Affiliate Marketers Are Suckers

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“Doesn’t it make you feel dirty?” she sneered. I was at the tail end of a grueling all day interview at a top ad agency for a director of paid search position. I was sitting with the Head of Demand Generation, a fancy title which means,” I learned marketing in college, not from the streets.”
She worked with brands. BIG brands with BIG budgets and even BIGGER egos.
I worked with companies you could hardly call a brand. I worked with companies that couldn’t afford to have egos. Budgets, that’s a word for companies with too much money to know what to do with. Branding, that’s a fancy word for failing to produce ROI.
I already had a pretty awesome track record and resume, I learned search from scratch, and never stopped learning. Even today, I learn as much as possible. After all, I got the in person interview with a great resume, and an even better phone call with the HR Director, and follow up call with the CEO.
Where did I go wrong? I didn’t have big brand experience!
My clients never let me bid on their brand names, why would they pay for clicks they would get anyway?
This Agency’s bread and butter was branded search. Seriously, branded search! Where’s the skill in that? Just slap on the words Official Site in the headline, or a trademark symbol, and you’ll get every click.
 Your quality score will be a 10/10 cuz…

 It’s your freakin brand name! Case Closed.

Dirty? That’s how direct response marketing made her feel.
Dirty! That’s how she wanted me to feel because I couldn’t afford a fancy Data Management Platform that used 2 billion data points a day to decide which impressions to buy.
Dirty? That’s what being accountable feels like.
Dirty? That’s what marketers who earned their wings on the mean streets of the interwebs should feel.
She looked down at me and all other marketers that scraped our way to the top. She came from a fancy college, to a fancy agency and never had to deal with a phone call saying, “50 people will lose their jobs if you can’t find a way, any way to cut our ad spend while growing our traffic volume!”
There is an excellent graphic floating around the internet listing close  to 1000 tech companies in the marketing space. This is amazing. The level of innovation is incredible… You know what’s missing from the list?( a list of close to 1000 companies)…
Not a single affiliate marketing tool. Not a single affiliate marketing network. Nada, Zilch, Zero.
When Shawn Collins asked the creator why affiliate marketing was missing, he responded. Good Point. It was a simple oversight.

Oversight?! I think not. It was never in the line of sight.

It was never on their radar. Why should it be… after all, affiliate marketers are dirty!
Let’s be real for a minute. Affiliate marketers are despised by most of the marketing world. They are considered the bottom of the totem pole. The underbelly of online marketing. Rightfully so I might add.

After all, how stupid do you have to be to risk your own money and time on a company that has no loyalty to you whatsoever. A company I might add that would take advantage of you any way they can. Want some examples. For starters, they have tracking leaks all over the place. A phone number on the site or a contact us page could be stealing your commissions.

Don’t forget all the attribution due to your investment that isn’t tracked. It’s 2014, we know that your impressions are driving conversions indirectly. Yet, you still choose to spend your own time and money marketing their business.

Worse, they’ll hijack any strategies you implement that work.

You want the truth, the only reason I ever did any affiliate deals was because I didn’t want to be accountable to anyone but myself. I didn’t want to speak to people or sell myself. I just wanted to do some marketing and collect a check.

What took me a few years to realize was affiliate marketing is a bad deal for affiliates.

A good deal for publishers perhaps but affiliate marketers, running advertising arbitrage, it’s a suckers deal. One that’s easy to fall into with the false assumption that you will earn more when you make a commission. If this was really the case, you would insist of a paid arrangement with performance upside.

Personally, I would never take a performance only deal. It’s a bad deal, and in no way shape or form reflects on your confidence to deliver. All it reflects on is your reluctance to sell yourself.

So, before going off into the sunset with plans to score big with affiliate marketing, at the very least recognize that yours and the merchants interests are in no way aligned…So, don’t assume they won’t try to screw you if they can get away with it.

I have a seemingly very honest client who wants an affiliate program, but doesn’t want a pay per call program because he wants to keep all the money from inbound calls. In his mind, as long as the agreement is clear, he is in the right. If you have a problem, no one is forcing you to promote his offer. In reality, he has an awesome offering with great affiliate potential but let’s be honest, he just wants to use you to test out new strategies which he can steal from you.

Sure, you can make a few bucks as an affiliate marketer, or even more…

If You Don’t Mind Feeling Dirty!

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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