Inside Scoop: What Affiliate Managers Want
By on Jul 29, 2010

Fact: Affiliate managers get picked on like a red-headed stepchild

affiliate network bullies
I’m guilty of it sometimes. It’s always a one sided perspective about pesky affiliate managers. We also have our two cents on how they can do better and mark all their flaws. However there is no voice out there from an affiliate manager perspective. Most communities are run by affiliates, forums are run by affiliates, blogs are run by affiliates, the works.

I’ve always wondered what affiliate managers thought of affiliates, so I decided Interviewed 6 different affiliate managers. I decided to keep them anonymous for health and security reasons. I replaced them with sketched Star Wars characters (I’m not really a fan, just thought the sketches were cool). They tried to be as honest as possible but some specific cases could not be mentioned because it would reveal certain people.

1) What is one of your major peeves about affiliates?

 Affiliates that utilize our network as leverage against other networks for higher payouts (ie: constantly raising payouts without running volume to leverage insanely high payouts from us or others)   – Mr Rabbit

 Sometimes I think they are lazy! If it take 5 minutes to make money – they’re in…. If it takes 5 days – they’re out!  – Miss Vader

 What bothers me more then anything is when I put a whole lot of time and effort into helping them be successful and then they don’t give the same loyalty back to try and make us successful as well. Non-team players.  – Mr Hood Rat

 Assuming they will get things for free even if they don’t even know you or work with you. Also sometimes my affiliates refrain from telling me what their threshold for success is….so it’s difficult to gauge a campaign for them.  – Miss Leah

 They request a bunch of offers, and then never run them.  – Mr Creepo

 I never like the mindset of asking “What is the hottest offer?” – There’s never ONE amazing deal, a lot of factors come into play so you shouldn’t be blinded by a single highest grossing deal or what 1 publisher is doing with.  – Mr Quarantine

Fact 1: Affiliates are selfish bastards, we expect free services without giving back.

2) I know managers have a big problem with a lack of loyalty from affiliates. What is your definition of a loyal affiliate?

 An affiliate who utilizes our team, techniques, guides and newsletters shared by us to grow with us and not others.  – Mr Rabbit

 Easy for me to answer. A loyal affiliate shares what they are into – not so I can steal their ideas, but so I can take it, let it marinate, then come back with an idea that day … or maybe 6 months from now that helps everyone make money. Also, they listen to my ideas and do the same thing in return :)
  – Miss Vader

 Same as before, I see my affiliates as part of our team and our company. I understand needing to be part of a lot of networks and wanting to make as much money as possible. But one thing that most affiliates don’t realize is that buck extra they maybe getting by going direct to the advertiser or another network might be costing them a lot.  – Mr Hood Rat

 An affiliate who doesn’t flake for a five cent bump at another network after you helped them build their campaign.  – Miss Leah

 A loyal affiliate is someone who will come to me and tell me that they got a higher offer from another network and allow me the chance to match it before they just switch their links out. A super loyal affiliate is one that finds an offer they like and asks me to get it so they can run it with me.  – Mr Creepo

 Loyal affiliates stomp on those who jump around network to network over pennies. You should always split test your deals to multiple networks, but know who to work with lastly.  – Mr Quarantine

Fact 2: A loyal affiliate will give their affiliate manager every chance to work with them. Not be a sly creep and be persuaded by a 5 cent payout bump.

3) What are affiliates losing out on for not being loyal? Can you give some examples on how you have helped loyal affiliates exclusively?

 Well, simply put – affiliates that stick around and remain constant volume DO get special payouts that ARE above anyone else within the network. Not only that, I will pass far more information from our internal campaigns to them directly. I don’t shower them with gifts or kayaks full of men, we give them more money and specific techniques / traffic sources / private offers to make them more money.
  – Mr Rabbit

 I have built pages for loyal affiliates, I have gotten some sick deals and given them EXCLUSIVELY to one publisher, because they are loyal. I have given huge budgets to one CAT, although other affs would like to get their paws on them, solely because of the “favorite factor” aka loyalty that has been proven over and over. And I have sent some personalized gifts that you just wouldn’t think of buying with Hydras gift card. :)   – Miss Vader

