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).