Affiliates and Marketing At The Phoenix Forum

Gretchen Gallen
PHOENIX, AZ – Phoenix Forum opened up the Saturday schedule of panels with tips on making affiliate programs work, followed by a high-spirited discussion on gay website marketing.

Affiliate panelists included Rocki with Traffic Cash Gold, Quentin Boyer of Top Bucks, Benjamin Bayr of, Lori Deak of Men on the Net, and Rainey Stricklin of XXXCash.

Among the many pieces of industry advice for webmasters looking to launch affiliate programs, or for those who are already in the midst of running one, the panel urged the audience to look out for fraud and keep in close communication with members. Other topics discussed were how to choose a third party billing company, how to determine what amount payouts should be, and keeping tabs on chargebacks.

While the panelists agreed that it is nearly impossible to keep tabs on all affiliate sites, keeping an eye out for suspicious activity or non-activity can often be the fastest indicator that something is wrong, that the site is being used for child porn or other illegal activities, or that there is a risk of contributory infringement when it comes to affiliates using content that they don’t own the rights to.

“Today’s legally compliant page is tomorrow’s child porn site,” said Boyer.

Stricklin’s advice to webmasters starting affiliate programs is that reputation is a big thing and that interacting with other webmasters can really help point the way to what methods work. Stricklin also said that a lot of affiliate branding can be done just by getting the name out there and exchanging services with other adult companies.

“You cannot be afraid to spend money,” said Boyer. “You have to spend on resource sites, webmaster boards, and coming to shows like this. There is no better way to get the word out.” He went on to add: “When you are first establishing yourself, make sure you are maximizing your revenue. Unsold traffic is a huge revenue area.”

Boyer also added that networking is an excellent way to find out who you can trust.

“It’s a huge mistake not to provide the level of support webmasters are expecting from you,” said Boyer. “Never ignore newbies or those who appear clueless. You never know who the next big player will be in this industry.”

One question asked of the panel was how to avoid getting in trouble with affiliate chargebacks.

“We run everything through our own merchant account,” said Deak. “We don’t pass chargebacks to our affiliates, we eat them in-house.”

Stricklin added: “Chargebacks come when affiliates don’t get the answers they’re looking for. If you take time to talk to your members, you won’t get chargebacks.”

Stricklin added that she frequently uses ICQ and email to stay in close touch with affiliate members. “They want your advice. Since we know what is working best in our program, we try to share that with webmasters.”

“Try to give webmasters tips on how to keep their consumer base interested,” said Deak. “Stay really close.”

Rocki added that the team at avoids getting into trouble with chargebacks by monitoring new signups for several days. If there is no activity they are immediately deleted.

On another front, the panel on Gay Site Marketing combined a lot of good laughs with some gems of advice for gay content providers and webmasters looking to break into the gay adult space.

“Gay porn is a market, not a niche,” was the unanimous sentiment of the all-gay webmaster panel that included Karl Edwards of Bedfellow, Rob Novinger of Channel One, Andy Fair of Dick Magazine, Morgan Sommer of Cybersocket, Gary-Alan of Studmoney, and Darren Austin of AEBN.

“You don’t have to be gay to run a gay site, you have to have good shoes,” joked Austin. “Get input, talk to gay people. If you are straight and you go out and do a gay site don’t be scared, it isn’t going to make you gay.”

Sommer added that undertaking a gay website is a never-ending commitment. “Not everyone should start a gay website,” he said. “Only people who have really good ideas. There are enough really bad ones out there from people who feel they needed to add a gay site to their collection just to round it out.”

Edwards added: “You have to be your own target audience in order to make this happen. You have to have a sensibility about the content. You cannot run salad bar websites anymore. They are simply going to vanish. Content is everything and without producing it yourself, I don’t see how anyone can survive.”

Edwards also stressed the importance of keeping website content fresh, updated, and original.

“I have to feed that monster everyday and it costs a fortune to do it,” he said.

The word to webmasters just starting out in the space is that highly focused content sites are the way to capture a more loyal following.

“Do a site about what you care about and what you are interested in,” said Novinger. “There is tons of crappy content out there.”

A few nuggets of advice from the panel was that webmasters entering the market need to do thorough research, and often times content theft over peer-to-peer networks can be a successful form of marketing, so long as the content is watermarked for optimum promotion. Another message from the panelists was to grab traffic wherever webmasters can. Edwards referred to traffic as the ‘last commodity on the Internet.’

“Figure out what you like to see before you put it up on a site,” said Gary-Alan. “Don’t jump into a paysite unless you know what you’re doing.

“Be willing to work very hard for a long time and get paid very little for the effort,” said Sommer. “It is not an easy road to riches.”

Sommer added in his final words to the audience: “Be in this for the long haul. Build relationships of trust.”