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  1. #1
    Member eSilverBullet's Avatar
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    October 29th, 2009
    Why I Don't Like the Term "Affiliate"
    I've been reading with great interest this thread that started out as a discussion of what web publishers do, but ended up talking more about taxes, which landed it in the North Carolina Tax forum section. Rather than comment on it there, I'd rather bring it up, but see if we can get more input in a non-tax environment. (And also get input from more than just the three members on that thread.)

    I thought it was interesting that Trust doesn't mention the term "affiliate" when he's dealing with legislators or others outside this industry. But unlike Mark Welch, he prefers using that term inside our industry because he says everyone understands it.

    I agree with Mark. Maybe that's because Mark and I have some similarities in our backgrounds. I've been a reporter, have a journalism degree, and have also been the publisher of a daily newspaper.

    Although I am now in this industry, and know what an affiliate is, I still can't reconcile its use, at least not as broadly as we use it. Referring to an affiliate as a publisher makes much more sense to me.

    A decade ago when my company first put links on our site to Amazon, it made sense to refer to ourselves as an Amazon affiliate. That defined the tiny relationship we had with one other company, Amazon, which was the only company we were affiliated with. But to every other business in the world, we were not an affiliate, so it would have been wrong to address ourselves as such.

    The reason I like the term "publisher" so much is because it is so intuitive. When we create a website, we are publishing it to the world, regardless what the content is. We can choose to limit it to our own content, or we can choose to enter into advertising agreements with merchants to place their ads on our site. Either way, we are still publishers.

    As more and more advertising dollars make their way to the Internet, this community will continue to swell. So the easier we can make it for traditional advertisers and publishers to have a positive experience operating in this environment, the better. It seems to me that any shifts in terminology, such as referring to affiliates as publishers, would help facilitate that.

    I realize this thread will probably open up a can of worms for the members that have been in this industry since day one. So that's why I invite discussion from all, old and new, OPMs, publishers and advertisers, to see whether Mark and I are really off base. Based on how many affiliate networks have people sign up as either a merchant or publisher, and how many people are referring to affiliate marketing as performance marketing, I'm guessing we're not completely in left field. But I'm sure interested in finding out.



  2. #2
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    November 19th, 2006
    The Windy City
    I agree that outside the industry, the term affiliate marketer has little meaning, but since affiliate marketer is well excepted and understood WITHIN the industry, it probably doesn't make a lot of sense to change it. What's really needed is a better definition for those outside of the industry, "I sell things I don't own to people I don't know" is descriptive, just not very enlightening.

    Publisher is probably less accurate and ignores a sizable part of the industry. Everyone involved in "affiliate marketing" today isn't necessarily a publisher of a web site. There are those that engage solely or predominantly in e-mail campaigns as well as those that focus more on Adsense type monetization or DTM PPC.

    Besides, there have been enough changes of late.

    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  3. #3
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    June 10th, 2009
    Minneapolis, MN
    Every affiliate isn't a publisher and every publisher isn't an affiliate.

  4. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Mansfield, TX
    It gets even more confusing when you use the "publisher" and "advertiser" terminology like CJ.

    As an affiliate, I advertise on AdWords. But I'm a publisher rather than an advertiser.

    ZooBooks is a magazine publisher that runs an affiliate program on CJ. But they're an advertiser rather than a publisher.

    I think it's much less confusing to have a term that's unique to the industry. "Affiliate Marketing" is it.

  5. #5
    http and a telephoto
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    We can discuss that we would like the terminology to change, but it won't. Most people even within the industry still don't know what an OPM is, even when you explain it. Even OPM firms don't all call themselves OPMs.

    As the industry grows, the terminology will get more refined, but we are pretty much stuck with some of the basic definitions because they are already too wide spread and it would be massively confusing if someone just tries to redefine things.
    Deborah Carney

  6. #6
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    I've always used the term 'Traffic Broker', it's just the quickest way to get the idea across that, in essence, I sell internet traffic to merchants.
    Following everyone else is a GREAT way to become average.

  7. #7
    CPA Network Rep
    Join Date
    October 21st, 2009
    Coming from an egaming background = it is common to refer to affiliates as "partners".

    Not sure how that would sit here though

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager harrymond's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    India / Thailand
    One of the first thing i learnt from Chris... To use the term Partners!!

    Mondera Affiliate Manager
    Winner of the LinkShare 2004 Golden Link Awards "Affiliate's Choice Award"
    Winner of the 2002 "Best Affiliate Program Award"

  9. #9
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Ithaca & Park City
    We (AvantLink) prefer to use "Affiliate" over "publisher". And I always capitalize Affiliate

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Los Angeles, California
    "Publisher" is a very general term, encompassing not only affiliates but news sites like CNN and magazines like Slate and so much of everything else. For that reason, I can see it being useful in some contexts, esp. when talking with lay people about a content site.

    But when talking with folks in the biz, the broad nature of "publisher" may be ambiguous, so using "affiliate" seems a better choice.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site

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