What is the Performance Marketing Association?

Affiliate marketing is a key channel for the vast majority of online advertisers, both retailers and lead buyers. The Performance Marketing Association, now entering its second year as a registered non-profit, is the only major industry association positioned to represent the myriad players in the performance marketing space, including publishers, agencies, advertisers, networks, and vendors.

As a phrase "performance marketing" is intended to cover a broader footprint than "affiliate marketing", though the terms are roughly synonymous. Performance marketing is an elegant form of business engagement in that the opportunity cost of partnering is low but the financial reward is commensurate with the value driven.

And this adds up to a lot of value in our space. According to Forrester research, US affiliate marketing spend is projected to grow by 110 percent over the five year span from $1.9B in 2009 to $4B in 2014. As Chad Wehrmaker mentioned on a recent video, eBay Partner Network's own top 1,000 affiliates at eBay each earn on average $100,000 per year.

Performance marketing has established itself as a desirable way to do business and attracted more and more powerful players. We see much innovation on the publisher side with companies like Collectors Weekly, VigLink and SkimLinks, as well as on the advertiser side. Here ePN's own Quality Click Pricing is a good example of forward-thinking change.

Our future looks bright but will be even brighter if we work together to create and update standards, educate on best practices, and protect against fraud. Although not its reason for being, the PMA has led the fight against tax nexus legislation, which badly harms the performance marketing space without providing additional revenue for state governments. (As an aside, the PMA is not opposed to sales tax online but is instead opposed to unfair discrimination against our form of advertising.)

We have a much broader mission than fighting the nexus legislation. The PMA wants to support the industry through the creation of standards, education, and greater trust. In many circumstances affiliate programs do not receive resources commensurate with their value. Over 40 PMA members are donating their time to fulfill this mission. We currently have several active working groups:

- Anti-Fraud/Anti-Abuse: Chaired by EJ Hilbert of Online Intelligence, an Epic Advertising Company

- Industry Standard: Advertiser Agreements, chaired by Matt Arthur of Adperio

- Industry Standard: Data Feed, chaired by Mitch Gibbs of Ebates

- Code of Conduct: Chaired by eBay's own Neeraja Gunaratnam

- The Industry Rating System: Chaired by Peter Figueredo of NETexponent, is now forming

In addition to having the opportunity to sponsor (Platinum Members) or serve on (Platinum, Gold, or Associate Members) working groups, members can join Special Interest Groups and our members only discussion group.

I would like to thank eBay for its support of the PMA, both through its membership, Neeraja's service, and JJ McCarthy's board service, and encourage readers of this blog to join and be active. Please feel welcome to contact me directly if there are questions I can answer. You can learn more about being a member of the PMA here.

- Brook Schaaf

Brook is the co-founder of Schaaf-PartnerCentric, a leading affiliate management agency, and current President of the Performance Marketing Association. You can read more about Brook here.