I’ve been following AM since 99′, OPM since 03′ and affiliate summit is NO spam or scam. I work with great affiliate partners all day, legit and making money. Ann call me for an extended research and get the real truth about Affiliate Summit and affiliate marketing.

  8. Jim Kukral says:

    She should write for the Verge site. Scamworld was about as accurate.

  9. Todd Martini says:

    What a load of crap. I also find it hilarious that the post has a LinkShare ad for Lingerie.com on it… 😉

  10. Wow… nothing like using a completely baseless attack against an entire industry and industry leading conference to further a completely unrelated IPO news story.  Way to go Ane (Anne).  And she is a tech reporter?  Interesting.

  11. JoeP says:

    Apparently when you “Rush PR” you don’t have time for research, but at least the company name is honest.

  12. Milan Jara says:

    1. No-one ever kicks a dead dog.
    2. Don’t ever worry about unjust criticism.
    3. Shawn, your event rocks and so do you!

  13. Travis says:

    Gotta give A.H. props for her linkbait skills.