Recap of Meeting to Discuss Industry Association

Last Wednesday in Camarillo, CA, we had a dinner to discuss an industry association. The dinner drew a high-caliber, longtime group of affiliate marketers. Brad Waller of ePage and Rebecca Madigan of AffiliateClassroom shared research they’ve done on the nuts and bolts of creating an association and conversations with others in the industry. We then went around the table and everyone weighed in with some thoughts before it turned into a discussion. People generally voiced a strong interest in an association – I don’t recall anyone opposed to it. The NY tax issue was repeatedly mentioned as a lesson we need to learn from.

Below is a picture of those in attendance:

Camarillo Affiliate Dinner

Left to Right, Outside: Left to Right, Inside
Lisa Picarille Rexanne Mancini
Forrest Schaaf Kerri Pollard
Joe Alagna Brook Schaaf
Sam and Rozi Khwaja Brad Waller
Matt Earls Danielle Stone
Billy Hugo Lara Holloway
Rebecca Madigan
Linda Woods
Maria Murphy
Lisa Riolo
Kristine Kirschke
Todd Crawford

Important: all comments below all ideas at this point. Nothing is written in stone and there is a lot of work to be done in getting something up and running.

Assumptions
There was a strong consensus that we need fund something like a nonprofit that can support paid staff, because volunteer efforts have not and will not have the impact we are looking for. What we are looking for is a voice for the industry who can lobby on our behalf; educate those interested in the industry; promote performance marketing; work out standards; and rally the troops when needed. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

Associations to Look at

All of these associations touch affiliate marketing in one way or another though none is there to represent our interests. Our goals (promotion of internet marketing) generally align with those of these groups and so far I think the ones we’ve talked to have been supportive.

Association Overview

(Again, these are just ideas.)

This nonprofit association would be composed of dues-paying, voting members who can join at different levels – something like individual, silver/gold/platinum/corporate/sponsor/etc. Members would vote in a board of directors with individual fiduciary responsibility who would hire (and fire) the staff, including the executive director. An effective board will probably have something like seven people on it. So there will probably also be some sort of larger advisory board and/or committees of active members to handle specific tasks, discuss issues, provide input, etc.

Brad Waller drew up some sample numbers based on a 3-tier structure – for my money, we could probably have more tiers but this is just a rough sketch. The main point is that we’ll need a significant amount of money, particularly if we want to hire a lobbyist. For example, say a lobbyist costs $120,000 per year and needs to stay in Albany, NY for a week. That’s going to add up. The encouraging thing about this model is that raising the money we need looks realistic based on the size of our community.

Member Level Count Fee Revenue
Low High Low High Low High
Individual 500 2,000 $50 $300 $25,000 $600,000
Corporate 50 300 $500 $1,000 $25,000 $300,000
Sponsor 5 20 $5,000 $25,000 $25,000 $500,000
Totals         $75,000 $1,400,000

Association Challenges

During the dinner, we had a very good, open discussion about the challenges of the association. After money, the biggest challenge will be politics. Politics boils down to who is in the association, how they are treated, and what our goals and priorities are. I don’t want to go into these issues in detail but it’s important we be aware of conflict points so that we can resolve them and, whenever possible, structure the association to be productive instead of destructive. We have to be wary of all internecine conflicts that can threaten our many, larger, common interests. My general view is that the association should be open to everyone involved in the industry.

Next Steps

Rebecca Madigan is organizing a meeting on Saturday, August 9th before Affiliate Summit. (Prior to the Affiliate Dinner.) If you are interesting in being involved, please contact Rebecca at affiliateclassroom.com.

About Brook Schaaf

You can find Brook on Twitter @brookschaaf.

29 Responses to Recap of Meeting to Discuss Industry Association

  1. Evan says:

    Sounds like a great group of people that met. I support it and would support it with dues.

  2. This is an excellent first step Brook. Kudos on bringing a group like that together. Hopefully the meeting at Affiliate Summit will help gain even more traction for such an association.

  3. Wayne Porter says:

    This is something I am interested in since we cannot seem to even agree on nomenclature…as a caveat I would be happy to review (and perhaps Brad who I recall being a part of the push) the challenges when the Affiliate Union (I did not like the name) emerged several years ago to put an emphasis on contract reform…I think it made some progress and affiliate marketing is far more sophisticated now than it was than. Likewise affiliates are a bit more savvy with contracts.

    It must support paid staff, although I think a non-profit or not for profit would be fine. The staff should be diverse and very experienced.

    Let me know how this progresses Brook. I am interested in getting involved.

    regards,
    Wayne

  4. Brook Schaaf says:

    Angel and Wayne, I have followed up with you offline.

    Evan, could you send me your email?

  5. peter bordes says:

    Hey Brook. You know how we feel about this. looking forward to meeting with you at Aff summit East to get further involved. MediaTrust is 1000% in. This large segment of the interactive market is the most fragmented and its time for a collective to be put together.

    one suggestion is that it be a performance marketing association vs. being an affiliate marketing association. The previous covers the broader growing spectrum that affiliate marketing is evolving towards.

    Thoughts?

