Friday, July 15, 2005

It's The List That Keeps on Givin'

Just because things have been quiet here the past couple days doesn't mean the controversy has quieted down.

Beth Kirsch over at ReveNews has issued An Open Letter to Jeff Molander, but from the looks of his recent comments on David Lewis' blog I think it's fallen on deaf ears. Well, maybe he'll listen to the Ghost of Obstinate Don's call for repentance.

Over at Threadwatch is a new article by Elisabeth Archambault (Buckworks) - Jeff Molander's Affiliate List, Part 2. List watchers will definitely want to read this one, especially if you've been following the discussion on Jim Kukral's blog.

Stay tuned ...


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Affiliate Manager List, Part 1.5

I see David Lewis has started building his own Affiliate Manager List over at ReveNews

... ooh, and lookee who he's profiled in the first installment ... is that a ... phone number for ... Him?

The "Build Your Own List" List

Hey Advertisers!

Why slap four Benjamins down on the same old list everyone else has when you can create a better, more targetted one yourself to keep in-house - and out of the grubby little hands of your competitors? It's Easy!

Wayne Porter over at ReveNews has published a wonderful tutorial to walk you through all the steps of how to build your very own top performers' list.


Monday, July 11, 2005

The Shot Heard 'Round the (Affiliate) World

This is the story of how a little thing like the title in an RSS feed became The Shot Heard 'Round the World - the affiliate marketing world. It's also a lesson in un-intended consequences.

It was a blazing hot June day in New Orleans. My roomate was still asleep as I sat freezing at the desk in our musty, overly-air-conditioned hotel room checking email, when a title in one of the RSS feeds I subscribe to caught my eye. It more than caught my eye, as it was uncharacteristically inflamatory and I bristled simply at the sight of it. It was compelling enough for me to read it immediately rather than wait for when I returned home and had likely lost sight of it.

"The Useful Idiots of Affiliate Marketing" - It was obvious the blog's author meant it to be an evocative, eye-catching headline, and it bore an equally provocative message that berated some of The List's more vocal critics. Giving the author benefit of the doubt, it might have started out as a back-handed way of generating buzz rather than to silence criticsm. Either way it probably seemed like a brilliant strategy at the time.

What doesn't appear to have been factored in was the blowback. If there was ever a solid moral ground for The List and it's supporters, it was lost then and there.

Now I had heard of the List's release and paid little attention to it, thinking it no big deal. But this was the first I had heard of a controversy - even while attending a conference of 2000 webmasters - and I decided to pay closer attention. Having been myself on a backchannel of this for a while, since before the list was published, I was privvy to information not available to the blog's author. I knew there had to be something more to it than a group of allegedly uninformed or disgruntled message board members or the jealousy of what this commenter on Revenews referred to as "$75 a month bitch(es)"*. I shot an email off to a colleague that had been contacted by the list's publisher two months prior. However it was early on, and after some discussion, we decided to let it drop.

But something just didn't sit right; my savvy-ass gut kept trying to tell me something, and I kept track of the talk even though it appeared to be winding down. Some of the "useful idiots" were saying they found out they were on the list but they'd never been notified by the list owner, nor had they given permission to be listed. Some were saying personal contact information, rather than business information, had been used in their listings.

Once again I emailed my colleague who this time investigated the matter further. Soon, questions arose concerning the source of the financial data used in creating the report. The rest, well, you probably already know. If not, you can read the sordid saga from where my story leaves off right here

My purpose in recounting the sequence of events here is to illustrate how a little inflamation can have un-intended consquences for the inflamer and rouse a sleeping giant. You can view the outcome of that arousal here, here, here, here, .... the list grows by the day.

Now back to the target of the original epithet - those "Useful Idiots of Affiliate Marketing". Useful? I'd definitely say so. But idiots?

This is where someone could easily say something like "who's the 'useful idiot' now?" Considering the author's behavior, it would be warranted, but it's not my way to gloat or to berate someone I suspect was misled and may be as much a victim as the rest of those who have been touched by The List's poisonous talons. At least, I hope that's case, because from where some of us sit, it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between his own behavior and that which he has ascribed to others.

So once again, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But I think he owes the community an apology, for his own good as much as for the community.


Note: I am not a participant in the venue referenced in the "Useful Idiots" article, nor am I a "$75-a-month bitch" as mentioned by this commenter on ReveNews - I've made my living at this for several years. I do, however, take serious moral and professional umbrage to both epithets, as do many of my colleagues. One doesn't have to be "an ABWer" or a "$75-a-month bitch" to find such ad-hominem attacks offensive.

