Season 03 / Episode 025

Then and Now: Martech Record’s Impact and Affiliate B2B with Michael McNerny

With Michael McNerney - Publisher, Martech Record

Note: if you get only a 30 second preview, please log into your Spotify account, or find us on one of several other podcast services.


Join us as we catch up with Michael McNerny, the founder of Martech Record, the first objective industry publisher in the affiliate space. Three years after its launch, we delve into the developments and the future of AI in reviews, along with various topics surrounding B2B affiliate marketing.

In this episode, Michael shares insights on different monetization strategies and leveraging technology like Slack and webinars to foster community engagement within the B2B sphere. We also revisit the premier buyer’s guide on networks and technology platforms, a cornerstone of Martech Record’s offerings.

About Our Guest


Michael McNerney


Mike is the founder and publisher of



Want to be notified when we release a new episode?


[00:00:48] Jamie: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today’s episode of the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. My name is Jamie Birch. I am your host and founder of JEBCommerce the award winning affiliate management agency. Just celebrated our 19th year heading into 20, and today we have a special guest. He’s one of the only people in our second timers club Michael McNerney from Martech Record.

[00:01:13] I met Michael when he was at Partnerize, his first foray into the affiliate space. And today we have him on the podcast before we go into the episode, if you are an advertiser looking for help with your affiliate program, then you definitely want to check out On that page, we outline our four different tiers of service, exactly what you get in there and what those costs are so you can really easily figure out what you need and who services those. That’s something that’s been missing in our agency space, a little transparency into the services provided. You get that over at

[00:01:51] Now today, Michael and I talk about what’s been going on at Martech Record. The day after we recorded this, they celebrate their three year anniversary with an event in New York.

[00:02:02] And a lot’s gone on in those three years. Their premier product has been a buyer’s guide for the networks, and since then they’ve added a Slack group and a whole bunch of other things. They do some of the best webinars in our space really objective information about the affiliate channel and the players and services available in that channel, definitely reach out.

[00:02:24] But today we talk about B2B marketing. We even talk about AI and product reviews and reviews in general. So this is a really great podcast. If you want to learn more about Martech Record, which if you’re in this space and you’re listening to this podcast, you probably do you definitely want to reach out and join that Slack channel. It’s really, really good.

[00:02:44] If you want to learn about B2B marketing, this is also a really good time to take a step back and listen to this and see what Michael and Martech Record has done from a B2B marketing perspective. What I want you to see is the beginning and end is their mission.

[00:03:00] Help you make better decisions at work. That’s their mission. It’s so clear and succinct. I’m not in that organization, I can tell you exactly what it is. There’s definitely a lot to learn just from that, but also how important it is to create content that your audience wants first, and to be solely focused on that mission of helping them make better decisions at work.

[00:03:20] Everything comes from that and they’ve been able to grow monetization comes from that. So there’s a lot to learn as affiliates there as well. And sometimes as advertisers, we forget that as well. So definitely give this a listen. This is Michael McNerney, my conversation with him from Martech Record.

[00:03:37] Well, welcome to the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. We have today, Michael McNerney from Martech Record. This is your second time joining us. Thanks for dealing with my repeated rescheduling and joining us for the podcast today, Michael.

[00:03:52] Michael: Well, I appreciate it. I was watching SNL this weekend and Emma stone got her five timers jacket for hosting five times. And so I’m just trying to get to five times, cause I assume there’s some kind of gift or…

[00:04:04] Jamie: Definitely, we’ll have to. We definitely have a two, and I think we’ll have three two timers on this season of the podcast. So maybe we’ll start the jackets. I think they got robes this time. Was it robes for five? Yeah.

[00:04:18] Michael: The saddles behind you. There’s something that could go there. That’s…

[00:04:22] Jamie: yeah. Maybe we’ll do something Western theme. Yeah. And I I think I’ve shared this on the podcast this season. We were having a remodel, and as I was sitting down to record a few of these podcasts, they’re just starting to demo walls in our living room. I had to rush everything out to our tack room.

[00:04:39] The only area that gets wifi on the whole place that isn’t in the house. So, yeah, coming to you live from…

[00:04:48] Michael: The only affiliate podcast that comes to you from a tack room, I’m sure.

[00:04:51] Jamie: That’s what we should put on the tagline for sure.

[00:04:54] Michael: Exactly. I’m happy to be here.

[00:04:56] Jamie: Yeah, thank you. Now you’re not coming from a tack room. Where in the world are you today?

[00:05:01] Michael: No, I’m not. I’m coming to you from the upper west side of Manhattan. Very, very far from a tack room. Well, there are horses, there’s central park and there’s the…

[00:05:10] Jamie: yeah. Yeah.

[00:05:11] Michael: I’m on a 26th street in Manhattan.

[00:05:15] Jamie: Outstanding. Well for our listeners, if you don’t know Michael and Martech Record, definitely, you want to go back to the first season of the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast, where we had Michael on and talk to all things, Martech Record. So we won’t go into how you came to be and all that, but you guys are now… is it three years old now?

[00:05:35] Michael: Yeah. Yeah. It’s about actually our event tomorrow will be the third year anniversary. So we’re…

[00:05:41] Jamie: Oh, fantastic. Well, congratulations. That’s awesome. We celebrated 19 years in October, so we’re on our, our 20th. Maybe you can have me on your podcast when you, you hit a 20. Gosh, I’ll be…

[00:05:56] Michael: hopefully we’re…

[00:05:56] Jamie: …as hell.

[00:05:57] Michael: Yeah.

[00:06:00] Jamie: So tell, why don’t you give us a primer? What is Martech Record? And then I’d love to hear since we were last on together two years ago, what have you guys been doing since then?

[00:06:11] Michael: Put very simply, Martech Record is an independent trade publication that covers the affiliate marketing and commerce media industry. And, what does that mean? In simple terms, it can be a complicated industry when you’re choosing technology, services, partners, and any growing and complex industry needs an independent source to review those products, highlight best practices, and bring the industry together.

