Q&A With Laurent, Affil4You's Mobile Strategist
Meet Laurent, managing director of Affil4You, an award winning mobile affiliate program and billing solution that has a particular stronghold on the French market.
As leaders in mobile adult content throughout numerous European regions, Affil4You offers webmasters and other adult traffic holders its expertise.
The company, established in 2003 under the parent company banner of Wister, has been providing revenue-generating services from mobile audiences since 2009.
XBIZ recently spoke with Laurent to know more about him and his company.
XBIZ: How did you venture into the adult industry?
LAURENT: I was working at SFR (Vodafone subsidiary in France) on mobile content billing during the Internet bubble rise and fall (2000-2003). I acquired a strong conviction that online services and content were going to be huge, and that the capability to monetize traffic was going to be a key for success. It appeared very clearly at that time that mobile Internet had everything to be a huge success. This is why I decided to launch with my partners a start-up focusing on mobile Internet. When we started, we found out that all big brands had a mobile strategy and were pushing to have their brand on a carrier portal. We then focused on sexy and glamour content. The carrier had very specific requirements regarding content and for which no standard content was available. We soon gained a leading position in France — competing for example with Playboy — and started to expand our mobile portal elsewhere.
Our business model changed dramatically in 2008 with the iPhone launch. France was the first country where the iPhone had been launched on several carriers without exclusivity, and with a decrease of walled garden onportal traffic and a huge raise of regular mobile Internet traffic using search engine, our business model changed.
We entered the adult business after we found that Google users were looking for porn and not for what the carrier was offering. We developed an up-to-date traffic acquisition and management platform and more specifically an affiliate platform — Affil4You.
XBIZ: What services does Affil4You do for its clients?
LAURENT: Publishers send us their mobile traffic because we know how to monetize this traffic. For this we have three assets that we do provide to our customer:
• A network of carrier billing connections allowing us to bill end-user on his carrier invoice and providing publisher with great transformation rate and retention;
• A service platform allowing to provide efficient white label mobile services; and,
• A network of efficient mobile advertisers covering the world and allowing great croll-sell opportunities.
All this is embedded in a global platform stuffed with optimized algorithm and regulation compliance check. The major service we offer our publisher is the exact balance between this requirement on brand and traffic protection, end user adoption and carrier regulation compliance. This is the subtle mix that helps generate a sustainable profit for our customers.
XBIZ: What countries are showing the best performance in the mobile market?
LAURENT: The best countries are the western European countries. This is where we come from and this is where carriers are the more willing to help us monetize adult traffic. Emerging markets also offer great opportinuities but with less stability.
XBIZ: Where is most of your business coming from?
LAURENT: Our business comes mainly from affiliates. We work with global affiliates having traffic everywhere. These global player are based in Northern America, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. We also have a lot of local affiliates that have websites in a single language (French, Italian, German, Spanish Dutch, among others) and are operating in the countries covered by these languages. Beside affiliate traffic, we also buy traffic from advertising networks or directly from a publisher. This type of business is growing within the company.
Regarding marketing tools, our traffic comes mainly from redirects but with a growing share of banner traffic served by our ad server. We have also developed plugins and partnerships with well-known software such as Word-Press or NATS and MPA3. We intend to do more of this.
XBIZ: What are the company’s values ?
LAURENT: I think we do have a very good reputation in the business. I am very happy and proud of that. I believe this comes from the trust we have between each other. This common value we have internally should be visible from the outside. Besides this, we are all quite different. I am not sure we do really have common company values. Personnally, regarding business, I value innovation and entrepreneurship.
XBIZ: Affil4You has employees worldwide in many time zones. How easy or difficult is it communicating with staff?
LAURENT: Communication is easy if trust is shared between team members. Otherwise, it can become a nightmare rapidly. We spend a lot of time ensuring that this trust is shared between all of us. Being altogether at shows obviously helps a lot. Another issue we have is language. We adopted English as common language and rely on everyone’s patience and understanding on these aspects. So far it works. Time difference is a relatively a minor aspect. We use a lot Skype and Google tools to share information between us.
XBIZ: Do you think the industry has matured greatly since you entered the business?
LAURENT: I have been in the biz for a few years and from what I heard it had already matured when I came. However mature is not the word that would came first to me to describe this industry. I would rather see a boiling mix of immature geeks, innovative entrepreneurs and strong individuals.
XBIZ: What’s a typical work day like?
LAURENT: I wake up, have breakfast with my family and check my mails to see if something happened during the night or in the U.S. I then go to work and usually try to spare some time to work alone (mail, contract, product spec, traffic or result analysis) but very often have meetings or internal discussions. I then go to lunch with the team (or part of it).
As typical French, we do spend time having lunch discussing business issues and sometime not.
We may later discuss sports, food, movies or politics (and this may take time because we usually don’t agree). During the afternoon I usually have meetings: internal follow up meetings, customer/partner meetings, phone conferences.
At the end of the day I get home, have dinner with my family and then check and answer mails I didn’t have time to process during the day. Sometimes I’ll also have a quick discussion with the U.S. team or whoever in Europe is still awake.
XBIZ: How do you balance work and family?
LAURENT: I have two kids (12 and 14 years old). My wife knows that I am working in adult; my kids not really. I suppose they will know quite soon because all of our friends know and make fun of this. I don’t really care. I’ll then try to avoid my full name being printed or referenced by Google in an adult context.
Otherwise, as any other salary man, I struggle sharing my time between work and family. As a business owner I may have more problems to solve but I also have more support and capability to adapt.
XBIZ: When not thinking about the biz, what do you like to do?
LAURENT: I like music, travel and food. I play double bass in a jazz quintet; I travel a lot — being for fun or biz. At home I cook a lot for friends and family and love to read and discuss new ideas. As an example, the last subject I have been enjoying discovering is bitcoin. This is big and may become soon huge!