ISSUE 3 | SPRING 2010 | REVENUE.MTHINK.

COM
BigBucks,
Bad
Business
Who’s Getting
Google-Slapped
and Why
Does DirectTrack 8.0
Change The Game?
Full Review
Geno Prussakov on
The Year Ahead in 2010
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Spring 2010 | Revenue.mthink.com
Contents
Feature Article
Big Bucks, Bad Business 12
Google has been cracking down on some affiliates.
Are you at risk of losing your business to a decision
that can’t be challenged?
BY LISA MORGAN
Product Review
Taming the Affiliate Network Jungle 24
DirectTrack 8.0 offers certified tracking,
cross-network publication of offers and more.
Does it change the game?
BY LISA MORGAN
Publisher’s Letter
Are You a Velociraptor? 4
BY CHRIS TRAYHORN
Manager’s Minute
2010: The Year Ahead 6
BY EVGENII “GENO” PRUSSAKOV
Social Media Watch
What Are you Buying? 10
BY IAN ROSENWACH
Legal Web
Putting The Positive
on Negative Option Billing 18
BY DAVID O. KLEIN & JONATHAN E. TURCO
Affiliate Corner
What New Affiliates and
Merchants Need to Know 22
BY PARESH VADAVIA
Visions of Performance
Are You A Value Added Affiliate? 32
BY GEORGE HANSEN
Publisher’s letter
4 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Chris Trayhorn
ART DIRECTOR
David Witcomb
SENIOR WRITER
Lisa Morgan
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Yvonne Schellerup
CLIENT LIAISON
Jennifer Neaves
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
George Hansen, David Klein,
Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov,
Ian Rosenwach, Paresh Vadavia.
VICE-PRESIDENT, SALES
Tobias Siegel
ADVERTISING/SALES DIRECTOR
Kelly Joseph Lemos

To advertise, subscribe or obtain reprints, call 415-371-8800,
or visit: revenue.mThink.com
Revenue Performance is published by mThink
55 New Montgomery, Suite 216
San Francisco, CA 94105
mThink: Intelligent Performance Marketing
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
Chris Trayhorn
VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING
Yvonne Schellerup
DIRECTOR, WEB DEVELOPMENT
Ron Snow
COMPTROLLER
Julienne Riveong
SUPER-AFFILIATE INSIGHTS FOR
ONLINE PUBLISHERS AND ADVERTISERS
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy
of the content of this publication, the publisher will accept
no responsibility for any errors or omissions, or for any loss
or damage, consequential or otherwise, suffered as a result
of any material published here. The information published
in Revenue Performance is not intended as a substitute
for legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. The
publisher assumes no responsibility for statements made
by advertisers in business competition. All editorial submis-
sions, whether solicited or unsolicited, become the property
of mThink. Statements and opinions expressed herein are
not necessarily those of Revenue Performance, mThink, its
affiliates, advertisers or any other agent. The name “Revenue
Performance” and the phrase “Super-Affiliate Insights” are
the intellectual property of mThink. The entire content of
this publication is protected by copyright; full details are
available through the publisher. All rights reserved. These
trademarks or copyright materials may not be used in any
media for any purpose without the express written consent
of mThink.
© 2010 mThink
ISSN: 1549-7615
Cover Image:
© Diego Cervo, Sandra Van Der Steen | Dreamstime.com
Disclaimer: Revenue Performance and revenue.mThink.com include editorial and/or advertising that refers to affiliate programs that often
include many different websites. Occasionally those programs may include websites offering education in casino or card games. In such cases
no promotion or endorsement of those sites should be inferred or implied – our editorial coverage and/or advertising relates only to the affiliate
program itself. Revenue Performance magazine and revenue.mThink.com do not accept advertising that promotes online gambling.
Lisa Morgan is an
independent journalist who
covers technology, business, and
marketing issues. She is also a
strategic consultant and writer
serving technology-driven
organizations.
George Hansen is Director
of Sales and Business
Development at Digital River
– oneNetworkDirect.
David O. Klein is a partner with
the New York law firm of Klein
Zelman Rothermel where he
practices internet marketing law.
Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov,
writes, blogs, speaks and
consults about affiliate
marketing and program
management.
Paresh Vadavia is a veteran
affiliate manager who
recently launched his own
agency for outsourcing
program management.
Ian Rosenwach is a product
manager with LinkShare
overseeing product planning
and execution, as well as social
media.
W
elcome to 2010. This is the year in which we can look to the horizon once
more. A year of rebirth, of gaining the high ground, of winning again.
Never before has such a tough year been followed by one of such massive
opportunities.
If you’re not excited by 2010, you should be. Just look at what’s coming.
Everyone is talking about the impact of social media but we are only at the very
beginning of the changes it is going to make in our lives. Mobile web access is grow-
ing faster than any previous technology has ever done and is going to be at least twice
as big as desktop web access. Cloud computing will mean that everyone has all their
data available to them all the time. New non-governmental currencies and payment
systems are being invented. Entertainment is changing as people move from passive
TV-watching to interactive games. And then there’s climate change and all the green
technologies that are being introduced.
This is a meteorite-load of disruption. The world of commerce is going to heat up
dramatically. Established industry dinosaurs will have to try and evolve with the new
environment, which will provide lots of opportunity for faster, smarter competitors.
Big beasts are going to die off while the smaller and more intelligent thrive.
2010 is going to be the year of the Velociraptor.
Take a minute to consider: are you a Velociraptor? Or are you prey?
Welcome to 2010 and Revenue Performance. We have lots of plans for this year.
Stay with us and let us be your trusted guide. It’s going to be a great year.
Chris Trayhorn
Publisher
Contributors
6
Let’s face it. 2009 is a year that many
of us are pleased to put behind us. We
want to look to the future. 2010 beckons.
New mobile phones and tablet computers
are appearing every week. We are seeing
crazy-fast take-up of social media like
Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Add those
developments to a rebounding economy
and it all indicates an inflection point: one
of those moments in history when every-
thing comes together to enable massive
change and opportunity.
2010 is going to be a big year politically,
technologically, globally. We invited Geno
Prussakov to take look at what we can all
look forward to in the coming year.
I
t’s that time of the year when half the world is making
predictions, while the other half is reading them. The
one thing that unites us is the desire to have some solid
information that can be relied upon along with practical
ideas on how to turn the knowledge into action. Here are
my thoughts on what will work in 2010, together with some
of the most important data points on what the trends are in
the industry.
Social Media to Blossom
I know this will come as no surprise to the majority of
the readers, but it’s worth looking again at some of the more
interesting research data. Forrester’s US Interactive Market-
ing Forecast, 2009 to 2014 – which projects a substantial
growth in online marketing over the next four years (hit-
ting nearly $55 billion in 2014) – also estimates that social
media will play an increasing role and demand increased at-
tention from marketers. More concretely, Forrester forecasts
that social media marketing spend will grow faster than
any other sector (more than fourfold). Additionally, out of
the top seven interactive channels which are expected to
increase in marketing effectiveness, two are directly related
to social media: what Forrester calls “created social media”
(expected to show the greatest increase in effectiveness),
and paid social listings.
Transparency is Central
Transparency and trust are going to become ever more
important to online marketing in general and affiliate
marketing in particular during 2010. With the recent
introduction of new Federal Trade Commission endorse-
ments/testimonials rules and the rapid development of
social media, online marketers are going to find that suc-
cess comes from increased transparency leading to better
customer engagement.
