Season 03 / Episode 026

5 Things Networks and Advertisers Are Doing to Stifle Innovation

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Join Jamie Birch in a candid discussion about some of the frustrations and challenges stifling innovation in affiliate marketing. From inaccessible advertiser contact information to network approval hurdles, Jamie sheds light on several key obstacles hindering affiliate growth and offers insights for improvement. Tune in for a thought-provoking episode on the state of affiliate marketing today.



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[00:00:48] Jamie: Hey everyone, welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. My name is Jamie Birch. I am your host of this podcast and founder of your award winning affiliate management agency. Just recently, we celebrated our 19th year in business. So we are zooming into our 20th year of managing affiliate programs for advertisers around the globe.

[00:01:14] Very exciting things are happening at JEB. We’re very proud to be working with some of the best advertisers around the nation and around the world.

[00:01:22] Today is a solo podcast and it’s actually, it’s going to be a rant. I’m going to say that right now. There are some frustrations in our industry that I think are stifling innovation, making it more difficult to work with partners than they should and I’m going to talk about it today.

[00:01:38] Before I do that, though, if you’re an advertiser and you’re trying to figure out, ” what do I do with this channel? How do I grow it?” There are three things I want you to do. One, I want you to go through all these podcast recordings. There’s so much good information. We don’t hold back. We share all that with you in these podcasts and then go to our blog and go back and there are thousands of articles over that 19 years, many of them are still quite relevant. There’s a lot of resources eBooks and things within that blog, go check that out.

[00:02:09] And I want you to go to our YouTube channel. Go check out our YouTube channel. We do a lot and have done a lot of video over there with the intention of educating our community and you, the advertiser on how to grow your program and do it profitably. Let’s add a fourth one. Email us at We would love to spend a half hour with you just figuring out what’s going on with your program and helping you figure out what to do next. So definitely use those four resources. If you want to grow your program and check out, that’s where we outline our services.

[00:02:46] Each package is clearly listed of what it costs and what service you get with that, what resources are deployed on your program. So you have full transparency in what you’re getting. So that’s So go check those things out.

[00:03:00] Now today we’re going to talk about something, if you sense a little edge in my voice today, it’s late, I’ve been working on a new project and man, I’m frustrated. I think there are a couple things that advertisers and networks are doing that are making it difficult for affiliates, new affiliates specifically, to innovate, to try new things, and to get out there. So where’s this come from, Jamie? Well, good question, listener.

[00:03:28] When we are working with our staff at JEBCommerce, we manage affiliate programs for some of the best and most well respected brands around the country and a lot of new brands looking to become that. We work with every one of our assistant affiliate managers, our affiliate managers, our senior affiliate managers, and our directors, and we tell them you have to have your own affiliate account, go to all the networks, join those affiliate programs, create accounts at all those networks, and really get to an understanding of what your affiliates have to deal with when they’re going through their day to day, how they find new advertisers, how they work with them, how they grab links, what reporting is available to them, what that looks like, and then actually go build a website, find something you’re passionate about and build a website around that, and then go and try to make a dollar, try to convert a sale.

[00:04:23] This is partnership marketing, and if you’re an advertiser listening and you’re not viewing your channel as a partnership, you think it’s a channel, you put it out there and it’s going to grow on its own. Really want you to go through this podcast episodes and go through a blog, type in partnership, do a search.

[00:04:39] You’re going to find that partnerships don’t exist just because they’re there. You have to be intentional with that, and one of the big things in a partnership that make it successful is empathy, understanding each other. Not just hearing, but really being able to put yourself in the other’s shoes.

[00:04:58] And in this case, as an affiliate manager or someone managing affiliate programs, not knowing what the affiliates go through day to day can really hamper you in working with them. We really push all our employees to go and create a website something that they’re passionate about and then create accounts at all the networks all the major networks, and then post those links, work with them in there.

[00:05:24] So I figured, you know what, if I’m teaching them to do the things that their partners are doing, so they have empathy, they understand them more, it’s probably been a while since I did that myself. So I have been running through, as many of us in this space, a lot of us are entrepreneurial minded and so it’s, always have ideas running through our heads, right? You’re probably listening to this, “oh, I’ve had many too.”

[00:05:47] So started working on a website that kind of does something I think is pretty unique, I think has a lot of legs to it. I think we’ll be successful. And it marries, my life’s work as well as my passion. So let’s go out there and do what I’m telling my employees to do. So been doing that the last couple months really focused on the business model, the website, a lot of long nights after the kids go to bed like I did back in the day, and many of you have as well.

[00:06:16] Then it’s, ” I gotta have something to promote.” So I have to sign up for affiliate programs. So I go through that, all the networks, and now, I create the accounts at the networks and now I have to find those affiliate programs. So, and this may be, if you’re looking to get into affiliate marketing and be affiliate, this may be a good primer for how to do that.