[00:06:37] And so our main objective is just to give you information to make better decisions. So if you work in that space, you should be subscribing to Martech Record.

[00:06:46] Jamie: You guys have several different elements. Talk to me about the different ways that people can engage with Martech record.

[00:06:53] Michael: Yeah, that’s the challenge of being a B2B publisher is, how do you get people information where and when they need it? And I think what I’ve learned in the last three years is, there are just different types of people when it comes to consuming information and you’ve got to be present in those locations.

[00:07:09] And so for us, we have an email newsletter that goes out once a week. And there’s a good core of our audience that, that’s what that’s the way they interact with us is they open every newsletter, they’re passive consumers of information. And then there’s Slack, and that’s probably the newest form of B2B media as I’d call it is we’ve got a kind of three and a half thousand person Slack community.

[00:07:33] These are like the anti newsletter people. These are just the very active people. They want to ask questions, they want to connect they want to find who else is in their industry and they want to solve problems. And I think this is akin to in the olden days when you joined your industry association and you went to the events and you went to the breakout sessions that were a part of your group.

[00:07:53] This is the modern day Slack. As you find kind of your small group, you find the 50 people who really care about the topic that you care about and you engage daily. And then we’ve got our kind of events group, and these are people who attend all of our webinars who go to our live events that we have, and a very kind of event driven, very networky type of people.

[00:08:14] So those are the main buckets is, you go to events, you interact on Slack, and you open our newsletter. Of course there’s people who cross all three, right. And you work with the heavy users who are really, the heavy networkers in the industry.

[00:08:26] But that’s really our distribution, and because it’s digital, it’s also how we acquire a lot of content because people post things in Slack and they come to events and they speak. And, we learn a lot from the people who are part of our community.

[00:08:39] Jamie: That’s great. And I know the Slack is, it reminds me of a little more refined forum than what we had way back in the day of ABestWeb. A little more professional conversations and targeted more towards helping each other. I was an affiliate manager back then, so I was getting flamed on that forum all the time.

[00:08:57] But it seemed for a long time, we lost really a place outside of the physical Affiliate Summit and those types of events to congregate. Like we didn’t have as a channel in an industry anywhere to go to. It seems to have filled that void.

[00:09:11] Michael: Yeah, and I don’t… I think that’s true of a lot of industries too. My background is trade publishing, not affiliate. And I was at McGraw Hill while we owned a portfolio of trade pubs and I saw that happen is, as digital came in, a lot of the old formats for creating communities were destroyed.

[00:09:29] Frankly, Facebook destroyed a lot of community elements, ironically I think, and it’s because what happened was, you used to join your industry association and you paid and what you got was like the phone book, for the industry. And then once Facebook groups came along, like there was no need for that.

[00:09:45] And Facebook’s not built to be a B2B community organizer, right. But it did end up destroying the need for a lot of these things that created tons of value, and there’s a lot of different ways people are responding to that, but Slack’s one of them. I was a Slack hater for a while, ’cause it’s just another way to get messaging, right. I was like, I turned into an old guy, I was like another thing to track, and I’m going to forget…

[00:10:06] Jamie: Get off my lawn.

[00:10:07] Michael: I Totally, and then I created this Slack community simply as a way to incent people to sign up for some events and do some stuff.

[00:10:15] And I didn’t post anything in it. It was really a testament to the community and the people in this industry who are wonderful networkers and helpful, the most helpful industry I’ve ever worked on is you ask a question and six people answered in an hour and all just because they want to help.

[00:10:30] And so I think there’s a little bit of what this community is and a little bit of Slack being the place people just talk these days.

[00:10:37] Jamie: Yeah, and I think as we’re talking through this, I think of those public forums, you were always a little, I think, a little more guarded because anyone could see that the Slack group is a little, well, you have to be in it, you have to be there. It’s not a searchable thing.

[00:10:52] You can’t go to Google and find these posts. So I think there’s a little bit of protection from that, that allows people to, I think, be a little more open and honest and vulnerable and share a little more.

[00:11:03] Michael: Yeah, you had to get into that group. It’s not like, this isn’t skull and bones or something, but you have to have engaged, right? You have to have signed up for an event, reached out and said, “I want to be part of this.” You have to be recommended by someone else in the industry, right?

[00:11:16] So I think everyone knows that, and it makes you a little more willing to share information when you just have a little bit of that trust and how people got there.

[00:11:25] Jamie: And so talk to me about… tell us about some of the really unique pieces of content you created. I know one of the things you did was a the Martech Record did was a network comparison and a guide to choosing a network. And I think you guys are really uniquely positioned to do that. I think the only other group in the history of our channel that would be positioned to do that would be like agencies and they are really reluctant speaking as a founder of an agency, really reluctant to put any network on blast and to select one that they would go with because that would really affect their business. So that’s one of the big pieces you guys put out. Talk to me a little bit about that, and then some of the other really well received content you guys have put together.

[00:12:10] Michael: Yeah, well, that was really the genesis of the business is I spent a little bit of time in affiliate. I tried to learn about the different platforms and networks. I found it very, very hard to do. There wasn’t information anywhere besides going to Affiliate Summit and meeting a bunch of people, which is great, but not the most efficient way to gather information.

[00:12:30] And so, as someone who worked in trade publishing, I looked at this great market. There was all these competitors. The use of content by B2B consumers was starting to grow. People were starting to trust online reviews and information. And it just occurred to me, if you can get some quality independent information about these platforms and publish it, it would be helpful.

[00:12:53] And what I know about B2B is if you can create value in these markets if you can make people’s jobs a little easier, if you can connect people to the right information, you can make money from that. And what I had was the knowledge of how to make money from that, right?

[00:13:06] That’s the career I’d spent time in, and so suddenly I saw a market that had a need for information. What we did was really simple: we went out and just created a survey and surveyed as many people as we could in the industry. And that’s actually how we first started the Slack forum is we needed some incentive for people to fill these surveys out.

[00:13:24] So we said, if you fill out the survey you’ll be part of this exclusive community of qualified people who we’ve pre vetted which is all true except that we put up the Slack group on the spot. And so it didn’t exist until we invited the first person who filled out the survey.