  6. Brook Schaaf says:

    I agree with your thoughts on the name. I tend to prefer "performance marketing" as it speaks to the wider opportunities in the space.

  7. I actually like performance marketing better as well but kind of what I was thinking and you just mentioned. Affiliate marketing is a little more defined than performance marketing which could be anything. Wider opportunities, a bigger umbrella could be lost focus. There was mention of other marketing organizations and when they were mentioned the thoughts were they're not focused on affiliate marketing too big of an umbrella, like performance marketing.

  8. Ah, nevermind. I guess you guys already decided – Performance Marketing Alliance? In next couple of months elect a board in place before Affiliate Summit? I noticed CJ people there. Didn't notice Linkshare, Performics or any of the other networks. Wouldn't you want them there from the start for input, alliance?

  9. peter bordes says:

    Brook what do we all want and need to do for next steps. I like Jonathans idea of launching into the aff summit east if that is possible.

  10. Brook Schaaf says:

    Rebecca has been in touch with people from the other networks. We certainly want everyone involved (or have the reasonable option to be involved); otherwise I don't think we'll get the traction we need.

  11. Did you want to get affiliates involved too? Even in the picture above, I only see one that is a 100% affiliate. Don't know everybody in the picture, so I might be missing one or two. I went ahead and bumped a thread at ABW about an association since nobody involved to this point seemed really want to talk to affiliates. Could be wrong but I base that on the reluctance to talk about this on any public board that affiliates usually discuss issues. It's in more of a private forum but you could start the topic where you can get input from everybody, even affiliates.

  12. Brook Schaaf says:

    Peter, I emailed you.

  13. Brook Schaaf says:

    Yes, absolutely affiliates need to be involved. They are one of the pillars of the business model. I know Rebecca has been speaking to a number of affiliates.

    In terms of the dinner above – networks, agencies, and merchants tend to be more active at networking than affiliates.

  14. Linda Woods says:

    Just wanted to voice my 100% support on this. I was at the meeting and just read all the replies. I wanted Jonathan (Trust) to know that affiliates are totally invited to be a part of this and there will be dues structure for individuals that are reasonable. The Advisory Board that needs to be formed shoudl include a few top affiliate voices for sure. Also, to respond about the fact that CJ people were there but other networks, keep in mind this was a dinner networking meeting that was held only 1 hour from Santa Barbara, where I, as well as CJ, is located. With the other networks all being east coast, there was really no need for them to fly out for this single networking discussion. A larger meeting is planned for the day before Affiliate Summit in Boston, where we hope many can attend. In the meantime, please make sure your thoughts are known to Rebecca Madigan who is leading the charge on research and discovery.

    Thanks

    Linda

  15. BillyKay says:

    Brook,

    Where (the url) can us outsiders post our views, concerns, comments, etc?

  16. Wayne Porter says:

    Billy Kay,

    Why would you be an outsider? Post wherever- here, abw, other marketing sites, your own blog, etc.

    -wayne

  17. If anything Billy, I think of you as an insider.

  18. BillyKay says:

    WP,

    I'm looking for the "official" place to comment/rant/suggest. I can't picture someone is gathering thoughts from ABW, Twitter and blogs… I mean a one-stop comments dump spot. LOL – did that come out right?

  19. Wayne Porter says:

    Ultimately it is how one views their "self" that matters. This is an industry that has historically never been able to get things together. Tried on many issues…actually that anything was accomplished amazes me…

    Some people are stepping up to the plate and moving a project along- good. I support this (continue to monitor). A rudderless ship helps no one. I doubt it will be perfect, but no one is forcing anyone at gunpoint.

    Step up and contribute your verse- WHEREVER you choose to contribute it. (post a blog and link to it from this thread just contribute. Affiliate marketing is all about diversity…or it had better be.

    Anonymity is not an option though. (Not that you have ever been that way Billy Kay).

    regards,

    Wayne

  20. Wayne Porter says:

    I imagine that is what working groups are for. We will know more in the near future. These things take time. In the mean-time write a manifesto,compose a song, do a video.

    There is a "thing" about insiders…yes they do exist…totally true. Insiders have solid connections, networked extensively, have strong relationships, credentials, speak at conferences, etc. I mean that is simply reality- you earn it. Insiders are also frequently "attacked".

    I know as a performance marketing "insider", and a security "insider" and a virtual worlds "insider". (I also know how insider is all relative- someone will always know more than I will.)

    This is an alliance. Make allies…or choose not to, but I hope you contribute. I hope lots of people do. I hope people come out with reams of ideas.

    regards,

    Wayne

  21. Wayne Porter says:

    If Jupiter is predicting 3.3 billion dollars to flow through the channel….

    http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/?n

    I think there should be an organization.

    best,

    Wayne

  22. BillyKay says:

    By "outsider", all I meant was I wasn't at the dinner – nothing more. Hey Brook… I thought all we do is roast Shawn and Brian at these dinners! LOLOL

    My official suggestion is more frequesnt updates on the PMA site. If you read ABW and Twitter, there are still too many people in the dark – giving opinions on things they are just guessing about.

  23. Brook Schaaf says:

    Hi Billy,

    Rebecca launched http://www.performancemarketingalliance.com/ thought it doesn't seem to have comments. Right now there is no "official" forum. Which, as Wayne indicated, is sort of useful in some ways. I'd suggest commenting at ReveNews, as it will continue to be an unofficial center of action.

  24. Wayne Porter says:

    Nods. Great…that is an "alliance spirit". Nor was I. Nor do I have any major news on it.

    I do not read ABW. I do read Twitter…what channel or whom?

    Too many in the dark giving opinions on what they have no information about? Probably…I am not wasting my time nor can I give an opinion right now- I am in the dark (more or less).

    It will come out when it is ready. People will go with it or they won't. SO FAR, based on what I know about the org and what I know about security, marketing, etc (my experiences)…I would say it is high time.

    best,

    Wayne

  25. Wayne Porter says:

    Billy,

    Right off the bat I have some disagreements with this

    "Performance marketing is a comprehensive term that can include affiliate marketing, CPA marketing, search marketing and lead generation, amongst others. The common thread through these various terms is that the marketing partners are paid on the performance of their marketing campaigns, not on clicks or views as with display advertising."

    I disagree with the failure to include CPC and display advertising. e.g. blends, hybrids or slots. Affiliate marketing has always been relegated to the minor leagues because of the risk born by the publisher/affiliate/partner/Xfactor.

    I have seen CPA + Slots, CPC on sliding scales…I think I wrote an article a few years ago on how to use / calibrate EPC within a homogenous(sorry only way to describe it) mix of merchants. In short how to systematically use statistics to bargain for slots, or offers or coupons or better CPS…

    What I love about affiliate marketing is that it was the catalyst that allowed me, a college-dropout, to build a business that grew from nothing to something substantial. It enabled me to travel the world. It allowed me to put money in my kids college funds. It also took its toll…

    Overtime my roles changed (I have worked in about every position possible), and extended into security and later digital media and digital independance (indy film, Alternate Reality Games, etc)…this is why I (and people like Sam- love him or hate him- he is on target much of the time (and he and I fight enough over mythology and finer issues).

    Insiders are trying to help, educate, teach, point, steer, inspire people to revisit their businesses and really maximize the potential! There is more than just CPA and more than just building sites…there is a whole new horizon out there and it can be a GREAT thing for indy businesses.

    I always look to Tim Storm and I can recall about 10 years ago being on the deck of a cruise ship at 2 AM talking to Tim…he and I were both single person operations…it goes without saying that TIm made a lot more money than I did, and I admire his stance against pushy companies and how he is going green and how he treats his employees. Kudos…no complaints…

    Affiliate marketing or Performance marketing is and will be a whole lot more… performance- imagine if it is was how you "perform"…not how many sales, clicks, or impressions, but how you performed in front of your fans, your loyal followers, your customers- people.

    To me it is all about digital independance (Yep I would rather co-exist with adware than have laws outlawing what I can download on MY machine….freedom is more important that commissions and I DETEST adware and I have the C/Ds, suits and scars to prove it.)

    So if there are concerns- be patient. We all are a community (anyone can e-mail me at wporter@gmail.com– I am very approachable) even if we are in different realms, or sites, or communities. I am tired of going to security guns and explaining that not all advertisers or affiliates are bad.

    To be frank- they would as soon wipe the lot with EVERYONE…I am different in that respect. I am a realist. I think middle-ground can be found. It won't be easy- never is…might not get there, but contribute your verse. It is awesome that we are in an industry where we can still "shape" things…

    -wayne

  26. Wayne Porter says:

    So that it is clear…Revenews is a community…It does not endorse any advertisers or the PMA (at this point).

    Post your comments, suggestions, etc where you feel comfortable. You are welcome to link to them here or elsewhere. The conversation node is not as important as having a real conversation.

    Affiliates are all about independance and risk.

    NOTE- I have talked to Rebecca and I am preparing a blog on it now…taking awhile. I am old, etc…should be interesting though.

    Haiko-if you want to have a debate on the issues I sent you tweet. Happy to have a debate one on one…preferably live, real-time- voice. (Lost some feeling in my hands)…

    So you know the invite is open and you know I love debates. 🙂 Honestly I just want a chance to blast away at your flawed logic… I'll get you an honorary I Hate Wayne shirt too!

    Wayne

  27. Wayne Porter says:

    BTW- I keep hearing "good of the industry".

    As it stands there is no industry. Industry is the organized action of making of goods and services for sale. PM is NOT organized at all. It is like a weird omelette. Edible, but really scrambled.

    -wayne

    back to blogging

  28. On the PMA site (www.performancemarketingalliance.com), comments are open, but the comments selection is hidden in mouseprint in the by-line. I was just told about it because some people have found it and we're getting comments. Our developers are working on it now to make it actually visible so people can comment. Sorry about that, chief.

    I like the idea of a forum for this site, but we're really trying to focus our efforts right now on getting the organization up and running.

    What issues the PMA should tackle and the associated discussion and debate over those issues, those will all be determined, discussed and debated by the members, once there actually ARE members. And that is where a forum will be an excellent vehicle.

  29. peter bordes says:

    Thank you for the info Rebecca. I wanted to get active on the site.