Disclosure: If I'm not making money through affiliate links on the post you're currently reading, it's an oversight on my part and will be corrected soon.

Performance marketing technology provider Impact Radius announced the publication of a “Top 25 Performance Marketing Influencers” list.  Here is the infographic they provided in their press release:

Top 25 Performance Marketing Influencers List Infographic from ImpactRadius.com

According to their release,

“Designed to help advertisers, agencies and media companies seeking expert guidance in improving their revenue from performance marketing, the list, based on an Impact Radius independent analysis of the influence of more than 400 prominent performance marketing thought leaders, identifies the top people whose blogs, tweets and social metrics provide the most influential insights and advice for the industry.”

While I appreciate being included in the list, I’d like to go on record with my thoughts about this list, and lists such as this. This is not meant to be disrespectful to the folks at Impact Radius (and I know that they won’t take it as such) but in my opinion, it’s lists such as these which can lead to confusion, especially to those outside of the performance marketing/affiliate marketing industry, as well as to folks new to the industry itself. And, the last thing we need is more confusion.

Heck, we still can’t even agree on what we call ourselves in our own industry.

As I’ve been an affiliate marketer since the late ’90’s, I’ve been around the block a few times, so I’d like to share some points that I strongly believe should be taken into consideration when interpreting this list.

Caveat Emptor When it Comes to Folks that have “Made the List”.

I do not mean this as an insult, but there are people on this list that are simply NOT influential in the affiliate marketing/performance marketing space. They know who they are and they are likely wondering to themselves why they’ve been included.  That does not mean to say that they are not impressive in their respective areas of expertise; it’s just not affiliate marketing.  Just do your due diligence. OK?

Ranking People Using Social Scoring Does Not Give You the Whole Picture

Sadly, this list only used online social metrics to determine authority ranking.  Big mistake for many reasons:

  1. Using social scoring immediately discounts the long term effects that the truly influential people have had for many years before Twitter, Klout and Peer Index existed.  And trust me, when these leaders do speak, their message is not only heard, it’s respected.
  2. This list does not take into account a person’s offline influence or authority in alternative online sharing platforms, such as forums.  Just because these people do not choose to participate in Twitter, etc. does not mean that their influence is any less powerful.  
  3. Klout, Twitter and PeerIndex can all be manipulated — easily. [Bots, frequency of posting instead of quality of posting, etc.)
  4. Social scoring does not segment a person’s ability to influence within an industry, but rather provides just a single number to rank them across the board. So folks with large Twitter followings, high Klout Scores and PeerIndex scores in general, will likely outrank people that are truly influential in a specific industry.

For the reasons above, I’d like to recognize a few people who should have been included in this “Top 25” list, as they actually have driven action and continue to drive the affiliate marketing / performance marketing industry.

  • Brian Littleton, ShareASale.com
  • Kellie Stevens, AffiliateFairPlay.com
  • Todd Farmer, AffiliateMarketingPlan.com
  • Scott Jangro, MechMedia.com
  • Pat Grady, RhinoFish.com
  • Eric Nagel, EricNagel.com
  • Todd Crawford, ImpactRadius.com  (Yes, the Co-Founder of the company that put this list out, who has propelled this industry for many years, didn’t even make the list.)

Who do you think is missing from this list?

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Missy Ward

Co-Founder & President at Affiliate Summit, Inc.
Missy Ward has been in affiliate marketing since 1999. She is the Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit, FeedFront Magazine, GeekCast.fm, itsaWAHMthing.com; the Co-Publisher of Revenews.com, Founder of AffiliateMarketersGiveBack.com and manages many of her own affiliate sites. If she's not making money through affiliate links on the post you're currently reading, it's an oversight on her part and it will be corrected soon.

Comment & Add Your Voice

1 Dino Dogan (@dino_dogan) December 29, 2011 at 7:14 pm

How much of the outcome in gathering the data was influenced by the desire of the “researchers” to be featured on a blog page of Missy Wards and John Chows of the world?

