Executives from four leading platforms in the affiliate industry gathered at Affiliate Summit West this week to discuss gender disparity, perseverance during a tough economy, growth in the industry, and most intriguingly, what to do about advertisers who don’t pay.

Onboard the panel were Adam Ross, CEO of Awin, David A. Yovanno, CEO of impact.com, Mayur Kshetramade, CEO of CJ, and Jeff Wender, CRO of Rakuten Advertising.

The keynote session served generous portions of food-for-thought throughout its one hour runtime, but one topic in particular provided plenty to sink our teeth into.

How do we deal with bad actors in the affiliate marketing?

It’s arguable that affiliate networks have not been properly addressing bad actors in the field for quite some time now.

There’s a serious issue with advertisers and brands not fulfilling their outstanding bills to affiliates before moving onto another network and starting afresh, unscathed. It’s important that publishers refrain from promoting these advertisers/brands when they pop up in another network, in an effort to stamp out this kind of behaviour.

Towards the end of the session, Matthew Wood, Founder and CEO of Hello Partner, put forward a question to the panel about whether networks can work together to weed out these bad actors.

David responded, “I think we could all do a better job of working together to share this information,” and suggested building a common source where such information could be distributed throughout the industry.

“It’s something the industry has to focus on,” Jeff agreed.

Adam recounted a personal anecdote, revealing that a CEO of another network had recently informed him that one of Awin’s new clients had previously stopped communicating with their network and hadn’t paid their affiliates. Consequently, Adam decided that Awin would not be launching this client. He continued, “You might have a dispute with a platform, but you’ve got to pay your affiliates before we let you launch on our network. Alongside tracking basics, I think we should get together and set something in place.”

Could this be a turning of the tides? Speaking on the panel’s comments, Matthew states, “It’s great to see commitment from the panel to start the conversation about weeding out bad actors, and collaborating to protect publishers that they represent. As a publication, Hello Partner firmly supports this, and will look to assist in ensuring that the momentum of this commitment continues.”

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