Parker Powers of Millionaire Network tells us what it takes to grow a network into the BLUE BOOK Top 20 in less than three years.

Millionaire Network was a new entrant into the BLUE BOOK Top 20 for 2012 – an amazing performance for a network that was founded only two years earlier. During that time we at Revenue Performance have been able to see their increasing popularity via our annual survey. What has been intriguing is that while the sheer volume of publisher votes hasn’t been especially high, the average level of influence of those publishers has been. Millionaire Network may not get the most votes, but it does seem to get votes from people who matter.

Parker Powers is the CEO and co-founder. We thought we should ask him what he thinks he is doing right and what it takes to build a start-up network into a BLUE BOOK Top 20 entrant.

“From the very beginning we took the approach that you can only really add value for an advertiser if you have great publishers in your network,” he told us. “The publishers and affiliates are the key. And that’s where we came from ourselves – we had spent years as affiliates learning the business from the ground up.

“When it came to starting Millionaire Network we asked ourselves the question: as publishers, what would the perfect network look like?  What would we want it to be? Once we had worked out the answer, then we decided to build it.”

One of the interesting aspects of Millionaire Network’s model is that they are genuinely an invitation-only network. We wanted to know why they had chosen to go that route. Surely it limits the rate at which a network can grow when its just starting out?

“We began with one idea in mind. Our secret sauce if you want to call it that, except that it is not a secret. It is simply, “Quality First”. That means only good publishers and only great traffic. We have never been interested in signing up thousands of newbies or in feeding our publishers with a bunch of syndicated offers. We decided that we would rather grow slowly but with good quality as the determining factor. Quality first – it is as simple as that.”

The conversation continued as we talked about what’s involved in trying to maintain a high-level of publisher-capability. How does one go about recruiting a whole network full of what are effectively super-affiliates?

“You just have to realize that affiliates have a lot networks to choose from, so you have to differentiate yourselves by being seen as actually better. Lots of networks pay lip service to the idea that publishers are important, but they don’t follow through. We do. We work with many publishers that bring in tens of millions of dollars a year. They need a network that is totally professional, with completely reliable infrastructure and solid finances. Once you drill down into which networks can truly deliver on those requirements then you take an awful lot of networks out of contention.”

“So we understand that publishers can afford to be picky about which networks they work with. But networks should be picky too. As a network, if we accepted every publisher who wanted to apply, we would spend half our time sorting through them all and dealing with poor quality traffic. We avoid all that by working on an invitation-only basis. We do get asked about what our criteria for acceptance into the network is, and the answer is that we judge things case-by-case. But in general, we take the approach that almost all the good business in affiliate marketing is done by the top two or three per cent of publishers, so that’s the ballpark in which we operate. If a publisher can drive more than $1 million worth of traffic a year, then that’s a good start.”

“The truth is, there are probably less than a few thousand publishers total in the US that fall within the criteria needed to qualify for an invitation from Millionaire. Not all of them are in our network working on our advertiser’s behalf, but the simple truth is we have a lot of them. It makes a big difference for our advertisers because affiliates at that level of success don’t walk the floor at trade shows looking for business. Each one of those affiliates probably generates more business than several thousand newbies, but without our help many advertisers would never be able to reach them.”

That goes some way to explaining the profile of the publishers that we see in the BLUE BOOK survey voting for Millionaire Network, but it doesn’t address the success with advertisers. We asked Parker to talk about that aspect of their approach:

“We focus on building strong relationships, whether with brands, or merchants or agencies. By emphasizing relationships, we have been able to attract a lot of exclusive offers, and that is in turn great for our publishers. But it also means that we have a genuine responsibility to our advertisers to make their campaigns successful.”

So, a focus on high-quality offers for high-quality publishers, that in turn generate high-quality traffic – this is not a ground-breaking formula. Presumably then, the difference lies in execution? How about some details?

“Well, I’d like to be able to tell you more,” says Parker. “This is a good time for us and we have some real successes under our belt. We are lucky enough to be growing fast with a number of big brands as clients. The trouble is that in this business a lot of the time it’s better not to give too much detail about your successes. That’s why we use the slogan, ‘Once you are in, you’ll understand.’”

About Millionaire Network

Millionaire Network was founded in 2010 by Parker Powers, CEO, Bryan “Wiz” Wiznuk, COO, and Ronen Hamatian, CMO. Ronen told us:

“At the core of everything we do is responsibility. From Day One we deliberately adopted a very conservative approach to selecting our publishers. We are careful about the process by which they gain access to offers from our advertisers. And from the beginning we have incorporated proprietary quality-control and compliance technologies, and strict legal and accounting standards.

As a result, we now take pride in having the trust of several large, reputable brands who have chosen to give exclusive rights to us to promote their products and services via various channels. These advertisers include Fortune 500 companies with annual revenues of over $6 billion. These relationships really demonstrate Millionaire Network’s second-to-none standards of quality and the kinds of volume we can

The commitment to responsibility and quality runs through everything we do, with the goal of making a small, yet influential group of top affiliates and advertisers very satisfied. That is what success looks like to us, and it is what will ensure we are here to stay.”