6
Manager’s Minute– Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov
revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
>>
2010
The Year Ahead
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8 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
Manager’s Minute – Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov
Engagement is no longer something that is solely driven
by a marketing decision. Consumers are participating in
shaping brands at will, on an hourly basis, and social media
in all its variety is enabling and accelerating this process.
Publishers and marketers can either monetize this trend
by offering the necessary tools and opportunities to help
their customers participate. Or
they can risk destroying what
they have previously built by
choosing to use social media
carelessly, spamming and abus-
ing the trust of their readers
and followers.
Affiliates and publishers that
make the effort to combine
greater transparency with the
demand for more social media
participation, will find that they can create new value-added
tools and services, and by doing so will win big.
Mobile Marketing to Grow
…and fast too! Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile
Internet usage will be “at least twice the size of the
desktop Internet” within a few years. Smartphones are
expected to “out-ship the global notebook + netbook
market in 2010 and out-ship the global PC market (in-
cluding desktops) by 2012.”
Other sources support this forecast of massive growth.
eMarketer, for example, forecasts steady growth in mobile
ad spend from $416 million in 2009 to $593 million in
2010, to $1.5 billion in 2013.
The increasing demand for mobile services created
by social media combined with the growth of mobile
technologies offers any number of interesting market-
ing opportunities. This will be big play for many affiliate
marketers in 2010.
The Year of CRO
Rand Fishkin, CEO & co-founder of SEOmoz, has chris-
tened 2010 “the year of conversion rate optimization.” He
believes that most companies are now at an “inflection
point …[able] to assess their spend and where they derive
value.” As a result, he believes that CRO, with its reason-
able costs that deliver high ROI, will be the area where
most will focus.
Tim Ash of SiteTuners has been stressing the importance
of CRO for a long time to affiliate marketers, and increas-
ing numbers of affiliates and etailers are now paying atten-
tion to landing page optimization. Those that have learned
to tweak, split test, improve, test again, and again, will be
the ones that beat their competition in 2010.
For merchants or affiliates, there is no better New Year’s
resolution than to spend time every day on practicing con-
version optimization skills. Nothing will pay off better.
Online Video to Boom
In 2010 video will be increasingly presented as part of gen-
eral search results and both affiliates
and etailers should keep this in mind.
Some merchants are already providing
affiliates with video creative, but expe-
rience is already showing that the best
converting creative is often that made
by the affiliates themselves. And they
do not have to be professionally shot.
In the present disintermediated world,
honesty and objectivity counts for more
than glamour.
The Forrester’s report quoted above also forecasts that
over 80% of polled marketers believe that the marketing ef-
fectiveness of online video will increase in the course of the
next three years, which will make this channel second only
to created social media in influence.
More Legislative Fights
With more and more states facing budget deficits, more
will turn towards the “affiliate tax” as the panacea. If it
hasn’t happened in your state yet, it’s just a matter of time
and as an affiliate marketer you need to be prepared to be
proactive. These legislative initiatives can be fought, but it
needs merchants and affiliates to join the fight, writer let-
ters and campaign. Be aware and be ready.
Here’s to a fruitful 2010! Stick with your goals, take the most
out of the emerging trends, and success will surely follow.
References:
• Forrester’s US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 To
2014 –http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/us_in-
teractive_marketing_forecast%2C_2009_to_2014/q/
id/47730/t/2
• Morgan Stanley’s The Mobile Internet Report – http://
www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/mo-
bile_internet_report122009.html
• eMarketer - Trends to Watch - All of eMarketer’s 2010
Predictions - http://www.emarketer.com/blog/index.php/
trends-watch-emarketers-2010-predictions/
• Rand Fiskin - 8 Predictions for SEO in 2010 - http://www.
seomoz.org/blog/8-predictions-for-seo-in-2010. |rp
EVGENII “GENO” PRUSSAKOV is an author, blogger, speaker and consul-
tant in affiliate marketing and affiliate program management.
You thought the Internet
we’ve seen so far is big?
According to Forrester,
mobile web is going to be
twice as large.
>>
F
ive million people use Twitter every day. Each month,
more Americans visit YouTube than watch the Super
Bowl. It’s clear that the Internet is fundamentally
changing. What does this change in online behavior mean
for e-commerce?
The Great Attention Stream Migration
By now we’ve seen that Black Friday and Cyber Mon-
day numbers were stronger than expected. E-commerce
continues to be a vibrant force in the economy, even during
uncertain times. But at the same time the online shopping
landscape is changing. As people spend more time on social
networks their online behavior is evolving. Consumers
are doing the same activities as
before such as shopping, brows-
ing, and searching, but on social
sites. Increasingly, they are finding
recommendations on what to buy
from their friends or others that
they trust. The 00’s saw a migra-
tion of the attention stream to
social places.
It’s the job of networks, pub-
lishers, and advertisers to adapt to the changing online
shopping landscape and find ways to use social networks to
engage consumers.
Social Media Grows Up
According to eMarketer’s 2010 Social Media Marketing
Benchmark Report, social media marketing is now reaching
maturity, meaning that it’s becoming more measurable.
Whether it’s the numbers of followers, fans, or subscribers,
advertisers are able to set measurable goals and then track
ROI. Until now social media has been used primarily for
branding and customer service but more marketers are see-
ing the direct response opportunities that lie within social
networks. As social media matures as a channel, marketing
objectives will focus towards sales growth and lead genera-
tion. MarketingSherpa reports that the retail/e-commerce
sector is poised to increase social media spend by an average
of 79% in 2010. Social media is not an experiment for mar-
keters anymore – it’s a must-have.
Smart publishers are using social networks to promote
their own brand and drive sales, as well as enabling their
customers to share deals within their own social networks.
By allowing consumers to share links on social sites you
open up a vast new distribution opportunity, so long as
your content and offers are compelling enough to be shared.
Every publisher and advertiser should be thinking about
how to incorporate social sharing links on their site.
BradsDeals.com is a great example of how it should be done,
with nice integration of Twitter, Facebook, and email op-
tions for every deal on the site.
Networks Plugging In
CPA and affiliate marketing are channels well-suited to
helping marketers capture the new attention stream. At a
10,000 foot level, social sites represent distribution opportu-
nities. As more marketers turn to
social media as an actionable chan-
nel, affiliate programs can assist
the distribution of their products
on social sites.
Networks, such as ourselves,
also need to think about how they
can help their customers be aware
of and involved with emerging
shopping trends. At LinkShare,
what we call our Bento Box is a sandbox for plug-ins where
we offer a number of tools like WordPress plug-ins and
a Google Gadget that make getting links outside of the
LinkShare Dashboard seamless. Tweetshop and the Social
LinkGenerator bookmarklet enable publishers to create
tracking links to advertiser pages and then share it on their
social sites, with a click of a button. As a demonstration, go
to Twitter and take a look at all the tweets with the hash tag
#tweetshop. You’ll find Twitter users recommending prod-
ucts to their followers in real-time. We see social networks
as a distribution channel for our customers to not only to
drive awareness, but also to drive sales.
As social networks have come to command a greater
share of shoppers’ attention so online marketers have adapt-
ed. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and treat social
media as a mature channel not only suited for branding and
customer service but also for sales and leads. |rP
IAN ROSENWACH is a product manager with LinkShare overseeing
product planning and execution, as well as social media.
What Are You Buying?
