Affiliates Have No Ethics? PEOPLE Have No Ethics
Case Study: PPV Marketers vs. Finch In His Boxers
Stop Thinking Short Term, You Stupid Fuck

Affiliates Have No Ethics? PEOPLE Have No Ethics

As we exit 2009 and enter a new decade, I thought I’d get all deep and philosophical about the universe. Or at least, the part of it revolving around affiliate marketing.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of this year, it’s that people – consumers – have the tendency to be unspeakably stupid. There are no bounds or limits to the shit that people will buy if you put it in front of them.

And more importantly, I’ve learned that there’s no limit to the shit that we – as marketers – will try to sell.

If ever there was an offer that summed up the scandalous nature of this industry, it’s coming right at you.

Lonely wives

When I logged in to Copeac this morning and saw this page, I didn’t really know whether to laugh or cry. It sums up why we are the pimple on the arse of online marketing. Why no blushing or moral dignity will get in the way of a $32 conversion.

First of all, if you ARE a lonely cheating wife – why in God’s name would you be so resoundingly stupid to sign up on a dating website that markets you as a cheating hussy with a cock fetish?

Secondly, I wouldn’t want to be that smiling model on the homepage. I hope she got a big fee.

And thirdly, how many affiliates are actually that short on moral fiber that they’ll take an offer like this and promote it to married men?

I don’t feel particularly comfortable pushing a dating site that encourages guys to register on the off chance that they’ll get to skirmish with some poor fucker’s scheming missus. There are some lines drawn in the sand that you would truly have to be a money-driven soulless asshole to cross. And no, I’m not trying to sell the industry down the river (Dennis Yu already sold it), because we’re all as bad as each other.

I look at the page and think to myself…

This is simply matchmaking for like-minded individuals. You have guys who are so shallow that they’d make an effort to hunt down a taken woman for sex. And then you’ve got the wives who are clearly so dutty that they’ll become members on a niche dating site where they’re pursued like fetish ornaments with legs on.

So yes, if 2009 has taught me anything, it’s that you should leave your expectations of human nature at the door when dealing with online marketing. The world is full of retards, vanity and international retards.

Seeing how this will be the last post of the decade (I bet you were hoping I’d say that 9 years ago), I’d like to thank readers for actually taking the time out of their day to read my stuff. This blog has grown from non-existence at the start of 2009, to becoming, if I’m not mistaken, hot fucking shit.

In all seriousness, I’m pretty surprised at how things have gone.

Stick around for 2010. I would like to monetize you all eventually I’ve got some other stuff to say.

Happy New Year, stay safe, get trashed.

But obviously not so trashed that moving billboards make you sick.

Case Study: PPV Marketers vs. Finch In His Boxers

If this doesn’t get me in the top ten Affbuzz posts of the month, then linkbait never really existed and social media experts can go fuck themselves.

I’m not going to swerve you. This is a real life supercase study. A story of one night this December where yours truly stayed up past his bedtime with a mountain of Pringles, some cheesy wotsits, some scratchy bollocks and a burning desire. An ambition to discover what his peers are up to in the PPV marketing landscape.

It’s normally my policy to not post about lines of work that I’m currently involved with. Well, I’m going to break that here. I’m actively involved with PPV advertising. I’m not going to offer you some tips of how to be successful at it. That would be good blogging. Instead I’m going to explain why some marketers are scratching their heads and munching zero columns for breakfast.

Forget your split testing. De-brief your creative designers. The real acid test for PPV advertising is whether you can impress Finch in his hot pants at 1 in the morning with Vomba software disrupting his usual RedTube routine. I decided to take some time to cruise the Internet, aimlessly, for hours on end.

You could argue that this is what most of us do anyway. But instead, I was hoping to get a feel for the most popular and impressive PPV techniques. I did. But I’d like to share the efforts that failed to impress me.

If you haven’t already downloaded the Vomba toolbar, you can find it here.

Before you go downloading it, let me warn you that by installing Vomba, you are injecting your PC with the very same adware that is usually installed by retards who’ve gone goggly eyed over an animated wallpaper. Media Traffic, one of the biggest PPV networks, uses Vomba to spread the software that inevitably pops up ads and serves your landing pages to the web via contextual advertising.

I installed it on my home computer knowing full well that it had the potential to get right on my tits within about 5 minutes of this case study ending. I’m generally too lazy to get rid of software I no longer need. Which is why my Windows Vista runs like a dinosaur on the ice (and why Macs are better, by the way).

Anyway, having trolled just about every niche website on the net, here are the most common examples of PPV advertising gone wrong.

Failure 1 – “I outsourced my landing page for $35 therefore I don’t need to think of a good title.”

