Yahoo To Crack Down; How Doomed Are You?
Google Money Tree Gets Rooted Out Of Texas

Yahoo To Crack Down; How Doomed Are You?

Affiliates make Baby Jesus cry, didn’t you know?

Google caught some headlines last month for banning a bunch of affiliates on the back of a rebill offer. Now word has caught the wind that Yahoo is about to drop an axe on the same bruised and battered floggers. It was supposed to be “Black Friday” for affiliates. Well, a few days have passed, and it seems that a whole bunch of guys are scraping by undetected from the alleged editorial clampdown.

Some very reliable sources have stated that the “Yahoo slap” is only a matter of time.

If you’re one of the guys who got dislocated from Google, you’ve probably taken a rapid interest in Yahoo. It’s decent volume at decent value and it’s self-serve.

A lot of affiliates are going to be pissed off to hear it, but the whole self-serve marketing strategy is about to bite the bullet on this one. If you’re really set on selling rebills, you’re gonna have to get used to breaking the budget on CPM based display ads. It’s just inevitable.

Okay, so when Yahoo finally does clamp down on the rebill offers (and they will), you’re gonna have a bunch of affiliates crowding the MSN space. I’ve advertised with MSN for a while now and I can tell you that the volume isn’t all that…and that’s WITHOUT having a massive influx of affiliates looking for homes for their campaigns.

I’ve said this over and over again. If you want to have success slinging a rebill offer, you better get smart about promoting it.

There are legitimate ways of getting these offers not just on Yahoo and MSN, but on Google too. It just requires a little invention and the guise to see beyond the “one shot” conversion. If your marketing expertise boils down to “I bid on this term and show them this page”, you’re going to get royally raped in the next few months – many times over.

You want to know the easiest way to build a long term campaign for a rebill on the big three PPC platforms? It’s simple. You don’t put your fucking rebill on the landing page.

Squeeze pages, opt-ins…whatever you want to call them. This is what you need to be doing – and doing well – to slip through the net and stay kicking in the search game.

It’s time to start collecting emails and taking on real-life business principles.

So you’re a promoting a bizopp which is getting scrubbed out of profitability – what do you do? You retain the lead. You design a business strategy where your only hope of converting that lead isn’t a one-time exposure to a flog.

Forget about your inconsequential clickthrough rate to the offer.

The second you start focusing on collecting emails instead of redirecting clicks to an offer – your clickthrough to the offer page is going to take a nosedive. That’s just the way it is.

But put it this way. If you have 50% of your 100 visitors going through to the offer page, is that really the best you could do? That’s 50 clicks to an offer.

What about if from those 100 visitors you collect 25 emails instead?

That lead is yours. It’s not going to get scrubbed and it’s not forever lost after it decides that your flog is a misleading piece of shit.

If you work your email list right, you could get 5 future clicks to another offer from each of those 25 emails. That’s 125 clicks to an offer. Instead of 50 – from the same original source of traffic. Your chance of converting the traffic no longer hinges on whether the prospect has his credit card in his pocket.

Of course, the real benefit of squeeze pages comes from the fact that your shady rebill isn’t immediately exposed. As soon as a Google intern reviews your flog, it’s gonna get marked with a low quality score. We’re hearing the same story coming out of the Yahoo camp. If you’re not seeing your ads slapped now, that’s no reason not to act now.

Jesus, I stumbled across Wickedfire earlier and I saw a bunch of affiliates shrugging and insisting that their campaigns were still rosy. Well, good for them. But I hope for their sakes that they’re moving fast to avoid the next slap – because it will inevitably come.

Staying one step ahead is what separates the earners from the eternal broke-as-shit learners.

I’ve spoken to several guys who are still reeling from the Google crackdown. I’d say the group is pretty much divided between those who are battering Yahoo and MSN with their old campaigns, and those who are trying to move on to display ads.

If you’re moving in to display ads and media buys, you’ve got one hell of a journey ahead of you. It’s possible to lose money rapidly when you switch from CPC to CPM. You can’t rest your hopes on an awesome landing page compensating for a poor clickthrough. You need top notch creatives, probably a professional designer, and enough moolah in the kitty to see it all go to burn many times over.

I strongly suggest you dip your feet in slowly with “monthly tenancy” offers and CPC banners where you can get them. You’re also about to discover just how much shitty traffic it’s possible to buy when you step away from Google. Be prepared to lose a lot of money before you make any. Be prepared to deal with sneaky asshole webmasters who’ll pull any string to make you believe that their traffic source is more valuable than it really is.

But for those of you who want to gut it out on the big three PPC platforms – I’ll say it one more time. You better get smart about it.

Google Money Tree Gets Rooted Out Of Texas

So you’ve heard the news? Google Money Tree – one of 2008’s most popular Biz-Opp offers – has hit the headlines under a barrage of threats from the Texas Attorney General.