10 10
Social Media Watch – Ian Rosenwach
revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
E-commerce continues
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13 revenue.mThink.com
Google is cracking down. Last month, Google filed a
trademark infringement lawsuit against Pacific WebWorks
and several others as part of an effort to stop fraudulent
“Google Money” schemes. These are scammy offers that use
Google’s brand to attract unsuspecting customers and then
trap them into hard-to-break continuity programs, often via
negative option contracts. In a move that many see as being
related, Google has also moved “to remove scammy URLS
from our index,” and to, “permanently disable AdWords ac-
counts that have a poor or harmful user experience whether
or not they use Google’s trademarks illegally.” Unfortu-
nately, it’s not just scammers that are getting hit by these
new measures.
Are Google-Slaps Arbitrary?
Public forums and blogs are rife with complaints from
affiliates whose businesses have been adversely affected by
or obliterated by what has come to be known as a Google-
slap. A common story is that a business may have existed
for some time, with perhaps six or seven figures having
been spent on AdWords, when suddenly with little or no
warning Google disables the account. Often, there seems
to be no way to identify what caused the problem and
therefore no way to fix it. Even if the problem could be
identified and fixed, the end result would be the same with
Google being unresponsive and the account remaining
unusable.
The process seems random and has begun to have a
chilling effect on affiliates and advertisers. If only Google’s
guidelines weren’t so ambiguous, some say, and if there was
some recourse, then perhaps honest affiliates could avoid
the sanctions intended to deter scammers.
“Google-slaps are just Google trying to correct the market
so consumers can have a better user experience,” said Mi-
chael Krongel, president of Intermark Media, Inc. “But the
process is very arbitrary. People comply and still get slapped
or their listing gets poor Quality Scores.”
Although most advertisers adhere to Google’s terms, poli-
cies and guidelines, there are nevertheless some aggressive
advertisers that try to take advantage of consumers, said a
Google spokesperson.
MediaTrust CEO Peter Bordes feels that a lack of industry
standards is driving Google’s actions in a situation in which
it is trying to protect itself and consumers.
“We’re seeing a contraction of the CPA market which
points to this as a root problem,” he said. “My fear is that
things are moving so fast and so hard [remedial action]
won’t be done in a manner that reflects fair play.”
The word, “fair” is at the heart of the debate. While
Google does provides terms, conditions and exhaustive
guidelines for advertisers, it is still often accused of not
revealing all of the relevant factors.
“Many affiliates feel Google is acting in a way that is
unfair by failing to disclose important, relevant information
with regard to policies and decisions that affect their liveli-
hoods,” said John Lemp, CEO and founder of IntegraClick,
LLC. “The frustrating part about this is affiliate marketers
have no idea why their account is being terminated. It’s
unfortunate that many publishers and advertisers with no
ill intentions have had to experience account terminations
and worse, blacklisting within the Google network due to
heightened security measures. These are Google’s core
customers and [they] should be at least treated with some
form of dignity.”
Who’s Getting
Google-Slapped and Why
Bucks,
BAD
BUSINESS
By Lisa Morgan
14 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
Potential Pitfalls
Google’s desire to eliminate “poor or harmful user experi-
ences” makes sense from corporate risk and consumer pro-
tection standpoints, but the policy is a point of great debate
because it is subjective and not necessarily tied to fraud or
intentional misdeeds.
What factors may lead to a user experience being consid-
ered poor? Landing page quality, Quality Scores and thin or
irrelevant content are the most obvious, but there seem to
be several others that are undisclosed.
“If you’re running a PPC campaign your landing page will
count toward your Quality Score,” said Jim Lillig, director
of Networks at ClickFusion. “The real question is whether
your organic Quality Score differs from a paid listing. And
the biggest incongruence is you need good information but
will you get slapped for a form on a page? Is it ambiguous?
Yes, but not to Google.”
A common situation that has perplexed many advertis-
ers has been when they have found that their Quality
Score has plummeted overnight. What caused it? There
is no simple way to know for sure so people have to keep
guessing.
According to Google’s spokesperson a number of factors
are included in the measurement of a keyword’s relevance to
ad text and a user’s search query. Quality Scores are updated
frequently and are closely related to the performance of a
keyword. Because there are a variety of factors involved in the
calculation of a Quality Score, Google says it not possible to
give a simple explanation for a Quality Score’s decline.
IntegraClick’s Lemp wonders how any affiliate can be
confident about the future when their livelihoods may
depend on Google’s subjective judgment on the meaning
of landing page quality. Because there are so many differ-
ent landing page types and search encompasses hundreds
of thousands of different business types, he feels Google
has a responsibility to understand the nuances and provide
specific feedback.
“The only people that will learn the system if Google
continues to do business this way are those that do business
the wrong way,” he said. “In the end, Google may end up
pushing partners towards using unethical tactics to diver-
sify their risks, which is exactly what Google was trying to
avoid in the first place.”
Many agree that Google’s approach may actually encour-
age the kind of practices it is designed to stop because
gaming Google’s rules can provide big increases in traffic
volume and ROI, with the result that honest affiliates are
either forced to follow suit or become the victims of higher
bid prices and lower margins.
Who Decides?
Google says it uses both automated and manual processes
to measure site quality and to distinguish scammers from
legitimate advertisers. The company disables the accounts
of offenders that repeatedly breach its advertising policies
and landing page quality guidelines, or that place ads that
promote sites considered to be egregiously harmful to users.
Given the ease with which new accounts can be set up
and the sheer number of accounts that exist, some sort of
automated review is accepted as necessary by everyone.
Where it comes in for criticism is when it appears arbitrary
and overreaching.
“When you talk about destroying someone’s business,
Google needs to do so in a sniper-based fashion,” said
IntegraClick’s Lemp. “It’s easy to say ‘some people will be
affected for the greater good’, but it’s different once it’s you
and your livelihood that is axed.”
Part of the problem is that it seems to many that Google
takes no account of a history of good behavior by the affili-
ate. Having an account that has existed for years without
problems but with great Quality Scores and big ad spends
appears to carry little weight with Google. One adver-
tiser’s big ad spend may just be regarded as a tiny drop in
the Google bucket. It is a sensitive issue for victims of the
Google-slap that consider themselves to be some of Google’s
best customers.
“A million dollars is not that big a deal to a company
Google’s size,” said ClickFusion’s Lillig. “Their strategy is
Who Should Define the Guidelines?
Google’s power over its advertising customers is
creating great concern among publishers, adver-
tisers, and networks. Some have decided that the
industry as a whole needs to take action to self-
regulate before the government decides to step in
or Google’s rules become even more onerous.
John Lemp, CEO and founder of IntegraClick,
LLC says he and the CEOs of some of the largest
affiliate networks are talking about creating a not-
for-profit entity that protects advertisers, affili-
ates, and consumers.
Peter Bordes, CEO of Media Trust hopes that
perhaps something might be accomplished
through the Performance Marketing Alliance
(PMA) although at the present time the group is
busy handling Internet tax issues. In the mean-
time his network has launched a compliance
directory so people can educate themselves about
issues like blogging policies.
Jim Lillig, director of networks at ClickFusion is
talking with some of his colleagues about po-
tentially launching a certification authority. His
company is currently working on technology that
will monitor the quality of traffic sent by publish-
ers to advertisers.
“Affiliates have done a poor job of policing them-
selves,” said Lillig. “I’m for anything that will help
legitimize affiliate marketing.”
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to weed out bad people but even our court system convicts
innocent people. The problem is there’s no recourse with
Google.”
What Happens If an Account is Disabled?
The lack of recourse is a common complaint among those
who have had their accounts disabled.