PPV advertising springs a pop-up, right? Depending on how well you’ve optimized your landing page, these pop-ups can take a little while to fully load. Add in to the equation that if your target market is dumb enough to install Vomba, they’re probably dumb enough to be carrying like 40 Trojans and 7 rootkits. It’s probably going to take a while for your masterpiece to load.

The last thing you need is a title bar that says:

Test – PPV Landing Page 4

Now, obviously I was actively scrutinizing these pop-ups to see what I liked and disliked about them. As a passive viewer, I’m not going to wait up to 15 seconds for a pop-up to load if the title is as devoid of a headline as this. If you’re working PPV, you’re involved in INTERRUPTION MARKETING. You need to reach out from the screen, slap your viewer in the face, and force them in to paying attention for longer than it takes to aim and fire on the little X.

An eric generic title like the above barely managed to tickle my balls let alone slap me in the face. Which is a shame because it was actually quite a nice landing page.

Failure 2 – “I can’t be bothered to use CSS. I’ll use a giant fucking image instead.”

I’ve seen some PPV landing pages that must have been over 250kb. I can only imagine the creators were so keen to test the sparkling designs that they opted to skip optimization. You know? The part of PPV marketing that stops you crashing your server?

I’ll keep it nice and simple. If you use a giant image – saved at 100% PNG quality in Photoshop – and then add a few thousand URL/keyword targets…you will absolutely destroy your $6.95/month shared hosting.

It will not survive. You will discover that your unlimited bandwidth isn’t so unlimited after all. This realization will dawn in the space of the 20 minutes that it takes Media Traffic to swallow your initial $200 deposit. You will go running to the Warrior Forum for help. At the end of which, you will have mysteriously adopted a paedophillic avatar and an attitude that 2003 is going to be your big year in Internet Marketing.


Optimize your shit.

Pages will load faster. Bandwidth will drain slower. Because ultimately, let’s be honest – how effective is interruption marketing if the user has 20 seconds to brace for the likely pain in his arse?

Failure 3 – “FinchSells.com is a marketing blog. It’ll work well with my MLM product.”

During my little case study, I visited my own site to see if anybody had plugged it in as a URL target. Sure enough, they had. It was being targeted with a pyramid scheme business opportunity offer.

I pray for the work I’ve done on my brand that an MLM offer would convert like a crack whore at a lemonade stand when pitched at my regular visitors.

Many PPV marketers paint a picture of a niche with broad strokes that capture too many unrelated demographics. If you’re a wizard at optimization then it’s really not a problem because you’ll soon be filtering out the dead wood. But the viability of doing so is determined by how much money you can afford to blow before you see profitability.

I have never chosen to add thousands of URL targets to a new PPV campaign. I prefer to do my research and build small blocks of highly targeted matches. It all comes down to understanding your demographics.

You only need to look at the weight loss niche to see how fragmented the market can be. An Acai Force Max LP is not going to see the same level of success if you’re simply scraping every URL under the sun for weight loss. You will lose money on page views that are never going to lead to conversions. Because some fat bitches don’t want to get ripped, they just want to fit through the front door. See what I mean?

Understand your demographics and filter your URL lists accordingly.

Alternatively, optimize like a badass and forget everything I just said.

Failure 4 – “People care about what I have to say.”

It blows my mind how many PPV marketers serve up small novellas of useless information just to get an email opt-in.

I’ve written several posts about the need to sell product benefits rather than features. The game gets that little bit tougher when you have a method of advertising that is seen as a distraction by the majority of users. Stick to a bold eye catching title, maybe list a few bullet points. Say what needs to be said before the user has time to pull eyeballs from the page. It HAS to be brutally to the point.

Don’t waste the critical top left hand part of the page on a logo or fancy image. One of the key errors of judgment in PPV marketing, in my opinion, is designing for a creative to be digested like any other webpage. Forget whatever architectural layout recommendations you read on Sitepoint. Your page does not have to be flexible. It has to put the right message in the right place. And the right place will nearly always be in the user’s face.

It was hard for me to judge the effectiveness of some landing pages when I was personally scrutinizing them in a way that a regular user wouldn’t. But I can safely say through my own split testing that the majority of Vomba’s user base are not going to stick around in the hope that you might have something to say further down the page.

Law number one of Interruption Marketing: Shut the fuck up and get to the point.

Failure 5 – “My offer only accepts 21-25 year old females lol what’s the worst that could happen?

So your dating link only converts on females between a set age range. You decide to try that shit on a fashion forum anyway. You’re a retard.

The end.

Stop Thinking Short Term, You Stupid Fuck

I apologize for the inevitable tantrum that’s about to unravel. If you’d spent the last several days battling with Linux viruses and Chinese fucktard organizations, you’d be equally pissed off and ready to go all Scrooge on the world.

