CostPerNews Special: Are CJ and Linkshare Worth Their Salt?

Last Updated on November 15, 2006

If you have attended any of the adtech’s or Affiliate Summit or the DMA’s over the past four years, you have certainly witnessed the proliferation and explosion of CPA networks in the online marketing industry.

Where did they come from? Why are they here? Should you as a merchant, affiliate manager or program director be working with them? These are important and serious questions with long reaching implications for your company’s bottom line and the future of your service, program or even job.

In hopes of shedding some light on the relationship of CPA Networks to more traditional large affiliate networks from a different point of view, I asked Thoughtshapers.com’s Jeff Molander to do an interview with an industry veteran who has worked inside of a merchant affiliate program, with CJ, Linkshare, BeFree, DirectTrack and with various CPA affiliate networks. What results in this ten minute podcast is full of value and a must listen.

In this special edition podcast, Jeff interviews Ms. X, a veteran affiliate manager who suggests that traditional affiliate networks are under fire by “CPA (cost per action) networks” that are more nimble, flexible and offer what advertisers really want — leads or sales without the work. Jeff decided to protect her identity due to her current work situation and place within the industry. It would be preferable to have someone able to speak without the voice mod or hidden identity, but in this situation, the content more than makes up for the identity protection. Plus, the insights she provides is worth the protection.

In effect, the main question addressed is: “Are affiliate networks like Linkshare and Valueclick’s Commission Junction worth their salt?”

[EDIT 7:00pm Wed Nov 15]:

Upon the suggestion of Jim Kukral, I’ve installed a plugin whereby you can be notified of followup comments via email. You can also subscribe to the comment thread without commenting, but don’t lurk too long (please).

If you’ve already posted, you have to logout and then log back in to Wordress to see the subscribe option (below the comment box). This works for all comments in the past and going forward.

Happy commenting and email me with any questions.

[/EDIT]

Listen to hear raw perspectives from a veteran voice (approx 10 minutes)…

COSTPERNEWS PODCAST: ARE CJ AND LINKSHARE WORTH THEIR SALT? (mp3)

http://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=P7014bf789a5011610c79b41947311fcdZVB5RVREYmV8&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21

120 thoughts on “CostPerNews Special: Are CJ and Linkshare Worth Their Salt?”

  1. Once again Molander has blurred the lines between reality and his imagination. CPA networks offer value to a narrow set of offers – primarily soft lead offers. Go to the various CPA networks and look at the offers they are running – you will see many of the same companies and same types of leads. They cannot run percent of sale offers for retailers (just call one up and tell them you want them to run an offer for X% of sales and see what they say). Furthermore they do not work with many of the top loyalty, coupon, content sites that do well in affiliate networks – so unless you do have an affiliate program, you will miss out on many opportunities available via large affiliate networks. To complain about having to weed through affiliates at CJ or LinkShare but then say it is easier to just let the CPA networks do that for her and pick the affiliates is proof that this person doesn’t get much of anything when it comes to marketing online. Many of these CPA networks will do anything for money and aren’t beyond working with affiliates that would never be allowed in affiliate networks. The only reason I can see why this person would want their voice disguised is because they know they are full of crap. The only reason I am posting in disguise is because it is fun. Molander, maybe you should start doing this stuff anonymously before someone catches you in the bathroom at a conference and educates you.

    All my love,

    Mr. Nobody

  2. This is a quote from Jeff’s blog. Question: What wrong with this statement?

    “In order to understand what a CPA network is one needs to understand a few facts:

    1) Affiliates have grown up to become affiliate networks
    2) Many of your biggest affiliates aren’t affiliates; rather, they’re affiliates who have transformed into affiliate (“CPA”) networks
    3) These affiliates-now-networks are better at motivating affiliates than traditional affiliate networks

    Confused? Here’s an example.

