CEOs of AdFoundry, BluePhoenix, RevenueStreet take on Porn, Jaguars, Virgin Airlines and provide insight.
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CEOs of AdFoundry, BluePhoenix, RevenueStreet take on Porn, Jaguars, Virgin Airlines and provide insight.

One of the most popular features we’ve done is asking CEO’s of different companies their opinions of different things. In asking them separately and then comparing answers, one can get really good insight into the industry as a whole and what the leaders in our industry are thinking. In these interviews, we asked them questions about the industry in general, what type of cars they like and what they’ve learned from porn. Based on their answers, I can tell you that we have in our industry some really good ceo’s with a wide variety of opinions … and tastes in cars.

What is the most interesting thing you learned at Affiliate Summit this year? Do you think the word “Affiliate” should be used anymore in our industry?

Nick Foley, RevenueStreet:  This years Affiliate Summit West, in my opinion was the best AS to date.  The amount of people and booths this show was impressive.  We learned a lot this show but what stood out was the surge of Mobile.  The mobile arena is already big and seems to be on track to be HUGE.  It seems everyone is getting their feet wet with Mobile.  We foresee it being a great revenue stream in the years to come.

Holly Brown, Wheaten & Wheaten: More than what I learned is that it appeared that there were more affiliates at the show this year.  Did I call them affiliates, I meant Publishers. Seriously, the show was the best yet.

Amy Sheridan, Blue Phoenix: I am not so wrapped up in whether or not to use the word affiliate.  The word itself alludes to people working together and partnership with something larger which is the way we should think of network/publisher relationships.  What I dont think is that people outside the industry will care what we call each other if we do not self govern and decide how to stop the rampant fraud.  I think we could all use a best practices on affiliate approval so new and emerging networks can at least have guide to start with.  We could also use a electable governing board that would put forth these and other actionable items which will show progress in working together as an industry so we can continue to regulate the actions of each other and not have a third party not involved directly in our industry to do so. Most interesting thing I learned: That 2 people invented and patented network to network affiliate marketing from a dormroom in UC Berkley in 1999?!?

I noticed that not a single publication outside the affiliate industry covered Affiliate Summit? What does the press need to pay attention to in our industry?

Nick Foley: Performance base marketing is here to stay.  The press needs to catch wind of this and they need to start giving PBM the coverage it deserves.  More and more companies are moving budgets and allocation  to the online space and the PBM model.  In our opinion the press needs to get involved and help our industry get the word out on what PBM can do.  The PBM model is a win win for all parties.  Advertisers only pay for results and affiliates are rewarded for their marketing efforts.  Who know why the press didn’t have a strong presence at the show but the fact is they need to start getting more involved.  Our industry has proven itself and the press needs to give credit where credit id due.

Holly Brown: Why the press needs to pay attention is simple, we offer an alternative to the “branding” experiments that most companies spend their budgets on.  If the press in this industry ever took the wraps off of performance they would see a more perfect model arise.  Some larger advertisers such as Kodak and Microsoft are starting to see this as the way to spend their money instead of branding only.  A good mix of branding and direct response will become the norm in online as I see it.

Amy Sheridan: I am not sure why the press wholly ignored 4600 people who attended Affiliate Summit this year.  Perhaps some of the money paid to Affiliate Summit could have been used to hire a PR firm to hype this conference up in the press.  I would suspect it was because of CES which we got to Las Vegas at the tale end of.  It is also possible that the press outside the industry does not take our industry too seriously because it still is a pretty emerging industry as far as internet marketing goes and is definitely still thought of as the wild west.  By some people in this industry as well :)  I am of the mind that until we clean up and attract bigger brands to the space that have quantifiable success that we will continue to be ignored.  The press follows brands and money not blackhats launching campaigns from their parents basements.

Someone told me the industry is separating itself into two parties: the Blackhat type affiliates and make-money guys versus the growing professional side of the industry. What do you think about that idea, and can the two sides work together?

Nick Foleyt: This is the first I heard of this divide so it’s hard for me to give my opinion.

Holly Brown: Yes the separation has begun, and I feel that larger brands will align themselves with the more trusted networks that afford transparency.  If there is no transparency then the lower levels will be stuck with Acai berry, while the more compliant networks will be running with Fortune 2000’s budgets.  You decide which you would rather be associated with  and in the long run which will have sustainable budgets as opposed to short term “kill it and run” strategies.

Amy Sheridan: The industry is separating into two parties.  There are advertisers and networks for the blackhat types and professional types.  As far as working together I am not sure how long that can possibly last.  You can really tell by the types of offers offers the network has who accepts and wants to work with the black hat type of affiliates

What verticals do you see growing in 2011?

Nick Foley: I think this holds true for most companies when I say Education is a vertical that will continue to grow. The lead generation companies who focus on EDU will continue to make nice money.  As long as the lead quality is monitored and maintained the education vertical will continue to grow. Additionally we foresee travel, business opportunity, timeshare and health to be a few of the verticals growing in 2011.  When we look at the big picture any vertical which leads can be generated for will be a healthy revenue stream for most companies.

Holly Brown: Daily Deal Sites , Health and Aging, Insurance, CPG, (almost anything that saves consumers money)
Amy Sheridan, Blue Phoenix: I see the education and home services vertical growing.  Obviously, we are going to see tons of growth in the localized market as well.

What changes for the better would you like to see in 2011 for the industry?

Nick Foley: Communication between companies and network would be a nice change.  Our industry has a significant amount of fraud, fraudulent affiliates and companies.  It would great if companies would communicate and share this information.  This would help reduce fraud issues and weed of the fraudulent affiliates and companies in our industry.  Unfortunately the online space is a playground for people trying to make money using fraudulent tactics.  Establishing a line of communication between companies would help reduce this activity.

