Here are six questions to ask yourself about each and every program you evaluate. Taking the time to research and determine the answers to these questions now will save you time, money and headaches in the long term.
1) Does the program have expertise in marketing to the gay population?
Let's face it: The gay adult industry is a subset of the much larger and broader adult industry. And while I'm not saying that straight-run businesses cannot operate an appealing gay-oriented site, I am saying that you must research the company's history.
For example, how long have they been marketing to the gay community? What is their penetration rate? Are they a gay-operated company (meaning, do they have people on staff who are also consumers of the product)?
Look for a program with a wide variety of targeted marketing for the gay consumer, including newsletters, "top 10" lists, free previews and TGP galleries.
2) Do they offer the best content from the top studios?
Will the affiliate program be able to offer premium, gay, exclusive content? What separates their content from the other programs out there? There are reasons that certain studios become a step above: quality of content, models and production.
Find out if the program offers a broad range of quality content, if it has exclusive deals with the top studios in the industry (Falcon, Blue Blake, MSR, Tribal Pulse, Pacific Sun, to name just a few) and has daily additions of new material – few sites have daily premieres, offering a constantly expanding library and a regular refresh of content.
Your customers want regularly refreshed content; they will not continually visit a site with stale content. Look for a program that refreshes daily with top brand name videos and you will drive consumer interest and increase profits.
3) Do they have a solid multilingual platform?
The term "the web" is short for the World Wide Web. Although you might operate out of Timbuktu, people from all over the world can and will access your site if you make it available.
Look for a program that offers multiple languages, and make sure that it is properly translated and updated regularly with new content. Remember, a company that is actively translating and investing in foreign markets and working at a worldwide level is a company that you can trust and rely on.
4) Do they utilize the latest technology?
If the program you are evaluating is not already ahead of the curve, it will be left in the dust. The online world changes daily – there is no standard that you can rely on.
You are looking for an industry leader. Someone who is actively researching what's new, what's next and what's not going to happen at all – remember Beta? If you are looking at a cinema program, you want the top streaming technology, and you need a program that offers from 56kpbs up to 1000kpbs NOW – because in a couple of months, that number will increase!
5) Do they have an Internet, broadcast and worldwide presence?
When you are looking for a business to rely on and to invest your time and effort into, you must look for assurances that this business is active, growth-oriented and multi-dimensional. A business that is working in many areas is a business that is promoting a brand identity that will be profitable for you.
6) Do they have a transparent payout structure with real-time reporting?
This is the most important section to consider. Every program will offer you a percentage, usually 20-30 percent. Read the fine print! Ask, "20-30 percent of what?"
Remember that a program that offers a 20 percent cut "off the top" is offering you a lot more money than a program that offers 30 percent net. Watch out for "the shell game" – your commission should be calculated on a gross revenue model.
"Independent verification" of commissions also is something to look for. There is no sense in chasing high commission points if you have no way to audit your referrals or rentals. Few programs today have a structure that offers real-time and transparent reporting where rentals statistics appear immediately.
Some things to look for are real time reporting, payment management, secure ordering and customer service management.
Does this all sound difficult? Maybe. But it is far more difficult to spend time and effort marketing a fraudulent or poor affiliate program to your consumer base, only to have to take it offline. Spend some extra time asking questions and getting proof of answers before signing up to a program. Make sure that the company you are signing with has your best interest in mind – after all, your business makes their business.