“Think about the guy who has spent his career building a
reputation with Google as far as Quality Scores and bid pric-
ing go. All of a sudden he is shut down and has no way to
appeal the process,” said IntegraClick’s Lemp. “The legiti-
mate affiliate who has worked his whole life in search and
has built his reputation the right way faces disaster. I know
more and more people every single day that have faced this
with Google and it’s a shame.”
According to the Google spokesperson, an escalation
process does exist. Advertisers can reply directly to the no-
tification email they’ve received to ask further questions or
request appeals. Google then conducts a review and makes
judgments on a case-by-case basis.
But that doesn’t satisfy most who have been affected and
there are increasing calls for a different approach. Lemp and
others say Google’s unilateral actions underscore the need
for some sort of industry self-regulation or arbitration that
has a clear set of checks and balances.
Should You Be Worried?
It depends. Opinions differ greatly about who should be
worried and why. Theoretically, if you follow the Google’s
guidelines and make a point of conducting business ethi-
cally then you should not have to worry about a Google-slap.
In practice, results may vary.
Google’s sheer size and market share put the company
in a position of defining rules that continually shape and
reshape the industry, especially in the absence of a self-
regulated industry forum. And even if such an industry
body was established and new guidelines published,
Google would still have significant influence by sheer force
of market presence. That will remain the situation unless
and until Google’s market share is eroded at some point in
the future.
What to do in the meantime? In addition to adhering to
Google’s published guidelines and following sound business
practices, the best advice seems to be that the push towards
quality of user experience will continue and so publishers
and advertisers need to take responsibility for providing
that experience and being careful about what they choose to
promote.
“Your standard online marketer is trying to figure out
what is or isn’t OK,” said ClickFusion’s Lillig. “If you’re just
going to follow a get-rich-quick formula and provide no
value then expect the worst. Although the guidelines may
be vague, content is still king.” |rp
LISA MORGAN is an independent journalist and consultant who covers
technology and business issues.
Street Smart Afuliates Can Now Make...
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Dear Affliate Marketer,
I`ve been involved with direct market for more than thirty
years. In fact, I`ve worked with some of the biggest
names in direct response and was copywriting legend Gary
Halbert`s business partner for the last 10 years of his life.
Yep, Gary and I hit some home runs and in a few cases
literally knocked the ball out of the park.
But it wasn`t until the economic crisis began in 2007 that
I found a vein of pure gold. As the world economy came
to a screeching halt and the credit markets shut down, I
stumbled upon the most successful formula of my 30 plus
in direct marketing, and this is your lucky day, because I`m
about to share with you exactly what that secret is.
I Found A Market of Desperate,
Motivated Consumers Who Know The
Problem And Want The Solution.Now!
For years there have been contrarian writers, authors and
consumers who thought the extraordinary affuence and
income growth of the last generation was about to come
to an end. Some of these folks have incorporated their
opinions of the economic situation into their religious
beliefs and are preparing for apocalyptic days ahead.
As the world economy has come crashing down around us
in the last two years, millions of consumers have begun
evaluating their lives and planning for tough times ahead.
Millions more have already experienced some crisis in their
lives and are intensely motivated to prepare for or avoid
altogether a repeat of last fall`s meltdown. The contrarian
prophecies have come true.to a degree no one realized
possible.
This once-in-a-lifetime event has generated a huge, but
highly focused niche marketing opportunity within the
emergency preparedness and survivalist` markets, and
since the frst warning signs appeared, I`ve been honing in
this niche with laser-like focus.
A Recession (Or Even A Depression)
Is Just Like Every Other Economy-
People Have Needs That Must Be Met
Don`t get me wrong, I don`t want things to go badly for
anyone.if I thought there was going to be a gold rush
in my hometown I`d set up shop and start selling picks,
axes and all the other gear that gold seekers would need.
Unfortunately, the circumstances today are very different,
and the needs of consumers are different. (You might want
to reread the last sentence a few times.)
For years a tiny group of consumers have been moving out
into rural areas and preparing safe houses` and retreats` to
fee to in the event of a catastrophe which is often referred
to as TEOTWAWKI, an acronym for The End of the World
as We Know It.
Emergency Planning Isn`t Just For
Conspiracy Theorists And
Religious Nut Cases Any More!
Real world events have brought the same kind of emergency
planning and survival preparation into focus. In 2003, a
software glitch at a plant in Ohio led to a near-total blackout
of the Northeast, leaving tens of millions of people without
electricity.
When Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, millions
of people were affected, and the world saw how life in a
civilized` society could crumble over night. Not only
were many without food, water and electricity, but riots and
looting dominated the headlines.
As recently as the summer of 2009, millions of people in
Brazil were left in the dark when heavy rains disabled a
few power lines, overloading backup circuits and leading
to a domino collapse. Headlines about the antiquated and
fragile state of our electrical infrastructure here in the US
don`t do much to reassure consumers that similar blackouts
aren`t possible closer to home.
My company, Solutions from Science, has painstakingly
researched this niche and scoured the global market for
solutions to a wide array of problems.problems that won`t
go away any time soon.
Every Product I`ve Chosen Has A Huge Built-
In Market Of Highly Motivated Buyers
For example, our entire economy runs on the just in time`
inventory system which keeps prices low, food supplies
fresh and shelves stocked.most of the time. However,
when there is any disruption in the supply chain, grocery
stores run out of food quickly. In fact, most stores only
have enough inventory for three days of sales.
In the event of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or
widespread labor strike, food supplies could be instantly
crippled, and millions of Americans fear just such a
possibility. Millions of additional consumers want to go
organic or grow their own garden so they always have
access to safe, fresh fruits and vegetables.
My company, Solutions from Science, has multiple products
selling in this market niche, including products like the
Survival Seed Bank. (www.SurvivalSeedBank.com)
This product provides customers with a reliable source of
non-hybrid, non-germinated seeds. Unlike the seeds from
big seed companies that have been genetically modifed
NOT to reproduce, our seeds will produce year after year.
These heirloom seeds enable our customers to produce a
full acre crisis garden.a lifetime of food for a family.
Once our clients have planted their garden, they`re going
to want to know how to properly store their food by drying
or canning.so Solutions from Science has produced an
extraordinary DVD set and accompanying manual which
will take the beginner step by step through the process of
preparing and canning food, so they can properly preserve
and store their home-grown food.
Emergency Preparedness Goes Beyond
Planting a Garden Or Learning How To
Properly Can Food!
If a natural disaster (like Katrina), a breakdown in the
nation`s electrical grid (such as the one which led to the
Northeast Blackout of 2003), or a terrorist attack leaves
your home or business in the dark, you`ll be scrambling to
get the power back on.
If the lights stay off for more than just a few minutes, you`ll
want to have a backup power system, something that can
power many household items.
With that in mind, Solutions from Science offers a backup
solar generator that produces an endless supply of safe,
clean and free energy. (www.MySolarBackup.com) Just
imagine.if the power is off for more than just a few hours,
even the gas stations may not be able to pump gas, so a
gas-powered generator may leave a household in the dark
in no time.
Our product solves this problem, while also providing a
safe, environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution
to what could be a huge problem for millions of American
households.
Moving Beyond Survival And Preparing For
Unprecedented Cultural And Political Changes
Solutions from Science also offers digital and hardcopy
publications which appeal to this enormous and growing
group of consumers by offering educational solutions to
their problems. You don`t have to think the end of the
world is near to see how this market is exploding!
Headlines continue to report that demand for frearms
and ammunition is at an all-time high as people who are
worried about future restrictions on gun sales race to beat
the expected litigation. Others are buying for fear that
rising crime rates and the relocation of terrorist prisoners
could unleash a crime spree unlike anything witnessed
before in the US.