 Definitely! Your affiliate manager is the guy that gets to see the new deals first. A lot of times there is caps on new offers. Say a new game install or a new leadgen. They’re always the best right in the beginning and we always hand them on private to our best affiliates first. Another example would be we’re building a lot of internal offers right now that are in new markets that no one has ever run in much. Margins are amazing, growth potential is amazing, conversions are amazing and they’re only going to a handful of guys to run. Another example, is if you stay in this business long enough you’re going to move past just being an affiliate. It always happens. So when you get to wanting to be an advertiser or network you’re going to want some help. Maybe with credit terms, suggestions on where to sell data, how to get processing etc. I’m always more then happy to spend as much time as needed with personal introductions to all my vast array of resources for my loyal affiliates.
  – Mr Hood Rat

 We have a lot of campaigns on private that we bring on for one publisher specifically and we build out custom pages or creatives for them. We go to bat against advertisers who try to get out of paying for a certain subid’s traffic, and we take the hit if that doesn’t work out to still pay out to keep our loyal affiliates happy.  – Miss Leah

 If you are one of my loyal affiliates (only a handful truly are), I will drop whatever it is and take care of your issue right that minute. I will also go to bat much harder with accounting and management to get you better payment terms, and higher payouts. I know that a lot of AM’s will tell you that they are doing that for all of their affiliates, but they are lying. There is no reason to put in that kind of effort for somebody who finds you as replaceable as a few keystrokes.  – Mr Creepo

 If you show me exlusivity, you bet I’m going to bend over backwards to help you progress as an affiliate, beyond the norm. When an advertiser skips their bill, I always feel its our responsibility as a network to cover our affiliates 100%. We have standard monthly rewards program, but for affiliates who are at certain tiers in revenue, I make it an obligation to send them a gift of their choice even on lesser volume. I’m also providing cashflow by doing dailies or paying twice a week instead of weeklies. I keep in mind volume AND trust. I also have written guides on how to promote and where on certain niches. I share these with affiliates who have activity in their account here and keep communication open.
  – Mr Quarantine

Fact 3: If you’re a loyal affiliate you will can get a lot more than a kayak full of men and gift cards from Hydra.

4) Other than being loyal and running a ton of volume, what are some ways affiliates improve their relationships with affiliate managers?

 Shooting the shit I guess.  – Mr Rabbit

 I know my personal favs are the guys that tell me what’s going on out there. I love a little intel from my peeps, what’s cookin’ elsewhere. That makes me want to do the same for them when I can. Also, referrals. When a publisher is inclined to tell their friend / colleague about the stellar job I am doing means a lot and puts them on the “nice list” which means Christmas time all year long :).  – Miss Vader

 Call me crazy, but a friendly heads up before you switch your links to another network. I’m all for split testing, but if there is anything I can do to keep your I would like a fighting chance to do so. Cookies and Starbucks cards are always a plus too!  – Miss Leah

 Talk to us. ping us. call us. send us an email. if i have 100 affiliates in my account, there are 80 of them that i will never, ever talk to besides the initial “welcome to the network” email.  – Mr Creepo

 Keep communication open and check in with your primary point of contact and see what they can do for you.  – Mr Quarantine

Fact 4: There is no such thing as a clingy affiliate. Holla at cha boy let them know what’s going on!

5) What is your worst experience with an affiliate?

 I can’t mention specifics but I’ve had a few affiliates knowingly send poor quality traffic to networks and burn the network, forcing them to pay them (often times finding loopholes in policy / restrictions). Basic abuse of trust.
  – Mr Rabbit

 One publisher blatantly disregarded a few FTC regs, and the restrictions, guidelines of one HUGE CAMPAIGN. I get it, it worked, he got paid. It was probably easy. The problem in that case and I am sure many like it, is that one person ruined it for the WHOLE bunch. Lost the deal. A huge huge deal. We feed lots of families and employ lots of people. So when one affiliate is a rat bastard, it affects lots of people.   – Miss Vader

 I had a Myspace spammer send some traffic to us and had to settle with Myspace that was fun.
  – Mr Hood Rat

 It all began the day I met Mr. Green…  – Miss Leah (Editors note: Miss Leah has recently been fired from her network because of certain false accusations)

 One guy lied about where his traffic was coming from, then getting all the leads charged back and ruining a relationship with an advertiser. Fun.   – Mr Creepo

 Running 10k+ to a biz opp (rebill). They lost one of their merchant accounts and had to shut us down and freeze some funds. It turned out to be a lot of fake orders from people who didn’t exist and could not be reached…  – Mr Quarantine

Fact 5: Affiliate managers have to put up with a ton of affiliate rat bastards.

