TheFind Becomes Super-Social-Affiliate

Earlier this week, it was announced that the comparison shopping site, TheFind, took social shopping to a new level by integrating Facebook Connect in an unprecedented way. This move might represent a double-edged sword for the world of affiliate marketing, lending much needed legitimacy to the red-headed stepchild of online advertising, but potentially crowding out many of the smaller players.

TheFind is a “super-affiliate” par excellence because it is the second most popular shopping site, and it makes commissions from allowing users to compare products and prices across multiple sites, and then referring them to the merchant of their choice. And as TechCrunch recently reported, TheFind is now tapping into users’ social graphs to upsell and cross-sell to its users:

TheFind’s newest social commerce feature, Shop Like Friends, allows you to sign into the site Facebook Connect and tap into the the tastes and preferences of any of your Facebook Friends, based on the stores and brands they ‘like’ on the platform. So when you sign on, TheFind requests access to the pages your friends have “liked” on Facebook, then maps the stores and brands it detects to over 40,000 different stores and brands on TheFind.

This is important for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that it’s perfectly viable to tap social media APIs to better target advertising and increase ad revenues. After all, when the second largest shopping site does something, advertisers pay attention.

But it’s also significant because it might institutionalize two classes of affiliate marketers. You see, we already distinguish between affiliate and super-affiliates, but that distinction is largely arbitrary. We know when we see a super-affiliate, but we don’t know exactly where the dividing line is.

So as more super-affiliates move towards this level of social integration, many smaller affiliates might find it harder to compete — and, as a result, grow their business. Specifically, integrating social graphs to this extent requires considerable technical resources which, in turn, requires a considerable investment.

In other words, the smaller guys who lack the resources to do so might have a harder time both retaining their existing users and growing their user-base. First, fewer and fewer users will be willing to use these regular affiliate sites because the user-experience is lacking. Secondly, because these affiliates will have a harder time upselling/cross-selling, it’ll be more difficult for them to grow their revenues to super-affiliate proportions.

Of course, TheFind’s move toward social shopping is not going to kill off smaller affiliates. It’s just going to make it a bit tougher for them. But hey, those are the breaks.

After all, the technology was already there. It was just a matter of time before one of the big guys started using it. And just like it was a lot easier for the small guys to rank organically in 2003 than it is today, offering a seamless social integration is also going to get a lot tougher, too. But that’s the price of mainstream legitimacy: increased market competition.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at Revenews.com, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over 8 years experience leveraging search and social media to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to both SMBs and enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed. CT has worked with both start-ups and multinational brands alike, including Acquisio, Microsoft Canada, and Luxury Retreats. He is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

Twitter: gypsybandito
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  • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

    This is one of the most insightful posts I've read on affiliate marketing in a while. I said something similar many years ago — http://tinyurl.com/2en6k62

    So why didn't a SMALLER affiliate think of this — and execute? What happened to the small, scrappy entrepreneurial affiliate? This is all but mythology… supported only by the reality that magazines like FeedFront promote.

    Where are the Tim Storm type people (or Connie Berg, ladies!) of today??!!

    • http://www.gypsybandito.com CT Moore

      I'm actually surprised at how few publishers (affiliate or otherwise) have not yet taken advantage of Facebook Connect to its full potential. Sure, everyone and their dog has a like button, but most bucks seem to start there. The potential to access and mine user-data is enormous, and that can help publishers better understand their users, create better content, and run better offers and ads.

      So yeah, good question: Where are the Tim Storm type people (or Connie Berg, ladies!) of today??!!

    • affiliatetip

      Jeffrey, would you please share examples of this "mythology" supported by FeedFront magazine?

      I'm not sure if you've had a chance to read the magazine, but the articles are largely focused on tips and strategies by affiliate marketers that have actually done the stuff.

      We eschew consultants, gurus, and the like who write about affiliate marketing, but haven't actually been affiliate marketers.

  • affiliatetip

    Interesting article, CT – we had a good talk at the recent Affiliate Summit unConfernce about utilizing Facebook's Open Graph. I'm excited about the possibilities.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

    Uh, oh. Critical thought. And I see another post that I have yet to dig into offering more. Be careful CT!

    Hi, Shawn…
    This seems to be an opportunity for you (not me) to demonstrate how unqualified my statement is. Haven't you written about "the new Tim Storm" or Connie Berg — within the context of clever use of social media?

    • affiliatetip

      Actually, no. You characterized FeedFront as perpetuating some "mythology", so the onus is on you to substantiate this claim.

      All 12 issues are available online via http://feedfront.com/

      There have been very few profiles in the magazine. As previously stated, the articles are largely focused on tips and strategies.

  • http://www.jeffmolander.com Jeff Molander

    The onus is on me for stating my opinion? While I understand FeedFront is important to you my criticizing it does not burden me to offer you proof. It’s my opinion. My how my opinion must matter!

    And to your point, yes. There are very few profiles because there are so very few success stories.

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

    You're right, Shawn. I'm a downright criminal. Thanks for reminding everyone what a horrible, un-trustful person I am. Thank God the affiliate marketing "business world" has Shawn Collins on its side. I've learned my lesson today: To never criticize Shawn Collins.

    • affiliatetip

      I always welcome criticism, whether it be informed or ignorant.

  • affiliatetip

    > It is to say that compared to those focusing on just tried and true tactics like couponing, innovation has taken a little bit of a back seat.

    I think you've answered it right there. If the current way of doing things is scaling effectively, why invest R&D in unproven areas?

    I've been focused on content creation since I started as an affiliate in 1997 – along the way my method of publishing content has evolved from hand coding HTML to using WordPress as a CMS, which has been a great efficiency.

