opinion

Is the Affiliate Model Dead?

Stephen Yagielowicz

The question was asked at the recent adult entertainment Virtual convention, and has been asked elsewhere before — including on the XBiZ.net industry forum: is the adult affiliate model dead?

The short answer is “no,” but it’s not quite as easy as all that.

While it is clear that affiliate sales no longer come as easy as they once may have, it is also clear that substantial opportunities and rewards remain for those savvy affiliates that are willing to go the extra mile to succeed.

First, realize that there is nothing new about affiliate marketing — it is merely the process by which an independent sales agent receives a commission for any sales made on a merchant’s behalf, and is a process as old as commerce itself: Consider prostitution as the world’s oldest profession, with pimps surely following closely behind, to perhaps become the world’s first “affiliate marketers.”

Against this historical backdrop, it’s easy to see that paying a cut of a referred sale is not going away — even if the process by which the referrals are made, or the product or service being offered, changes.

Another major factor coloring marketplace perceptions is that many of the old-school “adult webmaster affiliate programs” have either marginalized, or outright eliminated, their former affiliates from their current traffic acquisition strategies.

James Slater blames uncaring sponsors and poor quality promotional tools, among other factors, for declining conversion ratios and hard times for affiliates; likening the attitude exhibited by some sponsors to “kicking the good horse they were riding and not caring about how it eats anymore.”

Jahaziel from DickzToyz.com agrees that uncaring sponsors hurt affiliate’s efforts; saying that companies need to rethink their business model and create more interactive tools and better education programs if they wish to retain affiliates.

‘The affiliates that I know are getting out of the game because they don’t feel supported by the companies,” Jahaziel stated. “I can’t blame them. It has been an act of Congress getting return emails from some of these programs that are run by very large companies in the industry.” Grooby Productions’ Steven Gallon took exception to Slater’s “horse” comment.

“It’s not my job to keep you employed; it’s your job to be a better horse,” Gallon stated. “If you were bringing quality sales in, then nobody should be kicking you.”

“I’m the top affiliate on my sites, not because I have access to any special tools,” Gallon explains, “but because I go out and get new areas to drive transsexual traffic to our sites, as well as other tranny sites, so we can make referral fees from them.”

Jimmy aka Wizzo of Exoclick.com, a 14-year veteran of the affiliate game, sees the affiliate model changing from both sides, as the industry evolves.

“I know there have been many programs that have screwed affiliates,” Wizzo noted, “but on the opposite side, there’s been a ton of scammers and deadbeats that screw programs as well.”

‘Many programs have decided to take traffic generation internal, or limit it to a few trusted affiliates that can produce; and many of the biggest affiliates either just sell their traffic flat-fee or use a network, so the burden of conversions is no longer on them,” Wizzo explained, adding that it is “just a sign of the times, but there’s still plenty of money being made in our industry!”

Focusing back on the tools that sponsors offer, 12clicks of 12clicksCash says that affiliates who rely on sponsor-provided promo tools will never succeed.

“[You] may hang on for a while, but if your business plan is to use what every other affiliate is using, you’ll eventually move on to whatever job you’re really going to do for a living,” 12clicks stated. “Smart affiliates who become whales do not hang on the teat of programs waiting for them to provide them with a living.”

While it is clear that affiliate sales no longer come as easy as they once may have, it is also clear that substantial opportunities and rewards remain for those savvy affiliates that are willing to go the extra mile to succeed.

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