[00:13:39] So, god bless whoever that was, and then it grew from there. So the survey, and we do it once a year, we’ve now done three of them, is simply we go out, we go to our community, we have them fill out, a survey that takes about 10 to 15 minutes. We spend, four months collecting this data and then we just publish the data as it is, right?

[00:13:56] And it is a reflection of how our community feels about these different platforms, the different features. And I hopefully think it’s a pretty useful way for people to decide which platform is best for them. And it’s also really meant to be a useful tool for agencies because, an agency should provide recommendations to its clients.

[00:14:16] They’re very qualified, the most qualified people out there to provide a recommendation on which platform. If you’re an agency, you also want to say, “by the way, you should be making your own decision clients, right? This is yours to make. Here’s our recommendation. Here’s some independent data that you can also read to help guide you, right.”

[00:14:33] And that’s how I see it being used: a lot of people go to their agency and they say, “you help me decide.” An agency says “you should go with X, Y, or Z. Here’s why we think so. by the way, here’s a couple of sources of information to help you make decisions.” And we want to be that one of those sources of information that you give to your client and say, Hey, look at this, we trust it.

[00:14:53] Jamie: No, that’s fantastic. And I think it’s really important, especially in this particular piece of content for advertisers to know, everyone has a set of lenses that they look through, and agencies often will have their own pressures, and to have that data backing it up to say, “this is what we recommend and here’s this trusted source that is objective and not swayed either way that can really help them make that…

[00:15:16] Michael: Also important to know that, we have our own biases too, and our biases are our community, right? It’s the 3-4000 people, actually now it’s 4-5000, who are in our community, and so, of course, every year we publish this and some people call me and say, “hey, you’re not right about X, Y, or Z” and…

[00:15:33] Jamie: That’s one of my questions, yeah…

[00:15:35] Michael: That happens and my response is usually, “look what this is as a reflection of our community and what they feel.” It doesn’t make it a hundred percent true, right. It’s, but it is how the market perceives your product. And, I have a kind of advantage, a weird advantage that I tell anyone who will listen, but no one kind of remembers is like, I’ve never run an affiliate marketing campaign in my life.

[00:15:56] I’ve never logged in to almost any of these platforms. And so you can call me and say, “you’re totally wrong about how this feature works” and I can say, “you’re probably right. But what I can tell you is 250 people feel this way, and so what you may have here is an awareness, or consideration, or a preference problem and so my recommendation is you address that because my audience feels this way. Now you may not care about my audience, and if you don’t, that’s just fine that it doesn’t matter. But if you do, we have a pretty sizable audience in this community and we can, also help you address some of those communication issues.”

[00:16:36] Jamie: Yeah, it’s really good data for the advertiser making the decision. It’s also really good data for the networks to see how they’re perceived. And I wonder if there was anything like that ever before, outside of maybe if they did their own research project on why people selected them and things…

[00:16:51] Michael: I did a bunch of research, but we also, we’ve done a bunch of stuff that’s cool too, that, tomorrow actually we’re launching our compensation report. And this is really a testament to the community that we have, the trust that they have in us and their willingness to share information with other people.

[00:17:07] So we put a survey out, I think, four or five weeks ago and just said, literally, tell me your salary, your bonus, your equity, any other compensation you have. 150 people responded and said, here’s all this information, and, we’re going to publish the first version tomorrow, which we’re sharing with the people who are attending our Look Forward events in New York tomorrow, and then publish it for the broader community later next week.

[00:17:29] But it’s just a really helpful tool, and we don’t do a whole lot of analysis on it, right? We don’t go and create averages or whatever. We just publish and say, “this is what 150 people told us. And hopefully that’s helpful if you’re a hiring manager, so you could understand what the market is.”

[00:17:43] If you’re someone looking for a new job, transparency of compensation is important thing for any industry. It helps everyone from the hiring managers to the people being hired be compensated appropriately. So that’s being pushed out tomorrow. We have, as I said, our weekly newsletter, which has everything from job listings to events that are coming up to different analysis.

[00:18:04] So, yeah, you asked what we produced and I’m like overwhelmed by the question, so…

[00:18:10] Jamie: No, no, that was fantastic. It leads me to what we talked about on our prep…

[00:18:13] Michael: If…

[00:18:14] If you don’t mind, I’m going to plug, we have a podcast now that…

[00:18:18] Jamie: Oh, fantastic.

[00:18:19] Michael: Yeah, so Smooth Operator, go to Martechrecord. com Blake Saunders is the host and he’s fantastic. And if you’re at all interested in how media companies are run and how they’re building their commerce media operations, I’m confident to say it’s the best podcast out there for that topic, and you should definitely check it out.

[00:18:36] Jamie: That’s fantastic. So that is Smooth Operator podcast. Awesome. So that leads me to what we talked about on our prep call: the tech you guys use. So Slack and the webinars you guys use really, really effectively and not many affiliates, maybe not many B2B affiliates use this quite well.

[00:18:55] You guys started in the pandemic, so was that sort of a catalyst for how you guys use this? How has that journey of using those technologies to grow Martech Record and provide these contents?

[00:19:08] Michael: Yeah.

[00:19:08] Jamie: …a little about that.

[00:19:09] Michael: Really interesting three years of learning how people interact with different types of distribution for content. Because B2B media is fundamentally not different than it was a hundred years ago. You’re just trying to get buyers and sellers. In the same room together. And if you can do that, right, you’re creating value.

[00:19:29] Now the change is the technology that’s used to do that. In 1906 when Platts, one of the products I worked on 15 years ago was created, it literally was a guy on a horseback referring to the behind you writing from oil derrick to derrick, asking people, “what did you sell your oil for?” And then publishing a newsletter.

[00:19:47] So, that is no different than me putting out a survey saying, ” what is your salary? What is your compensation?” and then putting a report out. Or there’s no difference between what Clinton Platts did and what I did, except I use Slack to ask people. I use a survey tool to capture that data.

