Have you ever played Texas hold’em and ever wonder whose wallet you think you can pillage & plunder?
If you have been in a poker game for a while, and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.
Likewise, if you are dealing with a CPA network, there is a HIGH probability that they are probably bitch slapping you without you even knowing it.
Let me explain.
Anyone… and i mean.. ANYONE can start a CPA affiliate network.
All you need is a dinky little VPS, buy yourself some shitty off the shelf affiliate tracking software, sign up for zillion affiliate offers, then go promote the shit out of your CPA network (hoping that affiliates would actually sign up).
And of course, how does the network make money?
Simple: pay less than what the network is getting paid or skim off the top.
For example, let’s say a CPA network promotes some dating offer where you are paid $8-12 per lead. All that the network has to do is pay out LESS than $8 per lead and pocket the difference. OR just shave leads (i.e. not “record” the conversions).
Or if you are REALLY evil, do BOTH.
Let me explain. I use to belong to a CPA affiliate network that came highly referred from a friend .. so i joined.
First thing I noticed.. the affiliate manager sucked ASS. He didn’t know ANYTHING… only thing he did was that I should be running more traffic. -_-
Sidenote: Let’s not delude ourselves, ladies and gentlemen. These affiliate managers are sales people.. their job is to crack the whip and get you to run traffic, not be your friend who’s supposed to give a shit if you’re making money or not. Remember.. you’re doing HIM/HER a favor running their offer so technically they should be kissing YOUR ass. So if your affiliate manager is acting high & almighty, remember to give him/her a friendly reminder:
Ok, i digress.
Anywho, when I joined.. everything was hunky dorry… The offers I was running weren’t hugely profitable, but i ran then for sake of collecting data.
One day.. i woke up realizing that CPA network is nothing but a middleman.. and started wondering what it would be like to go direct with the merchant.
So after a quick google search, I called up a merchant whose offer I was running through the network to see if I could go direct, and surprisingly they picked up.
Of course we chit chat about life.. then we get down to business.
And one of the things I talk about? “Is XYZ CPA network shaving my leads”
Answer? Yeap. A LOT.
Here’s what I found out. For duration of 2 weeks, my sub-affilaite ID registered on their end:
- for one offer, 171 leads vs. 158 on my affiliate network
- for second offer 51 vs. 29 on on my affiliate network
On top of that, the pay out from the CPA network was barely HALF of what I am now getting direct from the merchant.
So you’re probably thinking.. oh, this is a shady network.
Well, let’s say that i’ve been running with a few.. and i did some investigative work on all of them the past couple of months and I have yet to find one that I can say for certain are “favorable” for affiliates.
Now, does this make sense? As the affiliate, you are taking the risk of buying the traffic, creating the ads, optimizing the traffic/conversions… yet the middle man above you tells you takes a cut of your profits AND even shaves (i.e. STEALING) your hard earned dollars.
Of course, if you ask about this to your affiliate network through your affiliate manager, what’s their typical response?
“Oh that’s not my department”
“I’ll ask my manager”
“That’s how things are done in the affiliate marketing industry.”
Which of course means..
“I have no backbone to admit to the fact that we are stealing from you but I have to say some BS to make you think that you actually mean anything to us.”
So am I bitter from this? Of course. But am I gonna get bent out of shape? Nope.
Lesson learned: let buyer beware.
On top of that, if possible, go DIRECT with the merchant even if the payment terms might not be all that great. Besides, if you’re delivering quality volume, most merchants are willing to be more flexible on payment terms. As the wise saying goes… you have not because you ask not. So freakin’ ASK!
If you go direct with the merchant, is there a ZERO chance of lead shaving? Nope.. as the conversion pixel fires on THEIR property, you have no control over this. Of course, there’s lead scrubbing that you can’t avoid (whether direct or through CPA network), but now at least you don’t have an issue of ADDITIONAL party trying to skim top of your work.
Go direct and you’ll net more. Remember positive ROI is a good thing.. like this dude in the gangnam style video: