Yesterday at the IAB’s affiliate marketing council, chair Kevin Edwards presented an unbelievable quote taken from The Economist, a weekly newspaper with a focus on politics, policy and an authority on global business news. Let’s have a look at it…

The Economist claim affiliates are criminal freelancers

This is simply a poorly researched and mal-educated quote from a respected print magazine which, unfortunately, is read by senior management within many organisations.

It continues to raise the question of why affiliate marketing suffers from such a bad reputation?

This £5 billion industry, which is very much legal, has helped grow global brands like Apple, Dell and Sky. Their involvement in affiliate marketing boasts highly successful results to this day.

Poorly researched articles from The Economist will continue to stop new entrants to the space and could reduce further investment from big or small brands.

I’m not saying that there aren’t a few bad apples within the industry. Bodies such as the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council and respected networks and agencies are working damned hard to self-regulate and police that element, but the Economist article is false, unbalanced and borderline slanderous.

The Economist is essentially claiming that the likes of Nectar, Airmiles, Telegraph, IPC Media, Quidco and are “groups of criminal freelancers”. It is somewhat ironic that The Economist runs an affiliate programme via the Google Affiliate Network.

So to all those who work within affiliate marketing and beyond, I believe we need to ensure we shout louder and harder about the positive impacts of this channel which – if managed correctly – can be a hugely profitable customer acquisition channel. In my view affiliate marketing doesn’t get the exposure or credit that it deserves.

The IAB Affiliate Marketing Council is rightly drafting a response to The Economist and I trust an apology will be subsequently printed.

Meanwhile, in my role as an affiliate marketing lecturer for Econsultancy, I would like to personally invite The Economist to our next session, to increase their level of knowledge about affiliates.