Holly Brown: Standardization of compliance guidelines, Affiliate Certification, Greater transparency of publisher traffic, More integrity from networks.

Amy Sheridan: I would like to see some more self regulation and a more cohesiveness in the industry.

If you could sell a movie company on using performance based advertising, how would you do it? Can you give me a simple pitch?

Holly Brown: Why pay for trailer views when you really wants butts in seats.  Stop branding and get them standing (in line).  Performance marketing ties your ads to purchasing tickets and getting friends and family to purchase tickets directly at their local theaters.  In addition, performance marketing encourages viral pass along’s particularly when there is a discount included.  So stop wasting your marketing budgets and start making your movies pay off immediately without having to hope and pray that your media buyers got it right. With performance, all the impressions are free, you pay only for the action.

Amy Sheridan: I would use the same formula I used with Brittish Airways when I was on their account years ago.  Just like any other CPA product you figure out how much the movie company will pay per seat to get people into the theatre and arbitrage media to hit that metric.  I would also run a sweepstakes involving the movie or movie tickets and get people to put all their information in the form including email, demographic details and cell phone.

What have you learned from the porn industry about interactive marketing? What has been the best “invention” internet porn has created that has gone mainstream?

Nick Foley:  We stay away from adult stuff so I don’t have comment

Holly Brown: Testing.  The adult industry incessantly tests everything.  That is something we do not see so much of in mainstream.  Best invention porn ever introduced, the pop up or exit pop.  2nd to that, CPA Marketing.

What is your opinion on incentivized marketing? Are there legit mechanisms for incentivization or is most of the industry fraudulent? What are issues in incentivization?

Nick Foley: When we first started our coreg network the majority of our coreg sites were incentivized.  The traffic volume was great but over time advertisers just were not happy with the quality of the data.  We switched to 85% non-incent a couple years ago and the results have been fine.  In my opinion, if used properly and for specific promotions incentivized marketing can work.  The problem is companies use the incent technique fraudulently which creates a bad taste in peoples mouths when they talk about incent marketing.

Amy Sheridan: Personally I dont mind incentivized marketing as long as it is clearly stated what type of incent the advertiser is looking for.  What I dont accept or support is affiliates taking non incentivized offers and putting the in the incent environment to make a quick buck or see if the network or advertiser catch them.  This is an awful industry practice and must be stopped.  There are loads of deals that can accept incent whether in be on the back of a coreg path, using virtual currency or points.  Mypoints.com is a great example of a company that has done incentivization properly and kept happy advertisers.  Some virtual currency placements have yielded good results as well in my experience.  All in all as a network, our policy is to only let the incentivized publishers see the incentivized offers and all in all that has worked well for us.  We have had offers in the incentivized space like Stamps.com that have not gone down from our network for the entire duration of our business.  Conversely, we have terminated many publishers from our network that chose to ignore our policy’s and attempt to run non incent offers on an incent basis.  There most definitely is a place for this type of marketing; however, it is something that need to be carefully managed for it to be effective.

Holly Brown: Incent has always been with us and will never go away, so long as there are people who want stuff for free.  The main issue with incentivization is how the offer is presented and in what context. Direct Incent vs. Indirect Incent.   Selling life insurance to someone who just wants to buy a chicken in Farmville would seem like an example of how NOT to do incent.  On the other hand, if you want to give me 250 Bing Rewards points and a chicken, such a deal.

What is your dream car?

Nick Foley: What is my dream car .. Mmmmmm??  I enjoy SUVs and have 2 GMC Denali’s but what I truly love is my Honda Ruckus scooter.  Our office is a mile from the beach so having a scooter in Florida when the weather is perfect out is the best way to travel, in my opinion.  Ask anyone who works in our office.  I love my scooter.  I would take it over any car.  Take a look http://powersports.honda.com/2009/RUCKUS.ASPX/NEWS/090111C080A99288/dealers/search.aspx

Holly Brown: Vintage Jaguar Roadster

Amy Sheridan: 1956 Jaguar XK140 Roadster

What is your favourite airline and why?

Nick Foley: AirTran. We travel between 6 and 8 times a years for trade shows.  I need an airline that has a business class seating area and they MUST have internet access on the flight.  AirTran has both.  You can get a first class/business class seat for around $400-$500 (each way) and every flight has on-board internet access.  Flights that have internet help pass the time AND you can get a ton of work done while you travel.

Holly Brown: I’m not loyal to any one airline.  I travel frequently so I typically go with the best combination of schedule and fare.

Amy Sheridan: Virgin.  I like the disco lights :)

What would you like to tell us about your company?

Nick Foley:  TheMediaCrew is in it’s 11th year of business.  It feels like we just started because we so have so many projects going on.  It’s so exciting to come to work.  I truely enjoy and have a string passion for what I do.  The people we have here are great.  I can not say enough about the team we have put together.  I can honestly say I feel we have assembled the best employee base in the industry.  Everyone is honest, hard working, fun and extremely intelligent.  This is the blood that keeps TheMediaCrew running and being a successful and profitable company year after year after year.  When you do business with us you will see what I’m talking about.  The people are the company.

Amy Sheridan: BluePhoenixNetwork is not the largest network but we work very hard to bring branded and unique offers to our publishers.  We have built out over 20 proprietary offers in the EDU, home services and insurance verticals (all lead gen based).  Additionally, our networks goal is to attract clients that are usually branding clients to try the CPA side of the business.  We have current CPA clients like Ballys, Bing and Lunesta and are constantly working on attracting unique and different clients to the CPA space to give our publishers new and exciting offers to run.

Sign up as an Affiliate with RevenueStreet.

Read also our interview with Nick Foley of RevenueStreet.

Pace Lattin interview.

Written by Pace Lattin

Pace Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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