6 Truths – The Paranoid Affiliate

Paranoid BartToday, I’d like to shed some light on common issues faced within our industry, and share some strategies to mitigate these issues (where applicable) which I have learned through years of experience.

Trust is fickle, be careful and weary  of who you work with and who you entrust, as ultimately, money is involved, humans are inherently greedy creatures and the morale in this industry isn’t particularly the highest *cough* diet pills, tech support, EWA, Martin Grunin.. #shotsfired

Truth #1

Assume all networks shave / scrub leads. Yes, it sucks, they also don’t tell the truth half the time when they say they’re taking the lowest margin possible (usually 10%). Affiliate managers lie. Networks lie. The issue here is, a trustworthy network, acts as a bank for the affiliate so running direct isn’t always the best idea if an advertiser isn’t well known to be trustworthy. If they are – then run direct and cut out the middleman. This has boosted my ROI a handful of times, and I’ve been lucky enough not to get burned by dealing direct.

RobberTruth #2

Every 2nd or 3rd tier traffic source is likely to jack your campaigns and run internally. Yup. Dog eat dog world. My opinion on this topic is much the same as other affiliates. Protect your neck, protect your campaigns. Never trust a traffic source. When they ask you to place a pixel to help with optimization, be weary. One strategy here is obvious – even if what you’re running is compliant – cloak it.

Hide it from the traffic source as much as you can.

I recently heard a story of someone pretty high up in our industry (won’t name names here) who was specifically instructed to rip campaigns for a traffic source in which he used to work for.  I’ll leave that one there. Trust NO ONE.

Truth #3

Affiliates will rip your work — Obviously. Where’s there’s money to be made, other affiliate’s noses are sniffing in your underwear drawers for the landing page and creatives. We’ve all done it. It’s annoying when your original creations are taken at the blink of an eye. My tip here is figure out a clever way to block any spy tools. I’ve got my methods to do so and may have to keep that secret to myself, as it’s information worth selling. The other tip is to develop client side scripts that you can hide and embed into your pages to reroute a portion of traffic that any noob affiliate sends to your ripped pages, so that they assume the page doesn’t perform, or you get some free traffic.

The smart guys have found these scripts on my pages before and taken them out, but I’m sure I’ve deterred a few. This code I’ve also developed myself and I believe, shouldn’t be something I give out for free. Look for a sales section on my blog soon 😉 #maybe

Truth #4

Traffic brokering is a common method a tonne of “traffic sources” use to sell you remnant traffic or oversell traffic. Mobile and pop traffic is littered with this. See: Ad.net and DirectCPV for example. Trash.

How to mitigate this? Small tests, check for obvious signs like incredibly high CTR (usually signs of bot traffic).

A common trick is to use a page with a hidden submit button on the page and nothing else. If the button gets clicks – it’s most likely a placement or publisher with fraudulent bot traffic.

Don’t think this is restricted to pop and mobile though. Native traffic, and even respected companies like Yahoo have fraudulent pubs costing advertisers a bucket load.

Truth #5

Thinking of making millions with lead-gen campaigns? Think again. Sure, it’s possible, but it isn’t easy.. These are most likely to have tight caps. They’re a pain in the ass to deal with. The only real solution to mitigate this if you really want to scale, is to have multiple advertisers under your belt and by rotating in multiple converting offers, filling in their respective caps accordingly.

The reason these caps exist is because the lead generation companies can’t sell off your leads fast enough to their lead-buyers (usually local companies, like telecommunication or internet service providers).

I recently ran some lead-gen in Brazil and started sending 5,000 leads a day, which quickly got me shut down as they couldn’t handle that volume. The advertiser was impressed with my volume but also pissed off because I apparently cost them 12k in lost revenue. Whoops #sorrynotsorry.

Truth #6

Partnerships can be fruitful. They can also drag you down and burn you in the long run. Never overshare, not with industry friends, and not with business partners you are joint-venturing with. ALWAYS keep some secrets to yourself. Greed is a real thing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some awesome people who I trust, but there tends to be some stepping on toes at the end of certain projects when we focus on our own campaigns and find we end up becoming direct competitors in some form.

…And lastly, something less paranoid… and more just solid advice passed down from a wise young multi-millionaire.

For Those With A.D.D.

