If only “pay for performance” meant just that. It doesn’t… not by a long shot. Much of what’s called pay for performance is more accurately described as “pay for some of the performance we believe we can directly track from the delivery of an impression through to an immediate purchase.”
The difference is enormous, and it’s creating systemic, long-term problems for marketers and advertisers alike. We must, as an industry, put pay for performance in context while we still have time to preserve the value it can offer online marketers.
Pay-for-performance advertising is a tool to accomplish a job. Marketers have myriad business and marketing objectives they can leverage the Internet to accomplish. For some, pay-for-performance advertising is the right tool. Affiliate programs, paid search, online retail, straight direct marketing, barter deals, and monetization of remnant inventory are all objectives that can be well served by pay for performance. Yet pay-for-performance implementation extends far beyond these objectives into campaigns with goals best accomplished with other tools.