Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    June 29th, 2009
    Posts
    85
    Q&A About What Web Publishers Do
    Here is a Q&A about what my business does in relation to web publishing:

    What is the nature of your business?
    It's an online publication.

    What is the purpose of the publication?
    To provide unique content for visitors interested in publication's topic that they might not be able to find elsewhere.

    How do your readers find your publication?
    Through search engines, blogging, and online social networking. Websites that link to my site also provide traffic.

    How do you generate revenue to operate your publication?
    Through paid advertising similar to how a magazine generates revenue.

    How are these ads presented in your publication?
    Graphic images (banner ads) and text links are placed in areas of the publication specifically designated for advertising.

    How are you compensated for these ads?
    Like a magazine or newspaper, I collect a fee for publishing ads.

    What is your relationship to the businesses who advertise in your publication?
    I post banner ads or links and the advertiser or its agent pays me.

    How is the physical location of your publication advantagous to its success?
    It has no bearing on it. The publication could be located anywhere and it would not affect the content or any advertising placed on it.

    What type of marketing efforts does your publication pursue to encourage your advertiser's sales to specifically to residents of your state?
    None.

    How dependent on sales specifically to residents of your state is your publication?
    It isn't.

    What sort of health benefits, retirement plans, or other employment benefits do you receive from the advertiser?
    None. I am not employed by any of these advertisers.

    Are you a sales person?
    No. I am the creative director of an online publication.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    Saw your other post:

    "When writing to my legislators, I have moved away from terms like "affiliate" and "associate" and try to stick with Web Publisher. This makes it easier to compare my business to that of a print publication."

    "Are you a sales person?
    No. I am the creative director of an online publication."

    I think sales person is closer to what we do than what you just said. Affiliate marketing, marketers, we market stuff to site visitors, we try to sell them on the product/merchant/deal/whatever.

    "How do you generate revenue to operate your publication?
    Through paid advertising similar to how a magazine generates revenue."

    They usually get paid up front for most of their advertising, with affiliates it's usually per sale or per lead. So not very similar at all. Goes to this as well:

    "How are you compensated for these ads?
    Like a magazine or newspaper, I collect a fee for publishing ads."

    If you're an affiliate, not really. You usually get paid for some kind of actual performance**, a sale or lead not merely publishing an ad like a publication/magazine usually does.

    **Why some people want to call it performance marketing instead of affiliate marketing.

  3. #3
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    Trust, your view and my view of what "affiliates" do is pretty different. Maybe it's because we run our businesses differently, or maybe it's just conceptual.

    Let me address the simpler issues first:

    Why Call it Performance-Based Advertising, Instead of Affiliate Marketing? First, because the word "affiliate" is inaccurate and has very different connotations for many people. Second, because it doesn't just include "pay-per-sale" advertising, but also "pay-per-lead," "pay-per-click," and a few less common forms of performance-based advertising. Third, because while some "affiliates" engage in practices that put them into the role of "marketer," most "affiliates" don't actively promote sales, but merely accept advertising placements.

    Performance-Based Advertising is not unique to online. Many "traditional media" outlets accept performance-based advertising, through which they are compensated based on sales?

    Just like most major web publications, these other media outlets' sales staff often tell advertisers that they only accept fixed-rate advertising (sometimes paid in advance, usually paid afterward). But just like most major web publications, many traditional media do actually accept performance-based advertising, where they are paid based on sales or leads (such as calls to a dedicated toll-free phone number).

    What's unusual and different about the online world? First, there are many organized systems for placing and accepting performance-based advertising (ad networks, affiliate networks, and direct programs). Second, secrets are harder to keep on the internet, and the practice is more widely accepted, so it's open and visible.

    But performance-based advertising in traditional media (magazines, newspapers) has existed for at least a century.

    Roles (Publisher/Marketer): You say that you consider yourself a marketer or salesperson; I consider myself a publisher.

    I know that my situation gets confusing because I wear two hats: I am a web publisher (creating and managing web sites), and I am also an internet marketing consultant. Each of those roles "informs" the other (what I learn as a publisher often helps me advise clients; what I learn as a consultant often helps me with my publishing activity, including advertising sales).

    In my "publisher" role, I also wear multiple hats: I write the editorial content, I handle advertising sales, I administer the web server, I promote my web publication, and I clean the toilet, too.

