The traditional route into affiliate marketing was always via the creation of a blog, gaining experience in growing and converting an audience, and then perhaps learning how to buy traffic. Does that approach still work?

Whichever vertical you’re working with, building a qualified audience through microsites such as blogs has always been a surefire way to drum up interest and generate conversions in the long run. However, alternative methods of promotion are always finding new ground.

Take the rise of social media for example. Ten years ago, building a following through social sites (and then converting a fraction of that audience) would have been unfathomable. Today, traffic generation on social platforms is an integral, dominating force and component of the affiliate marketing “ecosystem.”

I see more and more affiliates gravitating towards one specific skill set (for instance, maybe they’re a master of Media Buying, or they know Social Media like no one else…).

The important point here is that the affiliate marketing world is constantly evolving and that not being part of this evolution means leaving money on the table. Of course, you can still make a living out of traditional web marketing techniques, but by not adapting to the always changing landscape, you’re sure to miss out on a lot of cash opportunities.

What is lead scrubbing? Why is it necessary?

First, it’s important to understand what Lead Scrubbing is. As with any sponsor or CPA network, paying for leads has always been a calculated risk exercise based on a cost per acquisition target.

Of course, we cannot pay for fake leads or totally unqualified ones that were generated by misleading the user (for example). These cases just cast a shadow over the real efforts of the numerous skilled affiliates that are promoting the same offer. Indeed, without lead scrubbing the value of each lead strongly decreases and so does the payout of the affiliate.

Too often, one of the biggest misbeliefs that some affiliates have when they hear the term “lead scrubbing”—they think it’s a network shaving or stealing leads from them. This couldn’t be a bigger misconception.

Everybody needs to understand that the value of the lead depends entirely on the quality of the traffic sent as a whole. That’s why some providers just won’t pay for some leads coming from certain countries for example. We understand this fundamentally as a CPA network, and not for one moment have we ever thought that a provider – when they don’t pay us for our affiliates’ leads – is stealing from us when they don’t pay us for the leads they don’t want (or simply cannot accept) for the aforementioned reasons.

It’s as simple as that: unqualified leads have no business being paid for if it’s known or proven they’ll never convert or have no chance of converting. It would be a total waste of money on the provider’s part… and it would have no business being called performance marketing.

At the end of the day, it’s in everybody best interest to attract the best traffic possible for the provider: the more sales that are generated for them, the more valuable the lead becomes… and the higher the payout the affiliate stands to receive!

What’s the easiest point of entry for a small merchant wanting to test the affiliate marketing channel? How much does the merchant have to put at risk?

I would say that approaching a CPA network is the best option for a small merchant: it’s the best structure to test traffic and to put the merchant and some skilled affiliates and/or media buyers with adapted traffic in contact.

Indeed, CPA Networks usually have many more offers available than what you see on their platform for numerous reasons, but two of the most apparent ones are: not all affiliates’ traffic is of the same calibre—and some offers are so exclusive—that there are caps set in place and only those with proven qualifying traffic are eligible to promote, in addition to a lineup of offers that are there to test at the merchant’s demand.

It’s usually in the merchant’s best interest to deal with people who are experienced in the affiliate & performance marketing business to best meet his or her needs without losing money. Otherwise, they become the perfect target for the fraudsters who – as we all know – are still very prevalent in our industry.

Visa’s new Chargeback policy regulations took effect July 1, 2016. Do you think that this will affect affiliates?

It certainly can, but it will mainly affect those that employ promotional methods that they probably shouldn’t have been using in the first place (e.g., methods that are deceitful or misleading in nature).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for merchants, either. Visa’s new chargeback-to-transaction ratio and the way that they calculate it definitely has merchants and programs on their toes. If the chargeback-to-transaction ratio is just 1%, they’re deemed “high-risk” by Visa and placed into a High Brand Risk Chargeback Monitoring Program.

That’s why we’re expecting to see more and more monitoring from the providers part and – consequently – we’ll have to monitor our affiliates even more closely, especially those known to use more aggressive promotional methods that could increase the risk of chargeback.

We have seen a number of networks introduce new platform features or interfaces recently. Is technology investment by networks increasing? If so, why?

One of the secrets of a network’s success is to assign a great part of its benefits on R&D. Indeed, the more tools you have to optimize your traffic monetization such as stats at a granular level or powerful geo targeting tools, the more your affiliates makes money.

I believe that THESE are the things that are truly helping affiliates achieve their conversions goals along with an outstanding support service available to answer their demands quickly.

We are living in an always evolving market. Indeed, the affiliate marketing business is expected to grow to $6.8 billion business within the next four years. CPA networks that don’t get on the technology train board will never be able to follow in the long run.

Nicolas Chrétien is the Co-founder and President of CrakRevenue, an industry-leading company in web traffic monetization. At the head of business development, Nick understands the business side of things better than anyone and knows just what a great partnership takes.  Unafraid to go against the grain, Nick has led CrakRevenue to new heights. For over 9 years now, he has redefined boundaries in the industry and has had unparalleled ambition in bringing emerging technologies to the forefront  With a passion for numbers and a flare for design, Nick has formed long-lasting partnerships that make CrakRevenue what it is today.