With this surge in demand comes higher prices for frearms
and ammunition, meaning these weapons have become
as valuable as precious metals. We publish a book which
helps gun owners understand this environment and how
they can and should discreetly and effectively store and
secure their weapons so they are not easily confscated by
street gangs or other criminal scum.
Other consumers are worried about increasing restrictions
on civil liberties, and so we have published a book which
explains the history of Martial Law in the United States
and how federal troops have been used on dozens of other
occasions without a declaration of Martial Law. This
publication helps consumers understand their rights and act
within the law to prepare for this possibility.
This Is The Worst Economy In Generations.
And The Evidence Indicates it
May Get Much Worse
That`s why we`ve developed products and sites that have an
almost inverse relationship to the current economy. We also
have radio and TV schedules to support our campaigns.
Below are a few of our more popular sites which seem to
have massive affliate appeal in a declining economy:
Screen Shots of sites with afüliate programs site here.
I`ve shared with you a few of the products we`ve already
developed and are selling every day. We also have an entire
team devoted to identifying trends within the emergency
preparedness niche and sourcing products and solutions to
sell to this hungry crowd of consumers.
I`ve known very intelligent, hard working men who have
failed at one business after another because the timing
wasn`t right. Well, I can tell you that for the emergency
preparedness industry and entrepreneurs who want to make
money during a recession, the time has never been better.
Demand is high and growing, and there are a limited number
of vendors who have an insight into the marketplace and
the resources and expertise to deliver.
By partnering with Solutions From Science as an affliate,
you can tap into this exploding market of passionate,
affuent and motivated consumers. In addition to earning
a great passive income, you`ll have the knowledge that
you are providing solutions with real value, not just digital
products with questionable worth.
It doesn`t matter whether you share the same world view
as these customers or not.but you`d be a fool to ignore
the birth of a massive new industry right before our eyes!
And the worse things get, the better you`ll do, because
many consumers are just now becoming aware of their
dependence on a way of life which may be gone forever
and which will require a dramatic process of education and
preparation. The economic meltdown that began last fall
continues to be a major cultural force and we invite you to
join us as we help America prepare itself for what look like
a very uncertain future.
For additional details on our generous affliate plans, visit
the preparedness sites listed above or call 815-902-0180.
All The Best,
Bill Heid
CEO
Solutions from Science
P.S. Our affliate program will not be open indefnitely.
we will be working with a limited number of professionals
who understand affliate marketing and are looking to
develop a substantial income in this market. Don`t wait
around. submit your application for consideration today!
SurvivalSeedBank.com MySolarBackup.com
FoodShortageUSA.com MartialLawSurvival.com
ADVERTISEMENT
18
W
ith a name like “negative option billing” it should
come as no surprise that this practice has re-
ceived a lot of negative attention lately from the
Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), various state attorneys
general and other regulatory bodies. Despite this trend,
marketers and consumers alike have found this billing
method to be a convenient and useful payment option over
the years. With proper and prominent disclosures, a reason-
able price point, an equitable refund policy and a responsive
customer service department (complete with a user-friendly
cancellation policy), there’s no reason to think that negative
option billing cannot continue to be a respectable business
model for years to come.
First, some background for those unfamiliar with this
billing method. The phrase “negative option” billing (also
referred to as “continuity” or “recurring” billing) refers to
a billing method whereby the customer is automatically
charged on a periodic and recurring basis for goods or
services ordered up until the point that the customer can-
cels his or her membership or account. The most
frequent model involves a monthly charge,
though shorter and longer intervals
are sometimes offered.
“Free-to-pay conversion”
billing (a close cousin)
refers to a billing method
whereby the customer
is offered a free trial
period for a given
product or service,
and if the custom-
er does not cancel
before the end of
the trial period,
the consumer is
charged the ap-
plicable product
or service fee.
Frequently, free-
to-pay conversion
models convert
to negative option
billing after the
applicable trial period
expires.
Given the fact that both
of these models involve a
process whereby the consumer
is billed at a later time without
obtaining subsequent consent or pay-
ment information from the consumer after
the initial interaction, there is a heightened level of scrutiny
surrounding the suitability and comprehensiveness of the
disclosures required during the initial consumer/business
operator sign-up event.
Common Complaints and Regulatory Action
Last May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation launched an investigation
into various companies, including Webloyalty, Vertrue and
Affinion, in response to an avalanche of complaints alleg-
ing that consumers were being enrolled in negative option
billing programs without obtaining informed consumer
consent. The common feature of these complaints was that
consumers were being enrolled in the applicable programs
without consumers providing their credit card information
directly to the program providers. The process worked as
follows: after first completing an Internet-based transac-
tion using a credit card, a pop-up window would appear
on the consumer’s computer screen featuring a different
product offered by a separate company, as well as an
incentive to sign-up. After the consumer
entered his or her e-mail address only
(not credit card information) in
response to this second offer,
the consumer’s credit card
would be billed for the
underlying product
offering because,
unbeknownst to
the consumer, his
or her credit card
information was
provided by the
first company
to the second
company. Ear-
lier this month,
the Commerce
Committee ex-
tended its probe
to include Visa,
MasterCard and
American Express,
seeking answers as
to how these programs
were tolerated by credit
card companies that are
normally vigilant about pre-
venting such abuses.
This past November, a settlement in
excess of $1 million was reached between
18
Legal Web– David O. Klein and Jonathan E. Turco
Putting the Positive in
Negative Option Billing
revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
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20 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
Legal Web – David O. Klein and Jonathan E. Turco
the FTC and online business operator Commerce Planet,
Inc. in connection with a negative option billing program
that was packaged with a “free” offering. The FTC alleged
that consumers were not made aware that they were enroll-
ing in the negative option program when obtaining the free
offering, and that the Commerce Planet refund policy and
practices were excessively difficult and onerous for ag-
grieved consumers to successfully navigate.
These are just two recent examples of regulatory action in
this space, though they are by no means isolated instances.
The level of scrutiny that these practices are receiving looks
like it is only going to increase as regulators attempt to weed
out the industry’s few bad actors.
Should you engage in these bill-
ing methods, it would be prudent
to ensure that you conform to the
requirements of law, as well as
industry best practices. Below is
a rough guide to help you do just
that.
Best Practices Guide
First and foremost: disclosure,
disclosure, disclosure. And, just
to be certain, some more disclo-
sure. It is absolutely vital that
the price point of your product
or service, the applicable bill-
ing schedule, the cancellation
method (complete with an 800
number for customer service)
and the description of how the
charges will appear on the con-
sumer’s credit card statement are all clearly and conspicu-
ously displayed directly above the “call to action” (usually
the order “submit” button). Do not hide this information in
the fine print at the bottom of the sign-up page.
Further, a link to the applicable Terms of Service and Pri-
vacy Policy must appear above your order “submit” button
so that the consumer is made aware of the material terms
prior to consummating the transaction. To reiterate, do not
relegate these links to the fine print at the bottom of the
sign-up page.
While it is important to ensure that the consumer is made
aware of the price prior to purchase, that is not the only
price-related issue that you should be concerned with. Reg-
ulators have also increasingly shown an interest in products
and/or services that are marketed via negative option and/or
free-to-pay conversion methods where the applicable price
of the product and/or service bears little rational relation to
the value of the actual product and/or service provided. For
example, if you are charging $60 a month on a recurring
basis for access to a database of government auctions that is
made available for free by the government, you are asking
for trouble.
