In this 400th edition of the Affiliate Buzz, host and Instructor of the Affiliate Marketers BootCamp, James Martell speaks with Lisa Riolo, the Executive Vice-President of Customer Experience at CJ Affiliate by Conversant. She talks about her history with Commission Junction and how she has returned back nearly a decade later, and revenue opportunities for affiliates.
Introducing Lisa Riolo
Lisa was one of the first people James met from the industry when he attended Commission Junction University in 2002. The Affiliate Buzz wasn't even an idea yet.
Lisa says James made an impression on her by his willingness to educate people on the success he'd recently started to enjoy. She adds that in the early days of the industry, educating others was so important.
Commission Junction - The Early Days
Then Lisa takes listeners back to her early days at Commission Junction, starting in Y2K. She reminds that as an affiliate before it was considered an industry, you had to go to each advertiser or brand individually. Cloud services weren't yet available.
In these early days, some things affiliates, including Commission Junction co-founder Lex Sisney, struggled with included:
- how much had they earned as affiliates
- confusing systems for reporting things
- not knowing when payment would arrive
Commission Junction offered a marketplace-type environment that aggregated brands and merchants in one place with consistency to when and how everyone received payment. During that time the concept was a pioneering idea.
Lisa reminds that the industry does not exist unless it is easy for affiliates to be successful. That concept was the most important aspect of the Commission Junction business model. Lisa took on the role of client development which oversaw:
- servicing and managing advertisers and trying to build their programs
- trying to advocate, assist and support the publishers to be successful
- helping the marketplace thrive and be successful
Commission Junction University
Then Lisa and James discuss the communities that have built around the marketplace environment, like ShareASale as well as the early days of Community Junction University, otherwise known as CJU. They start at the beginning, with the early days of CJU.
Lisa shares that very early on the goal was to create consistency for third-party tracking with the idea that there is no turnkey solution. It takes education, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. In the time since, the content of CJU has evolved to keep up with the evolving marketers.
Lisa goes on to describe the affiliate industry as communities built around a marketplace environment. James observes that the internet today is made up of a large number of communities. The idea of community in the early days of CJU was very new, and the primary two ways to form a community were through live events and chat forums.
The Evolution of Commission Junction
Then Lisa segues to the Commission Junction forum, created with the original purpose of helping affiliates, and how a lack of moderators to police the forum caused a blurring of the forum's original purpose.
Lisa explains how a government investigation led to the Commission Junction forum being disabled in order to become ABestWeb, a new forum community which still exists today and offers affiliates the opportunity to help each other thrive.
Next Lisa explains how she left Commission Junction in 2006 for new ventures. After her departure, the company evolved. ValueClick already owned BeFree and Commission Junction. A few years after Value Click acquired Dotomi, they went through a re-branding but kept the CJ name.
Then at CJU 2014, it was announced that Alliance Data Systems, under its Epsilon group, would buy Conversant but to date plans to keep all the brands the same. Lisa points out it's because of the brand's long and well-known reputation for being successful.
Lisa's Return to CJ
Lisa returned to CJ, much to the Martell's delight. As James points out, CJ was the first company to realize that customer service has to treat affiliates as well as it does the advertisers. Without one or the other, you have no business.
Six months later, Lisa is still as excited as when she returned to CJ about the future. She goes on to discuss some of her responsibilities at CJ and what she looks forward to with CJ.
Next Lisa and James talk about what affiliates are doing now, compared to how things used to be. One example is that the methods for the distribution of traffic has really grown since the early days of affiliate marketing due to the different ways consumers get information.
James and Lisa go on to discuss some of things affecting affecting today's affiliate marketing programs including videos, online wallets, and more.
After a quick break, Lisa describes CJU 2015. Held in Santa Barbara at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort, people come to hear the sessions and understand content about how to perform better.
Lisa reveals that most people attend CJU for the networking opportunities. CJU 2015, appropriately themed Ignite Connections, offers two and a half days of events built around networking.
Finally Lisa enters the Speed Round, where James asks a series of questions. Her answers reveal her choice of
- Mac versus PC
- top three favorite internet marketing conferences
- favorite success quote
- dogs versus cats
- her dream car
- the speed of her original dial-up modem
- top three things a new affiliate marketer should be doing
- a tool she uses online every day that she'd hate to live without
- her last flight and its destination
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Lisa Riolo - http://www.lisariolo.com/
CJ Affiliate - http://www.cj.com/
Lex Sisney - https://twitter.com/lexsisney
ShareASale - https://www.shareasale.com/
CJU2015 - http://www.cjuniversity.com/
ABestWeb - http://www.abestweb.com/