This is something that has been grating at me for a while now. It’s quite common that I’ll be emailed a simple question like, “Have you tried pushing acai on Facebook?”

Yes, I have. And yes, I stopped.

Not so long ago, I was talking to an affiliate manager of a network that will go unnamed. I was told that Offer X in the acai niche would sell really well if I cloaked it and ran it through Facebook. I’m not stupid enough to do something like this personally. I have actual campaigns that are profitable on Facebook which I would rather not lose. More to the point, I believe in the theory that you’d be an absolute retard to burn all your bridges to chase a few extra dollars of profit.

What really concerned me was the idea that affiliate managers are actually pushing this advice on their publishers. Are you out of your fucking minds?

It’s easy for a network to sit there and tell a publisher to go compromising a personal account by selling a prohibited product through Traffic Source X. But it shows a massive lack of respect to the naive affiliate who’s trying to earn an honest wage. What happens when the affiliate gets shut down? Sure, there’s some personal responsibility attached. But I’d be tempted, knowing what I know, to tell any affiliate manager who pushes advice like that on me to go fuck himself. Which is, ironically enough, exactly what I did.

What I’m trying to say here, is that if you’re a hard working affiliate, you need to look out for yourself and take what a network throws at you with a pinch of salt.

I’m forever opening my inbox to see messages that read like this:

“Well, why don’t you try Offer X. It’s really taking off and seeing big volume right now.”

Network wide volume means jack shit to me. Profitability is all I care about. I couldn’t honestly care less if an offer is blowing up and seeing thousands of leads per day. I would much rather push through one lead that gives me a return on investment that I’m happy with. This is where networks will try to fuck you over and fill your inbox with false promise.

But, hey, you can’t hate on the networks for doing their jobs. The more experienced you get at this game, you better you become at being your own judge of an offer’s viability.

What really gets on my tits is the outrageous attitude from certain affiliate managers who believe that because they’ve been placing your pixels for five minutes, they somehow know what’s good for the long term success of your business. Telling an affiliate to go and try acai on Facebook is no better than Google turning around and saying “Thanks for the money, now go rot in a hole somewhere.”

Or “We appreciate your leads…while they lasted.”

“Teehee, motherfucker. This is the sound of us banking on your banned and blacklisted ass. Refer us to friends though, right?”

Before you ask, no I haven’t been banned from Facebook. But I’ve heard a lot of stories from people who’ve suffered that fate. Much of the blame must rest on the publisher. I’m not for a moment suggesting that a network is responsible for an affiliate going out and breaking the terms and conditions of a traffic source. This is more of a rant against stupidity.

Let’s say you decide to push acai on Facebook.

It’s profitable and there’s big money to be made there. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read that much. With some simple targeting, a cloaking redirect and a slice of luck – you can probably ride the fat loss waves well in to 2010 making some good bank. But there is your problem.

You might not make it in to 2011 with Facebook account in tact.

We’ve seen the backlash from Google and we’re seeing a similar backlash from Facebook. It’s possible to get a new account after being banned, but it’s about as pleasurable a process to follow as a gentle fist up the jacksy.

You can enjoy a few great months of addictive profit and life changing ROIs, but when the screws come unhinged, you’re left without a Plan B. And whatever Plan B you might have had is going to be severely compromised by the fact that Traffic Source X now has you blacklisted and wants nothing to do with your business.

Is that the way forward for an affiliate marketer?

Some of you are crazy sons of bitches who will simply ditch the wife, change your birth name, move to Alaska and open up a new advertising account. Whatever puts the notes in your pocket, right? That’s one way to do it, I guess. But you’re going to be forever searching for loopholes while I would rather be kicking back on a sunbed and enjoying a legitimate long term business growth.

Here’s the greatest catch of affiliate marketing. You don’t have to be clever to make money. Any affiliate with balls the size of Texas can bend the truth far enough that it lines his pockets with the dollars he craves. But at some point – today, tomorrow, maybe next year – you’re going to have to deal with the hand you’ve been dealt.

I’ve spoken to some truly shady black hat Internet marketers in my time. Not just affiliates, but “entrepreneurs” who will completely reinvent the rulebook of what’s acceptable if it’s financially suitable to them. You know what nearly all of these guys have in common? They all WISH they could have the same success on the straight and narrow.

Many of them are incredibly smart and more than capable of carving a long term business. But they get blinded by the short term riches and choose paths that I’m sure, in many cases, will eventually come back to haunt them.

You can base your business decisions on what will line your pockets today (slinging acai on Facebook, pummeling bizopp on Google)…or you can keep a level head and try not to burn all of your bridges in a few short months.

When you come back down to earth and realize that affiliate marketing is a full time career and a full time responsibility, it’s probably going to dawn on you.

You’ve got work to do.

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