I've been pondering lately how it is that Affiliate Marketing, which helped to generate more than £2 billion in UK e-commerce revenues last year, has scarcely ever got a mention in the national mainstream press.

Why is this? It's not as if the papers have been shying away from e-commerce stories.

In fact, internet shopping news has been all over the place especially before Christmas when stories abounded about how everyone man and his cyber dog were doing shopping from home rather than braving the High Street.

The reason why you don't see affiliate marketing mentioned in your daily newspaper is because it's deemed a bit too complicated to explain to the uninitiated.

Even last week, when the AOL bid for TradeDoubler was announced, there was no sign of the phrase 'affiliate marketing' in the papers I read even though the "European provider of online marketing and sales solutions" is, in my book, pretty closely associated with the unmentionable phrase.

The fact is that business journalists might grasp the essence of affiliate marketing but it's another thing for them to explain to their editors that this type of performance-based advertising - which has spawned an army of entrepreneurs making millions of pounds while dressed in their pyjamas - might be of interest to their readers. 

So how do affiliates themselves describe their activities? For the UK Affiliate Census, Jess Luthi of Affiliate Program Advice (the driving force behind this survey) came up with the excellent idea of asking respondents "how they described affiliate marketing to family and friends".

Without further ado, here are 10 of the "best" answers. For those affiliates laying claim to these explanations, you have won yourselves a free pint of beer when we next see you.

1) “I lie and pretend to be a dentist.”

2)  “Akin to a pippa dee (or Anne Summer party without the underwear and scary bits of buzzing plastic) where you swap your house for your website.”

3) “A pain in the sodding ass.”

4)  “Like wearing a sandwich board offering directions and charging the destination for pointing people there.”

5) “Admitting you’ve put any kind of advertising/marketing on to sites such as mine is a bit like admitting to Auntie Gladys over tea that you’re an experienced bondage porn star."

6) “I say I’m the Avon Lady. I take a commission for selling stuff.”

7) “Most non-connected people don’t understand affiliate marketing, that’s good! I just tell them I’m an internet millionaire.”

8) “I don’t try – I have tried but nobody seems to understand it. Even my bank manager doesn’t understand it.”

9) “A goldmine.”

10) “Pimping other companies' products for cash.”

Have you got a better description ... ? Let the world know ...

You can download a copy of the Affiliate Census here (free to Registered Users).

See also these related blog posts ....

Google - friend or foe to affiliates?

Affiliate Census - lessons for merchants

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 25 January, 2007 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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Comments (2)

Stephen Pratley

Stephen Pratley, Digtal Marketing Consultant at Visibly Better Marketing Limited

I usually descriibe it to marketing managers as a 'commission only salesforce.
My blog post describes why:

over 11 years ago

Jessica Luthi

Jessica Luthi, CEO at Affiliate Program Advice

“Pimping other companies' products for cash.”
I love it :)

Having just come back from the US Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas, I can tell you that in the opening speech given by Michael Sanchez, CEO and founder of ClubMom, he did suggest that we should drop the term of Affiliate Marketing and call it performance based marketing. Affiliate Marketing has and is still seen as the poor relation to traditional online advertising, it has had some bad press in the past. Im inclined to agree with Mr Sanchez and say let’s dump the term and start again. It doesn’t help the cause when the journalists from the only publication that ever seems to mention Affiliate Marketing in the UK, has very little understanding about this industry it's reporting on, which is evident by the kind of people they don’t talk to.

Js :)

over 11 years ago

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