Archive | March, 2008

Scrubbing Leads? The Dark Side of Affiliate Marketing

Posted on 02 March 2008 by SonHouse

So this week I have discovered something that is a bit upsetting to me as an affiliate marketer. Let me start out by telling you the story of what happened over the last 7 days and how I came to find out about advertisers and affiliate networks scrubbing leads.

What is scrubbing leads you ask? Well it’s the unsavory practice of the advertisers and affiliate networks skimming leads off the top and short changing us hard working affiliates that are marketing the offers.

It all started last Friday when I noticed a new offer I was running started generating some crazy stats, 60% conversion ratios for starters. I hadn’t really promoted zip offers until now and just figured that I had picked a really good one that matched my customer profiles.

That first day I ended up with 200 leads at $1 per lead, I made $200, not bad. I started doing the math and thought I was going to end the month with a bang. The leads continued to pour in over the next 5 days, I had a few 250 lead we’re talking!

Then on the 6th day I log into my account and notice I’m short about $800 over night. What the ****? I notice this huge chargeback of leads and revenue and get on the phone asap with my affiliate manager.

He explains that the advertiser had accidently allowed the conversion pixel to fire on the loading of the page and not the conversion itself so in essence, I was getting credit for every time the page loaded as if it were a lead.

This is where things get a little funny. If that were the case, then my leads to click ratio would have been 100% right? Not the case. It was holding steady at 50%-70% for the entire 5 day spread. So where were all the other leads?

I did a little more research on the practice of scrubbing leads and found that some advertisers scrub up to 10% of the leads and the networks are suspected of doing the same thing.

I was relying on the stat data in my affiliate network account and increased my adspend over the 5 days. So, now I’m out all that cash…

Wow, this really sucks! It’s hard enough in this business to get around all the crap that google dishes out, with slaps, quality score issues, etc. Now, I have to worry that I’m not getting credit for all the leads.

I guess it’s just the cost of doing business in the industry. I’m sure there are networks and advertisers that do not particpate in the practice but how do you find them? I don’t know….just time and experience will help me there.

On a positive note, I did get a bump in payout on some of the other offers I was running but that will not likely cover the money lost this last week.

Lesson learned on this one, watch your back and the skim.

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