It seems like a no-brainer, right? Offer an affiliate program to your happy customers, and you'll grow and grow and grow.
Except that at some point, you cross over a line of an affiliate program being a reward to your happy customers and an alternate revenue stream that the customer comes to rely on.
Where is that line, and when it's crossed, can the reviews be trusted?
This is our worry.
Of course, we considered affiliate marketing from the moment we began the public-facing part of our business. The bigger a programmatic publisher network gets, the more leverage we have to broker better deals on its behalf. It makes sense that we keep growing, and at a rapid pace.
Exposure provided by the motivation of a referral program would do that in spades.
You know what else it would do? Put our authenticity into question.
We rely on our publishers to keep us in check. We get better every day by the suggestions they give us.
How to get better at serving them, what features they need from us... all of this stuff requires an honest back and forth to get better at what we do and what we offer.
When Mediavine does get recommended, all of our sites are rewarded in a roundabout way. The more we grow, the more everyone makes because that's the nature of programmatic advertising.
It's a slower, more authentic burn, and we think that's worth it.
We want honest reviews out in the world for so many reasons, but one of the biggest is what people find when they search for information about us.
Meet Edgar said it best.
"Honest opinions from your users are infinitely more valuable than blanket praise."
Like the Meet Edgar crew says, (and we agree so, SO much), affiliate marketing encourages fake endorsement.
If you've got an incentive in the form of another revenue stream, you may not share your honest experience with Mediavine to other people, or even to us.
That doesn't help us get better at what we do, and it could lead to overall customer dissatisfaction because no one is willing to tell us what we're doing wrong.
No one is perfect all the time, or even some of the time. We've certainly made mistakes as we grow this business, and we've owned those mistakes as they were made because they're a learning opportunity.
Every failure has been an opportunity to learn how to be better, do better.
As much as we'd love to grow even more rapidly, losing that hunger and that ability to be certain we're making our publishers happy is not worth it.
Losing our authenticity and our drive to be better just to have more reviews out there in the world is too big a loss to our long term goals.
We're here for publishers, and that's important.
We'd love to know what you think.