    An advertiser pays 10% to any affiliate (or “publisher”) off the street through their CJ program. It pays 15% to its very best or “super affiliates.” One day, a super affiliate realizes that it could use it’s privileged position and eliminate all the business risk associated with being an affiliate (buying advertising, conducting search optimization, managing product data feeds, testing creatives). The affiliate simply approaches and motivates other affiliates to generate orders and/or leads for the advertiser… offering them 12%. Hey, that’s better than the 10% “street” commission over at CJ. The other 3%? That’s profit for the super affiliate. Indeed, it comes at the rate of 80-90% margin to the “super affiliate now turned network”—even after it has purchased 2 Porsche Boxters as contest prizes to their highest grossing affiliates. Sure beats the little tchotckies advertisers themselves use as contest bait (you can keep your plane tickets Orbitz!). ”

    Link
    Answer: CPA Networks don’t run Rev Share. Shows Molander’s limited understand of the space to make such a remark of this. Mr. Nobody nailed the problem with Molander. He does not know what he is talking about when it comes to CPA networks and affilate marketing

  3. He may not know what he is talking about when it comes to CPA networks and affiliate marketing but he is not afraid to charge others for his sage wisdom. When is he going to find another profession?

  4. How many times is Jeff going to crow about being a founder of Performics.

    People at Performics don’t seem to agree with him on his role there – lol.

    Anyhow, as everybody seems to know but Jeff – most affiliate programs are rev share and cpa networks don’t do rev share.

  5. As for Molander and Performics, it would be good for the full truth to come out on that one. Molander was fired. He is not a founder and he could not keep a job at affiliate network. Rumor has it he could not make the numbers. How did he become an expert in affiliate marketing? What is his accomplishments? Fired from Performics, Fired from Afftrack, and what else has he done. What merchants has he worked for, what affilaite sites does he have. And he worked for Performics over 5 years ago. The industry has changed.

    How did he become an expert?

  6. Don’t attack the readers, Jeff. Take on whoever you like on an individual basis, but generalizations don’t move the conversation forward. Plus, they pay the bills (in theory).

    Explain what you mean by “Rev share” as well. I think if both sides can define how they understand that term/practice, it would create meaningful dialog here and lift the conversation above the level of a school yard game of tag.

  7. So let me get this straight, an expert in affiliate marketing, a man who calls himself a founder of Performics is asking for the commonly used defination of rev share. Hmmmmm.

  8. > “Rev share.” That’s a fun term to use, isn’t it? It’s a shame that Sam’s readers have fully functioning brains.

    Your point? It’s no secret that rev share (affiliates earning a percent of sale) affiliate programs are rare in cpa networks.

    We’ll be seeing lists of the top e-commerce sites in the next week as Black Friday approaches – how many of those are in CPA networks? Most, if not all are in affiliate networks with affiliate programs operating on a rev share.

    Off the top of my head, the top players generally include Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, Target .com and Dell.com.

  9. OK – I’ll take a wild stab at the definition. Rev-share is sharing a percentage of the revenue derived from the transaction; typically that of a sale. God I hope I was close.

  10. Indeed, Sam, it’s the use (by anonymous posters no less) of generalizations that they use which mis-characterize my statements. I find that to be a waste of Web page. If someone wants to have a debate and show me I’m “wrong” that’s great… although I don’t seem to be making statements here… I’m asking questions and my guest is answering them. Are they questions that have answers that I’ve discussed in the past? Yes. Are they logical? Yes again but when you introduce generalizations and play semantical games it ruins any chance at educational or meaningful discourse.

  11. Whether or not Mr. Nobody is a coward is debatable but he’s right. CPA networks are absolutely the wrong place to run your offer for 95% of advertisers. If you are an advertiser gathering leads to sell to a list manager or to upsell yourself then CPA networks are fantastic. CPA networks don’t do percentage of sale, they don’t do retail, they don’t do anything except landing page lead forms. If there are any CPA networks that are doing anything but that I guarantee they aren’t getting the best affiliates.