[00:20:04] I had published it digitally, right? I sent it out via email. But the value you’re creating is, is the same. You’re allowing people to understand pricing information. That allows them to make a decision faster and better than they would otherwise, right? I probably do that quicker than Clinton Platts did, because he had to ride all the way around Texas and, and publish that newsletter.

[00:20:24] You probably would have enjoyed that, that…

[00:20:26] Jamie: Well, I got a horse for you. If you need to ride around to get some of this data, let me know. I’ll go with you.

[00:20:31] Michael: For those of you who haven’t filled out the survey, just wait until I show up on Jamie’s horse, knock on your door. But, but the nice thing too is, so, okay, everything’s the same, but everything’s different, and when you have different technologies you can create some more value than you did back in the olden days.

[00:20:48] And this is a good example of that is we got lucky. I hate to say be lucky about COVID because I don’t want to be insensitive, but the kind of trends that happened because of it, put us in a better position. So when I launched, I really thought what we were going to do is host a series of live events in what I felt were underserved cities in the affiliate market.

[00:21:09] So Dallas, denver, Seattle, Chicago, I don’t think have big enough, good enough events. And so that was the plan, raise some money, do that. And who really, it was right when COVID hit and a couple of things happened. One, everyone wanted to talk about e commerce and the different types of e commerce affiliate being one of them. Two suddenly all my potential clients have big event budgets that they weren’t spending.

[00:21:33] And three, consumers themselves. And when I say that, like, our potential subscribers were perfectly willing to sit in front of a webinar. So, like, all these things coincided at the exact same moment. And so that was the first kind of level of, I’d say fortunate, things that happen for our business.

[00:21:48] Then it’s how we learn to use the technology, and I think that’s a little bit of what you were asking. And here’s, what’s been interesting to me is we started hosting these webinars, and I really thought that this was a six month thing and then we’d have to find another way to get an audience.

[00:22:02] And here we are three years later and our webinars are more, better attended than they were then more engaged, and I think it’s because people have figured out how to make them effective for themselves. So I’ll give you an example is every webinar we have, we open up a Slack group. In that Slack group, anyone who’s on the webinar is invited to join the Slack group ahead of time and chat, ask questions of the people on the panel.

[00:22:28] And every time no one asks a thing, which is not what you expected. I was going to say, right? It’s like, no one asks…

[00:22:34] Jamie: I thought, yeah.

[00:22:36] Michael: No one asks, nothing happens in this channel, right? Stuff happens all over the Slack community, just not in this channel. And so for a while I was like, this is kind of like, what am I doing?

[00:22:45] Like, why do I keep doing this? I thought it’d be useful, and…

[00:22:48] Jamie: Yeah, and you’re thinking there’s no engagement.

[00:22:49] Like they must have the webinar on in the background and not paying attention.

[00:22:53] Michael: For a while I’m just doing it because I said in the promo that we’ll have a Slack channel and I got to follow up and do what I say I’m going to do, but in the back of my mind, I’m like, this isn’t working.

[00:23:03] Then you start seeing the overall Slack channel gets more used and people are starting to engage and you start to realize that, “Oh, people are getting in there. They’re using it differently than maybe I thought.” And then talking to people, I understood what was going on, which was you’re having a webinar the whole webinar knows there’s a Slack channel that’s open for this.

[00:23:20] The problem with a webinar is one dimensional. You’re just listening and you want to know who’s on that. You want to know who’s listening also with you. But guess what? There’s a whole Slack channel listing everyone who’s listening with you. And so what’s happening is people are going in there seeing who’s on the slack channel and going “Oh, yeah, I know, Jamie, I’ll give him a message and see how he’s doing.”

[00:23:39] And so when I finally, this is like two years into having a Slack channel, I looked at the data, the analytics and 90 percent of the activity in that Slack channel is private messages, right? There’s plenty of it. There’s plenty. So if you’re in the Slack channel and you’re listening to this and you maybe are, 10 times the activity that’s happening publicly, which is a lot, is happening privately, and so people are turning these webinars themselves into networking events, is what’s going on. And so they’re sitting there, and that’s why you’re getting all this engagement that I couldn’t quite figure out.

[00:24:11] It’s like people are getting their jobs that way, right? They’re setting up meetings. Which is exactly what events are meant to do. You’re meant to run into people on the show floor and say, “how’s it going? And how are your kids? Like what’s happening by the way, we should have a meeting.” That’s why you go to Affiliate Summit.

[00:24:26] Cause that happens, right? And if you can create that in a digital way, suddenly you have a couple of things. One, you have those connections happening. That’s what creates value in B2B media, and two, people stick around the Slack channel. If you’ve got a job out of that, you’re coming back to it, right?

[00:24:39] If you’ve got an intro to a publisher that you didn’t know you’re going to come back, and that’s a credit to everyone in it. I literally just sat there and thought it wasn’t working, and it turns out that people are more creative at networking than I am. So it worked pretty well.

[00:24:53] Jamie: That’s really unique that you looked at that. I would have I would have thought the same thing at times in our history, we’ve done webinars and I experienced the same thing at the end. No engagement, no questions, and kept thinking either I answered everything so well you literally have nothing to ask, which is probably not true, or people turned it on and then forgot it was on, went and did other things.

[00:25:18] Now I have several Slack groups and every week get that Slack analysis, it’ll show you stuff like that, like how many private messages and things. Do you guys use another… is there anything on top of that, that you’re using to look at the analytics of what’s being used, how it’s being used?

[00:25:35] Michael: It’s an interesting question. I was going to just say no which is true. Like I don’t use extra analytics, but it raises a bigger question. How involved should I get in Slack? Because it’s pretty successful without my engagement, frankly.

[00:25:49] And I don’t want to spoil that. It works because the community makes it work, not because I make it work. I think the best thing I can do is just make sure the right people join. Is just continue to make sure… because I don’t invite everyone who registers for a webinar.

[00:26:04] I make sure that they’re in the industry and that this is someone who’s going to contribute. And, it’s as I said, it’s not Skull and Bones, but there’s a little bit of …

[00:26:12] Jamie: There’s a hurdle to jump over.

