Performance marketing is evolving rapidly, gaining budget share from more traditional channels while offering brand owners the ability to shift strategy quickly in response to a volatile business environment. ClickDealer, as one of the foremost leadgen networks in the world, is at the leading edge of these changes. We spoke with their CEO, Taras Kiseliuk, to find out how to survive and thrive in a changing world.
Blue Book: There is so much change in the world currently: Covid, war, approaching recession, the collapse of crypto, supply chain shocks, etc. What is ClickDealer’s strategy for survival and growth during so much change?
Taras Kiseliuk: Change is inevitable and can not be avoided so any company wishing to survive needs to keep an eye on the market and diversify as much as possible. Particular products may change, however, the processes of marketing essentially stay the same. Long-term success means having multiple sources of income from different products and services to survive any unforeseen changes in the market and consumer behavior. Diversification applies to expertise too: companies need a mix of channels, verticals, marketing strategies, and everything else, to understand what the trends are and when threats and opportunities might appear.
Blue Book: As a network that specializes in leadgen, how do you differentiate yourselves from other networks? Why should a lead buyer or publisher choose ClickDealer?
Taras Kiseliuk: ClickDealer is not just an affiliate network, we create our own products and run our own media buying agency as well. We work directly with lead buyers and that effectively allows us to create our own marketplace. We are able to create a better value proposition for both lead buyers and publishers by expanding and creating opportunities. In addition, with global coverage, we are positioned to work with international clients in every region.
Blue Book: Which verticals do you think are hot currently, and will they stay that way?
Taras Kiseliuk: Some products are evergreen. Home improvement, financial services, legal services, and of course dating and personal, these verticals are always vibrant. In addition, we see products and services that address sustainability and climate change as offering a lot of opportunity, particularly now that governments are pumping subsidies into solar, energy conservation, and housing sustainability improvements due to the energy and climate crises.
Blue Book: Many people are predicting a recession. How should leadgen affiliates adjust their strategies in such an event?
Taras Kiseliuk: During any downturn, the key is to keep your eyes open for changes in consumer behavior. Consumers will typically begin to shy away from spending money on mid-tier brands and services, seeking out bargains. However, it is important to remember that just because there is a recession, it doesn’t mean that consumers will stop eating, fixing their homes, selling and buying properties, and needing financial services. The nature of these services may change, for example, demand may switch to smaller mortgages or debt refinancing, but life will go on. As an example, during COVID there was an explosion in demand for home improvements and property renovation. We were able to catch that trend and built products around home renovation that remain very successful in the market even now the work-from-home craze has cooled down.
Blue Book: Social media channels are changing rapidly as TikTok starts to dominate and Facebook declines. What do you think are the most important trends to be aware of?
Taras Kiseliuk: We believe the rise of TikTok offers many exciting opportunities, as does video advertising on social media more generally (on Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, etc.). You can do a sales pitch and an entire product/brand narrative in a video and avoid any prelanders. It improves customer retention and increases conversion rates. We often recommend that people should get into video promotions to maximize campaign performance. Very often the creatives can be used across multiple platforms so it makes scaling easier.
Cost per acquisition seems to be higher on TikTok than on Facebook, but TikTok’s audience and reach are growing like crazy. It is capturing the attention of the next generation which means that the opportunity for good video advertising is immense. The difficulty that can arise for companies trying to get started is that if you are not working via an agency account, it is possible to get suspended and lose money that is on the account. Experience counts a lot which is why we suggest that advertisers talk to us to discuss their needs.
Blue Book: Google has opened up its Performance Max optimization platform to smaller advertisers in the last few months and there is talk that Facebook will likely offer something similar soon. What is your take on these kinds of a black box, auto-optimizing ad platforms?
Taras Kiseliuk: I’m always in favor of whatever helps to lower the cost and improve optimizations to save advertiser money. What needs to be seen is the extent to which these platforms offer genuine increases in ROI, or if they primarily serve as profit maximizers for Google or whoever. The last few years have seen many changes in privacy rules, targeting, and tracking, most of which have made the lives of marketers harder rather than easier. Hopefully, any new technology the big ad platforms introduce will provide performance increases to balance out the added complexity we all have to deal with now.
It often seems that Facebook and other big traffic sources have so much red tape that they almost seem eager to block and ban every possible advertiser. Even when advertisers run all whitehat, fully compliant campaigns they often find themselves paused by an over-enthusiastic bot. The sad thing is that the unpredictability encourages some people to cut corners and farm accounts, cloak URLs, and do whatever else it takes to run normal clean ads. Again, this is a reason that we encourage people to discuss their needs with us because the experience of what will work makes a huge difference.
Blue Book: What do you see as the most important trends in leadgen through the rest of this year and into the next?
Taras Kiseliuk: Some clear trends will continue into next year and beyond:
- Video advertising will become the norm and an increasing number of publishers will move toward it.
- More media buyers will jump on the Tik Tok gold rush.
- Top-tier publishers working via API with marketplaces and direct buyers.
- More click-to-call and pay-per-call substituting leadgen offers that have low payouts.
Performance marketing will only get bigger, particularly if there is a recession. It drives results, unlike the traditional agency model that so often provides such poor results that they have to come up with attribution models that do not represent reality. More brands than ever are now open to performance marketing and shifting budgets towards it, and I believe that will continue. The results speak for themselves, and CMOs and brand managers can not ignore reality.
Blue Book: Where do you think ClickDealer will be in five years?
Taras Kiseliuk: Bigger and better. Our team has already developed a lot of technology for our in-house affiliate tracking platform as well as for our proprietary lead distribution platform. We are now positioned to expand, offering a greater variety of lead generation services spread across a myriad of products and services, and becoming a marketplace for direct B2C buyers.
We plan to continue investing in technology and innovation, which will enable the development of new product offerings and drive accelerating growth. We feel that we have only scratched the surface of the opportunities available to us and the value that we can add to our client and publisher partners.
Taras Kiseliuk is the CEO of ClickDealer, overseeing the affiliate network’s market strategy and managing international growth. He joined ClickDealer in 2012 as General Manager to expand operations in North America and became CEO in 2018. He has worked in the performance marketing industry for over 15 years.
Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, ClickDealer launched in 2012 as a global performance marketing company that specializes in cost-per-action (CPA) campaigns, delivering high-quality and cost-effective marketing solutions for advertisers and publishers. ClickDealer ranks as one of the top four CPA networks worldwide in the Blue Book rankings.