I was a little sad I couldn’t dig up any good juice from my managers. For some reason they all seem to be kind and considerate of everyone they’ve worked with. Good figure!

So my question to you affiliates

…are you a rat bastard, promiscuous affiliate or a loyal affiliate? Personally I’m a promiscuous affiliate in going through a loyal rehab.

If you are a loyal affiliate what is your technique to fend off managers interested in your traffic?

Thanks to the affiliate managers who contributed to this posted, you know who you are! Your secrets are safe with me ;). Bring on the gifts and payout bumps.

——————-

I didn’t forget you special ADHD readers! Here’s your summary:

Managers do not want: Freeloaders. Rat Bastards. Lies.

Managers want: Loyal business partners. Good communicators.

Managers will reward loyal affiliates with: Private/Exclusive offers, internal campaign knowledge and practically build your campaigns.

Comments (60)

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  1. jcinatx says:

    I'm a pretty loyal affiliate. Almost all of my traffic goes through 2 networks. I still work with other networks, and try to build relationships.. but I always come back to my 2 favorite. I don't get showered with gifts by them, but I do get a few perks here and there.

  2. Great post Mr. Green.

    It's very interesting to see thoughts of some affiliate managers. For new ones like me.

    I learned in one of PPV courses, what the better chance make a good business, is a make a REAL and positive relationships with your AM.

    And may be it's sound like a joke, but I decided for myself. That my main goal is to make my affiliate managers richer. I hope this idea will increase profit.

    Vitaly

  3. LC says:

    Here is why you should stay loyal to a network. I had an affiliate running 200k in ppc traffic with one hot keyword. I kept that word private and protected him. He went to another network for $0.05 MORE. FIVE CENTS.

    They stole all his keywords and his campaign was DONE.

    All for FIVE CENTS MORE!!!!

    • Lorenzo Green says:

      Ya that's the flip side to it. I started in off as a loyal affiliate. But I had a few suspicions here and there that my favorite network was screwing me so I stopped running with them and testing so others, and then that pool got bigger and bigger.

      • Affbuzz says:

        Established affiliates know that relationships (whether it be with other affiliates, networks, traffic sources, etc..) are vital to success in this industry. But just because you're loyal doesn't mean you need to be 100% transparent with everyone.

        Your AM's don't need to know the one keyword that generates you 6-figures. They don't need to know what exchange you're buying traffic on. They don't need to see your lander. Cloak the shit out of your links, keep your traffic sources to yourself but be honest about the fact that you aren't breaking terms or anything. If they know anything about how you're running it, it increases the chances that they're going to share that info with someone else. Maybe they won't, who knows, but they *can't* if they don't know.

        But here's the rub: Even if you have a great relationship your AM and you keep all your data to yourself…the network still has a room full of other AM's that want to see their loyal affiliates succeed. That means, if you're running $20K a week to a certain offer and your AM's coworker sees that, they're getting on the phone with their "loyal" affiliates and saying, "pssst…run this offer, I know it's kicking ass". Or, that offer that you're killing will become the "Top Offer" and next thing you know you wake up to an email that was sent out to the networks entire pub base telling you run this offer on [this type of traffic] because it's converting at [insert your conversion % or epc's]. If you split that offer across 5 different networks, chances are no one is going to blink at $4K a week on an offer.

        I'm all for being loyal to networks and it's served me very well at times, but remember that everyone's out to make money. Build fantastic relationships with your AM's and Network owners; you'll benefit. Just remember not to say more than you have to; you're relying on your affiliate income to survive…if they tell one other person what you're doing, they may get a little bit bigger paycheck, but your sole income could take a huge hit.

        • Lorenzo Green says:

          Oooweee you deserve the Yoda icon for that! "If they tell one other person what you’re doing, they may get a little bit bigger paycheck, but your sole income could take a huge hit."

          Network emails with "hot offer reports" and epc's and traffic types must come from somewhere. Surely that has gotta be a hit for the affiliates that are supplying that data.

          However I do believe good affiliate managers do not even think about asking for your traffic source, your lander etc. If there are specific traffic sources that aren't allowed, then you can confirm that your source is not one of them. I believe good affiliate managers are looking to help affiliates in a way that suits that specific affiliate. In return they want to be rewarded for their work. Even if it was just a failed test. It's the effort that counts.

