Sometimes, as an affiliate, I wake up and ask myself – “Whose bitch will I become today?”
This is a contentious issue that I’ve wanted to address for a while. It involves affiliates being taken by the wrists and directed off a cliff face by profit-hungry networks. I’m talking about the networks who send out newsletters or allow their account managers to quietly nudge a publisher towards promoting an offer in a way that is harmful to the affiliate’s business interests.
Now you know I wouldn’t dare to cry “misled” when my job is often to deceive with a smile. But I feel sorry for the affiliates who fall victim to some of the gospel being thrown out there.
I regularly find emails in my inbox (funnily enough) disclosing information on the hottest new dating offers. Sky high conversion rates, I’m told. Jump on it now or forever hold your peace! I feel like I should be sitting here stroking a puppy with a tear in my eye at the thought of saying no. This is all standard procedure, of course. When you push a lot of dating leads, you’re going to get a lot of dating offers. What I find slightly disturbing is the fact that some of these newsletters actively encourage their affiliates to promote adult dating sites on strictly non-adult traffic sources.
Wait, hold on a second. Isn’t this supposed to be a two-way relationship?
Let’s not be naive. Most networks, and most affiliates who’ve been round the block, are aware that it’s possible to cloak and “game” traffic sources to make a lot of money in a short space of time. But in my opinion, this is a choice that the affiliate must shoulder.
If a network is actively encouraging a newbie affiliate to hide his links and sling Flirt leads on Facebook, there can be only one side to the relationship. The affiliate takes on the role of kamikaze missile. A helpless fucking lemming, with the sole purpose of wham bam thank you ma’am. The network may pocket a short term burst of revenue, and the affiliate may even survive a Facebook account ban by the skin of his teeth.
But it’s just another example of greed in an industry that would short-change it’s own mother for what Ryan Eagle keeps in his garage. By the way, Ryan, if you’ve got my entire team of scantily clad buxom wench cheerleaders parked in your garage, I might have to call the cops.
Affiliates face a tough choice when it comes to selecting dating offers to promote. It’s a twisted niche where the dirtier you’re prepared to play, the easier it is to get profitable. Facebook doesn’t like offers that are too sexually suggestive. PlentyOfFish hates direct competitors that are free to use. Right there you have the two easiest sells for any dating site.
“Oh so it’s free and full of sluts? BACK OF THE NET!”
Promoting the boldest offers with the boldest promises will nearly always guarantee you the boldest returns. But your scammy little dating ad is probably not what Zuckerberg had in mind when he was looking to monetize the world’s biggest college brain-fart.
Many newbie affiliates get their first taste of success by taking these dangerous paths, promoting offers that push the envelope of what’s acceptable on any given traffic source. Inspired by the words of wisdom from a generic cake-faced affiliate manager who tells you “all the ballers are cloaking on Facebook”, I can see why somebody just getting started would be turned over to the dark side.
Does the affiliate manager care that promoting Offer X is against the guidelines of Facebook or POF? Of course not. It’s this kind of shoddy affiliate management that produces all the glory of double digit profits without any of the hassle of having to maintain your now burnt-to-shit bridges.
So I’ll keep it simple. Here are two suggestions to keep everybody happy.
1. If you’re a network…
Don’t publicly encourage the promotion of adult/restricted offers on traffic sources where the affiliate’s account – and thus ability to put dinner on his family’s table – is in jeopardy. It’s just not cricket. By all means, show the way to those experimental publishers who come asking. But you shouldn’t be encouraging kamikaze marketing when we all have a responsibility to maintain some integrity in the industry.
2. If you’re an affiliate…
Don’t become a network’s Martyr for risky advertising and short-term profits. Understand that you don’t get to sleep with seven smoking hot account managers just because you sacrificed your Facebook account to the tune of 7 leads.
She may look hot in her tiny AIM pic telling you “all the bloggers are doing it”, but you really shouldn’t copy shady marketing practices unless you actually know how to use them. No matter what your affiliate manager, myself, or any other worthless blogger of this mass circle-jerk claims.
Recommended This Week:
If you haven’t read it from front to back already, snap up a copy of the brilliant 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. Inspiring stuff for any affiliate marketer.