For those that don't know you, what Affiliate activity do you currently run?
"Most of our online activity is now concentrated around Loquax.co.uk. We've also got a couple of other much smaller sites in the gaming arena and tinker occasionally with other things if the mood takes us.
"This year has been quite interesting in so much that we dropped the shopping comparison section on Loquax - this was pre-Panda, but I think it would've been hit. It did bring in some sales, but not enough to be worth the hassle of feed management and server issues it brought."
Anything annoying you currently within Affiliate Marketing!?
"No real annoyance as I think times are tough and very busy for all, with that in mind it's hard to get annoyed (ooh he's mellowed!). Mind you, I'd like creative to be updated, feeds to be better and communications sent out at sensible times.
"If I was to be point out one thing it's emails from merchants - some have nothing in (here's an email to say we're going to send out an email tomorrow) whilst others just list products - I fail to understand what purpose they serve as there's no information with them (e.g. "here's a gadget as seen on This Morning and it's proving popular" is better than "here's a gadget just because we need to add 10 items to this email")."
What tips do you have for any Affiliates in the run up to the Christmas Period and January Sales?
"This year we've done almost nothing with regards retail and this festive period, simply because time + effort will not equal reward (or sufficient reward). It's tempting to chase sales, but it's often at the expense of what we do day to day. So my advice would be think about that when being bombarded with Christmas promos. We'll concentrate on what we've done for the last 10/11 months as that's the bread and butter for us.
"Other tips, the Sales can often be a better option for affiliates (especially going into December). Another tip would be stick to merchants you trust... it's often too easy to switch to another for a tempting extra %age commission."
What is the main change you've noticed over the past 12 months while working on your Affiliate activity?
"It's tougher, it's more professional, it's a little bit in limbo and erm, London! Facebook and Twitter add an extra dimension (at least to our day to day lives) and the big sites have got bigger (or at least it seems that way). Professional is a given although I do miss the old days of A4U!
"In limbo because people like me don't know if we're affiliates, publishers or performance marketeers - it's a little bit confusing. London seems to be where everyone needs to be these days and that's not always good news. It puts us old school people out in the sticks a little more off radar."
Have you attempted to run any Performance-based elements on your website aside from Affiliate links?
"This year we've done tenancy for the first time and had a brief flirtation with a CPM agency. However, we're always looking at new ways to earn revenue.
"We've been offered tenancy agreements before but always felt a little uncomfortable with the idea (e.g. are we offering good value to the client - we're happy to take their money but for long term relationships you want them to get value). It went OK and we've learnt from the experience so that's good.
"CPM agency wasn't so good - it was bargain basement banners and pennies CPM. Not a good experience. In fact CPM agencies have for the most part been very poor over the years and we've yet to find a decent one."
The best Affiliate sale you ever made?
"Obvious answer is the first one - simply because a big lightbulb came on and opened up a whole new world. But, every sale is still just as enjoyable as the first. Silly really."
You've previously stated, and I quote, that you constantly are "losing the will to live due to the lack of festive banners from merchants" - do you stil find this a problem in your day-to-day activity?
"Banners are a pain at anytime of the year and perhaps there needs to be a rethink on how networks/merchants offer them. But to go back to the above, people are busy and in tough times priorities are different. Resources will go to larger sites doing sales than to Average Joe affiliates who may just want a nice festive banner to put on their site in the hope of the odd sale here and there."
How can Networks / Agencies / Advertisers help you in your day-to-day? What are they doing right / What are they doing wrong?
"For Loquax we want to know about competitions that merchants have on their sites. Yes we can drive traffic (to the annoyance of some) but with a good angle we can generate good content (e.g. New Christmas TV ad plus onsite competition = Loquax content, New product range + prize draw = Loquax content). A lot of merchants, agencies, maybe even networks, still don't get us - and that's a big frustration. We're not an incentive site and we don't offer cashback - and we don't run the competitions on the site either.
"If a merchant has a competition on their site - we'd like to know. If they can provide us with PR or some additional angle to work on - then we'd especially like to know. In fact anything competition related (e.g. announcement of winners, a video of their winners, a video of their competition) is all great content for us to work with and in return we can promote."
Where do you see yourself in 12 months time? What main technological advances / communications would aid your case for 2012?
"Probably still doing Loquax, but you never know. This year was the first we seriously considered where we were with the business and did we love it enough to carry on in it's current direction. However, we keep on moving forward so who knows!?
"What I would like to see in 2012 is a meeting/day for SME affiliates where we may have time to chat to networks, agencies, merchants. Like a small conference day without the super affiliates. A chance to let people know that this area of affiliate marketing is still alive!"