Over the past two decades, Greg Shepard has built an impressive resume in the online marketing industry. After selling a handful of his first tech companies, Greg founded Affiliate Traction and has since expanded the company into a global affiliate marketing and management agency with offices in Silicon Valley California, Toronto, London and Australia. Greg is an inspiring figure in the performance marketing world, and we’re excited to have been able to interview him here at TheMail.
Who are you and how did you get started in performance marketing?
“I’m Greg Shepard. I’ve been in the business since the ’90s starting with website building in the “gold rush” when retailers were first developing their online presence. I then shifted to a focus in affiliate marketing long before the industry became established in its current multi-network structure. Many merchants at that time were still relying on in-house tracking solutions.”
What are you best known for and why?
“I would say I am best known for starting the first agency in the affiliate space that holds true AOR status and works in a multi-network structure.”
What is hot with you right now?
“I think everyone understands attribution & analytics. However, there are some things I think we will start to see more of as the Cake, HasOffers, Impact Radius modules start to get more traction. The first time this process started with MyAffiliateProgram and DirectTrack it did not catch on. This time, however, I think merchants are seeing analytics to support a more nuanced approach to attribution as there is more evidence of cross-channel cannibalization and multiple affiliates being involved in a single transaction.”
What are your 5 tips for publishers?
“I would say innovation; create your own brand and process like retailers do. You can do a much better job on your own to establish good PR and to work more closely with networks, agencies, customers, and merchants. Publishers bring so much value they do not get credit for. I would put an emphasis on working to support the PMA and ask the PMA to use your membership fees for protection against no track, nexus, as well as to produce good PR for publishers. There are enough publishers to make a difference but they under-utilize their sway and resources.”
If you were to bet on one thing for the future right now what would it be and why?
“I would bet that more brands will strengthen their direct-to-the-consumer approach to product sales. I see this happening offline as well in retail outlets such as the Apple Store. Retailers who can figure out a way to add a high level of service will thrive. The day of people shopping based only on price are numbered and consumers are starting to look for better service, a commitment to the environment, and more humanitarian approach to manufacturing and retail.”
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
“Per Peterson—he is pure business and has a track record of success. Brain Littleton—I think Brian has held to the basic principles that led to his success. I also admire my own Marty Bickford and Ian Francis—these two are some of the most loyal, hard-working and intelligent guys. I respect and honor their commitment.”
Who are you trying to connect with and why should they work with you?
“We are always interested in working with publishers and networks. However, we are especially excited when we get a contact from another service provider who works with retailers. It enables us to compare data and to look into the future of our parallel paths with retailers in hopes of establishing new and innovative partnerships.”
Who else do you think I should interview and why?
“I would like to hear from whom I consider to be one of the godfathers of affiliate marketing, Per Peterson, who for some reason stays out of the spotlight despite having some of the most insightful knowledge. Todd Crawford is another person who can provide a history of the industry and provide insights on the future based on his wealth of knowledge. Marty Bickford, who has been at AffiliateTraction for years would be another great interview as he has been a huge part of our success. Last, but certainly not least, Ian Francis who has started up our California and UK operations has important global insight including differences in culture and approach.”
If people want to reach you what is the best way of contacting you?
“My email is Greg.Shepard[at]AffTraction.com.”
Murray Newlands is an online marketing industry veteran, and the founder of TheMail.