Twitters Apps vs. Affiliate Marketing

In case you missed the news, and it was easy to miss as Twitter waited until 6:15 pm PDT to announce it, Twitter bought Atebits, the two-person company that makes Tweetie.

I wrote about the acquisition on my blog and the implications for Twitter app developers.

This morning I woke up to the following tweet from @wporter:

@thedavidlewis What’s the difference between a #Twitter developer & an affiliate? Not much.

Wayne raises an interesting point. Is there a difference between the way that Twitter may have just pulled the rug out from under a group of app developers (and might do it again with its own built or bought image server, etc.) and what affiliates/publishers often feel happens when they are successful with merchants?

Wayne, @samharrelson and I have had a few tweets on this today but the short form of Twitter (~115 characters when you reference two people) and Twitter’s complete lack of threading for conversations (or the ability to follow or even know about such conversations) means that I am going to try moving the discussion here and opening it up to the ReveNews community.

So, what do you think?

About David Lewis

David Lewis is CEO and Co-founder of Prycing. He’s been around affiliate marketing for a long time.

Twitter: thedavidlewis

5 Responses to Twitters Apps vs. Affiliate Marketing

  1. Ricardo says:

    Affiliate marketing is not a business just like twitter app is not a business. Can you make money with both yes? Can you be rich, yes? However, you have zero control like a real platform such as twitter or a company and one day, the owner can stop outsourcing a service like a mobile platform, picture, video etc for twitter or online marketing traffic for affiliate marketing. This is the reality.

  2. Franklin says:

    While it is true that there is a certain degree of uncertainty in Affiliate Marketing, if you are diversified enough you can still call it a business. Not having control over the actions of merchants or networks (or other entities) does not mean you disappear when they suddenly change things up. It is a business, and a very challenging one at that.

    Not sure how "twitter app" can be compared to the entire industry of "affiliate marketing". Still, I did enjoy the comment.

  3. David and Wayne,

    Interesting topic. I think you can broaden the question itself to app developers for Apple or any developers whose apps are single platform.

    Twitter VC investor Fred Wilson's only partially veiled threat to Twitter app developers is clearly an example of the ramifications of creating a business that is at the mercy of the business needs of a single platform. One day that platform could decide you are unnecessary.

    The difference, between the affiliate marketing and the app development industry is one of autonomy. Large affiliate publishers have the ability to control their own destiny. Next Jump (whom we just wrote about ) has a $45 million dollar warchest. How many app developers can say that? Large publishers like SkyMall, FatWallet, etc have the ability to carve out enough of a presence that their business has the potential to survive through advertising even if they don't use CPA. I think that answers Ricardo's point.

  4. David Lewis says:

    I, too, do not see the similarity between app development (especially on a closed platform like Twitter) and affiliate marketing.

    Twitter is a virtual monopoly for microblogging. Yes, there are a few other options (including Google Buzz) but none match up. In addition, there are only basic services that can be provided by Twitters apps. This is in stark contrast to iPhone/iPad apps and even Facebook apps. Apple and Facebook can't offer Scrabble. Are there any Twitter apps or services that Twitter can't offer?

    As for affiliate marketing, publishers do not rely on a single source. There are numerous networks (or platforms, Mr. Crawford) and thousands of merchants. While I hate to lose any one of them, we can carry on. None of them can replace what we do completely.

    If I were an app developer, I'd find something that doesn't rely on a platform or protocol controlled by one company that could decide to offer the service for free.

  5. Wayne Porter says:

    @Ricardo Affiliate marketing and 3rd party application development (for most platforms) are valid business models.

    My analogy was in reference to control. App developers are tied to the platform for which they develop. Affiliates are tied to the network/relationships that they use.

    @Angel Yes- some affiliate publishers have garnered enough mass that relationship(s) are more equitable…I would argue these publishers are no longer, philosophically speaking, affiliates in the classical sense.

    @David said "If I were an app developer, I’d find something that doesn’t rely on a platform or protocol controlled by one company that could decide to offer the service for free."

    IMHO the best strategy, tried and tested by affiliates no less, would be aggregation. I look for Bing and Google to do just that with social media content.