Cuz if that was their intention, mission accomplished, I suppose 🙂

Happy Holidays, Missy.

Reply

2 Missy Ward January 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

🙂

3 Erik Hom November 16, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I don’t think Missy is downplaying the list or its creators. I think she is fair in her critique saying that all scoring is open to interpretation. Since the list is based upon social media scoring as done by Klout and PeerIndex, it is fair to say that both have had their cynics about how they score as well.

Just like the BCS (College Football rankings), this is just a bureau ranking that someone can always find issue with. It adds to the conversation and creates the dialogue we have here. As Shawn pointed out on his side, he wasn’t sure why Affiliate Summit wasn’t on there (perhaps it is the way he & Missy influence the score). I consider them to be the names on the marquee whereas I don’t think of Brett as much when I think of PubCon.

Here is what I got out of this:
1. Shoemoney has a whole lot of Twitter followers (3x-5x that of many of his peers)
2. Brett has a much higher PeerIndex score than Klout score. Why is that? Does he focus on an aspect of scoring that PeerIndex likes more than Klout?
3. Do you think you belong on this list? Here are the averages and median for each category (assuming these were the only 3 variables):
– Followers: Avg: 20.5K; Median: 8.5K
– Klout Score: Avg. 51.44; Median: 53
– PeerIndex: Avg. 47; Median: 47

I would caveat this, and to Missy’s point, this study is relegated to those individuals who have an active blog or else someone like Bezos (or Amazon) has had more impact on Affiliate Marketing from the beginning and of recent times. To that point, do analysts such as Brian Solis belong up there?

4. Lastly though, I’m wondering if the personal individual scores here accurately reflect ( I might say yes) the real actual impact performance marketing has in the online world. Is the top rated person from this list on Klout really Schoemaker? And PeerIndex says it is Brian Clark. Is 70 a good score for an online leader? Is 66?

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4 Brande Reese November 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

Missy, I am a big fan of yours – but don’t understand your knocking the list. I consider most of the people on the list thought leaders in one sense or the other. I think by saying that some are not influential is a subjective thing and not one for any individual person to determine. I like the fact that Impact Radius used objective measurs to determine influence rather than cherry pick the people they like most.

Reply

5 Missy Ward November 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

Hey Brande,

Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion.

To me an influencer is someone that drives action and should not be defined ONLY by how many followers you have on Twitter, or any other online social measurement tool.

This list simply reflects how much a person is actively participating in social media in the present and not necessarily within the affiliate marketing industry.

And that’s fine… the list should just be called something else.

It’s not a knock at Impact Radius’ effort they put into compiling this list as I’m sure it took a lot of work. I’m just saying that the methodology in determining influence should not fully rely on social media.

6 Andy November 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Clever bit of linkbait for Impact Radius 😉

As a few people have commented, this is not a ranking of influential people in performance marketing, but primarily people who have a certain volume of following on Twitter. As others have pointed out, Twitter is not the be-all and end-all, and there are people who hold sway in this industry through a variety of online and offline means other than Twitter.

Reply

7 Missy Ward November 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

Then I fell for it… Hook, line and sinker 😉

8 Kellie Stevens November 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Well thank-you very much for putting me on your list Missy. 🙂 I’m not surprised I wasn’t on the ImpactRadius list as I like to joke about how I’m “anti-social”. The fact is I much prefer doing what I do over time spent on Twitter, etc (read self-promotion). *gasp confessions from someone in marketing* And over the years for me I’ve found I have much more “influence” (i.e. influencing policies, change, etc) outside of the public realm.

You make some very good points about evaluating any list. I would add to what you’ve said that the list seems to be more about how in the business has the most social media reach, which I don’t equate necessarily with being influential.

I definitely don’t equate how many followers someone has on Twitter with whether or not they are an expert (except maybe getting followers on Twitter). There I’ve said it. 🙂 Certainly there are people on that list I do agree are knowledgeable and experts in various areas of affiliate marketing, but I don’t think the criteria used for the list is necessarily an indication of expertise.

