The Best Affiliate Program

Stephen Yagielowicz
There's a discussion thread currently running on our message board which has a member asking the question "Who is your most productive affiliate?" While the question seems to be asking program owners who their top affiliate is, the body of his post indicates that he's interested in knowing what the best converting, and paying, sponsors are. This is a common question, with a complicated answer:

In his thread, cdsnmore posted "Ok, since I can't find a comprehensive review of adult webmaster affiliate sites anywhere, I'll pose the question here. Let's see some testimonials about successes and horror stories of experiences with affiliates. From praise of wonderful conversion and customer service to complaints on lack of stats tracking, let's hear everyone's true opinion. I am sure everyone will post their affiliate referral links for blatant promotion but if you do, give us an HONEST review of a different affiliate! Personally, I've had good luck with and What are some others that seem to surpass others in conversions and payouts?"

Once again, based upon the body of his post, I'll proceed from the perspective of trying to identify "The Best Affiliate Program" – which is no small task. I could take the easy way out and tell you that the winner of the 2005 XBiz Award for Best Affiliate Program went to Silver Cash, while ARS took the honors in 2004, with Platinum Bucks winning in 2003, but this would only tell you part of the story. Sure, these are all great companies, but as they say, "your mileage may vary..."

While XBiz Award winners are an excellent place to start, there are hundreds of adult webmaster affiliate programs out there, and some will do better for you than others. As cdsnmore acknowledged, when asking a question like this in a public forum, you'll receive a lot of misinformation – mostly from program owners, employees, or affiliates trying to sign you up under their ref code in what is a typical MLM referral approach. These folks may not be "wrong" about the quality of the programs they recommend, but since their recommendations are based upon a personal agenda, the advice might not be as good as one would hope for. Even when "honest" opinions are offered by your peers, the results they obtain may not be the results you would hope for.

To clarify this, the source, amount, and "quality" of the traffic you intend to send to your sponsor will determine your success. Generally, the more traffic you send, the lower your conversion ratio may be; although your payout might be higher. Search engine traffic will be far more profitable than '404' traffic from a TGP. The way in which you send traffic to your sponsor also affects sales. For example, a prospect clicking on a full page ad for a specific site is obviously more interested in that specific site than someone who clicked on a "blind" text link seeking a generic category of content, for example, a link that said "Big Tits!" The person who clicks that link is obviously interested in seeing big tits, but perhaps not interested in joining the site that link sent them to. All of these issue affect your conversion ratio (the percentage of folks you send to the sponsor that actually make a purchase).

Payouts are another issue. Newbies, especially, tend to go for the big dollar payouts, believing that every "free trial" they can get a surfer to take at a sponsor's site will result in a $100 payout. While the verity of this process is beyond the scope of this article, it's safe to say that most seasoned operators would prefer sending their traffic to a sponsor that offered a reasonable payout in the $25-$40 per signup range. Percentage based payouts, commonly referred to as partnership program, are great and may give you the most money – but only if the site offering it has high-quality, exclusive content that keeps members coming back for more, month after month.

Regardless of the program, payout type, or the way in which you send it traffic, what you really want to do is look at the actual checks you receive from the sponsor – after all, this is the bottom line. Savvy webmasters will count their own clicks, meaning, they will use a script that records the number of clicks on any particular link to a sponsor, and divide the actual amount of the check they receive by the number of clicks they sent. This gives you the payout per click of a particular sponsor given the realities of your particular traffic. Relying on sponsor stats is a no-no, because each sponsor counts clicks in a different way, so the only way for you to determine what works best with your traffic is to count clicks yourself, that way you can compare the profitability of different sponsors using a common baseline.

While the above isn't the easy answer that many folks want to hear when asking who the best sponsor is, it is perhaps the best answer that you'll hear – the rest is up to you to make it work.