Interview with Matt McEvoy
MaxBounty’s CEO, Matt McEvoy is one of the smartest people in the affiliate marketing industry. He has been part of the leadership team at MaxBounty throughout as they have maintained their position as one of the top three CPA networks worldwide for a decade and more. As the Blue Book survey for 2019 approaches its close, we spoke to Matt about black hat vs white hat, why the industry is going to thrive and what people should be doing now to win in 2020.
Blue Book: There seems to be a trend away from black- and grey-hat marketing techniques towards white hat. Are you seeing that trend and do you feel it will be sustained?
Matt McEvoy: We have noticed that trend and it’s one we welcome. We have always worked within a white-hat environment because we feel it better protects advertisers, affiliates, and consumers. That goes a long way in legitimizing the industry and creating new business.
White hat techniques are good for affiliates though. They are more likely to be accepted by us, advertisers, and Google or Facebook. The benefit to that is it saves both time and money for each party since a larger percentage of strategies, leads, and creative are being approved, and that means the affiliate makes more money in the long run.
We recently partnered with renowned industry educator Charles Ngo to provide affiliates with high-level affiliate marketing training through his Leadgen Engine course. That course material is comprised entirely of white hat strategies and a large portion of it focuses specifically on Facebook ads. This is a testament to both ours and Charles belief that this approach is profitable and sustainable.
Moving towards white hat techniques makes performance marketing more attractive to new advertisers. Larger companies especially want their brand integrity to be protected and that will allow them to become more comfortable with the idea of trying an untapped marketing channel. That’s good news for everyone in the industry.
Blue Book: Are there specific actions MaxBounty is taking so as to be able to cope with whatever algorithm or rule changes that might be implemented by Facebook and/or Google in the next twelve months?
Matt McEvoy: We’ve always strived to build our network in a way that ensures our clients are less affected by external factors. Although when and how changes in the online environment may affect us can be difficult to predict, we’ve learned over time how to anticipate and prepare.
Just a few examples of this include:
- Ensuring our campaign selection is diverse in case a specific vertical must suddenly combat stricter guidelines on Facebook or Google. For instance, we recently increased collaboration with Pay-Per-Call advertisers as well as app developers with mobile campaigns. The latter has given us the ability to track in-app events and key performance indicators at in-depth levels.
- Including more laser-focused data in our proprietary software for our clients to cross reference with third party advertising platforms.
- Building strong one-on-one relationships with our affiliates so that they trust our Affiliate Managers to help them transition to different traffic sources or campaigns.
- Making technical changes to strengthen our network like re-writing our tracking and improving our API.
Things can change fast in this industry and I don’t think anyone would deny that. However, I think it’s important for networks like us to equip our clients with the necessary tools and resources to persevere when those changes happen. We’re dedicated to staying ahead of trends and changes and that’s a consistent priority for our technical team.
Blue Book: Are there actions that you would recommend that affiliates should be taking?
Matt McEvoy: I think it’s important for affiliates to remain aware that what’s working right now might not be successful one year, one month, or one week from now. There are just so many variables. I think having a focused approach is effective, but they need to continually expand on their skills and knowledge to be successful long-term. This can be accomplished by finding the right training course, mentor, or educational resource. Don’t be complacent. We’ve seen affiliates in the past become laser-focused on one or two profitable campaigns and then an outside change quickly ends that profitability. It can leave them feeling understandably lost. That’s why campaign diversification is such an essential component to becoming a successful affiliate.
Blue Book: Many people predict a recession in the next year or two. How do you think that will affect the industry and how will you respond?
Matt McEvoy: I think performance marketing has repeatedly shown its resiliency during economic adversity and I expect that trend to continue. That’s because the foundation of this industry is built on consumers’ needs. People will always have the desire to improve their health, look good, purchase a car, and educate themselves. There are even verticals that become more lucrative during economic distress like debt consolidation and loans. There will always be business available for networks, advertisers, and affiliates.
Advertisers may need to be more selective with their ad dollars in the event of a downturn, but that can be a positive. Performance marketing offers them the unique benefit of only paying for desired completed actions. This could become more attractive than some traditional advertising channels where measuring performance is more difficult.
Ultimately, we’re confident that this industry will continue to flourish as long as those within it adapt and evolve.
Blue Book: Data privacy is a major focus for legislators both in the USA and Europe. Do you think compliance costs going to increase and how should advertisers react?
Matt McEvoy: We stand behind our current compliance system that’s built around our proprietary FraudBlock technology. We’re also confident that both it and our personal monitoring is strong enough to protect advertisers and their brands if data privacy expectations quickly change. Obviously, that needs to be accompanied by a consistent desire to improve and update the technology, which we possess.
For advertisers, it’s possible costs may increase to review newly implemented legislation. We’ve experienced this in the past ourselves when GDPR was introduced. Beyond that, I think they just need to work with networks who prioritize compliance and transparency. The need for compliance and transparency was the catalyst for the creation of MaxBounty nearly 16 years ago and it is still a focus of ours today. That’s evident in us launching our first advertising tracking interface earlier this year. We understand how beneficial it is for companies to have access to granular data that reveals where and how leads are being generated.
Blue Book: What should the industry be doing to attract bigger brands, and to make cost-per-acquisition (CPA) marketing a standard part of the solution set for major brand owners?
Matt McEvoy: I think attracting bigger brands to performance marketing is accomplished by providing them with primarily two things:
- A transparent, trustworthy, secure environment that will positively support their brand.
- A comprehensive service that eliminates the need for them to spend their budget on 3rd party services like tracking.
The benefits of CPA, like paying only for the type of lead specified by the advertiser, are inherently attractive. Focus should instead be placed on quelling the specific concerns that might deter advertisers. Again, this was the exact reason we decided to introduce an internal tracking interface. We wanted them to be able to see and interact with their stats, lead data, and other campaign information all in one place. We talk to our advertisers and we truly understand just how important transparency is to them so it’s an ongoing priority for us.
Providing an all-inclusive network experience is something we are going to continue to emphasize in 2020.