Affiliate Tools Adapt as a New Breed Replaces Those Who Have Exited
The swirling may have finally stopped as rampant consolidation of sponsors and a mass exodus of webmasters have created what may become a new wave of prosperity within the adult industry online.
The number of hobbyists and part-timers has diminished at a frantic pace in the last few years, but a new breed of professional affiliate marketers is quickly finding its stride, thanks in large part to the many new tools sponsors are building.
“There most certainly is a decline in the requests for FHGs and somewhat for tube dumps,” Sarah Jayne Anderson, the affiliate manager of HustlerCash.com, told XBIZ. “There is still a core group of affiliates that insist upon having some sort of hosted galleries, and since anybody who actually wants to actively promote is a good affiliate to have around, we still cater to them.
“However, about a year ago we switched from building standalone galleries to identifying content-rich pages of our tours and entering them into the affiliate system as hosted galleries. For example, every model who has ever appeared in a scene on Hustler.com has a profile page on the tour. We now enter all of those into HustlerCash for affiliates to use as galleries.
“Similarly, most DVD releases on our site have a dedicated video trailer page for it on the tour. We’ve created a deep link to those pages and entered them into the affiliate system as hosted galleries. It allows affiliates more freedom to be creative on how they use hosted content to promote. Of course, we will also provide downloadable content for affiliates to build their own galleries to host on their own servers.”
In a lot of cases, professional affiliates are only interested in the promo materials they create themselves.
“While we do offer FHGs, banners and clips, and we have regular requests for more, we find that the most successful affiliates make their own ad tools,” Jack Avalanche of CherryPimps.com told XBIZ. “In order to sell in today’s market you have to learn your traffic and ad positions and tailor the tools to them specifically. It may seem like a tough market but working harder doesn’t necessarily equate to success, you have to work smarter.”
For some verticals like the webcam market “there has been a huge shift from prepackaged content to live,” Shirley Lara of Chaturbate.com told XBIZ. “We are no longer seeing request for tired banners and FHGs, so what we have done is made it really easy for affiliates to embed chat rooms into their own promotional sites.”
“The ‘real live’ promo-tools and video ‘like live’ action are among the biggest hits when talking about promo-tools these days,” Carole from ImLive.com told XBIZ. “We give our affiliates a huge selection of undated promotion tools in which they can use in order to send traffic to our sites. From large selection of static banners to dynamic banners, smart links, live feeds, video, real-time banners and much more.”
Another are of growth has been promotional items tailored to mobile consumers. “Affiliate requests are constantly changing with the rate of how quick technology develops,” Kalyn Sanders, affiliate and partner manager for AdultFriendFinder.com, told XBIZ.
“We see most affiliate requests trending towards mobile applications and other mobile responsive inquiries. Our affiliates want to be able to do more code integrations, APIs and white-label solutions.”
When asked if the affiliates themselves have changed, Catherine Dunn of MindGeek.com pointedly said, “Yes, absolutely. Just as consumer behavior and preference have changed over the years, promo tools have evolved as well.”
“Our affiliates primarily market our products via high impact video ads, similar to what you’d expect to see in mainstream marketing, rich media display ads is our primary source of traffic as well,” she told XBIZ.
Recently the MobileCashout.com platform released two very useful features according to their affiliate manager, Ema Fulga.
“Firstly, our ‘transaction stream’ pings over desktop notifications to affiliates every time they make a conversion (sign up, rebill, etc.) enabling them to see which campaigns or offers are generating revenues in real-time,” Fulga told XBIZ. “Secondly, we recently separated our ‘post-back statistics’ allowing affiliates to be able to select from a global post-back option for all of their campaigns or a separate post back option giving them closer and deeper control of specific campaigns.”
AdultFriendFinder.com is well known for rolling out new niche-targeted landing pages that are mobile and desktop responsive.
“Two of our most powerful tools we offer allow us to optimize and monetize traffic for maximum results,” Sanders said. “Landing-page optimizer (LPO) links are unique links we can fill with many of our hottest converting landing pages. These landing pages begin to randomly rotate and then automatically optimize. This way we can test several landing pages against each other, to find the best performing ones with any traffic sources.
