You don’t see that many Sikh’s in affiliate marketing. Honestly, you don’t really see that many Sikhs in general, especially where I moved to, Colorado which is the Capital of the Secret WASP Society. That being said, Ricky Ahuja has made a name for himself in this industry. Ask anyone and they will tell you that he is a very friendly, outgoing person who treats everyone with respect – something that this industry often needs. Anywho, he’s also a great businessman who has made a good name for himself in this industry as someone who pays attention to what is going on in the industry and is always networking to learn more.
How do you personally get into Affiliate Marketing?
I have been in the space since 2001, started with a loyalty site, on to web design, seo and other lead gen businesses. The tools have changed quite a bit – but at the core it is still the same. Like every other venture, has its ups and downs but love the dynamic nature of it.
What makes Affiliate Venture Group unique and interesting?
AVG like every other network has some offers and some publishers. However, what sets us apart from most of the others is our level of access, transparency and communication. We are definitely not in it to make a quick buck as reputation to me has more value than anything else. I think we have done a good job of maintaining that.
What does Affiliate Venture Group look for in its affiliates?
Transparency, communication and honesty are probably the most important traits we look at. We do not turn away any newbies and take the time to inform and educate them best we can. Had it not been for a helpful AM back in the day, I would not have been in the space as long as I have. We are more about the person behind the affiliate cloak and their word. Take undue advantage of it, we will not be working together in the future. Work with us and you would have found a valuable resource for a long time to come.
What is the most common fraud you’ve found in the industry, and what steps does AVG take to combat that?
We have come across fraud such as use of stolen credit cards to generate leads, posting of leads, fake clicks and referrals, etc. Our core philosophy of maintaining clear lines of communication and transparency have helped greatly in combating this. We can all build tools to counteract this – but the fraudsters always manage to stay one step ahead. Having groups on the social media sites certainly help bring the issue to the forefront but we always have to remain vigilant and proactive to contain/prevent it.
You had an Affiliate Fraud Group on Facebook that was shut down, what happened? Who served you with the C&D?
We had a very promising group called the Affiliate Fraud Prevention Group with over 1400 members which was served a C&D and thus had to pull it down. Not really able to go into too many details but AVG was in its infancy stage and were somewhat blindsided and not prepared. We obviously weren’t alone as other unsuspecting networks experienced the same issues. In a weird way however, that was a good lesson for us in opening up our campaigns for publishers we were not 100% familiar with and enabled us to put certain policies and protection in place.
What he can’t tell you is that he was threatened by “IAG” a company in Florida, that was accused of not paying their bills on the Facebook group.
If you could have any wish, what tool would you like seen made for affiliates?
We work very closely with the developers of our tracking system in identifying various touch points which we feel may lend to fraudulent affiliates coming in and work towards establishing tools to counteract that. Above and beyond that my partner, Chris Kautz, has often been called The Affiliate Slayer as he has a keen sense of weeding out the bogus pubs. One thing I would like to intimate however, for every fraudulent publisher – I can tell you one advertiser and/or a network that partakes in this same vicious practice. This is a two way street and quite honestly both sides can be at fault. This is precisely why we only work with a handful of partners on both side and that formula has worked out well for us.
What ideally would you like to teach brands about affiliate marketing?
We work with several premier brands, both on the Affiliate Venture Group side as well as the agency side of the business, Pab67Media and fortunately for us, more and more are starting to understand the true value of affiliate marketing. There are instances when however the “brands” are not set up logistically or technically to handle the traffic/sales generated or more importantly, what is converting and what is not and there is where problems typically occur.
Who is the sexiest affiliate manager that you’ve met?
I am going to have to say my wife – she plays a role of a physician by day and by night – she is Super AM. Totally keeps me on top of things and my main driving force (along with my 8 year old daughter). I feel this is the safest answer for me.