In Defense of Cockroaches

Sometimes speakers say silly things. There should be an

I would like to nominate the keynote speech delivered at CJU
by Greg Smith, CEO of Neo@Ogilvy for such an award. Using a broad brush Greg compared affiliate marketers to cockroaches. I was glad to see that in CJ’s conference recap they dubbed Greg’s presentation as “riveting”. The whole thing would have only been more ridiculous if he had made the comment while attempting a Tony Montoya accent.

It’s easy to write off such a comment as a misguided search
for a witty comparison. After all he wasn’t trying to be malicious and said it
in a joking, jovial manner. Perhaps what CJ found so riveting was how quickly Greg
recovered before the audience could even register that they had all just paid
to be insulted. He explained that by “cockroaches” what he really meant was the
“ability to survive” any change.

Greg’s actual comment is not really what bugs me one week
later since it is exactly the kind of arrogant comment I expect from a
representative of a mainstream ad agency. His perception that the affiliate
channel is nothing more than a necessary bottom feeder in the online marketing
food chain is a prejudice naturally ingrained in his genes and cultivated in
his training.

What really gets under my skin is that his comment is
indicative of how the affiliate industry is perceived by those outside of the
industry. There are lots of horror stories about the affiliate channel and those
are usually the stories you hear. Whether it’s the recent legal problems of CJ;
Zango’s battles with the FTC and Kaspersky; or simply news of yet another
merchant closing their program because they feel it is cannibalizing their
other online efforts, such stories are prevalent. This is unfortunate because I
feel there are plenty of success stories we could share, best practices we
could uphold and innovation we could highlight.

It’s a shame that as an industry we do not do more to
advocate on our own behalf.

About Angel Djambazov

Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. In his journalistic career he worked as an editor on several newspapers and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine. Later his career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.

For four years Angel served as OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit.

Currently Angel serves as OPM for KEEN Footwear and His former clients include: Dell, Real Networks, Jones Soda, Intelius, Graphicly, Chrome Bags,, Vitamin Angels, The Safecig, and Bag Borrow or Steal.

Angel is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher for and

Angel lives north of Seattle, spending his free time reading up on obscure scientific references made by his wife MGX, while keeping up with a horde of cats and a library of books.

You can find Angel on Twitter @djambazov.

2 Responses to In Defense of Cockroaches

  1. Mike Allen says:

    Interesting post, Angel. I keep thinking about this comment too and it dominates my perception of the keynote. It's hard to remember anything else he said given this context.

    There was a similar high-profile quote regarding affiliates in the UK market a few months ago. I think you are right about the bottom-feeder mentality many traditional ad agencies have of affiliates.

    Of course there are some bottom-feeding affiliates. Likewise there are also bottom-feeding ad agencies in "traditional markets." You're right about more being needed to get our success stories to see the light of day.

    Most of us are too busy working and growing to put on such a show. Maybe some creative people will see the opportunity to fill this void and scale a solution that serves our entire industry.

  2. Angel,

    Your comments are insightful and very important, I have encountered first hand on occasions the disdain for the affiliate channel and lack of reverence for the affiliates relationship with a brand. It is difficult as an intermediary between the parties to keep a firm objective and positive relationship growth approach to the channel when higher ups show a lack of respect completely for affiliates in general, I can not work with companies like this nor will I.

    The industry as a whole needs more positive reinforcing messages concerning the brand value, extension value, and traffic value that affiliates impart to a companies overall online portfolio. Affiliates can encourage mass reach and brand growth when the program is managed properly. As well affiliates offer an extension into niche markets that merchants otherwise not venture into. The positive aspects of having an affiliate program far out way the one or two stories that are propagated concerning the issues within the channel.

    I am truly looking forward to your additional posts on Revenews!