Jeff Molander's Affiliate List Part 2

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Story Text:

Some people noticed that I went ballistic on my blog at Revenews a few days ago, and said some harsh things about Jeff Molander. They also noticed that some of it was deleted by Jim Kukral, the publisher over there. Some comments were deleted as well.

First, a clarification

Some have been jumping to the too-easy conclusion that Jim pulled rank on me because he was protecting an advertiser. Appearances might suggest that, but it's not what happened. Jim edited my words because I went too far. Any newspaper editor would have done the same. I offered Jim my resignation over the matter, and he accepted it.

It's hard to say enough to explain the problem without recreating it. I'll just say that the deleted bits were even more crabby and prickly than what remains, and leave you to imagine from there.

Now an apology

About the article itself, I'm freely and unconditionally willing to apologize for some things, although not others. I wish to make it clear that I don't believe Jeff Molander intends to cause harm or difficulty for anyone.

If I had access to edit the piece now I'd tone some things down. I might have used a metaphor something like "munchies on an hors d'ouvres tray" instead of "serving me up on a platter, already sliced and diced for competitors to chew, just to line his own pockets". Such verbs convey inappropriate overtones of violence when delivered with such anger.

Another spot where different imagery would have served better was the phrase "stabbed in the back". That implies injurious intent, and as I said, I don't believe it was or is Jeff's intent to cause harm or difficulty for anyone. Regarding the final sentence, where I say I did not receive a clear answer … please know that Jeff did indeed send a timely response when I asked him if it was true that I was on his list. The problem is the "clear" part … I've reread his responses several times and still don't know for sure if I'll be taken off the list.

Now the hard part

Now comes the hard part. The really hard part. I'm willing to apologize for the crabby tone, and the inappropriate implications of some wording, but I'm not willing to apologize for the article's overall thrust, which is to express a very low opinion of Jeff Molander's competence and his integrity. I have serious questions about both, and I'm willing to put my name to that.

I'm not just an anonymous blogger indulging in virtuoso sarcasm, I'm putting my reputation on the line here and I'm willing to face Jeff Molander in court if need be. (BTW, Jeff, your lawyer is your "counsel", not "council".)

What we have here is a guru who doesn't follow his own advice, ignores widely respected best practices, sneers at professional feedback, and misrepresents his own "product". I submit: that's an industry problem, not just a personal gripe.

Consider what Jeff wrote in the discussion following Jonathan Miller's article here:

In response to Wayne Porter's words:

"For example I wouldn't mind to be on a list like this but I would want to be able to control what contact information goes into the list and how I prefer to be contacted."

Jeff Molander replied:

In fact, each company on the list was afforded the opportunity to specify this information - their preference.

Jeff, that's a bold-faced lie, and I'm calling you on it.

Jeff's site that sells the list claims it provides the affiliate's "Preferred e-mail and/or Web Form, Telephone, Physical Location/Address, etc."

Jeff, that's material misrepresentation and I'm calling you on it.

Jeff, gurus are supposed to do their homework. If you had bestirred yourself to seek my permission and verify my information, you'd have learned that because of my husband's studies we've been maintaining two residences for the last couple of years. You'd have learned that the contact info I publish when I'm expecting a phone call now and then is not what I'd provide if I were expecting multiple calls every day. You'd also have known a better address to send that Very Scary Letter to.

But you didn't do your homework.

Getting off the list?

Jeff, you've been asking affiliates who want off your list about their business reasons for that wish. That would be a fair question if you had also asked a comparable question during development, to explore reasons to be ON the list. If you had asked about my goals and how your list might support them, you'd have learned that the areas in which I'm productive these days are different from a couple of years ago, and different again from where I'm heading next. You'd have found that out …. if you had taken your own advice and leveraged the relationship we had.

Personal Damage to Jeff?

How many other relationships did you sabotage instead of leverage in all of this? I can't imagine that former employers or partners or whoever are comfortable with what people think when you write stuff like this:

"If it remains a mystery as to where I've seen the data (that allows me to pass judgment on retail focused affiliates) after helping found an affiliate network, lead the sales effort at the leading affiliate data services provider and manage dozens of programs as an outsourced services provider to marketers... well, then, I'm sorry."

Is the problem here sloppy ethics or just sloppy writing? Hard to say, but neither befits a guru.

-- Elisabeth Archambault

Comments

The entire 1st thread

The entire 1st thread convinced me that the guy had bad business & marketing skills, as well as a misrepresented product.

But rather than get into personal attacks or anything, I think the following quote from him shows about how much he can be trusted:

"If it remains a mystery as to where I've seen the data (that allows me to pass judgment on retail focused affiliates) after helping found an affiliate network, lead the sales effort at the leading affiliate data services provider and manage dozens of programs as an outsourced services provider to marketers... well, then, I'm sorry."

Hmmm... somehow I think he may have signed contracts when he did those things. IMHO he may want to look into keeping his "council" on retainer going forward...