[00:26:13] Michael: Yeah, you’ve just got to be engaged in the industry and in the right industry.

[00:26:17] And so beyond that, I just don’t know how much I have to add. I’m more prone to stay away than overanalyze it, right?

[00:26:26] Jamie: Yeah. Yeah. Have you seen these types of tools being used by affiliates to generate leads or revenue? Especially B2B, one of my first jobs was in the B2B space and it was, it’s definitely a more challenging, I think, than a direct to consumer. Are you seeing affiliates use these types of technologies and Slack and that thing to build community to generate whether it’s like brand affinity or revenue leads through affiliate channels?

[00:26:56] Michael: Well, I think any communication that happens in a B2B channel is ultimately sales on some level. What differentiates the Slack is it’s not direct sales, it’s relationship building. And so, yeah, there’s a lot of people who ask questions that, “Hey, can I get an intro here? Can I get an intro here? And that’s definitely lead generation.”

[00:27:13] I don’t think it’s lead generation the way we probably think about it as marketers, right? Sending out a blast, counting the number of people who responded. This is more the next phase of it, which is you already trust who I am.

[00:27:25] You’re probably not gonna respond to me if you don’t, and I’m asking a question that’s legitimately, “hey, I need some help doing a job.” And so I think that’s more the kind of, consideration phase of marketing than the top of the funnel stuff. And I think everyone is respectful of the fact that we’re all trying to get our job done.

[00:27:42] And so, I don’t know if that answers the question but people definitely use it as a sales tool. It’s definitely not, a business development, BDR, blasting out emails or whatever, right? But it’s a way to learn, it’s a learning tool. And if you learn, you’re a better salesperson.

[00:27:59] You’re better at your job overall. So maybe that’s the way to think.

[00:28:03] Jamie: And one of the things, as we’re getting ready for this that I wanted to dive into is the content you guys are producing in the webinars specifically and the guests you have, the speakers you have on these webinars, so many times they’re either from an organization I have never seen speak at an affiliate event or anything like that. Or they’re just an individual kind of like, on this podcast, most of the people on this podcast over 90, I think over 94 percent have never been on a podcast. You have really unique presenters and speakers. How do you decide like what content you’re looking to produce and who’s going to be on those webinars?

[00:28:45] Michael: Well, it’s probably naivete. As I’ve said, like I didn’t come from the affiliate world. It’s embarrassing to say this, but I hadn’t even heard of affiliate before I got recruited by Partnerize. I was like, I literally did not know what they were talking about when they and so, it’s a little bit just, of my, what, 20 something year career the vast majority of it was elsewhere.

[00:29:04] And so, people on my webinars I have to get through networking and my network, and so they tend to probably be from a little bit of a different background. And sometimes that creates a really interesting person who has a different perspective on the industry. Sometimes it doesn’t work also, by the way, sometimes you try and you’re like, “Oh, this, this is not… this doesn’t, this doesn’t work.”

[00:29:23] So that’s part of it. I think what’s going on is affiliate is colliding with a bunch of different content types. Commerce, media, PR, TV, all this stuff which happens to collide with a lot of my prior career, and so I’m just in the right spot to be able to reach out to publishing companies, investors, people who are suddenly finding this world interesting. It just happens to be people I know.

[00:29:47] So that’s just a lucky place that I’m in. The second is through effort, right? So, what I try to do as hard as I can is make sure whoever is going to be on our webinars is interesting.

[00:30:00] That takes difficult conversations sometimes quite frankly because, you’ll do some networking, you’ll network into some company who you really want someone to speak, and they’ll say, ” why don’t you have so and so our sales guy? He’s terrific, very personable.”

[00:30:16] And you have to say no because I know your sales guy is probably a fantastic sales guy, but I’ve met him, and he’s going to be terrible on a webinar ’cause he’s going to be a sales guy, right? He’s going to like, the spiel and he knows his boss is watching, so he’s got to say all like the product points that they all just told him and blah, blah, blah.

[00:30:32] And I’m like, absolutely not. And, and a lot of times that hurts me commercially ’cause people want the right guys involved in all that, men and women involved. And so what you have to say is, “look, I’d love to have someone from your organization, but who’s the most interesting person you’ve got?”

[00:30:47] And what normally happens is the person you’re talking to, you then build a bond with, cause they know you’re right. They’re like, “yeah, I wouldn’t really want to have him on a webinar either,” and you’re like, “see, we agree.” And then you end up building a bond with them because they, the person you’re talking to usually knows who’s interesting in the organization.

[00:31:04] So you start thinking together and working together, and there’s usually someone in every organization who’s the right combination of a good salesperson, but also interesting dynamic, gonna speak off the cuff and say interesting stuff that make these interviews interesting.

[00:31:20] So, you do have to try hard to get good people. And by the way, it’s not to say the sales person is not good at their job and a fantastic human, I just find they’re usually not great webinar guests for obvious reasons. And so…

[00:31:34] Jamie: There’s been a few that I’ve been introduced to for this podcast and we just struggled to just vibe together on a prep call. And it was very, very difficult. There’s people you meet and you’re like, yeah, they’re great and we don’t connect. And so those were difficult conversations for me to just say, “Hey, we’re going to have to move on.”

[00:31:55] Michael: There’s the personal vibe, and then there’s agenda, right? Like people who have very specific agendas are hard to interview, because…

[00:32:02] Jamie: Yeah.

[00:32:02] Michael: We were talking about this in the prep too. CEOs are like this. So on one hand, you want to have the CEO on your webinar because, they’re important and…

[00:32:10] Jamie: There’s a gravitas with that.

[00:32:11] Michael: Yeah, and you feel important cause they weren’t willing to talk to you. On the other hand, good CEOs are the worst people to interview because they know exactly how to take your question and turn it into a totally different question and answer the audience that they want to be speaking to.

[00:32:26] And so, and that’s why they’re great at their jobs. They’re fantastic at that. And but it doesn’t make for a great guest always when they’ve decided who the audience is going to be and what they’re going to say. It’s a great question, and one that I work really hard at making sure we get great, great guests.

