I am making my 2014 New Year resolution early – and it is a resolution I am sticking to well beyond the first month of the year!

In 2014, I will be actively campaigning for greater regulation in the performance marketing industry. It is something that’s been talked about but we are no further ahead, and if nobody takes an active stance, achieving a regulated industry will never happen.

If it does not happen, as an industry we will be forever fighting for our reputation and marketing budget share, which does not make sense when we are one of the few marketing channels that is guaranteed to deliver revenue and a return on investment.

Performance marketing is a young industry and as it matures, it is critical that we behave in a responsible fashion to build up credibility and trust with clients, prospects and all advertisers; as that is the only way a greater share of the budget will be pushed in our direction. 

We will only gain respect if we behave in a professional manner towards each other – that means as competitors, we don’t lie about each other’s activity, or act negatively towards each other, or even be accusing of one another. Together, we should champion the industry, and independently share our opinions without being derogatory towards the competition. Honesty and transparency will play an integral role in growing the industry and the trust of the market. It is also the first step in achieving some regulation and best practice.

In 2014, I will be reaching out to my peers and relevant associations so we can begin to put in place the regulation that is needed so performance marketing gains its rightful share in the marketing mix – and budgets! Here are my thoughts on the main actions that must be taken. We need to:

Get a best practice in place with a clear code of conduct

Leaders in the industry – from associations to performance marketing companies, advertisers and publishers – must work together to create a blueprint of best practice, so all participants understand that there is a clear code of conduct that must be followed and taken seriously.

For example, earlier this year the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) Affiliate Marketing Council launched a revised version of its Voucher Code of Conduct. It states that the ultimate ownership of a voucher code remains with the advertiser and that publishers must not monetise vouchers, which are known to be exclusively licensed by an advertiser to another affiliate. This is a small start, but it is progress in the right direction and it is these types of clear and professional guidelines on a wider scale that are required for our industry.

Create an audited industry

Having a code of conduct is a start, but it is not enough; performance marketing companies and publishers of a certain size should be audited on a regular basis and awarded with an industry-recognised accreditation that confirms that they operate in a professional manner, and to the agreed standard.

Advertisers will then be able to easily identify the accredited organisations they can trust and do business with. A performance marketing accreditation will also create a wider respect for the industry and will help to drive business.    

Educate everyone else

Once our house [the performance marketing industry] is in order, we’re then in a better position as a united community, to work with our advertisers to help grow their revenue, and ours. If we are transparent and regulated, we will be trusted and then we will gain the credibility and voice to participate in those early marketing budget conversations that will help us to become a more integrated part of the wider marketing mix and spending decisions.

I am keen to hear from people who are passionate about regulating the performance marketing industry, and to hear their thoughts on how to achieve this important goal. Please post your comments below.