I began working in the Internet sector more than 20 years ago doing Web design, programming, content creation and online marketing. I started affiliate program management in 1999 and since then I have seen major changes as it continues to evolve.
In late 2005 I merged my business with a large fulfillment company with the idea of becoming the online marketing arm of this company. It had about 35 clients at the time with its specialty being ecommerce creation and subsequently fulfilling the sales generated from both online and catalogs.
One of the company’s clients was LimitedToo (now Justice- Just for Girls) at the time part of the Limited Group (The Limited, Victoria’s Secret and more). I launched an affiliate program in Commission Junction for the company in 2006 and saw the program grow rapidly to 27 percent of its entire online sales.
I also began seeing the growth of search engine marketers (SEMs) as I was actively negotiating agreements with some of the largest ones in the industry including Performics, iCrossing and more. Google was essentially showing everyone how to make money online. There was very little local talent, even in Dallas (where I was living at that time) to take advantage of the opportunity, so clients were opting for SEM’s and creating that industry. In late 2006, I left my company as it had not been a good fit.
I knew then that affiliate program management was going to be the next growth opportunity as merchants would look for other channels to grow their online sales. So, I restarted eAccountable, which eventually become eAccountableOPM in early 2007, as an affiliate program management company. I started with two affiliate programs in 2006 and grew my business to seven programs by the end of 2007; 14 at the end of 2008, 50 by the close of 2009 and now we are up to more than 80 managed URL’s.
Since that time, I have seen tremendous growth not only in my company but in the entire industry including:
- The rise of the Google Affiliate Network following the purchase of DoubleClick and the Performics division.
- The continued strength and growth of Commission Junction.
- Continued growth and improvement of ShareASale.
- A new wave of growing networks including AvantLink, Pepperjam and Buy.at.
- The emergence of the OPM sector as a strong and vital component of affiliate marketing.
- The repurposing of affiliate marketing to PERFORMANCE marketing.
I believe the new trend will for OPM’s to provide more services to their clients, especially ones that are “performance” oriented. In 2011 our clients are asking for more services from a single source. Look for eAccountableOPM to begin offering more options and opportunities to our clients than we have done in the past. Maybe the next trend is to evolve into a Performance Program Manager.
However things shake out, the online market continues to expand rapidly and in new and exciting directions and we will continue to evolve with it to better serve our clients.