        • Miss Piggy says:

          While da Buzz is absolutely correct, permit me to interject on a minor point. There are times landers/ad copy do need to be submitted for approval, as its not uncommon these days for branded campaigns to need prior approval from the advertiser. Every network has lost campaigns due to one or two affiliates' copy/content taking unapproved creative liberties – dating and edu are common examples that come to mind. As your "sole income could take a huge hit," so to can a network loose a coveted campaign (that took a long time to secure) that has and would have continued to comprise a significant percentage of their revenue…not to mention possibly tarnishing their name (not yours) to future branded advertisers that interact with the one in question…affiliates aren't the only ones that gossip after all.

  4. Ad Hustler says:

    Damn you Mr Green – I have an anonymous affiliate manager interview in progress for adhustler.com

  5. Great post as usual Lorenzo – Keep em comin :-)

  6. Josh Todd says:

    Love this post. But that gif is frakking creepy.

  7. Mark says:

    You are the man. i love this blog.

    no more recycled rubbish

  8. Kang says:

    Dammit Lorenzo, how do you always manage to make affiliate marketing sound so fun?

  9. browie says:

    I have a few affiliate managers that I talk to everyday and some networks I've never hooked up with them. I am across the board on this list above.

  10. Ben says:

    Very interesting read Mr.Green!

  11. hackcorp says:

    Nice info, never thought about some of these issues. Now I am thinking to change my strategy. :) Thanks for a good post.

  12. Mugga says:

    You said you interviewed 4 different managers but there is 6 star wars people!

  13. [...] – An important sit-down with four affiliate managers on how to deal with favorite and problem affiliates alike. [Mr. Green] [...]

  14. It's good to be loyal to your affiliate networks, it definitely pays out. But Am's pointing out that affiliates are disloyal does not mean they are not as well… There are definitely 2 sides of the coin here. As Mr. Green said "It takes two to Tango."

  15. Josh Todd says:

    You should get the Subscribe to Comments WordPress plugin so I can come back and revisit the conversation over and over again and boost your page views. Just sayin'.

  16. Carl says:

    Another long post worth reading…great job, Lorenzo!

    I've seen the benefits of being loyal to affiliate managers, as well as the pitfalls of chasing higher payouts.

    As with any type of relationship loyalty is based on trust and trust takes time to build. For newbie affiliates getting started, building a good relationship with the AM's willing to help them learn the ropes can be instrumental to their success…but that is a 2 sided coin. If the AM is openly sharing other people's campaigns with you, chances are they will do the same with your successful campaigns once you get there.

  17. Nice insight. I have been loyal to networks to a fault in the past, but often times it means getting quicker help when things go wrong, such as a wire not being on time for whatever reason. Managers are a lot quicker to jump to help you if you have been loyal to them and build your business around their type of model.

    However, being loyal can be tough when those managers are hitting you up with nice payout bumps…

  18. Mike P says:

    Great post, i really like the part about jumping for pennies. Affiliates should be more loyal and thats what builds strong and lasting relationships.

  19. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  20. d3so says:

    Yeah, I'm the lazy affiliate that doesn't push any traffic :P

    Awesome interviews. I wish their identities would be revealed ;)

    • Lorenzo Green says:

      There are a few hints here and there about their identities…I'm sure most of them don't mind being revealed anyway.

  21. Bewlsheet says:

    Great interview, but I'm not buying the answers. I've intentionally ignored other networks to work with one (seemingly popular) network that is always offering their affs to communicate with them – and can't get them to even answer my emails. I've asked for feedback on live campaigns that weren't profitable (but prolly could have been), and they won't even return a skype. I'm sure these guys take a ton of shit every day, but if my AM's behavior is typical, the shit their receive is deserved. Communication is a two-way street. You ignore peeps who have the resources and desire to make it happen while griping about your affs not communicating or performing…pot callin' the kettle black. Plenty of other affs seem to be having success with this particular network though, so maybe it's my fuckin' haircut or something.

    • Smaxor says:

      Come on down we'll take care of you. Always happy to help someone eager to learn.

    • Affbuzz says:

      "can't get them to even answer my emails.", "won't even return a skype."

      We've all been there before…nowadays I just use the phone; you'll get your problems handled immediately & helps build the relationship that much faster and relationships are *key* to success.

      Hope you take Smaxor up on his offer. Good luck!

