It’s been 16 months since Convertro released their “Affiliate Cookie Stuffing 2.0″ report revealing their list of the top 10 cookie stuffers to be aware of. Looking for more up-to-date information on the subject, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the company’s co-founder and CMO, David Perez, actually has substantial affiliate and affiliate management experience himself. “What I perfect interviewee!” I thought and reached out to ask him a few questions. Today I bring you that interview:
David: I used to work at eHarmony where I was responsible for managing all online marketing channels. A significant percentage of our traffic came from affiliate networks. I would measure how incremental the traffic from an affiliate was based upon the “how did you hear about us” answer. When the answer was TV, I knew the affiliate was likely getting in the way of the conversion so I would cut back on those affiliate channels (e.g coupon sites and cookie stuffers). When the answer was “online” I would pay those affiliates more money (e.g. dating comparison sites and email affiliates), as it was then clear that they were driving users who were not already considering the brand.
After leaving eHarmony I became an affiliate in the online dating vertical and I focused on driving incremental traffic to online dating websites. I knew that eventually marketers would appreciate quality traffic and would pay a premium to get it.
Geno: You are one of the world’s largest affiliates in a competitive vertical. What has been the key to your success as an affiliate? What would you advise aspiring affiliates to focus on?
David: The key to success with affiliate marketing is to find a vertical that is of interest to you and develop deep and high-quality content within that field. I would personally recommend focusing on driving traffic via organic search and free apps. I have sites in Google that rank number one in organic search for difficult queries with no external backlinks. Google recognizes this type of specific and valuable content, and will favor it over low-quality sites. The byproduct is that these pages will also get a high quality score in paid search. It may take significantly more effort to produce a high quality site, but in the end it will pay off.
Geno: You also wear the hat of co-founder and CMO of Convertro, a company focused on media and marketing attribution; and with attribution being one of the hottest topics in affiliate marketing these days, I must ask: what does David the affiliate think of implementing channel attribution in affiliate marketing programs?
David: Convertro helps marketers maximize their ROI by cutting fraud and shifting spend from inefficient marketing sources to efficient ones. Inefficient affiliate channels comprise affiliates that on the surface drive serious volume, but do so via fraud and arbitrage. Affiliates that rely on methods such as bidding on brand search terms, cookie stuffing, and coupon codes are going to see their commission revenues shrink as marketers start to optimize their media spend. The affiliates that are capable of building awareness for brands and driving top-of-the-funnel traffic will benefit from the advent of tools like Convertro.
Geno: Is there a “secret sauce” for making attribution work beautifully both for merchants and for affiliates?
David: For merchants it is quick and easy to implement attribution. They will see how accretive each affiliate is when publisher IDs are exposed. The publishers that are accretive will end up getting private offers that are higher than the going rate. The publishers that are non-accretive will see lower commissions and those committing fraud will be cut. The bottom line is that the merchant will be able to get more volume out of the affiliate channel with less spend.
Geno: Last year, using Convertro’s tracking technologies you were able to pinpoint cookie-stuffing activity by a number of affiliates, including some prominent “super affiliate” brands. Have their methods changed much since your announcement of the list? Do you have an updated list for my blog’s readers?
David: Since most of our clients eliminated cookie stuffers from their traffic sources, we feel as if it would be a biased data set if we were to republish the top 10 cookie stuffers. When inspecting new clients we typically see that around 10 percent of their affiliate traffic is driven by cookie stuffers so there is still a ton of money being made by this form of fraud.