Affiliate Industry Preview: LinkShare’s Yaz Iida

As part of the ReveNews 2012 Affiliate Industry Preview Series, I interviewed affiliate marketing industry leaders to get a sense of their plans and goals for 2012. Today’s interview is with Yasuhisa “Yaz” Iida, CEO and President of LinkShare.

Angel: How do you feel about the health of the Affiliate Industry overall?

Yaz: It’s a great industry to be in at this moment in time. Even after 15 years—a lifetime or two in the Internet age—affiliate marketing and performance marketing in general is still growing by leaps and bounds. Consumer behavior has evolved to social and mobile commerce and the industry is adapting to that change.

We’re still seeing innovative business models and new sites all the time and it’s that innovation that makes the industry exciting. There are great opportunities for all types of publishers to earn commissions from a wide range of advertisers who are embracing the performance marketing model by investing more in the channel each year. I think as an industry we have to do a better job of proving the incremental value of the channel and that’s something that we’re looking at very closely at LinkShare.

Angel: Beyond posting coupons, how would you like to see affiliates use social media?

Yaz: Social media presents a great opportunity for affiliates to work closely with advertisers and to act as an extension of their marketing team. Publishers and advertisers should talk about how they can work together to expand social marketing circles for the brand to help drive key messages and offers. Those may or may not be coupons.

Social media allows affiliates to become engaged with brands at a higher level and to be involved in their integrated marketing campaigns, seasonal campaigns, and product launches, which all present an opportunity for social media marketing. Affiliates should strive to become an essential part the advertiser’s overall marketing plan rather than only posting coupons.

Angel: What excites you most about mobile?

Yaz: What’s most exciting is that mobile commerce is just getting started! Our industry has been talking about mobile for a long time, of course, but the adoption curve for smartphones is now getting steeper and tablets have been a game changer. So we’re going to see a lot more innovation in this area in the months and years to come. What we need to do as an industry is be part of the mobile commerce conversation.

At LinkShare we embraced mobile out of the gate and we’ve been testing our tracking technology to ensure that it’s implemented correctly when advertisers bring a new mobile site on line. As a network, we are all about facilitating partnerships. As advertisers and publishers enhance their mobile capabilities we’ll be there to bring them together to drive sales and commissions.

Angel: In what type of affiliate (coupon, loyalty, etc) would you like to see more of?

Yaz: It’s our goal to be the preferred network of all business models. At the heart of that question, however, is what do the advertisers want? It depends on the advertiser, of course, but they want quality traffic that’s aligned with their brand and not just traffic looking for discounts. The distribution of deals and coupons will always be important, but successful content models, unique loyalty models, and great editorials and reviews are really valuable. Publishers that provide truly unique value for their audience will in turn get the attention of advertisers and we always want more of those publishers in the LinkShare network.

Angel: A lot of scrutiny has been placed on the SOPA legislation. How will it impact things if legislation like it passed?

Yaz: For the networks it’s all about taking action. At LinkShare we take compliance very seriously and we work very hard to protect the brands in our network. We use a combination of people and technology resources that are dedicated to compliance. The passing of this law will not change that.

Angel: How did Illinois passing the so-called Amazon tax impact the industry? Have we seen the worst of it?

Yaz: I think it had a huge impact on the industry and put a spotlight on the issue. It also inspired the Performance Marketing Association (PMA) to challenge the law and a lot of advertisers removed Illinois-based publishers from their programs. Not because they didn’t want to pay the tax necessarily but because the system and business process changes required to collect such taxes are easier said than done. And then there were some publishers that were very public about their move to another state. Have we seen the worst of it – perhaps but we still may be on a long road to getting a federal solution.

 Angel: How did the Barnes & Noble partnership come about?

Yaz: I’ll defer to Barnes & Noble to answer that from their perspective. In general, I can tell you that advertisers select their affiliate marketing network for both technology and service capabilities and we win accounts for our strengths in both areas. We’re always striving to sign great brands like Barnes & Noble in the LinkShare network and it’s a very competitive industry. That being said, we signed some fantastic leading and emerging brands in 2011–over 200 in fact– and I encourage any publisher that has not taken a look at the list of advertisers in the LinkShare network to login today, take a look and apply to some new programs.

 Angel: What are LinkShare’s goals in 2012?

Yaz: Our goals are intrinsically tied to the goals of our advertisers and publishers. It’s our job to listen and to understand what they’re trying to achieve and how we can make them more profitable and more productive. We take that information and deliver results through technology innovation, services, and education. We also keep a close eye on what’s happening in the industry and how consumer behavior is changing and evolving–social marketing, mobile commerce, cross border commerce as we develop our product roadmap. Our goal is to be ahead of the curve as e-commerce itself evolves. As a leader in the industry, we’ll make sure performance marketing plays a leading role in that evolution.

I’d like to thank Yaz Iida for taking the time to participate in our interview series. Tune in tomorrow when we talk with Dan Greene of Google Affiliate Network.

Photo credit: LinkShare

About Angel Djambazov

Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. In his journalistic career he worked as an editor on several newspapers and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine. Later his career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.

For four years Angel served as OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit.

Currently Angel serves as OPM for KEEN Footwear and MedicalRecords.com. His former clients include: Dell, Real Networks, Jones Soda, Intelius, Graphicly, Chrome Bags, Onlineshoes.com, Vitamin Angels, The Safecig, and Bag Borrow or Steal.

Angel is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher for ReveNews.com and ReveNews.org.

Angel lives north of Seattle, spending his free time reading up on obscure scientific references made by his wife MGX, while keeping up with a horde of cats and a library of books.

You can find Angel on Twitter @djambazov.