I think one of the most anticpated sessions at Affiliate Summit East is the panel on Ethics in Affiliate Marketing moderated by Haiko from AbestWeb.com with panelists from PepperJam, Shareaale, AffiliateCrew, FlamingoWorld and eBates.
Haiko opened with a great call to consider the ethics (or lack thereof) that exist in the industry that we work in.
Michael Jones from Pepperjam talked a bit about PepperJam’s commitment to transparencey of the affiliate/merchant relationship and their interest in working with the emerging groups that are springing up to speak for the concerns of the various sectors of the industry.
Paul Nichols from eBates definitely stirred the room with his claim that eBates has been affiliate redirect (commission theft) since 2001. He went as far as to claim that the continuing claims by affiliates that eBates is doing something improper is legally actionable based on his experience as a former prosecuting attorney.
Connie Berg of FlamingoWorld laid out the fact that plenty of rules that are in place, that many people choose not to follow and networks that choose not to enforce them because of their interest in profitability over fairness.
Chuck Hamrick spoke a bit on issues of cleaning up the industry internally before regulation comes in from outside.
Brian Littleton of Shareasale in typical fashion was able to boil the arguments down and make some great poins.
First: we need to look at the big picture. He gave the example of an affiliate who is violating at Google terms and conditions and stating that although the action is not Illegal… it is Unethical and that affiliates who engage in behavior like this would be thrown out of the network because of their overall impact on the ponds whose water we share.
Good discussion followed with points on the consumers role in all of this as consumers choose to use tools like eBates for specific reasons. Lisa Picarille posed the question of viability of certification of affiliates that do engage in ethical practices.
Running out of battery… gotta go