    What bothers me more than that is the general disdain Ms. X seems to show for anyone who wants to have personal relationships with their affiliates. I’ll accept that it is “all about money” — but if anything, a common financial interest is what makes affiliate marketing work. That common interest is strengthened when personal relationships are developed, and not just because they establish loyalty (which doesn’t exist in a CPA Network), but because it allows the affiliate to push traffic more effectively by completely understanding the business model of the merchant — seasonal changes, promotional offers, media campaigns, etc. And keeping a clean affiliate channel — one that doesn’t have spyware or spammers or cookie stuffers or link stealing — is a purely financial goal, and has nothing to do with being “irrational” or “pleasing the ABW crowd”. Or is it better to blindly pay a percentage of sale to anyone who can manage to cookie users who were coming to your site anyway, to totally ignore brand concerns and allow your brand to be displayed in spam or spyware?

    As far as bitching about the amount of time it takes to approve new affiliates, give me a break. There are technological fixes that can speed the process up significantly (most of the networks are simply too retarded to offer them), and a $10/hour intern can be trained to handle this job, it’s not rocket science. And as far as the 5000 affiliates vs. 1 affiliate driving 5000 sales, that is not a choice anyone needs to make, all programs have both. If you aren’t interested in reaching niche or new markets then cut anyone who isn’t driving significant revenue and forget about it. You don’t have to be in a CPA network to do that. If I’m a retailer and I can keep a decent relationship with 5000 niche marketers, especially at a time when niches are becoming more and more central to online marketing, I’m keeping those affiliates unless they are a significant drag on my time. Most of their questions can be answered, again, by an intern.

    I love your podcasts Jeff, but offering such a one sided view of a complicated industry doesn’t serve anyone’s interests. CPA Networks are excellent at driving amazing levels of traffic to certain offers, but they are not a threat to affiliate networks because they don’t serve the same clients or even the same function.

  12. Jeff, you said, “CPA networks are absolutely the wrong place to run your offer for 95% of advertisers. If you are an advertiser gathering leads to sell to a list manager or to upsell yourself then CPA networks are fantastic. CPA networks don’t do percentage of sale, they don’t do retail, they don’t do anything except landing page lead forms.”

    This makes Mr. Nobody right? Okay but nobody (not I nor my guest) discussed anything in terms of retail or service/lead.

    So, this makes Mr. Nobody and everyone else who showed up here (but you I think) just typical Molander-bashers with a side of Performics/AffTrack mixed in (shows creativity).

    Ms. X shows disdain you say. That’s your view. Mine: She is a realist who is tired of being tasked to do the $10 an hour intern job (at her salary which is higher). You are missing, I believe, her entire point. That is: Hire the intern to do that labor-intensive work called “affiliate marketing” and let a CPA network do the rest (a la Google AdWords). No relationship needed. You suggest that her not liking to go through apps all day long is linked intrinsically with her lack of interest in relationships.

    Jeff, isn’t life about presenting all sides so that people can draw a conclusion? Aren’t my podcasts presenting sides that nobody has heard or blogged about before — leading cowards who have paychecks rooted in the status quo to attempt to throw eggs at me? I think they are. That’s not me bragging that’s me simply stating fact.

    In fact, I challenge anyone to find a place on the Web that presents a viewpoint similar to Ms. X’s view.

    The reason people are so upset with me (perhaps yourself included, Jeff) is because I’m presenting what they know is true about how their clients/advertisers think. If I keep this up advertisers might, some day, realize they all think alike — and act on that realization.

  13. Sometimes I think you are simply misunderstood Jeff, but then you bring me back to my senses and all of those thoughts wash away into thin air like a fart in the wind. Phhhttt.

    I’ll take butterflies and lollipops over a pink shirt reality any day my friend. 😮

    Have you bought the parrot for your shoulder yet?

  14. Jonathan (Trust)

    http://www.revenews.com/jimkukral/archives/002461.html

    You’re getting schooled over there too. Ms. X and having to alter the voice. Pure comedy. I’ll copy and paste what I posted over there:

    “Jeff, just do this little test for me and then give me some stats.

    Login to CJ. Go thru every merchant/offer they have. Now go to your favorite CPA network. How many merchants/offers are they running that CJ is running.

    What’s the number, 1%, 2% max? Some competition.”

    Like I said, CPA networks aren’t competition to traditional affiliate networks. Someone who has been in this industry as long as you have should know the difference.

  15. LOL, lollipops indeed.

    No, this is actually one of those cases where I disagree with her quite strongly. In case you’ve forgotten, our parent company owns an awesome CPA network called Primary Ads. I know how they do business and how much traffic they can drive and it’s impressive to say the least. But they don’t have the same clients we do, its just a different biz. You can scale lead gen, I just think that the more you try to scale rev share the less you achieve with it, its the nature of it.

  16. We’re 19 22 comments in (well, this is 20 23), and I think now would be a perfect time to suggest taking this conversation/learning experience to the next level.

    I have a proposal for anyone interested…

    I want to bring together a number of different insights into a specific question brought up over and over on the podcast and in this debate. It’s a question that I’ve been pondering for about three years since I was there at the launch of AdDrive (a CPA network) and have worked on but never come up with a satisfactory answer.

    If you’d like to respond to the question, email me (sam@costpernews.com) and I’ll send it to you. The catch is that I want a response from you by this Friday. That’s not a lot of time, but the iron is hot, and we all need a good homework assignment. You should email me your response back as soon as possible (at least by Friday at noon est).

    On Friday at noon est, I’ll post all the responses (with links to your respective programs and your pic if you’d like) at once in an amalgamated post. I’ll post your answer in full and respond to them as a whole and then to each of them individually with my own insights.

    I’d like to get at least 10 of you to do this homework assignment. So, if you’re interested in my important question and promise to respond by Friday noon, send me an email and I’ll get the question (and a copy of these instructions) over to you immediately.

    Looking forward to a good debate.
    Sam

  17. Understood Jeff but what you (and everyone else) fail to acknowledge (including Trust over at Revenews) is that CPA-oriented (lead, service/subscription) based businesses represent a minority in advertisers but are far more profitable than retail advertisers. JCPenney who? Give me a unique credit card to push. I’m not sure if anyone in comments here has actually looked into an “affiliate network” at the P&L level. In fact you don’t even need to do that — just consider what a “sale” transaction nets an affiliate network (2-3% of a $60 ticket) versus a CPA transaction (25%+ of a $50 affiliate fee). If the affiliate network also runs search it gets fairly rich — spend $1.50 on traffic to take in $50 from the advertiser.

  18. Upon the suggestion of Jim Kukral, I’ve installed a plugin whereby you can be notified of followup comments via email. You can also subscribe to the comment thread without commenting, but don’t lurk too long (please).

    If you’ve already posted, you have to logout and then log back in to Wordress to see the subscribe option (below the comment box).

    Happy commenting and email me with any questions.

    Sam

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  20. “Understood Jeff but what you (and everyone else) fail to acknowledge (including Trust over at Revenews) is that CPA-oriented (lead, service/subscription) based businesses represent a minority in advertisers but are far more profitable than retail advertisers. JCPenney who? Give me a unique credit card to push. I’m not sure if anyone in comments here has actually looked into an “affiliate network” at the P&L level. In fact you don’t even need to do that — just consider what a “sale” transaction nets an affiliate network (2-3% of a $60 ticket) versus a CPA transaction (25%+ of a $50 affiliate fee). If the affiliate network also runs search it gets fairly rich — spend $1.50 on traffic to take in $50 from the advertiser.”

    lol! I think you might have something there.

  21. But I forgot to add that CPA networks don’t have consistant offers. Consistancy is key. Nor are the offers as good as most of the affiliate networks. Just as a top CPA affiliate.

  22. “CPA networks don’t have consistant offers. Consistancy is key. Nor are the offers as good as most of the affiliate networks.”

    Hmmm… I don’t know about that. Your point was certainly valid in 2004, but there are some interesting offers out there in the CPA Networks today that rival anything in CJ or Linkshare (especially in terms of payout %, payout rate and landing page efficiency).

    This is definitely an area that we must consider when comparing CPA Networks and affiliate networks, so thanks for bringing this aspect up. I’m interested to hear what others think (I’m trying to get some CPA Networkers on here to respond as well, so if you know any send them this way if you will… would make the conversation outstanding).

  23. Jonathan:
    While I appreciate and agree with the point you’re making it does not refute mine — affiliate networks like CJ, Linkshare, etc. all want to have the same offers (that CPA networks do). Typically, they’re more lucrative. Hence, Porsche Boxters, flashing T&A at Affiliate Summits yelling “are these the hottest girls or what!?” into the exhibit hall during raffles, etc.

    Do you believe that Azoogleads having launched an affiliate network called mPort and getting booted shortly thereafter from Commission Junction was coincidental? Perhaps now we’re going to get into arguing the definition of a CPA network. I can just taste it.

  24. Azoogle was booted from CJ because of quality issues and because they refused to provide transparency – advertisers assume a lot of risk working with CPA networks that do not provide information on who their affiliate partners are. Some CPA networks (the ones that have been around long enough to have built a sustainable business) have high quality standards when it comes to their affiliates. But many of the up and coming networks need to partner with less reputable affiliates to get critical mass (revenue and momentum). Don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing CPA networks – I can see their value – I just say media buyer beware.

    BTW, take a look at the offers running on mPort – the vast majority are CPA deals. What does that tell you?

  25. Oh and as for the coward comment – I am just playing along with the game. I’ll come out if “she” comes out.

  26. I didn’t acknowledge that CPA advertisers are more profitable than retail advertisers because it wasn’t part of the conversation (I know they are, I’ve seen the numbers myself). Ms X wasn’t debating the relative profitability of different advertiser models for ad networks, she was saying, essentially, that if you are an advertiser of any kind you are better served going to a CPA network than to a traditional affiliate network. I disagree with that assertion as well as her general attitude toward traditional affiliate marketing.

  27. Ms. X’s words are not frightening (Jeff – you wish). They are misleading and very one-sided – that is why people are responding here. This whole discussion is getting boring.

  28. Jonathan (Trust)

    On a side note, I knew who Ms. X was first few seconds. Thing with these kinds of things is you can make someone sound like a chipmunk but people have a certain way of speaking, certain style. And you keep using the same people in your podcasts. I thought I would just throw that out there because she is a good AM and if you wanted to keep it a secret for some reason, this isn’t the way. You might just want to have a tracscript or something instead of the podcast if this is something that could get you in trouble.

  29. Jonathan (Trust)

    Ok, I just listened to it again.

    It comes off as someone who should find another line of work, one big whine fest:

    “You’re the one stuck there looking at all the applications.” At the beginning of the podcast.

    Um, yeah that’s the job. You’re the affiliate manager for a merchant, you’re supposed to look at who you let in, not the networks. It’s your program, you should be running it. It seems like you’re throwing up your hands and don’t want to do the job and have the networks pick and choose who they let in YOUR program.

    And Ms. X said one of the benefits of the CPA network is they do all the work in choosing the partners

    Paraphrase from Ms. X
    “You should care where you stuff is being shown. You should but at the end of the day if you want to get your approvals, you need volume”

    “Similar to what Google does, not a lot of transparency in terms of partners that send traffic, you just get the trafic.”

    And that’s a good thing Jeff, Ms.X ? Who cares who your partners are as long as you get traffic. Do Wayne and Ben need to have a sit down with you?

    And of course you throw in you’re a consultant, as usual in these podcasts.

    If anything this podcast make the both of you look bad along with CPA networks.

    Like I said before, no competition to traditional networks. Of course there is always room for improvement.

    Again at 6:30 more complaining. “You’re the one stuck there having to go thru the applications”

    That’s the job.

  30. Jonathan:
    Why are you torturing yourself? If I’m not a serious threat to something (by doing what I do with podcasts, blogs, etc.) then you all have way too much time on your hands. Turn the channel. Your pick.

  31. Jonathan (Trust)

    It’s the holidays, I’m being nice. I’m trying to keep you from embarassing yourself even further. This podcast does that. And you avoided my good questions. One day you’re for transparency and picking your partners wisely, next day who cares who your partners are as long as you get traffic. Explain that one to me.

  32. My big take-away from all of this is, as usual, Jeff lives in his imaginary world that only he sees. This makes it difficult to argue points since he believes he is right even when everyone knows he is wrong. His “insider info” is outdated or merely opinion. My concern (on behalf of the industry) is that people read or listen to what he says and take it as fact or good advice. We are all just here trying to fix the problems you are trying to create. I just don’t get why you are doing these things.

  33. The point I was making in my last post is you are not a serious threat (in your dreams) – you are just a pain in the ass.

  34. Don’t forget, it’s not too late to get in on the special publication post tomorrow about all of this.

    If you’ve got thoughts on this subject and want to develop them in an extended form, see the post above this one (homework assignment).

    So far, we’re up to 8 responders to my question (high quality and interesting insights btw) so I’d like to get a few more to round out the discussion.

    Sam

  35. The last thing (I promise) I want to point out is that all of these comments somehow stroke Jeff’s ego. In other words, we are helping create this monster.

    Goodbye,

    Mister Nobody

  36. Jonathan (Trust)

    “We are all just here trying to fix the problems you are trying to create. I just don’t get why you are doing these things.”

    Good for business. Stir stuff up, sell fear, create problems/controversy etc. Hire Jeff The Consultant** to fix them for you or guide you. This just looks like advertising to me. I’ve listened to past podcasts where one of the merchants just happened to say: paraphrase “Isn’t there somebody that had some sort of affiliate list out?” And then Jeff chimes in, Why yes, that’s me. As if the merchants chosen for his podcasts had no idea he had an affiliate list out.

    **Correct me if I’m wrong on that. That is what you do for a living? Consultant work.

  37. Jonathan-

    This is not Jeff’s site.

    This is my site. I went to Jeff with this idea and asked for a podcast on these topics because I do think this is an issue that needs to be discussed intelligently somewhere, and I knew Jeff would be able to ask questions that got people talking. He did, and it has. I also want to hear insights from others of you who disagree with Jeff so I will be calling on you to do similar projects if I can convince you of the common good in doing so. I did not foresee the number of back-and-forth comments with no substance from both Jeff and others, but I am glad that people such as Shawn and Jeff Doak have offered up creative and insightful thoughts.

    Jeff M may use this as an advertising tool somewhere else, but this is definitely not an advertisement for him or for anyone else. Please don’t insult me by claiming such a thing. Scroll down and take a look back at the content I’ve provided here (for free) before you continue down that path of specious reasoning.

    And no, I’m not a consultant. I’m a college professor and someone with a long past in affiliate marketing who is still very interested in the space. If that’s not objective enough for you, I don’t know what could be.

    BTW, if anyone would like to advertise here on CPN, it’s rather cheap. Check out the “Advertise” page accessible from the home page.

  38. Jonathan (Trust)

    It wasn’t directed at you. If it was I would have used your name. I’m saying that’s what it’s turned into for Jeff. And you do notice the comments leaning heavily in one direction. The whole podcast is rather ridiculous. Ms. X, changing the voice and then the actual content of it.

  39. Comments seem to have diverged somewhat from what was actually said in the podcast, which tends to happen. 🙂 I’m going to try and focus more on what was said in the podcast itself. I had a very visceral reaction to the comments and it wasn’t along the lines of warm and fuzzy. I strongly disagreed philosophically with most of what was said.

    Jeff D. said:
    “Ms X wasn’t debating the relative profitability of different advertiser models for ad networks, she was saying, essentially, that if you are an advertiser of any kind you are better served going to a CPA network than to a traditional affiliate network”

    That’s what I took away from her comments as well. She further gave a bunch of reasons why. Again, I strongly disagree with that point of view. There were many factors that I feel *should be* extremely important in the overall decision making process for an Advertiser that were completely left out. And hell must have frozen over for me to say this next thing, but…..I actually agree with a point that Jeff M. makes (at least it seems to be a point he is trying to make) is some of his comments. And that is, you may not like or agree with what Ms. X said but it is a point of view that *is* held by a growing number of Advertisers. From my own personal experience, as well as seeing the grow of CPA Neworks overall, I’d have to agree with that. It is a veiw held by some within this Industry. Again, I don’t agree with the view and feel that it is a view ripe with pitfalls (and some potentially serious ones) for advertisers.

    What I feel was missing from the discussion (which definitely was one-sided so here goes a bit of the flip side) is that quality should factor into the equation and not just volume. Who and how your offer is bieng promoted should matter. If it doesn’t matter to you as an Advertiser, then you might want to consider popping you head out of the sand and taking a careful look at the current environment. Because a very clear message is being sent that as an Advertiser you as the Advertiser are going to be held accountable for the how and where. And laying it off to an affiliate did the bad deed isn’t going to cut it. In that context, then transparency would seem to be something that is important. Or at least the abililty and willingness of the CPA Network you are dealling with to care about it. Volume does not necesssarily equal quality. Volume and sales are easy to manipulate. I look at it day end and day out. There is such a thing high risk sales/leads for an advertiser and there should be a risk assessment process being done by Advertisers along those lines. JMO of course. 🙂

    Of course volume in and of itself can be a great enticement to an Advertiser. And it is marketed quite well to Advertisers. But I kept waiting to hear Ms.X say such words like ROI, ROAS, incremental sales, true profitabililty of the Advertiser’s campaign but either I missed it or she didn’t say it. Are those things which an Advertiser should no longer give thought to?

    As I got my gut reaction under control (which was along the lines of wanting the throw my speakers against the wall), I thought about what the real message Ms. X was wanting to send out. And while the comments about CPA Networks being about lead-gen and traditional networks retail rev-share have validity, is it possible something is being overlooked here? Online marketing is a very dynamic and rapidly changing arena. I’ve been under the impression for a while now that there are some CPA Networks who have decided to expand their model beyond the types of offers traditionally thought of consisting a CPA Network. Could it be that CPA Networks are wanting a share of the retail rev-share market held by the likes of CJ and LS? These types of offers are not non-existent on CPA Networks anymore. I’m seeing an increasing number of them. And while it might not be Walmart, Dell, Target (free gift card offers on CPAs for these merchants don’t count), I am seeing increasing numbers of retail rev-share merchants (who may also be on a traditional network) being offered through some CPA Networks. I can certainly see some very good reasons that CPA Networks might want to diversify their Advertising offerings along these lines. It’s not a trend I’m particularly happy to see considering how voluem is generated by some CPA Networks, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.

    And whether or not I agree with Jeff M. on many things, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t an issue that bears discussing within our Industry.

  40. Kellie:
    Ms. X didn’t focus her comments on quality but did not actively suggest that it didn’t matter — that all that matters is getting a form filled out or an email address. I’m simply not seeing this reasoning that supports an “anti-quality” philosophy on her part. This is another part of what’s missing here: people actually taking what she said and debating her actual statements. Rather, it is simple to suggest that you got a visceral reaction without actually telling us how you rationalized having that reaction. I’m providing Sam with a piece that delves into this deeper.

    As for your comments regarding CPA networks and affiliate networks each having “advertiser envy” you are on to something and frankly I’ve never thought about it as being dual before you suggested it — but it is. What CPA networks “don’t have” is rather high brow, retail advertiser relationships. Thus, they want them (regardless of things like profit margin being lower many times). They want what they cannot have (witness ShareResults trying to move into retail).

    Thanks for showing up and making it seem more worthwhile.

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  42. Jonathan (Trust)

    “And that is, you may not like or agree with what Ms. X said but it is a point of view that *is* held by a growing number of Advertisers.”

    I’ve looked at various CPA networks and it’s rare they carry an advertiser that one of the major networks do. I’m sure there are a few but I would love to see a list of what advertisers are available on CPA networks that can be found on Performics, CJ or Linkshare. Just post the merchants and what CPA network they’re on. Also you might see a growing number of CPA networks but that doesn’t necessarily correspond to a growing number of advertisers. There’s not much variety, it’s usually the same advertisers pushing their offers on as many CPA as possible.

    “I’ve been under the impression for a while now that there are some CPA Networks who have decided to expand their model beyond the types of offers traditionally thought of consisting a CPA Network.”

    There is a lot of talk about CPA networks and the major traditional networks, even tho they mainly deal in different type of offers. But where is the talk about the smaller affiliate networks that actually do rev share offers like the traditional networks? Like avantlink, affiliatefuture that I finally joined since they got DeepDiscountDVD, a favorite among many, etc. I would keep an eye on those.

  43. I’m actually suprised at this discussion, and also a little late to the table! However, I will add a very brief point from my perspective. It is my opinion that the line is very clear between the value of an Affiliate Network – and that of a CPA Network. Namely, the affiliates (publishers) are different. Where I think Jeff M. is correct is in his suggestion that CPA Networks can be successfull (sometimes very successful) and have a higher profit margin per action at times. However, I’m not sure that being “successfull”, or having a larger margin in certain cases makes them a threat to what is called a “Traditional Affiliate Network”.

    From what I see, advertisers who have offers that are suitable for a CPA type deal – and who also have multiple SKU rev-share % deals are using a combination of both mediums to attain their goals. It isn’t my place here to provide the specific examples that I am thinking of, but they are out there to find. In reality I think they are being used as seperate channels, where appropriate. (Not all merchants can use “CPA”, and not all can use “Affiliate”)

    Jeff, one thing that did sound interesting to me was the willingness to “give up” transparency in exchange for “more sales with less effort”. This sounds counter to me to advice that I’ve heard from you and conversations I’ve had with AMs on the issue. The majority of AMs that I work with want more vision into the whole process… not less. So, my question is… Is this a “limited” viewpoint that is being voiced by Ms. X – is it really one that is gaining mainstream and grand scope amongst advertisers (that of desiring less work/more sales/less transparency) … I don’t doubt that Ms. X is sincere, and I can certainly understand the viewpoint – but I’m not sure that it is gaining as much traction as is being suggested here.

    Sorry I’m late to the party, feel free to ignore me. 🙂

  44. Jeff, one thing that did sound interesting to me was the willingness to “give up” transparency in exchange for “more sales with less effort”. This sounds counter to me to advice that I’ve heard from you and conversations I’ve had with AMs on the issue. The majority of AMs that I work with want more vision into the whole process… not less.
    How dare you suggest that I can recognize both sides of an issue?! Don’t you realize that I’m only presenting one here and, in doing so, trying to push my slimy, ignorance-based agenda?

    I’m not sure that it is gaining as much traction as is being suggested here.

    Thanks for suggesting this. I’m not sure either. That’s why I asked her and that’s why we have comments on blogs (I thought). Good that you were late to dinner for if you were on time you would have ruined everyone’s fun.

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