[00:06:34] So I created a list of advertisers I want to work with. I didn’t know if they had programs or not. So then I went and used several different resources. Shout out to FMTC, use them to see what was available. They have some amazing tools. If you’re looking at an advertiser, you should be using it.

[00:06:50] Definitely should be using it. And an affiliate, man, there’s so many good tools to help you build a site. I remember back in the day, building stuff in 1999, 2000 there were no tools like you have now between Shopify, and Squarespace, and Wix, and FMTC, and all these other tools for you to build something quickly now there are. There’s really no excuse for not putting something together.

[00:07:14] So as I’m going through and applying to these programs, I have about 15-20 that are on my list, I was astonished at the amount of advertisers that sell primarily online that still have no affiliate program. When we’re talking about how is the channel going to grow, there’s a ton of advertisers that haven’t discovered affiliate marketing yet.

[00:07:40] And so for those, I definitely want to point you to our website, our blog, where we released a post about incrementality, where it lists all the networks and all the tools available. So if you’re an advertiser and you haven’t got into affiliate marketing because of issues with incrementality cannibalization, you definitely need to read that article because it lays out all the tools and strategies available for you to counteract that.

[00:08:04] So there’s really no reason not to be in the channel. You can run something quite profitable and protect all your other channels and your costs and all of that. So, I was just astonished at how many didn’t have a program, but really where my rant is the ones that did, I can’t find contact info. I want to build a partnership and I can’t find contact info. Many of them did have informational pages with no links to join the program. No mention of what network they were on and no contact info if I had any questions or wanted to form a close partnership with them, none of that.

[00:08:41] What’s really frustrating is all of those advertisers, and so many advertisers are complaining about bottom-feeder affiliates and they want content-specific affiliates, influencers, people that have built an audience that they can’t get access to any other way where that audience trusts them more than the brand so that they can piggyback on.

[00:09:04] Well, that’s what I’m offering to all of them. It’s a perfect fit. It’s a perfect fit. I can’t get a hold of them. I can’t get a hold of them at all. Advertisers you have to make it easy for people to work with you. And now I’m not saying easy commissions easy tracking. I’m just saying easy to reach out, find out if you have a program or not, find out if you’re interested, and if you do have a program, easy to interact with the affiliate team, whoever’s managing and in charge of that there has to be a way.

[00:09:37] I talk about this a lot on our podcast and there are many articles I’ve written, many podcasts recorded where we talk about this as a fundamental issue and one of the biggest mistakes.

[00:09:48] I’ve seen it a lot, but until I went through what the affiliates have to go through, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have a really good idea you want to test out and you can’t get ahold of the other partner you want to bring sales to. It is so frustrating. If you’re an advertiser listening, you got to put a contact info just an email. If that’s all it is, that’s fine. Email and phone would be great. A link to your LinkedIn.

[00:10:14] And here’s the other thing: so now I can’t find anything on their website. I may search for affiliate manager contact insert brand here kind of thing, and then I go to LinkedIn, right?

[00:10:23] You go to LinkedIn, and you search. See is there a marketing manager, director of e-commerce affiliate manager, social manager, anything like that in the marketing team that I can get a hold of. About 50 percent of those advertisers, they don’t even have a company page on LinkedIn. Their staff isn’t even on LinkedIn.

[00:10:45] Now I know I come from a relationship building, sales oriented background, affiliate manager background, and this is second nature to me, but it is astonishing how many people still don’t use LinkedIn. So I wasn’t able to get any more information from LinkedIn. Now, what do I do? Well, I go to my networks, which leads me to my next frustration.

[00:11:12] So most of the networks, it was quite easy to get an account. You set it up, you have to put your tax ID, so there was a little leg work ahead of time. You had to go create your LLC. You had to get an EIN and do those things to get access to the network. And I love that because there are too many fraudsters in our history that when there was no limit, and no bar to become an affiliate, they would create accounts one by one, defraud, or they would spread out fraud across multiple accounts.

[00:11:41] I get all of that. But there were two networks that didn’t approve me and I, I was blown away. I have a very well built informational page. A page just for networks and advertisers, so you can see we’re in beta. This is what we’re looking to do. We need access and we need partners early on so we can prove this concept out.

[00:12:04] Videos explaining what we do and why this will work. And I was denied by two networks. And both of those networks they each have one premier account within this particular niche.

[00:12:18] Both of those networks have talked about their ability to produce content affiliates, and we know a lot of advertisers still believe that as the Holy grail. I couldn’t get in those networks. Fortunately for me, I’ve worked with those networks for well over a decade and one of them for two decades.

[00:12:39] So I was able to call people in high places and I was able to utilize whatever cache Jamie Birch has in this space and JEBCommerce has to get those things approved, so I was able to explain myself. One of them approved me. One of them still hasn’t. You networks, you have to have an approval path for beta sites for people to continue to innovate.