FOCUS. Shiny object syndrome is rampant. I have this issue currently. I see ripe opportunities and want to try everything. EVERYTHING. I want to test different traffic sources, traffic types, invest in existing businesses, own a traffic source, own an eCommerce fitness business, own my own offers… And the list goes on…

My advice – STOP. What’s working for you right now? Is it scalable? Does it have the potential to catapult you to where you want to be? If you answered no, then sure, look where the traffic / opportunities are and focus your energy there. If you answered yes, focus! Master it! Dominate that vertical / traffic and you’ll reap the rewards of better payout, exclusive deals, better relationships with traffic sources and an incredible understanding of whatever it is you’re working with.

Lebron James didn’t become the top of his game playing soccer, cricket, golf, swimming laps and sprinkling in basketball on weekends. He played ball every single day (don’t quote me on that, you know what I’m saying) until he became one of the most respected players in the game.

I hope this post was informative and evokes your inner cynic. Always practice a healthy skepticism, especially online.


PS: Don’t be shy now, drop a comment below and discuss your true inner feelings. This is an opinionated post – so post your opinion.


– Andrew, aka Andy D

If you’re looking for further Affiliate Marketing Guidance, check out StackThatMoney. Best community of experienced marketers from around the globe, exclusive meetups, follow along’s, tutorials and the knowledge of a thousand sun-gods.

Can’t Decide on Tracking Software?

I’ve recently switched over to a new tracking platform called Thrive by the guys over at iPyxel which I love. It’s still in development, but is constantly improving and making strides, and the best part about it is it can be self-hosted. The offer a 30-day trial and it’s $99 a month thereafter which is well worth the investment.

Those on a smaller budget can still opt to go the CPVLab route, another favorite of mine but a little more outdated. It is, however, more suitable for PPV traffic if that’s your traffic of choice.

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Young, driven, health-conscious affiliate marketer providing you with tips to improve your health and fatten your wallet.

26 thoughts on “6 Truths – The Paranoid Affiliate

  1. Hey man, sick article! Glad you are getting in the writing mood and starting to use the blog.

    Thanks for sharing such neat insights and looking forward to your next ones..

  2. I am worried about #Truth4. Its really kicking my ass right now.

    Dear Andrew, hope you will publish a detailed blog post about how to detect the BOT traffic exactly. Waiting for that.



    1. Bot traffic is a total bitch. What type of traffic are we talking about there? If you can track placement IDs, and track clickthroughs, and it’s NOT banner traffic (i.e. mobile or desktop pop, interstitial etc..) then you can use the method I mentioned. Page with a fake button, hidden within the html but not visible on the page. Track the clicks on that button (make sure you track the placement ID too) and through that you can identify fraud.

  3. New here, but great post for every type of marketer – let me know when the course comes out, i’ll be ready to purchase whatever you are offering on the breakdown of how this all works as I have a lot to learn from what it seems like a seasoned insider that you are in this game taking place on the wild wild west front.

  4. Just landed on your page.. great article! Question though. on truth #2, you mention to cloak it. Do you use an actual cloaker or do you use double refresh? I’ve noticed a drop in CTR doin double refresh.

    1. Hey man – DMR is only useful for cloaking the advertiser or network (as in, hide your pages from them).

      You’d want to cloak the actual traffic source, in order to protect yourself from them stealing too easily, especially in instances where you spend big

        1. Hey Alex,

          I actually use Thrive. Thrive has a cloaking module which I use a lot, but I also have a custom-built cloaking solution which I sometimes use also in conjunction with Thrive’s cloaker.

          1. Hi,

            Great article.

            Your above response was interesting. But from what i’ve heard cloaking in most cases causes a big delay in sending the visitor to the destignated site, which means you may end up dropping a lot of visitors as they end up closing the page due to the slow load time.

            Do you have any tips in this area?



  5. Andy, Truth #2 -> Been victim of it MANY times… and by very big traffic sources. Great post man, keep up the good work


  6. In my opinion Truth #1 is the most important one to realize in my opinion. I’m working with a network right now that gives me sooo inconsistent results it’s pure insanity…

    One day I’ll be getting a 9% cr, a day later a 11% cr, next day 13% cr, then that following day a 7% cr (equates out to a steady 10% CR but on a high traffic day that can really screw you).

    This pattern has repeated itself month in and month out for this network and I talked to a few different affiliates of the same network…. Lets just say a few of the people I talked about that to didn’t appreciate getting screwed in the ass.

    On some instances I could contact my aff manager and ask why one country was doing bad (500 clicks in a day 1-2 leads UK) and not 10 minutes later I’d get 5-6-7 leads from the UK…

    Appreciate the post man keep it up!

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