“Medley is the other powerful tool that can help generate and monetize traffic. Similar to LPO links, Medley banners are custom banner spots we build and fill with many of our hottest proven converting banners. Just like LPO links, these banners begin to randomly rotate and automatically optimize. The best part about these tools is they can geo target and auto-translate when necessary, which makes zeroing in on the sweet spot or ad click-through rates and conversions as automatic as modern data-driven technology allows.”
“MindGeek supplies our webmasters with iframes that serve targeted media.” Dunn said. “Our algorithms cycle through hundreds of combinations of ads and landing pages to identify and prioritize those with the highest revenue-generating potential.”
“We also have various new responsive tours, that refresh automatically with the latest content and the latest deals,” Paul Acevedo, director of marketing for DDF Productions, told XBIZ. “Additionally we are happy to provide GIFs, iframes, banners, and other items as needed, and we add additional affiliate promo tools per special campaigns, affiliate deals. We’ll also soon launch DDF Awards, which is another affiliate tool/tour, and AGoodRelease.com, which is a pay-per-scene website with white-label capabilities.”
Creating white labels is become a much more advanced and customizable way of filtering traffic as an increasing amount of latitude is being turned over to trusted affiliates.
“The Chaturbate API is hands down the best tool for affiliates,” Lara said proudly. “It allows affiliates create white labels with extreme customization. These tools let us handle customers, broadcaster requests, billing, fraud while our affiliates gets paid.”
When massive numbers of amateur webmasters were requesting access to members areas, many sponsors viewed the risk of giving out temp passes and publication rights as being far greater than the potential reward. However, as the landscape has changed and the majority of the webmasters still in action are from a much smaller group of seasoned professionals, those restrictions are being lowered by many well-known programs as well.
“With a strong belief that our affiliates and vendors know their traffic and niches better than anyone, AdultFriendFinder has a pretty open policy about allowing our affiliates to create their own creative and marketing tools to promote our offers,” Sanders said.
“Experience has taught us that it’s best to have an open door policy at MindGeek for all our trusted affiliates,” Dunn said. “We work closely with webmasters, offering our expertise when it’s needed to make sure that the final product is not only aligned with their vision, but will garner them the success they’ve come to expect with our sites.”
In many cases that access includes a massive amount of fresh under-saturated promotional content. “We’re happy to provide access to our webmasters when requested,” Avalanche of CherryPimps.com assured. “As we shoot upwards of 150 scenes a month it’s the best way to get them the content they need as fast and efficiently as possible. Our only limitations relates to length of clips and what content they can and can’t promote on tube sites.”
Obviously, these kinds of arrangements still require a fair amount of oversight and legal compliance is always a strong consideration for top-tier brands.
“For the most part, HustlerCash is willing to accommodate such requests if the affiliate is willing to politely accept our terms for the use of our materials,” Anderson explained. “I get a bit less embracing of the concept when I start to be berated for not allowing longer clips or for requiring 2257 statements to be on any clips that are cut. I am sure every affiliate manager around knows that other companies allows different things than their company does without it being abrasively pointed out to them by an affiliate. However, approach me knowing that I would much rather give you the tools to send us traffic, and we can usually figure something out.”
Still, some have argued that the rise of CPA Networks obviates the need for affiliate programs because many webmasters can get better deals from a CPA network than sponsors are willing to offer directly to their own independent affiliates.
So, what do the experts think about the pros and cons of choosing whether to send traffic directly or as part of an intermediary CPA offer?
“We value every consumer that can reach our brand,” Dunn of MindGeek said. “Successful CPA networks will add value by creating their own marketing programs that can convert really well. Working directly with us allows for the freshest and best marketing to come about, and typically the best payout as well. I think CPA networks are particularly valuable for smaller companies that do not necessarily have the type of resources in place that Mindgeek does to support webmasters.”