[00:32:40] Jamie: It is difficult, especially when you’re, you’re producing content like we are here, you do have to be intentional with who you bring on and make sure you keep it to the core what your audience is looking for. Has that been difficult to do? Have you had a lot of requests to go off of what your mission is?

[00:32:59] Michael: Yeah, all the time. And you have to have clarity around what you’re trying to do, and for us, that clarity is we want to help you make better decisions at work. And that’s how we evaluate every piece of content. “Is this going to help a publisher, an agency, or a brand make a better decision?”

[00:33:19] And if the answer is yes, great. Let’s move forward with this. And if it’s not, then you got to wonder why you’re doing it. That’s what happens in a lot of the interviews that someone’s being forced in. And you’re like, “this person’s not going to help the audience get to the answer faster.”

[00:33:32] And if that’s the case, just move on, it’s a waste of time. Yeah.

[00:33:36] Jamie: That clarity of mission has that always been the same, helping others make better decisions at work? Has that been since the beginning?

[00:33:44] Michael: Yes.

[00:33:45] Jamie: I’m sure makes it very easy to figure out what you’re doing.

[00:33:48] Michael: If you go read our first buyer’s guide, that was the first thing we published, I think that’s the first line. That has not changed and will not change. It’s specific enough, but it allows you also enough flexibility because you can produce tons of different types of content. You can distribute it in different ways.

[00:34:04] And if you do that, there’ll always be value created, and my challenge as a publisher is how do I capture that value? That’s the hard part. Because you can help people make decisions and not make any money doing it. So you have to think through the way to do that.

[00:34:16] Jamie: Are you able to share how you guys do that? How do you capture the value as an organization with all this content you’re producing and what you’re helping the community do?

[00:34:25] Michael: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m happy, very happy to share because I’ll tell you how we do it now and how we want to get to. So right now, the way we capture value is we publish these reports, we publish webinars, we produce articles all of which have this mission and the main monetization tool is through kind of advertising and sponsorship. And so that’s, platforms, networks, agencies, tech providers who want to get in front of our audience. And so it’s pretty simple, it’s, ” Hey, we have this niche, but engaged audience. You can pay to sponsor a webinar or a newsletter or other types of content live events that we produce.”

[00:35:07] What we want to get to is we’re producing much more tangible connections that you’re willing to pay for, whether you’re a reader who would subscribe, so that has to be a revenue stream in the future, and you would only do that if you’re getting information that helps you make decisions on a regular basis.

[00:35:24] We want to be able to capture leads for publishers, for agencies and walk the walk in the performance marketing industry. We want to say, “Hey, we’ve passed on someone who eventually bought your piece of technology there’s value, pay us for that.”

[00:35:38] I think we’ll get there, and I think there’s some barriers from consumers. I don’t think B2B enterprise affiliates quite there yet in terms of tracking, but I think we’ll get to that point. And we also want to be able to use things like the Slack channel to capture RFPs.

[00:35:55] So if you’re in the Slack channel asking what agency you should use or what technology you should use, what publishers or actually, if you’re a publisher looking for advertisers, there should be way in that Slack channel to fill out an RFP and have that submitted to our advertisers. So let’s take JEB…

[00:36:12] Jamie: That’s pretty interesting.

[00:36:13] Michael: Yeah, I’ll just take you as an example, right?

[00:36:16] Is this is already happening. People are asking in the Slack channel for agency recommendations. That has happened dozens of times in the Slack channel. I capture zero value from that, but you would probably pay me if I could make sure that you saw who that was, right? And so what we’d like to do in the future is, I’d like to “Hey, anyone who’s looking here is an industry standard RFP.”

[00:36:36] That RFP will go to the agencies who are listed in our directory. So if you go to the footer of Martech Record, it has an agency directory. JEB is in there, and we will push that to the people listed in the agency directory. We’ll probably do it to the ones who are paying.

[00:36:50] There’s $100 a month fee to be at the top of our list and that’ll be something you pay for. And over time, maybe that turns into performance. You close the deal, pay us, things like that, and you can do the same thing for technology providers, for the platforms, the networks.

[00:37:04] People ask, we have a standard RFP that makes everyone’s life a little easier. Like RFPs are, hard to fill out …

[00:37:10] Jamie: We love them.

[00:37:11] Michael: That’s right. Yeah. No one, no one. Exactly. Make your life.

[00:37:15] Jamie: Love the ones that are written by someone who’s never worked in the channel.

[00:37:19] Michael: Exactly, and so if you can create some standards around that and you can help actually make that decision faster for people, everyone gets value out of that. And then, I’ll give you another example and then I’ll shut up, but these are the kind of things I’m really excited about is something we already have.

[00:37:33] We really haven’t rolled it out yet, but it actually exists from a technology standpoint is we have the ability for commerce publishers to publish their media kits right on our site. And so, USA today can say, “Hey, in the fall, we’re going to be reviewing pizza ovens tents, and ice skates or whatever,” and that goes into a private Slack channel for advertisers only.

[00:37:57] Advertisers can use that to pitch, and the problem this solves, and there’s a specific form the advertiser has to use to pitch so they can fill out why you should use this. They can send them the pizza oven. There’s a link that says, send the pizza oven to this editor.

[00:38:11] The problem that solves in the market right now is if you’re a commerce editor, if you’re Reviewed, or Wire Cutter, or whomever, you’d get hundreds of tech emails a day from people trying to get in, written about hundreds.

[00:38:23] And there’s just no way like this is this, it’s a…

[00:38:25] Jamie: And 99 of them aren’t appropriate to what you’re…

[00:38:28] Michael: Let’s say you get 199 of them are irrelevant, and I know this because people text message me this stuff. There’s a lot of really bad pitches out there and it makes it hard for the good people to get through.

[00:38:39] For the JEBs to get through and say, “we have a really good product that you should be reviewing,” your job has made it a hundred times harder if there’s a hundred emails that are irrelevant around that. So if I can filter those for the industry and say, “okay. I have already filters who’s in this private Slack group. It’s only advertisers that know what they’re doing, that know how to pitch.”