    In this, I am functionally no different than the editors of hundreds of small weekly community newspapers in the United States. (I've never done that particular job, but when I was 16 years old, I edited a monthly newsletter for a local CB radio club, and I wrote all the articles, took all the pictures, sold all the advertising, arranged for the printing, and handled the mailing.)

    Of course, some "affiliates" engage in other activities, which go beyond the regular concept of "publishing." I think "direct-to-merchant PPC" is definitely a step away from "publishing"; in that situation, the "affiliate" is really acting in the role of an advertising agency (but still not a salesperson). Many advertising agencies also accept performance-based compensation; but a merchant isn't viewed as having a "physical presence" in a state just because they hire an advertising agency, search marketing agency, or internet marketing consultant whom they pay based on performance.

    I've done "direct-to-merchant PPC," and when I did so I considered it to be part of my role as an internet marketing consultant, not part of my "publishing" activities. Folks who think their primary goal is to "promote the sale of products" can properly be considered marketers, but even then they are not "sales people" because they don't "close sales" or take orders.

    But in the end, there are no clear, fixed lines separating these different roles; I knew that even when I was in journalism school.

    I use the term "web publisher" because it more accurately and clearly describes the work I do than the term "affiliate" (which really has no fixed meaning outside this industry). And after all, I'm proud of my years of experience as a journalist, editor, and publisher -- and I was proud to be awarded my B.A. degree in journalism by the University of Massachusetts in 1983.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    June 29th, 2009
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by Trust

    "How are you compensated for these ads?
    Like a magazine or newspaper, I collect a fee for publishing ads."

    If you're an affiliate, not really. You usually get paid for some kind of actual performance**, a sale or lead not merely publishing an ad like a publication/magazine usually does.

    **Why some people want to call it performance marketing instead of affiliate marketing.
    I try to downplay the "performance" part because there will be those proponents who use this to back up the "commissioned agent" assertion.

    Stating that we receive a fee is a true statement. I don't think it's going to help if we emphasize the "performance" part. Just my opinion.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    June 29th, 2009
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by Trust

    "Are you a sales person?
    No. I am the creative director of an online publication."

    I think sales person is closer to what we do than what you just said. Affiliate marketing, marketers, we market stuff to site visitors, we try to sell them on the product/merchant/deal/whatever.
    A big chunk of my sponsored links is Adsense and I never know what's gonna come up. I just go about my business posting the content I want on my site and Adsense does whatever. So I'm not really pushing it. I guess if I say I like a record and post a link to it that could be perceived as marketing. But in some cases I might have an Amazon link and a direct link to the artist's web site, where there's no chance of a referral fee.

    Again, this is just my situation. I just think it's important for this side of it to be taken into consideration when lawmakers make these decisions.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    "Why Call it Performance-Based Advertising, Instead of Affiliate Marketing? First, because the word "affiliate" is inaccurate and has very different connotations for many people. Second, because it doesn't just include "pay-per-sale" advertising, but also "pay-per-lead," "pay-per-click," and a few less common forms of performance-based advertising. Third, because while some "affiliates" engage in practices that put them into the role of "marketer," most "affiliates" don't actively promote sales, but merely accept advertising placements."

    For the bolded
    First one, this is called affiliate marketing, so affiliate is pretty accurate. This is an affiliate marketing forum.

    Second one, have to disagree with. Marketing, to market something is pretty active. I think most do a lot more than just accept ad placements.

    "Roles (Publisher/Marketer): You say that you consider yourself a marketer or salesperson; I consider myself a publisher."

    But I think the majority would consider themselves to be marketers, it is what we do.

    I just think the first post makes things more confusing and don't know many affiliates if you ask them, would say their site is an online publication. So to say you're not an affiliate, not a marketer, not a sales person, have to agree to disagree on that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by BizDocs
    I try to downplay the "performance" part because there will be those proponents who use this to back up the "commissioned agent" assertion.

    Stating that we receive a fee is a true statement. I don't think it's going to help if we emphasize the "performance" part. Just my opinion.
    I understand what you're trying to do but if you try to do it with someone who's somewhat smart they might see it too and that might not be a good thing. It is performance based and we do get commissions.

