Affiliate marketing is a very unique industry. It has many moving parts and is unlike any other industry out there.
When I first started out in affiliate marketing, I was a bit confused about this term. I was interested in promoting offers and generating money, so I thought I was the advertiser. I was way off. The advertiser is the one that provides the offer. They ware willing to pay a certain amount (or a percentage of revenue) in exchange for generating a lead, sale, or call. It is the job of the network to find legitimate advertisers that match their affiliates.
This is like the hockey puck in the affiliate marketing game. Everything centers around the offer. We get at least a dozen requests per day from advertisers to run their offer. Of those we only pursue, on average, one. That’s because there are a lot of shady offers out there. There are advertisers that won’t pay. There are advertisers that will tamper with the conversion tracking. And there are offers that just aren’t good enough. Either they have been passed around like a drunken sorority girl through every network in town or the payout doesn’t make sense.
Advertisers often don’t understand that there is real work and real money spent on pushing their offers. They sometimes think that since they are paying per conversion, they don’t have to pay that much. Well I have news for you: it doesn’t work that way! Affiliates spend real money and take big risks in promoting offers. We calculate expected conversion rate, take into account the average cost per click, and see if the offer is profitable for our affiliates. If it doesn’t make sense, we pass.
The Affiliate / Publisher
This is another term that often confuses those new to the game. The term “affiliate” has become associated with fraud and low-quality traffic. This is mainly due to the way this industry was in its infancy. Now things have changed but the memories remain. That’s why you’ll see a lot of networks refer to them as publishers instead. If you’re an affiliate, you’re a publisher.
These guys are the bread and butter of the industry. Without them no money is generated for the advertiser or the network. Many spend day and night optimizing campaigns and trying to make an offer profitable for them. It’s a lot of work and not everyone is cut out for it. However once you can generate conversions profitably, the sky is the limit! I’ve known publishers in the industry that went from spending $100 a month trying to run offers to spending $100,000 a day in advertising.
And now for the final piece of the puzzle: the network. A lot of people ask, “why even work with a network? Why not go direct to the advertiser and make more money?” Because that’s not your job. It’s hard enough optimizing campaigns, pushing offers, finding good offers through networks, and staying on top of the financial side. Finding and build relationships with advertisers is a completely different job and it requires a very different set of skills. It makes more sense to work with a network that you can build a relationship with and not have to worry about getting paid on time or getting scammed by an unknown advertiser. We as a network take on that risk and do our best to make our affiliates happy. We have paid out hundreds of thousands before we got paid just to make sure the affiliates don’t have to worry about money.
We also spend a considerable amount of time sifting through bad offers, trying to find the hidden gem that converts extremely well. With the amount of data we generate, we provide valuable information to affiliates to make their campaigns profitable. We tell them what types of offers work with what type of advertising and what to avoid. For example, we had an offer that was converting at over 30% for some affiliates and 0% for others. When we took a closer look we realized that, for whatever reason, this offer works extremely well on paid search but doesn’t convert at all on display networks. We saved our affiliates thousands by providing them with this valuable information.
The number one thing we work to build is trust. Trust with our advertisers to provide us the best offers because they know we can deliver. Trust with our affiliates because they know we provide honest reporting, provide high payouts, and don’t lie to them about which offers are working and which they should avoid. Once you build that trust, you have a solid foundation for a long-term company. While payout is important, an affiliate will stick with a network they know and trust rather than work with an unknown network that offers a slightly higher payout.