    I have played around with monetizing video, podcasts, and plenty of other areas, but always return to my "tried and true".

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

    C'mon Angel. CT is implying it. So why can't you take a stance? Oh, I see… maybe you're afraid of what crap he might dish about you as he does with me.

    But back to the subject: In Shawn's world, what works yesterday has always worked and will always work. So CT's entire premise (well, any critical thought) is just silly. Right Shawn?

    I'm torn. What's more shameful: Shawn's need color me as some kind of deceitful person or his coloring all of affiliate marketing as backward yet remarkably successful? Or maybe it's his suggesting that I smuggled secret data from him that nobody else on Earth had access to… and that assembling and selling lead lists is somehow outside of common business practice.

    Time and time again, Shawn gets away with these kinds of shameful acts. Because he's Shawn. He's affiliate marketing. And that's why affiliate marketing is what it is.

    So why are you here, Shawn? To defend yourself against my uneducated opinion? Or to disagree with the thesis behind CT's article? I'm unclear. Because you're no good at either.

    Angel, I really expect more from Revenews. Nobody wants to read Shawn's bellyaching about how I somehow managed to con the con man.

    • http://twitter.com/djambazov @djambazov

      lol on the "afraid" comment Jeff. I think the track record is that if anything I speak my mind too freely. We also seem to be having pronoun trouble. By "he" I take it to mean Shawn. I'm not sure what type stance you want me to take.

      Before I take the bait…by way of disclosure it should be noted that Missy is Co-Publisher of ReveNews in case you somehow feel that taints my opinion.

      I don't think that Affiliate Summit or FeedFront is anti-innovation or pro-status quo. I think they do an excellent job of reflecting the current status of the industry and even pushing the envelope. The fact is, and Shawn isn't disagreeing, that innovation in the industry overall has become less of a focus. Nor is he disagreeing with CT's article. It makes business sense, as Shawn pointed out in his comment to me, in this type of economic climate for publishers to be risk adverse and stick with tried and true methods.

      Now you have a personal bone to pick with Shawn. And it is unfortunate there is bad blood between you two because I think some intelligent debate could come from it. Baiting rarely fosters intelligent debate.

      The kind of social integration that TheFind is doing successfully is an indicator of some of what is possible in the industry. What publishers like ShopeStyle, ThisNext, Fabulous Savings; newly launched companies like Zappli; or service providers like RingRevenue or ImpactRadius are doing, is proof that innovation still exits. It's just not the industry emphasis unfortunately.

      There, I think that's more of a direct answer than the current tirade deserves. Did I take enough of a "stance"? If not why?

  • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

    Hi, Angel…
    You did, yes, and thank you. And I’m sorry to get a bit personal with you like that. I forgot about Missy so thanks for reminding me. And I respect your position on this issue and the background politics involved. And I don’t dislike Feedfront, Shawn or Missy. For the record.

    That said, it’s unfortunate that Shawn reacted to my comment in a way that took aim at my personal integrity. I feel bad for him. Especially considering a) who I am (I’m a nobody in affiliate marketing these days; and Shawn is a somebody) b) my comment was typical, routine (I have a decade of track record taking pot-shots at established business entities, magazines and personalities in this business) and c) how false Shawn’s facts are (they’re not even accusations; rather, character attacks that nobody can challenge… ad ad hominem).

    It’s embarrassing.

    This concludes my diversion which Shawn so perfectly baited me for. And thanks for the thoughtful response, Angel…and again to CT for bringing critical thought back into the mix.

    • http://twitter.com/djambazov @djambazov

      For what it's worth Jeff, it gets dull in the industry without you around.

  • http://www.performancemarketingassociation.com Rebecca Madigan

    I'd like to comment on CT's article, not the comments, and since I don't have a penis, I can't really compete well in the pissing contest going on here anyway (and Zzzzzzz).

    CT – For what it's worth, in my short time in affiliate marketing, since 2005, I've seen the little guys explode to trump the established players more rapidly than I could ever guess (or bet or invest in). Lest some smaller businesses get discouraged by TheFind's release, don't forget it's generally the smaller and more nimble inventors and entrepreneurs that tend to innovate because they're not burdened with their existing customer base or weighty mission statements. As history has proven, this idea will beget other even better ideas.

    • http://twitter.com/djambazov @djambazov

      Seriously great comment Rebecca.

    • http://twitter.com/jeffreymolander @jeffreymolander

      Hi, Rebecca…
      I believe we'd need to do a search on Brian Clark's posts/comments to find a penis reference. Even then we may not find it. Bravo and well-placed. Please accept, at least, my apology.

      To your point. That's precisely my point. And that's why I suggested that there are a lot of forces that claim what you claim. I'm simply asking for someone to offer up some johnny-or-suzy-come-latelys. Is that too much to ask? An example? Thanks for considering. And for considering that I agree with your logic and reasoning. It happens this way all over the place… in other industries/businesses. But lately the little guys are not innovating in affiliate marketing. Or are they? I'm just asking for an example or two.

    • thedavidlewis

      Rebecca, while you might not be able to get the distance, at least you can join the game… http://www.femalefreedom.ca

  • http://www.thefind.com Siva Kumar

    Guys, thank you for the insightful responses to CT Moore's thoughtful postl

    We at TheFind agree with your thoughts that the affiliate industry has a lot of really creative talent that is able to harness the next up and coming opportunity – in this case, the Facebook open graph – to deliver real value to consumers and great revenues to the affiliates harnessing the opportunity. In this case, we happened to be one of the first to do so, but that;s just an accident of history and one of you reading this may be the next one we are jealous off.. so kudos to all of us :)

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