Happy Birthday, PMA!

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Give thanks with us as we look back on some PMA milestones.

Written by Brook Schaaf

Oh, did melancholy strike when I saw that the Performance Marketing Association is celebrating its 15th year!

Dear reader, won’t you indulge me a stroll down memory lane? It’s likely part of your past, too.

For years there had been talk of forming a trade association, which went nowhere until state nexus taxes galvanized our industry. Because of the Supreme Court’s 1992 Quill decision, out-of-state merchants didn’t have to collect and remit sales tax unless they had a physical presence in the state, like an office or warehouse.

Then, in a stroke of clever yet dubious ingenuity, someone in New York first got the idea that there was “free” money to be had by the declaration that affiliates represent nexus.

What followed, predictably, was the removal of affiliates in states with nexus laws, because the merchants, including Amazon, deemed the tax collection more onerous than the value of keeping affiliates.

As you might imagine, this made for a bit of hardship, which the PMA fought with a grassroots campaign in states across the country.

Our first President was Steve Schaffer, who actually donated the domain, and our first Executive Director was Rebecca Madigan, who flew around the country drumming up support and fundraising. During my own tenure as President following Steve, I had the privilege of spending many hours with Rebecca in California and Texas.

Sadly, it was a bitter battle of attrition. We walloped Illinois in court for their badly written law but they went back and tweaked it with, from our perspective, unlimited funds, which felt less than fair.

Tim Storm of FatWallet (later sold to Rakuten) was forced to cross state lines to keep his business relationships. Brian Littleton of ShareASale took up the mantle for years, fighting the good fight with his money and time.

The end of the struggle finally came in 2018 with another Supreme Court decision in South Dakota vs. Wayfair, which basically reversed Quill. Thankfully, this did not single out affiliates for mistreatment, so relationships could be reengaged.

Since then, the PMA has been active under the executive leadership of Tricia Meyer, who recently joined OG affiliate marketer Dustin Howes on his podcast.

But for today, let us conclude our walk, lest our stroll turn into a slog. We extend our gratitude and thank you for your unwavering engagement with our industry and, hopefully, your active participation in the PMA. If you’re not a member yet, we invite you to join us by signing up here.

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