Blimey! You stop for five minutes after watching Bugsy Malone to see what’s happening in the world of affiliate marketing and the portents of doom are echoing around the internet. According to David Hawk and his Search Engine Marketing Thoughts the affiliate industry has had enough of this life and gone and killed itself! Other bloggers including 5 Star Affiliate Programs and Lee McCoy agree with these portents of doom – and well it has to be said that I too agree…. to a point!

Perhaps Hawk is being a little melodramatic with his assessment of AM’s imminent demise, although the points he makes about bad affiliate practice are well put. However, affiliate marketing will always survive in some sense. Hawk rightly suggests the days of the AM Wild West are in decline and the Sheriff Bigs Guys, whether they are a multi million pound PPC agency or a major brand “playing” at affiliate marketing (which their marketing manager will call “pay for performance”), are in town.

In fact affiliate marketing has been a “big boys game” for some time now. However, scratch away at the surface and there are still plenty of small/medium affiliates capable of working within the space and within the rules. The be all and end all of affiliate marketing is not the one’s who break the rules! And it’s important to remember that.

In my experience, one of the biggest elements missing from Hawk’s assessment of the industry is the key to how we all earn a living – and that element is the consumer! Consumer’s are getting more clued up about cashback, vouchers, discounts, price comparison sites, advertising and promotions. They realise their data gets sold if they hand it over for a free coupon or chance to win a car. All marketing emails are now defined as “spam” and if an affiliate site offers a promotion, you can bet a few quid that the consumer will go looking around for something better OR go and grab their cashback from their favourite rewards site.

Even if you take away all the bad guys, the consumer will continue to get wiser about how things work online! That just means that network, merchant and affiliate need to be a lot more smarter in the future to ensure ongoing success at all levels of affiliate mrketing.

Therefore the lightbulb that is AM can shine at least for a little longer. Things are changing, some for the better others perhaps not so, but heck it’s always been like this, and any affiliate who’s been in the game for sometime will understand that, especally those working with content, SEO and community. Affiliate marketing is about adaptability, ingenuity, hard work and a little bit of luck here and there – all within the rules of course!

We’ve not been doing this stuff for 10 years just to lie down and say adieu – not yet anyway!