I do like looking at these kinds of lists though as sometimes I find someone who I might be interested in and didn’t know about. Congrats to all who made the list!

Reply

9 Missy Ward November 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I do agree with you on the point that it’s cool to look at these lists because I might find someone that I didn’t know about that I’d like to find out more about.

But that being said, this list simply reflects how much a person is actively participating in social media in the present and not necessarily within the affiliate marketing industry.

To me an influencer is someone that drives action and should not be defined ONLY by how many followers you have on Twitter, or any other online social measurement tool.

And PS — maybe one day I’ll get the spelling of your name right! Jeez… I mess it up all the time. Going to fix it now.

10 Melissa salas November 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Great points Missy!

Reply

11 Missy Ward November 11, 2011 at 8:33 am

Thanks Melissa.

12 Geno Prussakov November 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I agree. Multiple additional variables could’ve been factored in, making it a significantly harder (more complex) job on ImpactRadius in the process, but still… Besides the 7 fine affiliate marketers (legends, really) that you’ve mentioned, Missy, I’d also include:

* Rebecca Madigan
* Carolyn Tang Kmet
* Lisa Picarille
* Melanie Seery
* Wade Tonkin

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13 Missy Ward November 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I don’t know — I guess my thought process is that you should’t put a lot of work into something that will never be accurate. It’s a half-truth.

But I agree, your list of additions is spot on. And I’ll add one more. Connie Berg of FlamingoWorld.com

14 Todd Crawford November 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts on our Top 25 list. I agree that there are additional factors that could have been included but some of them are difficult to objectively measure which is why we didn’t include them.

We considered including an honorable mentions list and many of your candidates (with the exception of me) would have been on that list.

I hope this list creates some more good discussions.

Oh and congratulations for making the list – you deserved it!

Reply

15 Geno Prussakov November 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Valid concern for sure. Takes us to the never-ending debate over how can we measure (if it is at all possible for one to measure) online influence. I know you’ve mentioned the “offline” as well… but heck, we can’t even figure out how to accurately measure it online yet… 🙂

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16 Missy Ward November 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm

You’re right. Maybe I just need to create my own list called “When these affiliate marketers talk, I listen”. A personally vetted list of truly influential affiliate marketers…..

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17 Daniel M. Clark November 9, 2011 at 5:10 pm

That, to me, would be far more valuable than the infographic here. There are too many fingers in the pie, so to speak. Klout has one algorithm to determine influence, PeerIndex another. There can be wildly different reasons for someone’s Twitter follower count, and when measuring influence, the “whys” matter more than the numbers. Add to that things like Alexa ranking and PageRank, and hand all these disparate pieces to yet another person who purports to put them all together…

Yep, I’d rather have your list, Missy. Personal recommendations trump mathematical algorithms like this every time, I think, when you’re trying to measure subjective things with hard numbers.

Infographics and rankings like these are fun, but I don’t see them as ultimately very useful.

No offense to Todd and the ImpactRadius crew, who I have tremendous respect for – and any list of influencers that doesn’t include Todd Crawford is woefully incomplete.

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18 Brande Reese November 11, 2011 at 1:57 am

But how then should the do it? Isn’t social media one of the most important and influential tools for pushing ideas through?

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19 Missy Ward November 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

I think social media is a viable option to use to drive action, but it’s simply one channel.

When folks like Warren Buffet have Klout Scores of 39, any list that relies solely on social media metrics to determine influence, is just nuts.

If the list was called “Top 25 Influencers in Performance Marketing That Spend a Lot of Time Using Social Media”, it would be much more accurate.

To your point, it would be an exercise in frustration for any entity to sit down and try to create a list that took into consideration media coverage, print coverage, private conversations, posts within forums, etc.

But to my point, how could a list called “Top 25 Influeners in Performance Marketing” not even have folks like Jeff Bezos (Klout Score 39) and Patrick Byrne (who I don’t even think is on Twitter) on it?

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