[00:38:57] On this side have been able to filter the publishers and say, “they’re giving you a standardized media kit.” So you can easily search through it and say, ” here’s what’s going to be written about in six months.”

[00:39:07] Everyone’s job just got a little easier.

[00:39:08] Jamie: Yeah. Removing friction from that part of the marketplace.

[00:39:12] Michael: And that’s stuff people are willing to pay for. If suddenly it’s a hundred times easier to get in contact with the right people, and on the other side of it, it’s a hundred times easier for them to find quality pitches, you can make money from that. That’s a subscription product right there.

[00:39:25] Jamie: And what I’ve been thinking of as we’ve been talking today is how this relates to any other B2B affiliate, but also any other affiliate. And the one thing I’ve seen you guys do from the moment we sat down and had lunch here in Idaho and you told me about the idea till now was you’re building value to your audience first. That seems to be the sole focus, how to monetize it comes, but the focus on helping others make better decisions at work… like I know that mission, I can say it, you’ve done it, and you continue to do it. And these other ways to monetize on top of it. I’ve worked with so many affiliates over… I started in 99 which now my kids and their classes call the late 1900s, which I’m not not very okay with.

[00:40:17] Michael: The late 1900s. Ugh.

[00:40:20] Jamie: Awful. That’s what it’s referred to now, but I’ve seen them so focused on monetization and lose what the hell the audience wants.

[00:40:30] And who is the audience you’re trying to build? And then how are you servicing them? And then building a business on top of that. You seem to be going into this next phase of just still focusing on what is the audience need to fulfill this mission.

[00:40:46] Michael: Well, I’ll tell you, I remember seeing G2 for the first time. G2 is this review site that reviews B2B tech, and it was clear to me how they built that business. They were really good at two things: search and web scraping and I couldn’t believe how any B2B tech company thought to themselves, “Oh, this is super useful to the consumer,” because you go in like you’d read the reviews of the affiliate platforms it was very clear that no one writing that had any clue how an affiliate platform worked or what someone…

[00:41:16] Jamie: Yeah.

[00:41:17] Michael: And it was very clear to me that people who built the business never thought about that. What they thought about was we’re really good at search, we’re great at getting, writing the right search terms so that someone gets to this page.

[00:41:29] And then they thought to themselves, “well, we need content,” and they never thought we’ll create good content. They just said, “well, how do we build a web scraper? We’ll just web scrape everything that’s associated with affiliate and we’ll populate it.” There’s no alternative if you’re a B2B marketer, but to give them money, like there’s just nothing better.

[00:41:44] Because they aggregated an audience, that’s valuable. But I think we’ve moved on to a next phase in B2B where the tools are now there to actually engage an audience. And in G2’s defense, like, I don’t think the tools were there. At least Slack communities weren’t there. Webinars weren’t highly used.

[00:42:00] The best you could do is have a live event, which worked. I’m not too critical of them. I don’t know if they had better solutions, but I think that’s what ruined a lot of media, frankly, is that, the people in charge were good at search and web scraping and never thought, that’s why Google and Facebook are the gatekeepers to the industry. They’re tubes, they’re not content providers.

[00:42:19] I’m a huge optimist. It might be a problem of but like, I believe that we’re getting to a place in which, you know, especially with these niche communities where people really want to connect with each other. You don’t need search. I don’t rely on Google at all. I have no idea how much organic traffic they send me. I really don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is because none of my advertisers ever asked me. They want to know who showed up to the event and they want to know the name of the person who showed up at the event. And they want to know the company they work for and they want to talk to them, right? And if you can get that meeting for them, they’re not going to be like, “how many unique visitors showed up in July?” Like, what do they care?

[00:42:53] And so that’s creating value.

[00:42:55] Jamie: Yeah, definitely. So a question popped in my mind that we haven’t talked about yet. I’m going to throw it out there, and we can totally take it off this podcast if we need to, but when you’re talking about G2 and the scraping, it brought to mind Sports Illustrated being caught.

[00:43:09] Building AI reporters and putting out a bunch of AI produced articles, do you think that’s going to be more of a problem? Do you think it allows content creators like yourself, publishers like yourself, to just stand way above? I can almost pick an AI article and especially a review.

[00:43:28] They’re still pretty damn easy to pinpoint, I think if you’re really looking at it. Do you see that becoming a problem? Does it help you stand out? Like, where do you think that’s going to merge in this publisher world?

[00:43:40] Michael: It’s a great question and there’s like several questions in your question, right? So we’ll start with the first part, which would help me stand out. And yeah, I think the more niche you are, the more you can avoid this for a while and just create. I don’t think there’s a lot of people trying to create AI reviews of affiliate platforms.

[00:44:00] So I think I’m in like a little more of a protected spot there. And I think that the more niche you are, the more people rely on human relationships in the industry. We’re talking, ’cause we know each other and a lot of people listening probably know who we are, right? And so I think that it’s going to be a long time before AI disrupts those true B2B relationships where the human part kind of matters.

[00:44:25] I feel like somewhat protected there. This is also part of a different question that you asked, which is “why do you like B2B media?” Which is to me, consumer media is really hard. Like I find consumer media like so intimidating. You’ve got to find a way to get all of this traffic.

[00:44:41] You rely on basically one gatekeeper, which is Google too, if you’re also relying on Facebook and they change their algorithms whenever the hell they want. That’s a really hard business because you’ve got just one or two gatekeepers and you’ve got to have massive scale to be successful. And so they are in the middle of running very, very difficult businesses that this year got even harder.

[00:45:04] The cost of acquiring users is through the roof. The advertising budgets are shrinking. There’s all these market trends that are making being a big publisher more and more difficult today. And so, given that, it’s not surprising at all that major publishers are trying to lower their costs.

[00:45:20] And one of the ways you can do that is through AI generated content. Now, I think what’ll happen over time is just the same thing that happened to reviews, right? Which is quality will rise at the top and consumers will understand what high quality is, and BS will settle at the bottom and it’ll probably still make money because if you can generate an audience, you can make money.

