Not too long ago an interesting piece appeared in MediaPost’s weekly Performance Insider. It was authored by Peter Klein and entitled Online Darwinism And The Evolution of Performance Marketing. Klein suggested that “as the performance marketing industry matures, and as brands seek more sophisticated and legitimate agencies and affiliates to manage their online marketing campaigns” we may be entering “a period of ‘Online Darwinism’.” To explain his concept further, he wrote:
This theory reasons that reputable and ethical affiliate marketers will survive while unscrupulous ones will go the way of the dodo. There will be more business for great companies that evolve wisely based on clear, measurable objectives that meet clients’ digital-media challenges. [more here]
I find both the term, and the approach, quite sexy. And even though I disagree with the author on the claim that such channels as email, or paid search, or incentive website have gotten replaced social media (I personally see how the former three are actually yielding significantly more fruit for affiliates than the latter), I think he has a good point behind his “theory”.
Is his claim anything revolutionary? No, it isn’t. The very nature of digital marketing is evolutionary; and with performance affiliate marketing being a part of it, it is inevitably affected. But still… it’s a good way to look at things.
He finished his article with these words: “good affiliates will thrive while the bad ones will die off.” I’ve heard something very similar in a conversion I had with an affiliate network rep at Affiliate Management Days West 2012 in San Francisco. She said: “We are seeing how events like this are separating the men from the boys.” I was flattered, but also found myself nodding in a different kind of agreement — yes, the more educated and the more equipped we become (both as affiliate managers, and as affiliates), the more mature we get. I, too, hope that the changes surrounding (and influencing) affiliate marketing — from legislative to technological ones — will serve the purpose of the overall betterment of the industry. Of course, much will also depend on how the industry responds to the new challenges and opportunities.
What do you make of it all?