In a recent interview to CNBC Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, has made a very good point. When asked about the competition (whether too much being made of Microsoft competing with Google on the search front, or with Apple on other fronts), he said that it’s important to understand what creates the real value (of a business, project, or product) for the consumer. Ballmer stated: “the truth is, value gets created by innovation widely adopted“. This brought my thoughts back to Jason Calacanis’ Affiliate Summit West 2008 keynote speech. While being infamously attacking in his speech (which did create the resonance that he was undoubtedly hoping to create), he also brought up the subject of value. He addressed the question of so-called “thin affiliates”, or affiliate websites that add no real value, but “pollute” the Internet. While I strongly disagree with the verbiage, there was a point behind Calacanis’ words.
On an average day I have to review close to a hundred of different of affiliate websites. Some of them look like this:
Is having a banner/link on this website really beneficial for the merchants that are being represented here (question of value to the merchant)? And is visiting this website really helping the end user in some new and a constructive way, substantially contributing to the pre-sale process (question of value to the online consumer)? The answers to both questions are evident.
It’s not affiliate websites like these that make super affiliates, and it’s not websites like these that are being bookmarked and revisited again. Observing dozens of super affiliates getting to the heights of their success, I have not seen one that didn’t do something that (i) aimed at creating an innovation, and (ii) strove for a wide adoption. There is something both merchants, and affiliates can learn from Ballmer’s words. There are still many opportunities out there. We just need to look at things through the consumers’ eyes, see the needs, turn them into opportunities, and do everything we can to come up with such solutions that would be widely and continuously adopted.