This is the first interview in the RevGuard Happy Hour series. The primary goal of the series is to host informal interviews with industry experts and thought leaders, and provide educational or interesting information for continuity, free trial, direct response advertisers. The secondary goal is, of course, to enjoy a drink or two while we are at it!
In this short interview with Sonny Palta, of The Affiliati Network, our own Aimee Paterson asks the important questions.
Feel free to read through the interview, or just watch the video below. Either way – enjoy, and cheers! Feedback is always welcome, and if you’d like to participate in one of these, please reach out.
We’re going to do a quick Q&A session today that’s from an advertiser’s perspective. Sonny, are all affiliate networks more or less the same?
The short answer is no, and to expand upon that, you really have to know what type of product you have, and what type of network you’re looking to work with in order to forge the right partnership.
Certain networks might specialize in white-hat offers, guys like Ads 4 Dough, Mint Global come to mind. That’s really their forte. They’re going to take those types of offers. They’re going to blow them out of the water.
If you’re doing more of the continuity stuff, which I’d imagine most of the people [reading] this are, you have a completely different subset of networks that are going to do best with your product. It kind of boils down to:
- Who is your relationship best with?
- Who do you communicate best with?
- Who do you have the best rapport with?
I think we’ll probably touch on this a little bit deeper, but when it comes to continuity-specialized networks, it’s really important to choose a top tier network.
When you get down in the second tier, you’re dealing with people who have been booted off most of the major players. There’s a reason that those publishers have been booted off. The quality isn’t there. They weren’t compliant, whatever it might be.
It’s really important:
- that the network best fits your needs
- who you have a great working relationship with
- to make sure that they’re going to protect your business interests
Great! What is the best way to measure affiliate traffic, effectiveness, and ROI?
I boil it down simply to: communication.
Everybody kind of knows what their minimum KPI metrics are going to be and it’s going to be your first turn and your second turn combined with refunds, chargebacks, and customer service costs.
Like any business, you want to calculate your gross revenue, then subtract all of your costs of operations, and come up with your gross profit.
It’s very important that you look at all the pieces to the puzzle, not just retention, not just chargebacks, and not just refunds but paint a clear picture of all three.
This kind of ties into a network is only as good for an advertiser as the level of communication they receive.
A lot of advertisers want amazing performance from a network. That’s the desire. The network really wants to give that to you. At Affiliati, we’re always striving to do the best that we can, but we are handcuffed by access to information.
- Does the advertiser give us reports in a timely manner?
- Which sub IDs need to be cut?
- What is the overall LTV of a user is by sub ID?
The last one, especially, is a tremendously valued metric that I think is underserved in the industry.
If you’re reading this and you want to know what you can do better as an advertiser, that’s where I would start…
Improve all levels of communication, and really run LTV analysis by sub ID.
Not just retention, not just chargebacks, not just refunds, but a function of all three of those.
Now you’re getting a clearer picture of who’s profitable for you, who isn’t and the network can take appropriate action to deliver the results that you’re looking for.
Excellent. A sort of follow up question. In a bit more detail, what one thing can advertisers do today to improve affiliate campaign effectiveness?
It bears repeating. It’s that important.
We pride ourselves on it at Affiliati. Without sounding too self-serving, communication really is the key.
I don’t want it to just be about my network. This brings up the industry as a whole.
When you do good business within the industry, the entire industry benefits.
It really boils down to all parties having good lines of communication and I beg of advertisers and networks to both remember, an advertiser might work with multiple networks, so it’s up to the networks to ask – and advertisers should remember that a network is working with 100 to 500 different advertisers on a weekly basis.
It’s also great to build systems and processes that disseminate this information on a weekly basis without either party even having to ask.
We just set our watch by it. We know on Tuesday, we’re getting this report. It’s going to show us these metrics and we can take the appropriate action. Automating this stuff, nips any problems in the bud, before they become big problems, or it helps us make everybody more money and everyone in the supply chain benefits.
Wonderful. How can advertisers make sure that they are not victims of affiliate fraud?
What do you want to define as fraud there? I’ve heard it defined as bad retention is fraud, and that’s not fraud. That’s just bad traffic. That’s my answer to the prior question.
If we’re talking about straight affiliate fraud, it’s employing the services on the advertiser side like Kount, like RevGuard’s various products, having Verifi in Ethoca and good customer service and maybe even doing a spot check on one out of every 10 to 15 sales for the customer service call just to know where the traffic is coming from.
I think a lot of time the word fraud gets thrown around…
Poor retention and most of that type of stuff can be stopped before it becomes a big deal with good communication.
What have you seen lately or what products within the industries that we’re in, what trends do you see as far as products right now, being popular and for the rest of 2017?
Great question. Love it. Love trying to get into that next wave of things and breaking free of what I like to call the big three or big four verticals that everybody knows and runs all day.
One thing that I think is tremendously powerful for advertisers to do is to take the initiative to build compliant or VSL-style white-hat landing pages, even if it’s for a product that falls into the big three or four niches.
This is a way to take your core competency and open it up to a different style of affiliate or different media channels, where normally a skin, diet, muscle rebill might not get approved.
With the proper VSL that’s compliant, you really give yourself a whole new breath of opportunities to run white-hat campaigns where you’re seeing companies like Beverly Hills MD do tremendous volume. Taking that initiative is awesome.
Outside of just building a VSL, look at niche products and really own a niche.
There are countless ones out there. You could go eyelash. You could go any kind of anti-cellulite. If we’re talking cosmetic related, or you could pick various supplements that go after specific ailments and have substantiation behind them, and you don’t have to go as broad as you do with diet, skin, or muscle. You could pick something like pain relief or you could pick supplements that are going to help high blood pressure, heart situations.
Obviously, you need to be completely compliant and have that substantiation — but taking a niche and carving it out, and owning the entire pie in that vertical I think is very powerful.
When you look at Google trends and you see what’s trending and maybe isn’t really well served by the affiliate community, and the direct response community, investigating something that you have passion or awareness about, and going after that, it’s a really powerful thing. You wind up owning the entire market share.
One great one right now that I’m looking at is anti-tick. Anti-mosquito stuff, sure there were some competitors. I don’t see much in anti-tick type products, not supplements.
It’s a big issue because people are very afraid of ticks, and they want protection, and they’re actively searching for it but no one’s doing a direct response or affiliate model to serve these people ads.
Tapping into something like that, it’s a slam dunk if you do it the right way.
Other stuff… It’s the hot product of whatever week or month it is. Whether it was VR last year, fidget spinners today, and just buying cool, seasonal type products, making sure that you manage your inventory and all the things that go into that side of it because that’s a different can of worms than just having things manufactured and put into jars or bottles. You have to actually pull that stuff over from China, and do it the right way, and run a different style of business than we do with the supplement business.
Those are all great opportunities.
2017 had definitely been, I wouldn’t call it too different than 2016, but as it is every year, the landscape changes and it’s just what’s to be expected.
It’s not going to get any easier year over year, so we just have to continue to get smarter as a community and as an industry and with great people like you and your team at RevGuard…
I know that everything is going to keep getting better, year over year, for those who are willing to put the work in.