    Quote Originally Posted by BizDocs
    A big chunk of my sponsored links is Adsense and I never know what's gonna come up. I just go about my business posting the content I want on my site and Adsense does whatever. So I'm not really pushing it. I guess if I say I like a record and post a link to it that could be perceived as marketing. But in some cases I might have an Amazon link and a direct link to the artist's web site, where there's no chance of a referral fee.

    Again, this is just my situation. I just think it's important for this side of it to be taken into consideration when lawmakers make these decisions.
    That I can see where we might do things a little differently. If you have more of a content type site with more Adsense or Adsense type stuff, I guess that could be more online publication.

  7. #7
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    Trust, are you suggesting that you believe that under current U.S. Supreme Court rulings, these "Advertising-Nexus" statutes are constitutional and valid?

    Let me clarify: if you're right, and the individuals and companies that participate in "affiliate programs" (as that term is understood in our industry) are "sales people," then is there anything wrong with the "Advertising-Nexus" statutes, apart from the fact that they are causing merchants to "terminate their relationships with these sales people" and thus the statutes aren't generating revenue anywhere except New York?

    I think case law is pretty clear that if a merchant uses sales people in a state to solicit customers for the merchant, then the state has the right to demand that the merchant collect sales tax for all orders shipped to the state.

    I am not a sales person. I am not anyone's "affiliate," as that term is generally understood outside of this industry. I am a web publisher. (Obviously, within this industry, and on this forum, we understand what is meant when someone refers to me as an "affiliate.")

    I think these laws are all about semantics and playing with words to distort their meaning. An "affiliate," as that term is generally understood by consumers (outside this industry) is a close business relationship in which the affiliated entities coordinate their efforts very specifically to generate mutual sales and profits. A "sales person" is generally understood to be someone who solicits customers, and closes sales (takes orders) on behalf of a company.

    (I'm a little bit troubled by your response to BizDocs, noting that sites with content and AdSense might be "publishers" while your sites are not. I don't know what kind of sites you operate, but I'd find it very, very difficult to accept that a state's tax agency could make decisions about whether I am a "publication" based on their judgment of whether I have adequate original content, or whether pay-per-sale ads are combined with pay-per-click ads. Would a web page that contains nothing other than a five-word heading and a PopShops product grid be a "publication"? What if the site's owner modified the product descriptions displayed in the PopShops grid? What if the site owner added one sentence of text? Five sentences? Six paragraphs? Would it matter if these sentences endorsed the product? Would it matter if the sentences sounded "promotional"? What if there was a "review" that contained no negative comments? What if there was a review that mentioned positive and negative aspects of the product? Would it matter if a merchant or product name were displayed as part of the page title or meta-tags? Does it matter if the PopShops product grid contains 3 or 13 or 30 or 60products?)

    In the end, the choice of terminology may entirely determine the court's ruling about the validity of these laws. If you think these laws are valid*, then the terminology doesn't matter to you.

    * "Valid" is not the same as "wise." You could oppose the enactment of these laws as "unwise," or "ineffective" or "counter-productive," and yet believe that if they are enacted, they would be valid. Or you might believe that the "New York solution" (the interpretation of New York's tax agency) is valid and constitutional, but that a broader interpretation of the "Advertising-Nexus" tax law would be unconstitutional; since the New York solution focuses on specific actions, terminology would be less important.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 8th, 2009 at 09:22 PM.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    June 29th, 2009
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    I think these laws are all about semantics and playing with words to distort their meaning.

    In the end, the choice of terminology may entirely determine the court's ruling about the validity of these laws. If you think these laws are valid*, then the terminology doesn't matter to you.
    You hit the nail right schmack-dabby on the head, Mark. The terminology thing and how it relates to these new laws is exactly what I'm getting at with defining what we do.

    That's what I feel it's important that WE define who we are and NOT the legislators, the Courts, or even the media. I'm not sure this is a realistic goal, however, considering all the complexities and differences in the "affiliate" business.

  9. #9
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    BizDocs, I think it is a mistake to try to "hide" or avoid the issue of "performance-based advertising." It makes sense to use careful wording ("commission" is absolutely the wrong word to use, because of the connotation most people have connecting the term with in-person sales people).

