Jason Calacanis has ignited a debate about the ethics of Affiliate Marketing. Joel Comms blog reports that at the 2008 Affiliate Summit in Vegas he's accused Affiliates of creating spam sites which have very little value. His view, along with the colourful way that he delivered his message, is provoking quite abit of response.
I have not yet seen the video of Jason's presentation so I wouldn't want to comment on what he did / didn't say but I have some sympathy for his point of view and would like to add something to the debate.
Affiliates are a diverse bunch, from the dyed in the wool fan of a product who promotes it out of love, to the bedroom enthusiast who's trying to make a fast buck, through very little effort. Therefore it's is unfair to tar everyone with the same brush.
In the most part, my experience of affiliates has been with the handful of sharp, professional outfits that drive 90% of your affiliate sales volume. These are smart individuals who provide cost efficient sales. All good then?
Well to a point. Or should I say - to a point in time. Successful affiliates occupy the the space 'ahead of your curve'. They generate incremental sales doing the things you haven't learned how to do yet. Once you learn how to do these techniques yourself the game changes and your affiliates move onto the 'next thing'. Only they've already been looking at it for a while because they're smart...remember.
I track key competitor terms in the blogosphere through Google Blog Search and Technorati and I can see the growth in spam blogs (Splogs) targetting those words, and to an extent they must be working. But I suspect they will become less effective when more corporates realise it and start blogging actively themselves. Thereby helping Google rank everybody more effectively.
Hat tip to Mitch