Performance Marketing Alliance

Performance Marketing Alliance

I just received an e-mail from Rebecca Madigan, from, about the Performance Marketing Alliance and I urge people to get involved with this project. I plan on it and I am pleased to see names like Brook Schaaf, Lisa Riolo, and other veterans getting the ball rolling. Let me know how I can help.

The e-mail:

“We’re on our way! After talking to over 40 industry leaders, there is overwhelming support to start a performance marketing professional association, with the strategic objective of bringing visibility and credibility to the performance marketing industry.

We have a lot to do yet to get this started. There is a fine balance between gathering enough input and support from the industry, and getting traction by taking action. While we continue to solicit feedback from a broad base of performance marketing professionals, we’re also moving forward with the nomination of a formation advisory board, and a call for volunteers for working groups who will develop organizational and policy recommendations that the advisory board will approve.

To communicate our efforts and track our progress, we’ve started a website: There are links to interest surveys on this site, so please forward this URL on to all your performance marketing friends and colleagues. We will need the support of as much of the affiliate community as we can muster, and we’ll be successful by meeting the needs of the industry and individual members. “

Lessons From the Past- Affiliate Union

Now I get to show my age- almost forty. The Affiliate Union (circa 2000) was a good idea, with great grassroots representation. Unfortunately it became bogged down in politics and hassles over certification. I strongly urge you to visit this post from a couple of years ago as I muse about the Affiliate Union at the turn of the century. Carsten Cumbrowski, Fraser Edwards and Brian Clark provide some good dialogue in the resulting comments. You can also find the Draft of September 11, 2000 (Status: Approved) in the post above.

The primary goal was contract reform because affiliate contracts were horribly lopsided and affiliates, many amateur or new business people like myself, were new to the “contract thing”. I didn’t know what was a good contract or a bad contract. Having something like the Affiliate Union got me up to speed fast.

The biggest hurdle was perhaps the name, but that was the name selected by democratic vote. Some merchants interpreted it as “a labor union” and not a union between affiliate and merchant. Thus I love the name “performance marketing alliance”. It is long overdue for the disparate parties in affiliate marketing to come together as an alliance and work towards mutually beneficial goals.

I know the parties can get together, since I chaired the New York Summit on Adware and trust me things cannot get much more hostile than that meeting- I do not hesitate to add that The Code of Conduct and other outcomes were the products of the networks- not this mediator. Hopefully this time around, almost eight years later, with real industry maturity, we will see something work. I do offer up the Affiliate Union contract draft not only as a lesson in online politics, and the process but also because there is some good material in the working draft. Get involved. It is your industry. This goes for networks, merchants, agencies and of course- affiliates and publishers.

Bootstrapped in late April, 2000, the “Affiliate Union” is ongoing series of planning discussions between Affiliates and Merchants United : Welcome to Affiliate Union affiliates, merchants and affiliate technology providers aimed at developing both a “certification standard” for affiliate merchants and the organization to implement those standards. It is a completely volunteer online organization in the spirit of early Internet “open standards committees.” This effort needs the participation and support of merchants — especially those merchants who run well-thought-out legitimate programs. After all, much of the mud churned up by the more abusive affiliate merchants gets splattered on their faces.

This effort needs the participation and support of affiliate directories. They have heard many of these horror stories first hand and are more like affiliates than merchants anyway. They will need to be the first line of education to the affiliates on these efforts — the ones saying, “Don’t sign up for any program that doesn’t run the emblem.” Or maybe they should be saying we won’t even list them if they don’t.

This effort needs the participation and support of affiliate solution providers. Every single affiliate network makes their merchants adhere to terms of service — some even provide template “affiliate agreements” to their merchants. They will be an important part of bringing these standards back to the merchants and, at the same time, they can provide the group with insight from the collected experiences of hundreds of merchants.

And, of course, this effort needs the participation of affiliates — lots of affiliates. The kinds of horror stories that affiliates tell each other in discussion groups now have a use: they give us the real world examples to wrestle with when planning the criteria. From each horror story we can derive a new certification criteria.

About Wayne Porter

Wayne Porter is one of the original founders of, and served as the CEO and founder of XBlock Systems a specialized research firm on greynets and malware research before being acquired by unified communications security leader, Factime Security Labs. His work includes serving as a panlist at the Federal Trade Commission to shape legislation on software and the creation of two patent-pending technologies for corporate networks. Wayne is a frequent speaker at e-commerce & business events including CJU, ASW and RSA and frequently cited in the press. He has been designated a Microsoft Security MVP three times and is recognized on Google’s Responsible Security Disclosure page- in addition to receiving the first Summit Legend Award. Wayne currently works as a Security Consultant on Social Media and operates a consultancy on digital worlds. His hobbies include reading science fiction, playing chess, fishing, writing, collecting shiny digital gadgets, playing racquetball and studying memetic engineering. He maintains a personal weblog at detailing his explorations in security, web 2.0, and virtual worlds.
You can follow Wayne on Twitter: @wporter.

6 Responses to Performance Marketing Alliance

  1. Wayne Porter says:

    Money should not be a huge issue- considering how much flows through networks.

    Politics- ROTFL. Don't I know about politics. Again I think my experience with the AU showed me how a great initiative with one goal (contract reform) can get bogged down.

    It is critical that the networks give it support. I am happy to assist there. I can see longer range things like parlay with the security community. The dream that I verbalized at RSA 2007 was that one day ad networks, security pros, and law enforcement would work in tandem…

    I am behind you all.



  2. Beat me.. damn it hehe. Well, I knew that somebody should post about it here. I am glad to see that it was done by somebody who was also part of a formation attempt in the past himself. 🙂

    I already reached out to Rebecca last week and offered specific and general support and help for this (hopefully final) attempt of the formation of an industry association/organization.

    I got a lot reading material to this today and not finished with it yet. I will probably jump in for some comments and stuff later this weekend.



  3. Brook Schaaf says:

    Wayne, this is a great reminder of the two main concerns we share –
    * Money – in the sense that a volunteer organization won’t get what we need done.
    * Politics – in the sense that controversial issues can tear the group apart.

    A third issue that you raise is the importance of getting all sides involved so that the association is not naturally set against other groups in the space. Ultimately, we are all working together.

  4. Great Post Wayne!

    I also received a nomination today as a member of the Formation Advisory Board (FAB)for the Performance Marketing Alliance – This is a much needed organization as we have all been discussing the last few months. The need for a voice for the affiliate marketing Industry has been needed for years, now with the formation of the Performance Marketing Alliance we will have a foundation of which we can all be a part of.

    I was also able to nominate others in the industry that have shown to produce effective tools and or leadership within the performance based marketing categories and look forward to being a part of the FAB if voted as an elected Board Member.

    Heather Paulson

  5. Alan Jeric says:

    I’m interested in contributing any way I can. How does one go about being a part of this?