Conflict of interests?

This is an interesting example of a straightforward conflict of interests caused by advertising.

One will suspect, but never actually know, whether the "censorship" of Buckworks article was due to higher editorial or lower financial principals.

I was looking at the background of this thread, and here is the screenshot of the front page of Revenews, complete with an advert for, guess what !

[img]http://www.utterbollocks.com/photos/revenews.gif [/img]

Not conflicts at all :)

Elisabeth, sorry all of that went down. The List seems like a poison pill for everyone who touches it.

Cornwall, publications have been taking advertising from the same companies that cover for a very very long time: the key is to make sure that advertising revenue doesn't drive editorial decisions. Collaborative blogs are even more resistent to that influence than traditional newsrooms with tall hierarchies are.

I don't run ReveNews anymore, but I've been publishing there since 1998. Not being afraid to bite the hand that thinks it is feeding you is part of what I love about the niche ReveNews has :) There has been tremendous, tremendous behind the scenes turmoil surrounding this list affair, with must teeth gnawing and hair pulling and spittle erupting on all sides.

The BlogAd has no really bearing on anyone's decisions (and if you click the "advertise here" link you'll see the ad is costing Molander a whopping $25/week.)

Best,

Brian Clark

Tentative solution

>There has been tremendous, tremendous behind the scenes turmoil surrounding this list affair, with must teeth gnawing and hair pulling and spittle erupting on all sides.

Well there would be :/

You can't serve up people on a platter who don't consent to it. Unless it is in self defence, you must only do things to people that they consent to, or else there is trouble like night follows day. Most of us learn this by the age of five.

Jeff's disrespect for affiliates is deep-seated and long standing. He regards them as people who think first of all 'What can I get away with today?' He advises merchants to drop their affiliate programs, because, he claims, affiliates will forget to remove merchant links so the merchant gets free traffic! All this and more is on his website. No affiliate in their right mind would have anything to do with him once they had researched him, and turmoil over the issue is to Revenews' credit.

It didn't have to be this way. Whoever decides to run with the idea can obtain consent from their affiliates. That way they will find the many successful affiliates Jeff missed (the foreign ones, the Delaware corporations and the ones outside Performics four years ago) then, instead of paying to get the phone slammed down on them all the time, customers might actually find the affiliate welcomes contact!

I would welcome phonecalls from certain merchants in certain niches I specify, on a telephone number I specify, at times I specify. I can also supply references from well-respected merchants proving my earning power. My website locations are not part of the deal however until a tentative agreement with the merchant has been reached.

I will never do this via Jeff Molander because professional discretion is required and I think its also best if the listmaker doesn't actually despise affiliates. We should be grateful to Jeff though for proving there is a market for this type of service once the logistics have been properly thought through.

public data isn't much of an excuse

Icicle, that was my same reaction too. When I got Jeff's announcement of the product, I sent him email back and asked if it was an opt-in list, and when he response was "no," my reply was that I hoped he had learned how to take a punch. My telephone and email get enough contacts from people want to sell me something already, and from my point of view an affiliate manager is just another kind of salesman (no offense to all of my fine AM friends, most of whom don't consider "just another kind of salesman" to be much of an insult.)

The key question I always ask AMs in these kinds of situations is, "Would you allow your affiliates to do the same thing -- start from a non-opt-in list and send out or phone out offers." The answer is almost always "no, we wouldn't" ... and sometimes that sneaks into a realization that "maybe we shouldn't do any form of marketing that we would eject an affiliate for modeling."

My advice to everyone on the Molander list: there always have been and there always will be non-permission based mailing list houses. Molander has a very fancy but very small list. No reason to pull out your hair in too much consternation, but also no reason to treat Molander's list as anything but the "gray market commodity" it is.

Brian

(*edited to re-insert an important "not" that actually makes me make sense for a change *grin*)

Where do we find them?

If we can't find them on the affiliate list, where do we find them?

We have tried listings, banners, PPC, direct-mail campaigns, calling, submit forms and the all famous Super affiliate generator. Where do we find good affiliates and how do we find them?

So far we have thousands of affiliates, from the very basic personal sites, to well known traffic brokers.

Any advice?

>>>Where do we find good

>>>Where do we find good affiliates and how do we find them?

If you have a good product or service and have a good affiliate program with decent profit margins for the affiliate the "GOOD" affiliates will find you.

If you don't provide a good product or service or have a good affiliate program, you should start doing your own marketing, cuz no "GOOD" affiliates are going to join your program, no matter what list they are on (unless it is a list of all the dumb shit head non-producing affiliates).

EXACTLY lotsO

The best will find you, if you have a good program and they trust you as an AM.

Paying for finding affiliates is pure BS.

It may take more time than you like so it is very important to manage the merchants expectations. Affiliate Marketing is a slow build. It is not driven by "student body right" software or lists.

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