Do Not Underestimate Customer Service
Last, but not certainly not least, it pays to ensure that
your customer service department is easy to access, respon-
sive and that a process is in place to facilitate cancellations
with as little hardship for the consumer as possible. It
doesn’t hurt to have a liberal refund policy either. The more
responsive and accommodating you are, the more likely it is
that the consumer will feel respected
and made whole. Healthy customer
relations remains the cornerstone
of any successful business, whether
or not you employ negative option
billing mechanisms as part of your
business.
When done right, recurring billing
methods provide a convenience for
both businesses and their custom-
ers by doing away with the need to
revisit the purchase/payment process
each month for a product or service
that the consumer plans to use for an
extended period of time. Likewise, if
the details of the offer are communi-
cated adequately to customers, free-
to-pay conversion programs provide
consumers with the valuable oppor-
tunity to try out a product in advance
before committing to a purchase. On
their own, neither of these billing methods is suspect or
unethical. Marketers that use these vehicles need to make
sure that the consumer is well informed as to the material
terms of the offer, that the fee correlates to the value of the
product or service and that the means to cancel is easy and
hassle free. If properly implemented, negative option billing
can provide value to both sides of the transaction.
Please note that this is only a brief overview of some of
the legal issues surrounding negative option billing pro-
grams. Remember to obtain guidance from a licensed and
experienced legal professional prior to offering such billing
options as part of your marketing campaigns. |rp
DAVID O. KLEIN is a partner, and Jonathan E. Turco is an associate, with
the firm of Klein Zelman Rothermel LLP in New York, New York, where
they practice Internet marketing law. David O. Klein can be reached at
(212) 935-6020 or via email at dklein@legal.org.
When done right,
recurring billing methods
provide a convenience for
both businesses and their
customers by doing away
with the need to revisit the
purchase/payment process
each month for a product or
service that the consumer
plans to use for an extended
period of time.
A
ffiliate marketing is a much-coveted career path in
the business of online moneymaking. After all, it’s
convenient, it looks easy enough and everybody’s do-
ing it. But make no mistake: it’s a virtual jungle out there.
Many affiliate newbies believe it is the cash cow of their
dreams that will make them rich overnight: an unfortunate
misconception, really, given the overwhelming number of
well-established competitors who stand in the way of any
newcomer’s success. And for those new retailers, merchants
and advertisers who think an affiliate program will inargu-
ably bring in the big bucks, it is a rude awakening when they
discover they are swimming against a heavy current in the
company of much bigger fish.
So how does the new guy thrive against such odds?
Tips for the Affiliate Novice
Tip #1: Study your competition. Create a dummy email
account and sign up to as many relevant publishers’ newslet-
ters as you can to see what kind of deals they are offering
their subscribers. Then explore their websites to see what
promotional tips and trends you can pick up. You should be
offering something similar or better.
Tip #2: Level your playing field. Chances are,
because you are new and have virtually no credibility,
advertisers will give you lower commissions than what
they are giving better-known and more successful players.
Sway them into increasing your cut by promising them a
hot spot on your homepage and proposing a three-month
trial at a higher commission. Then work hard at maintain-
ing that privilege.
Tip #3: Make your merchants shine. Don’t just plop
logos, links and coupon codes on a page and hope for the
best; sell each brand. Create a merchant page that showcas-
es images and logos, a proper look and feel, copy about the
company and reasons why their product is worth buying.
This takes time, but it also makes your affiliation seem legit
in the eyes of wary consumers, and consequently optimizes
your chances for click-through and sales.
Tip #4: Create a sense of partnership. Rather than pro-
moting random coupon codes, ask your advertisers for vanity
codes that include your affiliate site’s name, like OPM25 rather
than 54321. And propose co-branded landing pages that ensure
continuity and consistency in the messaging between your site
and theirs. For instance, your logo, a customized welcome mes-
sage and the offer you are promoting should appear in a greet-
ing on the advertiser’s page. Again, this ups your credibility and
makes you trustworthy to cautious customers.
Tip #5: Keep an eye out for new advertisers. More
often than not, the bigger and better affiliates are too busy
with long-lasting partnerships to bother fostering new ones.
Jump on every opportunity to partner up with new retailers
and advertisers that show potential and have an innovative
product, because one of them might just be the pot of gold
you’ve been hoping for. Remember: the earlier you build a
relationship with the smaller retailer, the more you will get
out of it when they finally succeed.
Tips for the New Merchant
Tip #1: Compare yourself to competitors. Set up a
publisher’s account for yourself in the affiliate space in order
to see what competitors are doing. What kinds of promo-
tions are out there? How long are offers extended? How big
are the discounts and how great the commissions? Who has
the hottest creative? Compile what you find and assess it.
Then turn yourself into a worthy opponent.
Tip #2: Give the little guy a try. Your first instinct
might be to push for reputable affiliates to promote your
product, but you’d be surprised at how much you can get
out of a collaboration with a promising newbie affiliate. The
green ones are so eager to succeed, they will give you bet-
ter exposure and will work twice as hard to promote your
brand. Keep in mind that every big guy started out small…
Tip #3: Give out the goods. Customize coupon codes and
landing page greetings for the more devoted affiliates. Provide
them with a list of top-performing keywords so they hit better
rankings. And give them any marketing material they might
need to properly promote your brand: copy about your com-
pany, logos in various sizes and any other relevant creative.
Tip #4: Begin with a bang. In order to get noticed in the
affiliate space, you’ll want to kick start your program with
aggressive offers and bonus incentives for your partners.
This may cost you in the beginning, but it is a worthwhile
expense in the long run. Think long term ROI: this isn’t sup-
posed to be an overnight delight.
Tip #5: If you have it, spend it well. If you have the
financial means to hire an experienced affiliate manager
who has longstanding relationships with key publishers,
do it. Whether it is someone in-house or from an outside
agency, this is a sure way of growing your program much
more quickly and ensuring faster returns.
Affiliate Conferences: Key to Success
Lastly, but most importantly, whether you are an adver-
tiser or an affiliate that is new to the space, be sure to invest
time and money in attending conferences. It is the best
forum to meet the right people, build partnerships, seek
opportunities and learn a fundamental lesson about the
business: relationships go a very, very long way.
So go on: spread your wings and fly. (And network your
way to the sky.) |rP
PARESH VADAVIA recently launched the OPMpros agency, short for Out-
sourced Program Management. OPMpros.com.
What New Affiliates and Merchants
Need to Know.
22 22
Affiliate Corner – Paresh Vadavia
revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
24
Networks Go Wild
If there is one recent development that has changed per-
formance marketing it is the explosion in new advertising
and affiliate networks. Nobody seems to know for sure how
many there are now but a guess of over 500 active networks,
and several thousand in total, is probably correct. It is easier
than ever for someone – anyone – to set up a network and
start brokering offers. It’s almost become a standard career
path for successful affiliates to start their own CPA network.
All of this frantic growth has been driven by the easy
availability of network platform software. It is no longer the
case that a new network has to build their own software.
Longtime providers such as DirectTrack, LinkTrust and
HitPath have been joined by newcomers such as HasOffers,
creating increased competition, the rapid introduction of
new features and more aggressive pricing.
The granddaddy of affiliate network platforms is Direct-
Track. It’s sufficiently well-established that 19 out of the top
50 performance marketing networks use it with the result
that most experienced affiliates are familiar with the inter-
face and have learned to trust the tracking and reporting.
We decided to take a closer look at the latest version, Direct-
Track 8.0, to see if it’s still holding its own as the leader of
the pack.
