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 Intuition becomes increasingly valuable in the new information society precisely because there is so much data.

John Naisbitt, American Author and businessman

It’s the eve of our main annual Affiliate Marketing Industry conference (Affiliate Summit) and a couple of people have asked me how I see this next year and decade shaping up compared to the past 10 years in the industry. 

On the surface there are many obvious changes, but we should look deeper.  A decade ago (2000) BeFree and Linkshare as well as large merchants roamed the industry.  Today there are many more networks and less merchants and less independent affiliates roaming the halls in my view.  The era of banner creatives and tool bars have now progressed into RSS Feeds, widgets and APIs.  The names Marciano, Messer and Gerace are now replaced by Collins, Ward, and Brogan.  Online communities such as eCircles, Geocities and the Tribe have now been overtaken by Myspace, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  One thing is for sure the affiliate marketing  industry has evolved and matured, certain vertical areas have consolidated ,and many in the industry have learned to fuse either their marketing savvy with their technology hutzpah or vice versa. 

Some people such as Owen Van Natta have taken that prowess to the next level. 10 years ago Owen was was in Business Development having led the Amazon Associates affiliate program.  Today he is the CEO of MySpace.  10 years ago, Todd Crawford was this upstart with a company called Commission Junction.  He sold that network and is now starting the new decade with the launch of a new business which we will likely be hearing more about over the next couple of weeks and especially at this conference.  I look forward to hearing the pitch from Todd and his partners.

There are other issues.  Even certain industries within affiliate marketing are changing.  In the music space, for instance, 10 years ago people would buy a $12.99 CD from Amazon and get an 8-10% commission.  Today, more people are buying downloads of single songs from iTunes or $.99 and the affiliate commission is only $.05.  This is such that recorded music has disappeared in the affiliate music space as an interesting option.

Okay, so the technology has advanced, the channels have changed, some industries have changed and if the faces haven’t changed they definitely have become a little bit older, but what hasn’t changed is that basic marketing and sales principles can not and should not be ignored. 

What will the next decade have in store for the Affiliate Marketing Industry?

Will it work in mobile?  Is it Click to call? 

(To be continued)