  22. Bryant says:

    " I can’t mention specifics but I’ve had a few affiliates knowingly send poor quality traffic to networks and burn the network, forcing them to pay them (often times finding loopholes in policy / restrictions). Basic abuse of trust."

    I had such experience as well,

    One of these affiliates will cost me much more time in fraud-preventing works.

  23. Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

  24. dugo says:

    Being loyal, keeping communication open and constant has gotten me plenty of "free" campaigns I made successful, just by sticking with 1 or 2 networks. Saved me hours and $$$ I would have spent testing.

    Experience, wisdom, tenacity make a great AM.

    Tough part is staying loyal while building new relationships. Usually the tighter you are with your AM, the more more work ($$$) your going to do with that network, HOWEVER they must have the deals you want to keep those #'s up.

    Ultimately loyalty works both ways.

  25. Lorne Fade says:

    The best network AM's help you grow your business, I've even had networks help me go direct to the advertiser which made me a ton of money than if I had otherwise gone through a network, and the best part was they didn't ask for a penny.

    Those kinds of acts of generosity are what gain a loyal affiliate and keep them… Its just a shame more networks don't operate on that family oriented vibe.

  26. Roland says:

    If Affiliate Networks are like banks then AMs are like customer service bank tellers. Each and every day, more and more advertisers and traffic sources are realizing the importance of consolidating which really constrains the feasibility of the affiliate network. i'm not saying it's going to disappear, but if you're an affiliate or network who decides not to evolve with the maturation of performance marketing, you are going to constantly play the roller coaster hustle of finding traffic sources, stable offers, and walking that fine line of keeping secrets close to your chest, while also jacking landers and ideas from your friends. At the end of the day, Affbuzz is right on the nose man. Don't ever share more than you need to. He basically summed it all up in a cliff notes version for affiliates who are rocking a particular offer. With that said, AMs you CAN'T trust and have no value will waste your time. Right off the bat, I see some awesome people on this thread like Smax, Eagle, JTodd, and Affbuzz who have really exemplified a track record of success when it comes to REALLY managing affiliates. NO BS, this how you make money, let me help you. build that trust. be cool. have fun. make monies online.

  27. Good read Greenie. Like others I am on the flip side on some of these. As a small time publisher half the times the Affiliate Managers don't give you the time of day. They always say 'get back to me with any questions' and then when you do they never get back to you. I understand you have to cater the big crowd but when we are small they definitely can set a bad taste in your mouth which makes you willing to jump to another network in a heartbeat for a little bit of personalization.

    I had one network I was working with and I was trying to actually move some offers for a higher payout and I emailed them asking for any suggestions on the campaign and what their top performing offers were. They kindly responded with a list and said 'next time please browse our website and read the FAQ…bye'. Not quite the response I was looking for lol.

  28. Jeff says:

    Mr. Green,

    Great post! Thanks!

  29. This kind of an amazing article! I really Take pleasure in Examining it, very Excellent insights, the article is very ell-Stated. A thumbs up!

  30. Jim Jones says:

    i'm a rat bastard and i will tell you why. I've work with a couple of the big networks. First off AM's are all about Hype and Bullshit. Have you ever heard of an AM saying "

    This offer is bad, don't run this.. balh balh blah. its always .. i have affiliates pushing 5000 a day on this offer. What bullshit. No wonder affiliates leverage the networks against each other.. because they are dishonest and full of shit. They make money when pubs loose money. Fuck you guys

    • chris says:

      Actually I have AMs that tell me not to run specific offers because of poor tracking, scrub, or the offers do not convert well but the network tweets it cos they need to make their quota to stay on the offer.

      They do follow up by suggesting offers and how to promote them.

      Good AMs can tell you that.

      I suggest that you change up your AMs

  31. Sam Jenkinson says:

    Well I thought the article was great, its good to get the insite when your still new to internet marketing. It opened my eyes, I was so nervous applying to get into networks as didnt want to be caught out not really knowing what i was talking about.. (lack of confidence) That I shyed away from contacting my AM…. Now thanks to Mr Green will be using them to my advantage…

    Even though I did send one email asking for some best converting offers and in which countries, didn't get a reply… If they want loyalty, they got it if it helps me on my way..

  32. [...] (some have even visited NZ to challenge me to a dance battle). Over a year ago I wrote a post on what affiliate managers want from affiliates. It’s time to flip it [...]

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