* "$75 Dollar a Month bitches" was originally coined by an ABW poster known as "Shrimp_Dipped_In_Butter" in 2002. He was subsequently banned from there and appears to have cheerily taken up residence at ReveNews.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Keep on Rockin': The Revolution Continues

Yes boyz and girlz, seems deyz a whole lotta bloggin' goin' on.

If you're late coming to the Party here's a list of links to other sites talking about the list and it's impact:

Affiliate Lists: Lies, Damn Lies
Affiliate Lists and Potential Stalking Alert
Top Earning Affiliate List, Part I
Top Earning Affiliate List, Part II
The Affiliate List... an Interesting Thread
List of Top Earning Affiliates
Why can’t we all just get along v.2.0
The Useful Idiots of Affiliate Marketing
Premier Web Affiliates Revealed

When Off Means On: So you're not on the list ... do you think you're unaffected?

Now for something serious.

So you're not on the list ... do you think you're unaffected? Think again.

We all know about The List by now. The Secret List no one was told they were on, no one wants to be on. The List that no one is allowed to know they're on, because no one is allowed to discuss it. (More on Stalinist suppression in the affiliate industry later).

I wouldn't expect to be on The List, but it seems The List is not so much a List of THE Top 200 as a list of 200 Performers, and I'm a top for a number of merchants.

Anyway, I know I'll find out soon enough. You see, there's a Revolution in Progress. That's right, Mr GetAClueTrain - you'd better go down your customer list cuz honey you got more leaks right now than a Colander. But then, it's all public information ... right?

Now for Our Story already in progress.

You see, not long after The List was released I was notified that some of my web properties were listed under "websites of note". They were there because earlier this year, I'd purchased them from another affiliate.

Now my investment is worthless. Being content sites they are especially vulnerable to IP theft by high profile exposure as "performers". In addition, what was supposed to be an asset has now been rendered a liability by exposing my existing properties.

So if you're an affiliate and you've bought any sites or domains from other affiliates, you'd better find out if that affiliate is on The List - and if those sites are listed in their profile - because you're at risk.

It's like VD.

In keeping with the spirit of suppression, I am disabling comments for this post. I might, if someone gives me sufficient business reason to enable them, consider it. But frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about your TOS or whatever else you have to say.

To think anyone would have the utter audacity to sell - to divulge for money - mine, or anyone elses' proprietary business information, then contractually prohibit buyers from divulging the unauthorized use of my own information - to ME.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Message from our Publisher

The recent release of The Affiliate Manager List has been a stunning success. However, it has come to our attention that certain parties are violating our contract by actually talking about it. This is expressly forbidden in our Terms.

Therefore we would like to remind our customers - and the public at large - that while the information contained in the list is public record, once you have purchased a copy of The Affiliate Manager List, that information becomes contractually confidential. This includes, but is not limited to, divulging the name of the list, number of pages, where the list can be purchased, and the acknowledgement to parties other than yourself that the list does in fact exist.

You are bound by this contract whether you have purchased The Affiliate Manager List or not. Someone bought it; that makes you just as guilty.

In short, you are verboten from talking about the list. Anyone found in violation will have their tongue cut out and buried in the sea at high tide.

Thank you for your loyal patronage, and enjoy your day.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Announcing: The Affiliate Manager List

Are you having problems getting paid by your advertisers?

Is response time on approvals slow or non-existant?

Have advertisers been infringing on your intellectual property?

If you've been in the affliate marketing industry for more than a year, chances are good that the answer to at least one of the above questions will be a resounding YES.

That's why, in keeping with the spirit of Mr. GetAClueTrain's The Affiliate List, we are announcing the inception of The Affiliate Manager List.

In it you will find such valuable information as:

  • Affiliate managers' home addresses and personal phone numbers
  • Their income bracket
  • Links to their personal and family homepages
  • and, since we all want to know just who we are doing business with, we are including, as a special bonus RSS feed, the personal email addresses, home address and phone numbers of all corporate officers.
That's right! You too will be able to phone affiliate managers, marketing VPs and even corporate CFOs in the comfort of their own homes, during all hours of the day and night, to ask:

"Where the hell is my check?"

"Why didn't my test purchase track?"

"What is my content doing on your website?"

"When are you going to approve my application?"

and the ever nagging

"Why did you drop me from your program????"

Act now, as quantities have been intentionally limited so that we can run out quickly and double the price on the next batch.

Publisher's note: in an attempt to generate buzz, er, interest in our product, we will be initiating a pre-emptive flame war against a major industry "news" source. Stay tuned .... and break out your copies of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book ....