24 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
Taming the
Affiliate
Network
Jungle
By Lisa Morgan
25 revenue.mThink.com
What’s New?
DirectTrack is provided by Direct Response Technologies,
a business unit of Digital River. It’s a hosted affiliate man-
agement platform which is designed to be used by small,
startup networks and scale all the way up to multi-national
operations with hundreds of thousands of publishers. It’s
flexible enough to cope with merchants needing to run their
own affiliate programs and even ad agencies who wish to
syndicate offers from their clients of record.
Approximately 600 companies in 45 countries are cur-
rently using DirectTrack, some of which are using the
platform to build global affiliate networks. To support
these kinds of efforts the software can be customized in
any language and is already being used in twelve different
languages including Chinese and Hebrew. International
currency support is also included so users can run truly
global campaigns that include offers tailored to specific lo-
cal markets.
Tracking And Reporting
Here at Revenue Performance we support and promote
best practices in the affiliate marketing community. One of
the reasons we decided to review DirectTrack at this time is
that with version 8.0 they have taken the unique step – at
least unique to our knowledge – of having their affiliate
tracking systems independently audited and certified. At a
time when the industry is preoccupied with fraud preven-
tion and issues of trust and legality, we feel this is an initia-
tive that is to be applauded.
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) certification pro-
gram was carried out by Interactive Media Services Group,
Inc. (ImServices), which provides online media auditing
and forensic investigation services. The certification was
designed to assure merchants, affiliates and network opera-
tors that DirectTrack’s tracking is accurate and glitch-free,
and that it reports clicks, impres-
sions, sales, leads and other network
transactions reliably.
We spoke with ImServices’ CEO
Richard Bennett who told us that
the audit and certification process
checked the integrity of the tracking
architecture that is the foundation
of the DirectTrack platform (and
thus applies to all networks using
it) but it didn’t extend to third party
add-ons. Bennett also said the IAB
certification process is sufficiently
rigorous that companies often have
to modify and improve their product
in order to achieve compliance with
the standard.
“Our clients include Yahoo, AOL,
Microsoft, and eBay – companies
that have the facilities in place to
ensure they qualify,” he said. “It’s a
big step for a smaller company.”
DirectTrack’s commitment to proving out the reliability
and accuracy of its solution is intended to help it appeal to
new networks who need to manage their risks effectively.
Unreliable network software, or tracking that can not be
trusted is a startup killer in this business so we may see
more platform providers seeking IAB certification as time
goes on. For now, DirectTrack is the only one that’s taken
the initiative.
Network API
DirectTrack 8.0 has clearly been designed to provide
everything one needs. It consists of a solid framework and
open architecture, rich features, straightforward admin-
istrator and affiliate interfaces, and flexible, open source
application programming interfaces (APIs). The APIs allow
customers to build networks and user interfaces on top of
DirectTrack. They can also export data from DirectTrack to
third party applications or proprietary tools.
“The API suite is great because it provides a method of
getting information in and out of DirectTrack,” said Frank
Ioppolo, Jr., COO and general counsel at MarketLeverage.
MarketLeverage’s affiliate network uses the platform to
track millions of sales and leads.
In addition to providing an expanded portfolio of APIs,
DirectTrack 8.0 also allows users to build private-label inter-
faces to reflect their own brand identity. Agencies running
several affiliate networks for different entities or brands can
establish and own multiple private domains without having
to worry about third party code appearing on the page.
Fraud Prevention
For a long time one of the biggest factors holding back the
growth of the performance marketing industry has been
the difficulty of identifying high-risk or fraudulent affili-
ates before they can cause problems. We’ve heard stories of
Fraud prevention features include a central database of potentially high-risk affiliates
that is shared across all DirectTrack networks.
26 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
networks having to reject up to 50% of their applicants – it’s
a massive time-waster and one bad apple slipping through
can cost a network a lot of money very quickly.
DirectTrack 8.0 addresses this issue via the creation of a
central database of affiliates that have been red-flagged as
fraudulent or high-risk by any network using the platform.
This shared repository means that such affiliates can be
instantly identified as soon as they apply. The affiliates
are rated based on internal data from DirectTrack and also
from TARGUSInfo so networks can make informed deci-
sions about which affiliates they accept. Although affiliate
acceptance or denial can be implemented manually, the
process can also be automated. Red-flagged affiliates cannot
simply avoid the taint of past substandard behavior simply
by re-registering because their identities are tied to several
different parameters.
“When an affiliate signs up, they go through a validation
process that involves our re-
pository and a 40-point checklist
from TARGUSInfo,” said George
Bordo, group vice president
and general manager of Direct
Response. “Our network clients
love it because you can quickly
identify and manage higher-risk
affiliates.”
ForgeBusiness CEO Jonathan
Miller finds the fraud manage-
ment capabilities are invaluable
because the OfferForge network
has tens of thousands of affili-
ates.
“We sign up about 200 affili-
ates a week. About 50 to 100 of
them will try to do something
fraudulent,” he said. “Direct-
Track is helping to clean up the
industry.”
Campaign Management
Those who create and manage
cross-platform marketing cam-
paigns will find the integrated
delivery capabilities particularly
appealing. Using DirectTrack it
is easy to track the effectiveness
of search, email, advertising,
video, and now mobile cam-
paigns. It is also easy to create
new campaigns, rotate ads, and
target or retarget ads based on
time of day, demographics, and
geographic location.
DirectTrack also provides
cookie-based, cookieless, and
hybrid tracking options which
are important for organizations
running international campaigns that are subject to region-
al restrictions. Some parts of Europe, for example, regard
cookies as spyware. Without cookies, it can be difficult to
track transactions and properly credit affiliates. To solve
the issue, DirectTrack provides cookieless tracking using a
combination of attributes including IP address, proxy ID,
session IDs, and more.
“About three percent of Internet users block cookies so
affiliates may not be credited the way they should,” said
Direct Response’s Bordo. “With our hybrid tracking, which
combines cookie and cookieless technologies, both affiliates
and networks receive the optimal credit.”
Internet marketers, merchants, and agencies concerned
with brand consistency will appreciate the fact they can
upload creative to DirectTrack which affiliates can then
grab with a simple mouse click. What’s more, DirectTrack
automatically generates and embeds the affiliate’s code in
the creative, which saves previ-
ous time and eliminates manual
coding errors.
“[With some other networks],
you have to create new creative
for each affiliate which is nearly
impossible when dealing with
agencies,” said ForgeBusiness’
Miller. “With DirectTrack 1,000
people can instantly generate
customized tags that are all
tracked in one place.”
Mobile Campaigns
DirectTrack 8.0 also includes
new features that help publish-
ers leverage emerging channels
such as SMS.
“More affiliates are demand-
ing mobile functionality,”
said Direct Response’s Bordo.
“With the rise of smart phones,
campaigns can be delivered
to handsets and optimized
according to the preference of
recipients.”
In addition to SMS campaign
delivery, DirectTrack 8.0 also
provides mobile reporting and
client portals which enable pub-
lishers to be updated anytime,
anywhere.
“There are 14 million mobile
users in South America,” said
ForgeBusiness’ Miller. “Being
able to send and track SMS
messages is a killer app for us.
We plan to expand our focus on
mobile because our clients are
extending their reach.”
Improved mobile integration allows campaign
reporting on affiliates’ mobile phones.
