Certification (Accreditation) in Affiliate Marketing Education

I was honored to be included on the latest Performance Marketing Association Industry Report podcast, where Lisa Picarille had some great questions for me and Deepa Sureka, Sr Vice President at LinkShare Corporation.

We tackled the subject of education in performance marketing (in case you don’t know, but Deepa and myself serve on PMA’s Industry Advancement Council which serves the mission of raising “the level of knowledge, awareness and opportunities available through performance based advertising/marketing.”) You may listen to the full podcast here, but in my today’s blog post I’d like to address a very specific question that Lisa had for us:

We’re starting to see that — with LinkShare having their accreditation program — there are no real standards (for tools and things that we use). Is certification, other than at the network level, even a viable option for people? Could an affiliate be certified as an affiliate? How would you do that?

This is a really great question. The answer, in my opinion, is both “yes” and “no”… Yes, in the systematic sense — when they have to study and then someone tests them, that is always good (it ensured that the knowledge really sticks). No — in the sense that in an industry where there really are no universally-accepted “standards”, it is really hard to benchmark. Add to that the dynamic nature of the industry, and then the answer becomes “yes, but only if you’re constantly renewing the curriculum — to reflect the most recent changes and challenges.” …But then, on a related note: don’t we operate on the same terminology and general principles? So, it shouldn’t be that hard to lay down the basic educational foundation, after all. My Affiliate Program Management: An Hour a Day is just one example.

To throw in a relevant anecdote: my books are being used by affiliate managers worldwide (for educational purposes), even competing OPM agencies use them to educate their newest employees, and several MBA courses around the country use them… But more than once I myself have been asked: “Are you certified?” How do you reply to that? “No, but I’m certifiable” or “No, but I teach people this stuff”? Yes, it would be good to have some certification that’s accepted industry-wide (maybe coming from PMA or from Affiliate Management Days), but accreditation itself shouldn’t be viewed as a mandatory component of education itself (so much of which is dynamic, daily self-education, anyway).

8 thoughts on “Certification (Accreditation) in Affiliate Marketing Education”

  1. Geno, I was promoted to an Affiliate Department within our company and had to learn Affiliate Marketing from scratch. Your book was my first guide and I learned a lot by it. The surprise came when our Senior Affiliate Manager told me most of the affiliates promoting our offers don’t even have websites, the majority of them are media-buyers.
    Then I started reading and learning more about that. I keep learning something new every day, but still when people ask me how confident I feel doing what I do, my answer “I learned a lot, but still I feel like there’s tons and tons of aspects of AM I am yet to discover”.
    With that said, yes, I do feel like it would be great to get some sort of “standardized” education and certification similar to Adwords Certification and such. Not that it would make people overnight experts in AM, but at least there would be less “surprises” 🙂

    1. Great points, Jenny, and thank you for chiming in with them.

      Very valid points.

      If we (as an industry) don’t come up with some sort of “standardize education” course soon, maybe I need to to put together some sort of book on Advanced Affiliate Management. 😉

      Once again, thank you for your comment; and hope to see you at one of our Affiliate Management Days conferences.

  2. The lack of certification is a huge whole within the performance industry at present. I hope that the PMA comes to a quick and decisive decision on this matter – without waiting years trying to get things perfect.

    And yes, you should create an Advanced Affiliate Management book Geno – I’ll stand in line to buy the first copy! 🙂

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  4. I also learned a lot from your books. It got me through a lot of problems while I was just starting. But I still feel that there still something left to know, to discover. That’s why I’m always waiting for your latest blogs.

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