The contest for Best CPA Network this year was the most competitive ever. With several networks investing big money into new technology, the migrations of support from one network to another by advertisers and publishers were more significant than we have previously seen in the seven year history of the Blue Book.
No network saw a greater increase in year-on-year support than our eventual winner, Clickbooth. They saw an increase in support from advertisers of some 35%, with the uptick in support from publishers not far behind. We have spent the last few weeks looking under the hood of the survey and talking to Clickbooth’s CEO, Erin Cigich, to find out the secrets of their victory.
The story starts with the launch of the patent-pending Clickbooth Performance Exchange and runs through four quarters of continuous growth, a 40% increase in revenue per employee and advertisers seeing 100%+ improvements in campaign performance.
In a conversation soon after Affiliate Summit I asked Erin to give me a quick overview of Clickbooth’s year:
“It’s been an amazing time for the Clickbooth team. The big thing for us was launching the Clickbooth Performance Exchange near the end of 2015. That helped to facilitate so much of our growth. It has expanded our client base substantially. The improvements in campaign performance helped drive 4 straight quarters of growth, revenue per employee way up, and pushing the daily performance of the network to scale 80% within the year. And we did all that with 95% of our business coming from CPA, just as it has always done.
“At the same time as our network was growing, the company changed rapidly during the year. We’ve moved to a new US headquarters and redesigned our European offices to accommodate our growing engineering team over there. On top of all of those items, Clickbooth closed an investment round with Centre Lane Partners. Centre Lane is a private equity firm with offices in NYC. They target companies with revenues between $20M and $500M that have leading market positions and sustainable competitive advantages in their respective niches. Centre Lane provides access to capital and operational expertise that has already supported our growth post close. We’re extremely excited about our position and our growth plans over the coming years, which include both organic growth opportunities and acquisitions of affiliate and advertiser technology platforms as well as other performance networks.”
As our conversation ranged across the trends in the affiliate marketing industry, I couldn’t resist asking Erin about what has been the elephant in the room for some folks, their history and relationship with John Lemp’s RevContent content discovery network.
“The companies are in no way affiliated financially, although we’ll always share a history. Clickbooth and RevContent share a founder, but no longer share ownership. For me RevContent is a glowing example of the power of the Clickbooth brand and the Clickbooth culture. The content recommendation network launched out of the CBCPC program and in the early days of their network there were shared resources and leadership. Clickbooth was able to leverage our client relationships to help them springboard their performance and we played an integral role in hiring and training the majority of their existing leadership.
“However, and to be quite clear, for the past 3+ years the companies have run completely separately, and this culminated with an official split in the summer of 2016. These days, our respective headquarters share a campus and we run into each other in workout classes or at Food Truck Friday. We’re happy to refer clients back and forth and we’re proud to be building up the tech scene in ‘Silicon Beach Sarasota.’ ”
How do you like to describe Clickbooth now, I asked. Is it a CPA network, a marketing agency, a performance-based marketing services company, or something else?
Erin replied, “Clickbooth directly competes with traditional CPA networks. I’d describe Clickbooth as a recognized online performance advertising leader and one-of-a-kind performance marketing exchange focused on Cost-Per-Action (CPA) and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) affiliate marketing. We specialize in generating consistent, quality customer acquisitions at high volumes through exclusive affiliate channels on native, mobile, social, email, contextual and search placements – and we have been doing it for 14 years.
“We moved fast in 2016, and we intend to keep moving. Reclaiming our spot as #1 CPA Network in the mThink Blue book survey was the cherry on top of an amazing year, but it’s just the beginning. We feel that performance-based CPA advertising should be an integral part of big brand marketing strategy. Receiving the Blue Book award, based directly on client feedback and success stories was great validation that the decisions we’ve made over the past year.”
In many ways the story of this year’s Blue Book network rankings reflects the storyline of the industry. Investment and VC companies are increasingly finding performance-based marketing an attractive place to seek high growth and returns. And as those inward investments allow networks to develop intelligent tracking and analytics platforms, the question will be whether the advantages such technology offers will cause publishers and advertisers to migrate away from technologically less advanced networks.
Clickbooth’s experience this past year indicates that the answer to that question may be in the affirmative. There are interesting times ahead.