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28 revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3
Inter-Network Ad
Marketplace
One innovation that we feel deserves praise is what
Direct Response calls “cross publication”. This refers to a
sharing and distribution ad marketplace in which Direct-
Track networks can cross-publish offers, entire campaigns,
or links to other networks. In turn, they can also pick up
offers from other networks and push them out to their
own publishers.
“With cross publication you can have an offer up and run-
ning on another network in about five mouse clicks,” said
Direct Response’s Bordo.
This is going to be really useful in helping networks im-
prove the distribution of their offers and expand the scope
of the campaigns offered to their own publishers. To take
one example, an agency will now be able to set up their own
network and immediately find distribution for their clients
without having to leave the familiarity of the DirectTrack
environment.
“No one else is offering cross publication,” said Forge-
Business’ Miller. “We can pull offers from other networks
without having to worry about [software] integration or
manipulation. It allows competitors to collaborate.”
DirectTrack 8.0 further provides improve lead manage-
ment capabilities that allow networks to capture data from
leads and broker the information to advertisers.
“Network clients who use lead management software
can buy and sell leads based on quality score,” said Direct
Response’s Bordo. “Advertisers get the highest quality leads
for the price paid and agencies can ensure they’re paying
the right price for the leads.”
One of the strengths of previous editions of DirectTrack
has been the straightforward affiliate interface and this
has been continued with version 8.0. Comparatively, the
new interfaces are a little better organized and are easier to
customize than previous versions. But the simplicity of the
updated UIs conceals a lot of functionality.
ForgeBusiness’ Miller said anyone planning to adopt Di-
rectTrack should be ready to commit to it because the depth
of its capabilities means that it takes time to learn, and as
you learn you will realize that there’s a lot more that can be
done with it.
“You can’t go into it lightly because your business model
will evolve with DirectTrack,” he said. “If you really want
to make the most of the platform you should take time to
study the training materials available from DirectTrack.
The demo is simple but you really need to get the training
to understand [the complete
depth of functionality].”
Conclusion
There is no doubt that Direct-
Track has been listening to its
customers and working hard to
maintain its position as the off-
the-shelf network platform of
choice. The cross publication of
offers across networks is a killer
feature. And as affiliates have
more and more networks from
which to choose, the ability to
offer a familiar interface and
tracking that has been inde-
pendently certified is a big plus
for any new network seeking
to grow.
There are other options out
there of course. Price competi-
tion in this sector is intense
and “free” is always attractive.
But if you are thinking of set-
ting up a network of your own, it’s worth remembering that
it’s hard to move from one platform to another. As a result,
our recommendation has always been to choose a platform
that provides an upgrade path so that as you grow you can
add new capabilities without having to change your whole
network. We’re told that DirectTrack is willing to scale their
pricing according to the features a customer needs, which
means you can start with a very cost-effective, lean-and-
mean set-up that’s still highly usable and then add function-
ality along the way.
All in all, networks, agencies, affiliates and online mar-
keters will find DirectTrack 8.0 a robust and reliable option
for streamlining campaign creation and management, lead
management, affiliate management, and a lot more. Highly
recommended. |rp
LISA MORGAN is an independent journalist and consultant who covers
technology and business issues.
DirectTrack’s inter-network ad marketplace allows networks to trade offers
with other DirectTrack networks simply and easily.
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Advertiser Index
Events
2010 launches with a bang at the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas. Key events
include the following listings - mark your calendars now!
X Affiliate Summit West 2010
Las Vegas, NV
January 17-19, 2010
www.affiliatesummit.com
X T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Las Vegas, NV
January 21-23, 2010
www.targetedtraffic.com
X LinkShare Symposium West 2010
San Francisco, CA
January 28, 2010
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X eTail West
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revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3 30
Counsel to the
Online Marketing Industry
CONTRACTS,
PRIVACY POLICIES,
Sweepstakes Rules,
LITIGATION, ETC.
Contact David O. Klein today at:
(212) 935-6020 x 244 | dklein@legal.org
485 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022
US Check, Euro, Cheque
Wire, ACH Deposit, Epassporte
Paypal, Revupcard
31 revenue.mThink.com
CLASSIFIEDS
M
erchants often ask me about the true ‘value’ of
affiliates: what they really add to the value of
the merchant’s products or sales campaign. Now
most merchants have a pretty good understanding of the
general value of affiliates – they drive traffic, generate
revenue, and in some cases are strategic partners. But
beyond that, they sometimes lose sight of just how much
value affiliates can add.
So I ask the question: do merchants really understand
what it takes to be a value added affiliate? Do you?
In technology sales they use the concept of Value Added
Resellers (VARs). VARs are businesses that buy products,
add extra value to it and then resell the product for a
higher price. Most often VARs add value by
bundling services into the package to
provide a complete customer solu-
tion. They sell solutions rather
than products.
In affiliate marketing
and with the direct to
consumer model that is
so prevalent on the web
- there are no resellers.
There are only affili-
ates. But would it add
understanding if we
used the term Value
Added Affiliate? Actu-
ally, I think it fits our
industry perfectly and
represents the essence
of what affiliates do ev-
ery day. Consider the dif-
ferent business models that
affiliates commonly use and
think about the value they add
to the merchants’ sales channel:
• Experts in search add value through
their intimate knowledge of Google and
other search engine platforms, and of key
technologies required to succeed as a PPC affiliate such as
ad groups, quality scores, display and destination URLs,
CTRs and optimization. Google’s recent Caffeine update
shows how important these value added areas of expertise
are. I don’t always agree with Google, but if you want to
see which affiliates are truly adding value (in Google’s eyes
anyway), just look at who is left standing and you can get a
pretty good idea.
• Coupon affiliates are aware of the many nuances that go
into using discounts to generate sales. The knowledge of
when to deploy standard, premium, and exclusive offers;
when to use coupon codes vs. direct to cart discounts; and
which merchants and platforms have exclusive discount-
ing capabilities adds huge value for merchants. Data
feeds, XML, RSS, data dedupe & parsing are all elements
that coupon affiliates must master in order to effectively
merchandise what may be hundreds of merchants and
thousands of offers. Using coupon updates to rank well
organically is another ‘trick’ that coupon sites employ to
drive additional traffic to their sites. Every one of these
value added elements must be mastered by affiliates to
drive sales in the coupon vertical.
• Review affiliates use unique and expert content to trans-
form information gathering shoppers into decision making
buyers. Solo reviews, head to head comparison charts,
expert reviews - all add value and help cus-
tomers make informed buying decisions.
How to compile this information,
transform it into a sales focused
website, while also balancing
editorial integrity and manag-
ing new FCC regulations are
elements review affiliates
struggle with everyday.
• Email affiliates, a
segment that has prob-
ably been around the
longest, are always
testing new methods
to monetize their lists.
CAN-SPAM, double
opt-in and list scrubbing
are all critical elements
to successfully market-
ing offers via email. List
segmentation, A/B testing,
dynamic personalization: all
these processes add value and
assist the conversion of email lists
into customers.
The fact is that affiliate marketing is a fairly
simple business model, but requires affiliates to balance
a complex set of techniques. For merchants serious about
optimizing their online sales channel, the skills of a value
added affiliate are inherently valuable.
So if you are a merchant, take some time to consider just
how much value your affiliates add to your business. And if
you are an affiliate, think about how adding value can benefit
your business – and that of the merchants you work with. |rP
GEORGE HANSEN is Director of Sales and Business Development at
Digital River – oneNetworkDirect.
Are You A Value Added Affiliate?
32 32
Visions of Performance – George Hansen
revenuePERFORMANCE – ISSUE 3

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