It turns out the popular get-rich-quick Google scheme is what we knew it was all along…a waste of money. The sort of offer you’d have to be blind, deaf, dumb and plain stupid to sign up to. No offence, Mum.

Not only have the Google Money Tree founders misled their customers with purposefully hidden small print, but they’ve also failed to actually send the damn kit to some of them. Now it turns out that Attorney Greg Abbott is baying for blood, and it might just be YOUR Adwords campaign he’s ready to pounce on.

Have a read over the public press statement below.

Infusion Media Inc.’s ‘GoogleMoneyTree’ uses high profile name to deceive out-of-work Internet users

AUSTIN – Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged two Utah-based defendants with operating a fraudulent work-at-home scheme. The state’s enforcement action names Infusion Media Inc. and Jonathan D. Eborn, whose “GoogleMoneyTree.com” promised six-figure earnings for conducting specialized Google and Yahoo Internet searches.

According to investigators, the defendants promised big payouts in order to convince Web users to spend $3.88 on shipping and handling for a “free kit” that supposedly would show them how to make money from home. Those who purchased the kit were later surprised to discover they were being charged $72 a month by the defendants.

Internet users encountered the defendants’ Google and Facebook advertisements, which linked to blogs that were created to promote their work-at-home offer. The blogs included “testimonials” that touted their products and led viewers to believe that previously unemployed users were earning high salaries conducting Internet searches. According to the blogs, interested parties need only acquire a “free kit,” which was available through GoogleMoneyTree’s “sign-up” page.

Individuals who requested the kit were required to provide substantial personal information, including their name, address, telephone number, email address, and credit card payment information, which was supposed to be used to pay the $3.88 “shipping and handling” fee. Customers believed they were only obligated to pay the “refundable” processing fee and were not aware there would be additional charges to their credit cards.

According to the state’s enforcement action, GoogleMoneyTree failed to clearly inform purchasers that they had been enrolled in monthly memberships and had only seven days to cancel their trial membership. Purchasers who failed to cancel within seven days were automatically charged $72 on their credit card statements each month. In addition to the unexpected credit card charges, customer complaints obtained by state investigators indicate that GoogleMoneyTree failed to actually send the “free kit” and refused to honor customer refunds.

The state is seeking an injunction, civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well as restitution for purchasers. Texans who believe they have been misled by similar business practices may file complaints with the Office of the Attorney General toll-free at (800) 252-8011 or file complaints online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

So what does this mean for rebill Biz-opps? Not a fucking lot, I’d imagine. The affiliates will blame the networks (promoting what’s in front of us). The networks will blame the merchants (not our fault it’s a scam). The merchant will blame the retarded customers for not reading the small print. Expect a rumbling of industry conversation while various affiliates with highly perched morals withdraw their rebill offers for fear of a lawsuit landing on their doorstep.

I expect this to last all of about ten minutes before people accept that the rebill offer is as old as marketing and a perfectly valid selling mechanism.

If anything, the injunction will serve to frighten a few affiliates out of the market and make it a more lucrative place to be for the rest of us.

I was a fan of the Google Money Tree offer while it lasted. It wasn’t my most profitable Google campaign but it still converted at around 11% and made me a couple of hundred dollars a day.

There will be those who take the moral ground and insist that it’s about time these shady rebill offers were stamped out.

Personally, I think they can go fuck themselves. If the terms are stated clearly, and if the merchant delivers what it says it’s going to deliver – that’s fair game in my eyes. Burden be on the naive retard who actually expects popping a few Acai Berry pills to save his waistband.

I don’t have a personal attachment to anything that I sell. When you’re in affiliate marketing, your customers are as faceless as your employers. There’ll always be another Google Money Tree lurking in the campaign listings. But are you going to order a trial copy of every last product you promote? I didn’t think so.

Promising customers the chance to earn money from home is no shadier than telling some 40 year old virgin that he can get laid tonight on such-and-such dot com. Marketing thrives on the best case scenario, not the reality of the situation.

As for affiliates getting legally challenged for unknowingly promoting the scam offer – give me a fucking break. I’m tempted to go set up an ultra targeted Adwords campaign selling the Google Money Tree to only Texas just to cream a deserted market.

Absolutely nothing will come of these baseless threats. The affiliate is safe. Those Money Tree founders might have some explaining to do though…

UPDATE: To clarify, because I’m sick of hearing about it! Yes, I did advertise Google Money Tree money at one point. I pulled the offer as soon as I found out the owners weren’t delivering the actual product and had been avoiding customer complaints. I don’t like being associated with scam products any more than the next guy. Any affiliate who continued to advertise GMT after it was revealed how they weren’t even delivering a product, should take a step back and re-evaluate what he wants to get out of this business.

We all know these are cheap shitty rebills that aren’t gonna make you rich overnight. We don’t know that they’re scams though. That’s a completely different ball game. There are lines to be drawn and if you’re worried about promoting a product that happens to be a scam, get in touch with your affiliate manager first. They will usually have a good idea of how reputable it is.

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