[00:45:41] I think we’re in a little bit of a weird time because there’s no real rules. It seems clear to me that you shouldn’t make up a byline and pretend that a human exists.

[00:45:49] Jamie: Right.

[00:45:49] Michael: That seems obvious to me. That’s a micro example of a macro trend that’s not going to stop. Whether you and I want to, is AI is to lower the cost of creating content because running a media company is expensive and hard. And so, I think that like any media since the internet was created, by the way, since media was created, is you’re going to have bottom feeders who cheat the system and are really good at manipulating the data and finding a way to… I don’t operate in that world for better or worse, and then you’re going to have people who figure out how to create quality.

[00:46:21] The difference between now and 20 years ago is you have better tools as publishers. You have subscription tools that allow people to pay easily. It wasn’t that long ago where the idea of paying for the New York times, the wall street journal was like, what, I’ll never do that.

[00:46:35] And part of the reason you wouldn’t do it is because it was hard. You got there, you had to get your credit card out. You have to like type it in, it was annoying, they forgot your password. And now it’s much more seamless. And so there’s better tools for publishers who are good.

[00:46:47] I could go on forever talking about this. It is an issue. It’s going to remain an issue. It’s going to be hard for Google to solve. That’s going to make it harder for publishers because Google is going to put out way more updates. They put out more updates means publishers have to spend more time adjusting to the Google update and less time paying good writers.

[00:47:05] There’s all sorts of little issues in here that publishers have to deal with that are hard. I don’t think I have to deal with them too much because we got an audience of 5,000 people. They all know each other. They’re going to know pretty quick if the content we’re putting out is AI.

[00:47:19] It would be funny for me to create an AI byline in the industry.

[00:47:25] Jamie: You have a new writer.

[00:47:27] Michael: Like, who’s this? Yeah.

[00:47:31] Jamie: Well, Michael, we are up against time. We didn’t get to talk about the what the hell’s going on in in the economy and everything that’s going on in the space, but maybe we’ll save that for your podcast after your anniversary here. Congratulations on three years we’ll share your LinkedIn and your and the URL to Martech Record if anyone is interested in joining the Slack and following along and checking out those webinars. .

[00:47:54] Well, thank you, Michael, again, for spending the time. I look forward to being on your podcast here soon. And for those listening you learned a lot today about a lot of different things. I’ll sum it up in our outro, but Michael, thank you again.

[00:48:07] It’s been great to see what you guys are doing. I love what Martech Record is doing and looking forward to seeing what 2024 and beyond looks like.

[00:48:15] Michael: Me too. Thanks for having me. Appreciate Jamie.

[00:48:18] Jamie: Well, first, Michael, thank you for joining me again, being, I think, our second member of the two appearance club on the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast. Appreciate you taking the time to join me. Really appreciate that. So many things to listen to first. Martech record does such a good job of bringing objective data.

[00:48:37] Many of us at JEB have been part of their surveys, answering questions about networks. Their webinars are great. That really are great. Like the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast, many of their guests and speakers haven’t spoken in regular affiliate spaces before. Many of our guests haven’t been on podcasts before, and so that brings a really unique aspect and a unique perspective to what we’re doing, and I really appreciate that.

[00:49:02] One of the big things that I pulled out of this conversation, I think Michael demonstrated so much is something we talk about at JEB quite a bit, especially to affiliates when they’re first starting out or making changes is: you need to focus on your audience. Just what are they looking for? Who is your audience and what they’re looking for? And then monetization comes from that. And so what they’ve been able to do at Martech that is really interesting and really respect what they’ve done is that sole focus on their mission of helping you make better decisions at work.

[00:49:37] Hopefully I’m saying that right, but that’s sole focus on every content, every speaker, every webinar, every event is totally focused on helping you make better decisions at work in our channel. And then seeing different ways they can monetize on top of that, but without the demonstrated ability to fulfill that mission and help those of us in the space make better decisions, none of those other opportunities will happen. So often, especially affiliates, especially B2B affiliates, they’ll get in the mode of “how do I monetize this? How do I make money from this? When they should be asking, is this good? Does anyone want to read this? Watch it, participate in it, engage in it.”

[00:50:20] And a lot of times affiliates forget that. So if you’re starting out, you’re trying to figure out how to monetize, figure out what your mission is and then figure out what your audience wants. That’ll help you fulfill that mission and stay focused on it 100%. Michael’s working on new ways to monetize for Martech Record, and that’s after three years of becoming the leader in this type of content. These buyer’s guides are fantastic.

[00:50:45] Also love the aspect of, the commerce partners able to submit their media kits. And if you’re not joined in Martech Record, if you’re not participating, you definitely need to be over there.

[00:50:56] And then content creation. How do you decide? Again, it’s to the mission. Are you being able to serve those in your audience? And then who’s interesting? On our podcast, we’ve had to refuse a few guests because we didn’t feel they were interesting and it wasn’t going to fulfill any part of our mission here at the Profitable Performance Marketing podcast.

[00:51:17] And so we’ve had to have those discussions. I know Michael has had to have many of those themselves, but, Michael, thank you so much. I hope you guys learned something of value here, and I hope you take some time to check out Martech Record. We’ll include a bunch of those links in the show notes as well.

[00:51:33] If you found this podcast valuable please share it with a friend, go share it on Facebook, X, and LinkedIn, and that really helps us get the word out. What really, really helps is a five star review, whether that’s on Apple Podcast or Spotify or the podcast player of your choice. Go leave us a review.

[00:51:50] And again, if you’re an advertiser and you need help growing your program in 2024 and beyond, then definitely reach out to us at or you can go to, and you’ll find all the information about our services that we have there.

[00:52:07] Anyway, thank you guys for joining us for today, making it this long in the podcast. I hope you have a wonderful day. And if there’s a topic you want us to cover just email us at

[00:52:20] This is Jamie from Profitable Performance Marketing podcast signing off. Have a great day.

Transcript Toggle