I noticed from one of brianlittleton‘s tweets that ShareASale is putting together an “open source” PPC policy creation template…

Open Source the PPC Policy Creation – ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum: “One of the things that we will be doing is providing a list of things that a Merchant should and must consider when generating a ‘good’ PPC policy. For example, some Merchants consider things like their ‘domain name’, or ‘TM’, but don’t consider that same word in conjunction with another term such as ‘special’ or ‘vs. a competitor’ …

So – I am here offering and asking for a collaborative effort to generate a template/wishlist/helpsheet for Merchants who want to generate a policy.”

Lots of great stuff going on in that thread at ABW and it’s awesome to see a network reaching out to both affiliates and merchants in such a manner. Go over and participate if you have thoughts on the issue (and who doesn’t?!).

As always, nice work, Brian.

PMA and Datafeeds

June 20, 2008 by

Interesting possibility for the thread that Rebecca just posted on the Performance Marketing Alliance’s blog regarding Haiko’s datafeed standard from 2005:

Data Feed standard update at Performance Marketing Alliance: “Haiko de Poel just emailed me with a link to a data feed standard he developed in 2005 and posted on A Best Web. It is really concise and certainly looks like it covers details important to affiliates.”

This is the sort of involvement that a lot of people from ABW in particular have been asking for in terms of what sorts of issues the PMA might address within the realm of affiliate marketing. Hopefully, issues like ethics, merchant communications, etc will also be addressed there in the coming days and weeks as the PMA moves into its formation stages.

If you haven’t read the Industry Association Meeting thread on ABW definitely head over there for the conversation.

Linda Buquet also has a neat idea on Twitter today:

@billykay An aff group w/in PMA would have so much more clout, could decide on issues that the larger group needs to tackle etc.

It seems to me like the PMA conversations across the wide spectrum of affiliate forums like ABW, blogs like ReveNews, etc have moved to the next level. That is a good sign for the possibility of the alliance both having a life and being beneficial to all ranges of affiliates.

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This most recent episode of GeekCast is the best we’ve done.

We spend a great deal of time talking about the ABW and Performance Marketing Alliance controversy and our own frustrations with how things are playing out.

GeekCast 23: Can’t We All Just Get Along? : GeekCast.fm: “The show kicked off with discussion around the ABestWeb forum thread on the Performance Marketing Alliance initiative and whether or not affiliate marketing as an industry is being helped or hindered by the organization and whether or not some of the comments there were helpful to the industry as well. This theme comes around at the end of the show. So, make sure to listen to the whole thing for the proper context.”

Be sure to listen to this one if you’re interested in the industry organization movement.

There’s lots of other good stuff in the 80 minute podcast as well (you can find the whole description on the GeekCast page as well as link to the streaming player).

And here’s the mp3 for your downloading pleasure

There has been much hand wringing in the world of affiliate marketing over the so-called New York state “affiliate tax.” However, as Trust points out on ABW, it doesn’t seem that 99% of merchants running affiliate programs care much…

How Are Merchants Finding Out About This? – ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum: “Looking at this list and I only see about 40 merchants (so far) which is maybe at most 1% – 2% of merchants with affiliate programs who have dropped NY affiliates. So was wondering if we have a whole bunch more coming and if all the merchants know about this or what. Or if it’s going to be an overall small percentage that drop affiliates.”

Is that a symptom of poor communication by New York state legal authorities, legal counsels, affiliates…or is this really not that big of deal?

There have been a plethora (literally) of blog posts in the affiliate-blog-osphere about the issue ranging from Shawn Collins and Linda Buquet‘s respective reporting to ReveNews coverage to Peter Bordes at Relevantly Speaking chiming in to our discussions on GeekCast to even networks like ShareASale offering strong and well thought-out advice for merchants.

However, merchants really don’t seem to be paying too much attention to all of this.

Once again, I defer to Trust on ABW:

I guess I was expecting a whole slew of new drop notices today, haven’t seen anybody post anything new. In the end if it winds up only being about 1% – 2% then that’s really not much at all. I guess we’ll have to wait to see how this turns out but at this point not as bad as I thought it would be. Time will tell.

Is this just the latest Froogle?

I’m not so sure. I do think there is a considerable need for affiliate marketers to educate and inform merchants about the viability and importance of the performance channel in terms of their bottom line, but “affiliate marketing” as we know it is SO wide ranging and dispersed at this point that it would take Microsoft creating their own loyalty program to get us to organize… oh, wait.

In other words, our conception of “affiliate marketing” (in my opinion) is rapidly evolving away from just the network/affiliate model that has served us well (and badly) for the last decade. “We” are moving into video, lead gen, offline, mobile, widgets, social media, search and all sorts of places that we didn’t envision a decade ago. I would venture to say that at least 75% of the people doing affiliate marketing don’t even know they are doing affiliate marketing.

I’m not arguing for a name change or anything of that nature. However, I do want us to realize that while the NY affiliate tax has certainly caused its share of fear and loathing, we need to realize that this industry has fractured and continues to move away from anything resembling an industry. Coming up with an organized group to represent its needs and views may be as difficult as getting merchants to address the NY state issue.

So here’s my take: Merchants are letting legal figure this out (if they even need to). We should be proactive but realize that interstate commerce is a very complicated subject and requires highly skilled lawyers (and such) to grok. I doubt if NY state’s tax will survive the appeal process based on my understanding of what’s happening, but I’m no lawyer.

In the meantime, it looks to be business as usual.

Thanks to @Trust on Twitter for the link to ABW forum discussing the NY State affiliate tax issue and the possibility that some merchants such as Drs Foster and Smith are removing affiliates based in New York state due to a new state law there attempting to collect taxes (and back taxes) on internet commerce:

The NEW NY Internet TAX Law – ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum: “It begins

Dear xx:

Due to the new online tax law in New York State we have decided to remove all New York state affiliates until this issue is clarified. We regret having to do this and hope that after further clarification or the law being struck down, that we will revisit this issue and hopefully be able to resume the productive business relationships we have enjoyed with you.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter and look forward to working with you again in the future.

Regards,
The Drs. Foster and Smith Affiliate Team”

Head over to ABW for the full discussion (currently around 3 pages). This is certainly an issue that affiliate marketers need to be familiar with since many cash-strapped states may turn to more regulated taxing of internet commerce to fill their coffers.

NY state is truly a canary in the mine here.