It's a far different landscape than what it was in 1999 when I first heard the term “affiliate”. Heck, just think about it. This was 2 years before I discovered Google, 6 years before YouTube and dial-up Internet connections were the norm.
In 1999 there were no Internet conferences like Affiliate Summit, and people were being routinely being told by mainstream media not to use their credit cards online. Back then there were certainly no credible affiliate marketing trainings.
It's hilarious to think back and recall that often I was asked, “is it legal?” when telling family and friends and I was making money online as an affiliate.
We've come a long way since the early days.
But is the end in sight?
The New Rules
I make it a point to attend at least 4-5 conferences a year. I do this partly because it's fun to meet up with students or listeners to one of my affiliate marketing podcasts. And I usually attend with my wife Arlene, who works with me in the business, often adding a few extra days holiday, which we call a “breakation”.
But I also feel the need to stay up-to-date on industry trends and get the latest on the regulatory front.
And so, I like many others who make a living online, are aware of big changes in the way in which we now operate. When some hear about the new “privacy rules” soon to be implemented by the U.S government people ask, “does this mean merchants will lose the ability to track sales and pay commissions?”
It's a legitimate concern. And one could easily make the case that the industry will die once these privacy rules are implemented.
But one also needs to realize that without “cookies” the Internet itself would die.
You would not be able to handle much of the online work we all take for granted, such as online banking. The search engines themselves could not function without data mining.
So let's be reasonable. Nothing can stop ecommerce now that it's such an important global economic driver.
Merchant Liability For Merchants In Some States
Another concern I hear about are those related to state laws holding merchants liable for content posted on affiliate sites. Amazon has already taken the step of not accepting affiliates who live in three jurisdictions where they could now get sued if an affiliate were to make false and misleading statements.
Personally, I don't think these jurisdictions have the right to do that. And there probably are court challenges underway because Amazon's ability to do business is being unfairly hampered.
But for now, it is what it is.
We All Need To Adapt
There was a time when you could board an air plane without taking your shoes off or given the choice ow low-dose radiation or a lurid pat down.
And there was also a time when we who make our living online had few regulatory issues to deal with. Heck, in the early days we were mostly concerned with reverse engineering Google's latest algorithm so when the “Google Dance” began we could see our rankings soar!
But those days are gone.
And maybe that's a good thing. I don't mind the regulatory guys coming in because, frankly, there are some characters online who seem to think the “Internet” is their license to steal.
If the new sheriff in town can take a few of these crooks out of the game, I say great!
A year ago it became a requirement that affiliates post a disclaimer stating they could receive remuneration for posting their content. That's okay. No problem being square with people by saying, yes, this is what I think – and oh, by the way, be advised that I may be biased in my opinion because I get paid if you make a purchase from anyone I recommend.
In our society it's nothing new to see celebrities pitch products. And, does anyone really care if Troy Polamanu uses Head and Shoulders shampoo? (my guess he can afford better stuff than that)
So let's not be too concerned with new rules. Those who adapt will always come out on top.
About the Author
James Martell lives in White Rock, BC with his wife Arlene and their four children. James is a pioneer in the affiliate marketing industry and was successfully profiting with affiliate websites as early as 1999. Visit his website for the very latest in news and tips on how to make money with affiliate programs.