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Spectacular Sponsors

Spectacular Sponsors

January 24, 2003
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" To paraphrase a popular cigarette ad: We’ve come a long way, baby! "

Long gone are the days when all that was required to build a successful (read “very profitable“) adult Webmaster affiliate program was a handful of scripts, and a “we’re open for business” banner plastered across a few message boards and ‘resource’ sites: Today, this part of the business has become one of the most competitive segments of our industry, and it is Webmasters who are reaping the lion’s share of benefits from this “Struggle of the Titans!”

Sure, smaller pay site operations can still make a relatively comfortable income doing nothing more than using ibill to process membership subscriptions, and utilizing their RevShare program to operate a simple Webmaster affiliate program. Other major third-party processors offer similar programs; and while those sites that make use of them have the benefit of claiming a higher degree of “honesty” regarding payouts and accounting issues (not to mention the ease of letting someone else handle all of these mundane chores, rather than tying up in-house staff – or yourself! – doing so) they give up the degree of “control” needed to maximize revenues.

But unless they offer something truly unique, such as a seriously underserved niche, these smaller (newer) affiliate programs face a tremendous uphill battle attracting affiliates – particularly when you consider the fact that they almost always offer ‘50%+ partnership’ programs, when many if not most of today’s savvy Webmasters are now seeking high-dollar payouts on a ‘per-signup’ basis. While I won’t go into the reality of the underlying mathematics surrounding many of these ‘big buck’ offers in this article, the underlying point is that in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, sponsors really have to promise – and then deliver – more and more, in order to woo (and retain) ‘productive’ affiliates who will make them money.

Making “Top Bucks” –
One major sponsor offering a tremendous number of options, features, tools, and services to their affiliates is Top Bucks. Not only do they pay up to $40 per signup (or 80% on their partnership program), but they offer 60+ niches to maximize surfer interest, and provide over 150 different tour page options, including console free and ‘rotating’ tours. Don’t want to bother with all those tours? You can send traffic straight to the site’s ‘Join’ page, and get paid on exit console sales as well!

Even if you don’t currently have a real Web site, Top Bucks offers free Web site hosting (even with your own domain name) without the typical banners and ‘headers’ that other free hosts use to cover bandwidth expenses (and turn a profit). Need content? They have over 30,000 licensed photos and tons of videos you can use, including live video chat feeds that you get paid for the up-sell on. Need some fresh daily photo galleries that are hosted and updated for you? They have you covered. Don’t want to bother choosing the best banners and keeping them fresh and regularly updated? You guessed it. Want to protect your new site from minors, and get paid for it as well? Their OneVerify free AVS program has the answer…

Heck, if this program sounds like something that you could make “Top Bucks” with, and you sign up for their program using this link, I’ll even make a few bucks courtesy of their Webmaster referral program – and I‘ll receive my payment via PayPal. I don’t tell you all of this as a blatant sales pitch for Top Bucks, but to illustrate the great lengths that sponsors are willing to go to convince you to join their programs.

Contrast this approach to the way sponsor programs began, and the ‘sophistication’ that they have evolved over the years, where you might consider yourself lucky to receive a response to your e-mails, and a check in the mail for the sales you made. To paraphrase a popular cigarette ad: We’ve come a long way, baby!

…But Dwindling Profits
While sponsors like Top Bucks are offering affiliates more money – and more free tools such as pre-built and hosted galleries, free photo and video content, hosted and regularly updated banners, and free domain name and / or directory hosting, to attract and retain Webmasters, the additional costs of providing these enhanced features and services has to be eroding the company’s profits, and consequently impacting on the bottom line – all of which leads to two obvious questions: “How long will this last?” and “How much further can these sponsors go?”

Although adult Webmasters are now enjoying a situation where they have to do less work in some areas, and incur less expense than ever before, the challenge of attracting surfers to their sites is increasing – especially if you consider the reluctance of quality free traffic sources to hand out prominent links to the endless sea of ‘cookie cutter’ sites utilizing the same sponsor provided content, galleries, and other tools.

The flip-side to this “sea of sameness” (at least in the ‘free site’ arena) is that surfers, bored and annoyed of seeing the same overused content ad nauseam may be more inclined to purchase a pay site membership in hopes of attaining a little ‘diversity.’ Or not…

The bottom line is really “the bottom line,” and it remains to be seen just how far the major sponsors are willing to go as they vie for the more loyal and productive affiliates who will ensure their long-term profitability, success, and survival. Just how far would YOU go? ~ Stephen


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