Somehow, people got the very popular (and admittedly successful) idea that the affiliate marketer should take great pains to be perceived as ANYTHING ELSE but an affiliate marketer.
The affiliate should write "reviews" or "profiles" or "articles" all of which are nothing more than mislabeled sales material.
It's never actually been legal (or even OK, really) to do this. But still it caught on big time, so much so that a lot of folks even think that's what affiliate marketing is actually about.
Now, rather publicly, the FTC is cracking down on the most visible offenders. Everyones emails have honking big disclaimers. We can't get away with hiding affiliation or pretending we're something else anymore.
But yet newbies come in all the time and want to know where to get started being an affiliate who doesn't want to be seen as an affiliate. That's the default attitude.
No one ever shows up here that says "hey I've been running a hobby blog for 3 years and I have a bunch of pages, but I'd love to take the next step and see if I can go pro."
No, we get "I have all my dog training PLR on my blog and I am not getting no traffic yet today and it's been up since friday."
That seems like a recipe for failure to me. But contrary to my awesome thread title, affiliate marketing is obviously not dead. Nor should it be. But the way people go about it is probably going to keep changing.
I guess there's always going to be people trying to fake it, but hopefully the amount of material out there PREACHING this fake-it approach will disappear as more and more vendors will have to start policing their affiliates.
With that in mind, I'm thinking I should try to help counteract that now, by suggesting some ways to approach affiliate marketing WITHOUT having to pretend or write fake reviews, or anything of the sort.
What I predict is that affiliate marketing is going to return to its initial split-role once all the faker strategies are so heavily discouraged that no one uses them.
That split is:
* Pro freelance marketers that are about pure traffic straight to the offer - PPC guys and CPA guys are most likely going to sift to this arena. There's no conflict of interest there because there's no misrepresentation.
* Personality marketers that are premium content creators for their niche that want something beyond ad sales as a revenue stream. Affiliate offers pretty much act as an endorsement here.
* Content heavy niche sites that don't have a strong personality, but have a community brand wanting the same thing - to go beyond just ad revenue. On these kinds of sites, affiliate ads would be right beside normal ones.
Are there other kinds of site models that will support totally compliant and ethical affiliate marketing? I'd love to hear more ideas.
Do you agree that the landscape of affiliate marketing will change? If so, will it get better or worse? I think it will get better, because it will be harder to do things the right way. I think it will line up the system so that the rewards go back to doing better work vs. cutting a corner or riding a gimmick.
But of course, I could be wrong. I'd love to hear what anyone else thinks.