“MobileCashout’s advantage is that we have exclusive (in-house) products, whereas on a CPA network you don’t know anything about the product — who has made it, its content, etc.,” Fulga explained. “Our product offerings give affiliates a competitive advantage as they are not competing with other affiliates all pushing the same product offerings of CPA networks. We also offer higher payouts compared to CPA networks because we are cutting out the middleman. Finally, for high-earning affiliates we can also create bespoke landing pages and specific product tweaks.”
Another important aspect of securing your own direct relationship with a sponsor is that it opens up a two-way channel of communication.
“There are numerous advantages working direct with our company, including custom payouts, dedicated customer service and upper management support. One of the biggest reasons we encourage working direct with us is we love getting critical feedback,” AdultFriendFinder.com’s Sanders said. “We always appreciate when affiliates come to us with potential issues they deal with on our platforms, and enjoy working with our affiliates to change these issues for the better. We strive on becoming better daily, and hearing first hand from our consumers and affiliates allows us to stay in touch and make necessary adjustments.”
Other programs have had mixed results in the CPA market.
HustlerCash’s Anderson said: “At the moment, we don’t work with any CPA networks. We tried working with one about two years ago and were promised a great deal and in the end they gave our offers very little promotion. When I worked at dating programs, I worked heavily with CPA programs and had great results so I had a lot of hopes for it too.”
Smaller affiliates may do best through CPA options, but whales going direct to programs can get access to things uniquely tied to their specific traffic requirements.
“Well, I think the advantage of working with us directly would be the customization we can provide,” said Paul of DDF Productions. “Even to the point of shooting special scenes for certain affiliates that bring us large amounts of converting traffic, or having custom model interviews in their name. We make the content, we meet the models, and so there’s a lot more we can do if the partnership is fruitful.”
On the near horizon there is even more innovation coming for affiliates to take advantage of with tools that improve accuracy immensely.
“AdultFriendFinder is constantly rolling out new tools and affiliate features,” Sanders said, “while also improving our current ones. Expect to see a continued shift into mobile, including quicker and easier navigating mobile stat pages. Pixel and stats tracking has always been an important factor for us.”
The avenues into the industry also continue to evolve as new affiliates often come from the content side of the business these days. “In the live cam sector we are seeing cam girls become affiliates,” Lara said. “At Chaturbate every broadcaster account is also an affiliate account and vice versa. By allowing this, cam girls are using affiliate links to push traffic to their own rooms and now they are generating affiliate revenue while earnings tips. Cam girls want traffic to their chat rooms. They know the more people who see them, the better the chance of catching a whale. If you’re pushing big boob traffic look at Chaturbate.com and see who fits your site. The majority of cam girls have an email address in their profile. Contact them and ask for pictures to use for promotion and link directly to her room.”
Emerging markets also play a role in the way webmaster demographics develop.
“Affiliate marketing is always changing and developing with each tech breakthrough and market segment, for example, look at how LatAm has exploded due to smartphone penetration and with manufacturers now targeting budget devices at emerging markets such as India,” Fulga noted. “They are opening up a massive volume of traffic, even though the standard of living is lower, the potential for volume of sales at low price points is huge, particularly with softcore products in India.
“From a technical point of view it has enabled MobileCashout to give affiliates real-time statistics about the performance of their campaigns which means they can instantly react to campaign fluctuations in order to make the necessary real-time changes, to drive conversions and secure a better ROI.”
Even among old time veterans, the jaded cynical views of years past are giving way to the rebirth of optimism.
“While many, including myself, have professed that the affiliate model is dead, and has been for quite some time, I have changed my opinion on that significantly over the last year,” Avalanche said. “The affiliate model is still very active, but gone are the days of blindly loading FHGs, banners, etc., onto a page and watching the money roll in. Today you have to learn your audience and sell to them. We’re in marketing and sales and you have to know who you’re selling to in order to close the deal. Will it get harder to sell by the end of the year? Yes, the lazy and complacent webmasters will continue to be phased out further and the hardworking affiliates will be rewarded accordingly.”