[00:13:02] I have a new idea. I want to try this out. I need to work with this merchant to see if it works. You won’t even let me in the network. This is incredibly stifling to innovation. I know what you’re doing. I know you’re trying to keep bad players out and you boast that you have a network that only has good quality affiliates in there, but somehow your process isn’t working on this.

[00:13:24] And I know I’m biased but what we are doing is bringing exactly what you wanted to this, and there’s no path, even if it’s on a temporary basis, or how I got in into college on a probationary basis, some sort of path networks need to have for new entrants into the space to get in there and start to play around.

[00:13:45] And that’s super, super frustrating. No contact info and no ability to really find it for the advertiser. No path for some of these networks to allow someone to come in who is brand new and prove themselves. And there’s simply, there was no mechanism to do that. And I can’t imagine what those networks are missing by not allowing new players into the field that have a good business model and a good plan. Not even really looking at it.

[00:14:18] And the other frustrating there were two other frustrating things I’ve found so far as an affiliate. And I think affiliates probably listened to like, “yes, thank you. Yes, this is exactly what’s been frustrating.”

[00:14:27] But a lot of these sites, they’re not on FMTC. FMTC is a wonderful resource. It allows the affiliates and, hopefully by the time you’re listening to this, we’ve had their owner and founder on Brook Schaaf to talk about the value of FMTC, but there are so many ways FMTC makes it easy for affiliates to do what they do.

[00:14:50] There’s only one that is on FMTC within this particular niche. And that makes it difficult again to do our work. When people are trying to innovate, that friction really slows things down. One of the aspects of the internet I love so much is we can innovate so quickly and this tool really helps people to do that.

[00:15:12] When a lot of people look at the affiliate channel as one thing. The way that I look at it as you have a team of potentially thousands of affiliates, making thousands of different tests, finding thousands of different audience groups for you that then you can learn from and take back and include in your marketing.

[00:15:29] So you have all these tests going out. Here’s one, trying to do a thing, and there are several different ways that making it incredibly difficult to happen.

[00:15:39] The last thing that I’ll talk about today is not having a data feed. So many advertisers are not loading up their list of products into the affiliate network, and they’re not making that available within FMTC as well, and that really stifles innovation.

[00:15:57] Having that product information makes it easy for the affiliates to showcase the individual product to the individual consumer at the time that they’re looking for it. So not having that data really makes it frustrating.

[00:16:10] So, what do we do about it? Advertisers put an affiliate page up, tell people who to go to work with. Just do that. Who should we work with if we’re interested in working together? And if you’re an advertiser and you’re really trying to find content affiliates and you want influencers and you want unique top of funnel affiliates, and we can’t get ahold of you, you’re not going to find any success. You’re just not going to find success. Make sure it’s easy to get ahold of you. You may be worried I’ll be inundated with emails. Well, we all get inundated with spam, but there are many tools make it very easy. There’s just no excuse. Get your contact info out there.

[00:16:49] If you’re working with an agency, include theirs. Agencies, if you’re not including that in your agreement with your clients, you need to be doing that. Get that contact info in there.

[00:16:58] And networks, if you make it difficult and you have more in depth approval process for affiliates to get into your network, you should provide a probationary path for people in beta to get in and get access and try things. You should give them a route to do that. And right now there are two or three who do not do that.

[00:17:17] Advertisers get that product feed in your network and get that integrated with FMTC.

[00:17:21] And for those advertisers, you don’t have a program, it’s time to look at it again. You have to look at it again. There’s so much technology that you just have to, you have to look at this again.

[00:17:33] So anyway, I’m done with my rant. I feel better now. I hope you feel better. Do you feel? I feel better. I feel better.

[00:17:39] Hopefully we all learn from this. I know I did. It can be really difficult for affiliates to get their job done out there, and as an industry, we can do better.

[00:17:48] Anyway, thank you for listening to me pontificate and spout off today. I hope this helps. I hope if you’re an advertiser or network, you really take this to heart. And for those of you in the space, those working on the affiliate management side, it’s time to go out, build a website, create those accounts, learn what your affiliates go through. I know it’ll make me a better manager now as well.

[00:18:12] So anyway, if you have other ideas for us to talk about, email me at If you know someone that needs to listen to this send it to your advertiser friend that needs to hear this. Send it to your network rep that you’re frustrated cause you can’t get affiliates in your program or you can’t get in.

[00:18:28] And leave us a five star review, whether that’s Apple Podcast, or Spotify, or the podcast player of your choice and definitely share it. LinkedIn, Facebook, and X.

[00:18:38] And if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out. If you’re in this space and you’re not in LinkedIn, you really need to be over there.

[00:18:45] So anyway, there we go. Thank you for listening. And yeah hopefully you enjoyed this rant today.

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