    But we can't hide the ball here. This is all about performance-based advertising; that's the functionality that the booksellers' lobbyists decided to pretend is no different from "commission sales people." Although the plain language of the statute does not limit its application to performance-based advertising, that does seem to be how it's being interpreted.

    One of the points that should be raised is the unfairness of imposing these rules only on online publications, and not on offline media (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio) who carry some advertising from out-of-state merchants using the identical performance-based compensation structure. The law is also being applied only against online merchants, not mail-order and phone-order merchants who use the same performance-based compensation structure for advertising. (Again, the law's plain language reaches much further, but it seems unlikely that the North Carolina Department of Revenue would try to interpret the law literally, when NY and RI have not.)

    Let's not forget: In spite of all these "terminology" and "semantics" and constitutional issues, the real issue, the most important argument to use with legislators, is the effectiveness of the law. By forcing hundreds of out-of-state merchants to terminate their advertising relationships with thousands of North Carolina web publishers, this law would sacrifice more North Carolina income tax revenue than the (nominal) new sales-tax revenue it would bring.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 8th, 2009 at 10:27 PM.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    June 29th, 2009
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    BizDocs, I think it is a mistake to try to "hide" or avoid the issue of "performance-based advertising." It makes sense to use careful wording ("commission" is absolutely the wrong word to use, because of the connotation most people have connecting the term with in-person sales people).

    But we can't hide the ball here. This is all about performance-based advertising; that's the functionality that the booksellers' lobbyists decided to pretend is no different from "commission sales people." Although the plain language of the statute does not limit its application to performance-based advertising, that does seem to be how it's being interpreted.

    One of the points that should be raised is the unfairness of imposing these rules only on online publications, and not on offline media (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio) who carry some advertising from out-of-state merchants using the identical performance-based compensation structure. The law is also being applied only against online merchants, not mail-order and phone-order merchants who use the same performance-based compensation structure for advertising. (Again, the law's plain language reaches much further, but it seems unlikely that the North Carolina Department of Revenue would try to interpret the law literally, when NY and RI have not.)

    Let's not forget: In spite of all these "terminology" and "semantics" and constitutional issues, the real issue, the most important argument to use with legislators, is the effectiveness of the law. By forcing hundreds of out-of-state merchants to terminate their advertising relationships with thousands of North Carolina web publishers, this law would sacrifice more North Carolina income tax revenue than the (nominal) new sales-tax revenue it would bring.
    You're right. Yet I'm not talking about "hiding" the performance thing - just trying to de-emphasize that point while the bullseye is on the "commission" verbiage.

    Regardless, I'm starting to think none of this matters because I'm getting the impression the legislators pushing this don't care what it is or what impact it has on real people in N.C. They've made up their minds and that's why they delete my emails without reading them.

    Not that I'm giving up...

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Nunya, Business
    Posts
    23,684
    "this law would sacrifice more North Carolina income tax revenue than the (nominal) new sales-tax revenue it would bring."

    That's something else I was wondering about, maybe for it's own thread, don't know. I would figure sales tax would bring in a lot more than income tax. But I have no idea, does anybody have any stats or projections on this?

  12. #12
    .
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    2,973
    > "this law would sacrifice more North Carolina income tax revenue than the (nominal) new sales-tax revenue it would bring."

    No, there are simply no meaningful estimates on this, and I wouldn't trust anybody's estimates unless they were backed up with very hard data (which none of the merchants are sharing).

    The booksellers' lobbyists are still telling state legislators that after the laws are enacted, Amazon will change its mind, reinstate affected publishers, and begin collecting the tax. This means that legislators are still expecting "tens of millions of dollars" in new sales-tax revenue.

    But the key here is that Amazon and many other companies will not collect the sales tax, which wipes out 95% or more of the projected sales-tax collections (each state estimated its "take" based on New York's claims about the revenue it collected from the law).

    On the other side, it's impossible to know how much revenue in-state web publishers will lose (some may replace part of the lost advertising revenue from other sources, while others may abandon their web publications entirely and pursue other work). Some merchants may elect to wait until their in-state sales approach the statutory threshholds before terminating their advertising with in-state publishers. And if NC and RI adopt the same interpretation of the law as NY, then some merchants may continue their relationships with most NC web publishers, but with the additional cost and burden of the "New York Solution" (certifications from each publisher).

  13. Newsletter Signup

+ Reply to Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •