George Avery used to be the right-hand man at Affiliate.com (the network formerly known as CPAEMPIRE) until a few years ago. Not soon after Affiliate’s parent company MediaBreakaway was hit, and then subsequently lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit from Myspace, he left the company along with half-a-dozen other employees to start GetAds, a direct competitor. Avery’s company took its own path, broke away from the “spamking” labels that could have followed them and became a major player in the industry seemingly overnight. He’s one of those guys that everyone likes, his way of doing business down to earth and because of that has earned the trust of his clients and affiliates. Also, as an ex-hockey player and hockey fanatic, he’s always willing to get down and dirty to protect his clients best interests. In the Denver area, when people ask about affiliate marketing, GetAds and George have become synonymous with the growing industry. He provides some real insight in this interview to compliance issues, how to run a company and how to do business in general.
GetAds has managed to stay out of trouble with no major lawsuits, no compliance actions. What are you doing to keep your company clean that other companies may not be doing?
At GetAds we have a very proactive approach to compliance. We monitor our traffic constantly to make sure that if a rogue affiliate is doing something against the Terms & Conditions of the offer, we are the ones to catch them first. You can’t rely on the Advertiser to monitor things, by the time it is flagged by them it is too late. Each of our Affiliate Managers is trained on what to look for and how to deal with fraud & illegitimate traffic. They are the front lines of our defense. It’s really just about staying educated about what is going on in the industry and keeping ahead of the frauders.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the industry? What can you pass on to others in the industry from this lesson?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that networks live and die by their relationships. It doesn’t matter how great your offers are if nobody likes you. With so many competitors in the industry, affiliates can choose to run with whoever they like. That’s how we get them in the door, and then we keep them there with our offers & service.
What do you feel that GetAds provides to advertisers that other networks do not provide?
We are constantly telling advertisers how they can improve their offers. Whether it is landing page tweaks, little details in the path, or even suggesting a new traffic type, we tell them what they need to know to make more money. We have advertisers coming in to our office, meeting with us at shows for strategy sessions, and doing calls on a regular basis to make sure the entire process is flowing smoothly. When you work with us, you aren’t just setting the offer live on our network and leaving it there, you are getting the full package.
What do you feel that GetAds provides to publishers that other networks do not provide?
For publishers, we really get to know them. We want to have an intimate knowledge of their business and how they market offers. That allows us to bring in better offers and make better suggestions to them on how to increase their profits month after month. We are always talking to our publishers to find out what they want, what we are doing right, and what we need improvement on. It really boils down to the relationship. The stronger your relationship is with your network, the more money you will make in the long run.
What lessons have you learned from Hockey that you can apply to managing affiliates?
The number one thing is that it takes a team. Hockey is not an individual game, and neither is managing affiliates. You need people that are each good at one aspect of the business, and when you put them all together you get the full effect. You also need to be ready for anything and look at the game from all angles. You never know where the game winning shot is going to come from.
What do you look for in affiliates that helps you know they might be a good choice to approve?
We look for affiliates that are serious about their business, and are willing to be transparent in how they market. I’m not saying we need to know your landing pages, keywords, campaigns, etc., just that we need to know how offers are being marketed. We want affiliates that know the difference between Incent traffic and Non-Incent traffic. Basically, we want to work with anybody as long as they are serious about making money and they are willing to follow the rules.
I know you are familiar with DirectTrack, but what made you choose LinkTrust?
We worked with DirectTrack for years at CPA Empire (affiliate.com), but when we started GetAds we decided to go with LinkTrust. The number one reason is tracking. We just have less issues with tracking discrepancies on LinkTrust. Plus, they are a smaller company, like us. I like that I can call the CEO on the phone if we have issues and he will get them taken care of ASAP.
What changes do you expect in the next year for Performance / Affiliate Marketing?
It’s only going to get bigger. The projections for 2011 are something around $28 billion for the online ad industry, and affiliate marketing is going to be a large piece of that. I think we are going to see more networks shutting down and consolidating, much like we saw in 2010. Margins are slimmer, and a lot of people are being pushed out.
What products do you think would benefit from Performance Based marketing, and how would you bring them into the industry?
I think that any product in the world would benefit from performance based marketing. They key in bringing them into the industry is to make sure that the advertiser understands exactly what their goals are. They need to know exactly what a lead or sale is worth to them. They also have to have their back-end conversion funnel optimized so that they are ready for the traffic. Once they have those things in place, and if they have solid cash flow, we can bring their product to market.
What technology do you want to see created for the industry?
Anything that will help us prevent fraud and lower advertiser scrub rates as well as stopping other networks from scrubbing. Affiliates need to get paid for the work that they do in promoting offers. Nobody wins when there is fraud or scrubbing in the picture.