GAME OVER: Affiliate Marketing Is Dead

Have you ever wondered why:

Google Hates Affiliates

Facebook Hates Affiliates

The Exchanges Now Hate Affiliates

Craigslist Hates Affiliates

Advertisers that have worked with affiliates hate affiliates.


A lot of affiliates, ESPECIALLY the talented one’s, HATE BEING AFFILIATES!!!

Who can hardly blame an affiliate marketer for not liking his career these days.  Think about it, what’s the upside?  Hop onto Offervault and do a quick search for a solid health or beauty campaign.  You won’t find one.  That’s because every advertiser that has a decent brand knows that working with a CPA Affiliate Network is almost instant brand suicide.

Think about all the other crap affiliates have to deal with:

–  Paying middle-man fees to a “CPA Network.”  That makes no sense.  If you’re a solid traffic guy then why not just setup your own HitPath or HasOffers account and go direct to the advertiser?

–  Having leads shaved by unscrupulous kids that license software and call themselves an affiliate network.

–  Losing money from non-tracked advertiser leads.  By not having direct visibility into the advertiser’s CRM to reconcile leads, affiliates lose big money.  Without direct access to the advertiser’s backend, there’s tons of money lost on leads that didn’t track.

– The FTC and other agencies are on a witch hunt for non-compliant affiliates – which is just about every affiliate out there.  I have close friends that are former FTC lawyers.  They’ve made it pretty clear that over the next few months there’s not only more affiliates going down, but there’s going to be big raids on the networks.

–  It’s now harder than ever to get an affiliate campaign approved on solid traffic sources.  Unless your cloaking you’re not getting in.  If you’re an affiliate, that must make you feel pretty bad.  The offer you’re promoting is so shady that, in a down economy, people won’t take your money to advertise it!!

–  Putting tons of work into a campaign only to have the advertiser’s offer pulled from the network.

–  The affiliate offers out there suck.  Gone are the days of $60 CPAs for selling a trial.  Sure, there’s still pump and dump campaigns going live, but they’re few and far between.

Over the past few years I’ve come to know several of the top affiliate marketers in the world.  These are guys that can turn traffic on and literally send a company thousands of new customer acquisitions a day.  With that type of talent, but with a lack of offers in the space, you might be wondering where they all went?  Did they decide to get a job selling real estate?  Or how about a gig bar-tending?

Do you really want to know??

Ok fine, I’ll spill the bag of beans.  Almost all of the “super affiliates” branched out and started their own offers.  Duh!!

It was only a matter of time before seasoned affiliates put 2 and 2 together.   By consolidating the value chain, affiliates realized they could maximize their ROI by owning their own offers.  The upside is enormous:

–  Full control over your campaign’s success!

–  No tracking issues.  If a lead doesn’t track in your system, you’ll still own the lead.

–  Higher margins.  No middleman affiliate network to pay.

–  Data monetization.  You own the customers leads, which presents a plethora of opportunities to maximize the CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).

–  Longevity.  You can rest assured that your campaign won’t get arbitrarily pulled by an affiliate network.  There’s no worse feeling than spending months building creatives only to have a campaign die out on you.  No wonder affiliates starting using template farticles instead of creating original work.

–  Own the rights to your campaign.  Smart advertisers copyright their campaigns, ensuring that the fruits of their hard work isn’t stolen from right beneath them.

–  True residual income without the hassle.

Once you turn advertiser, you can never go back.

Indeed, it takes patience, time, and a lot of trial/error to master the advertiser game.  Most new advertisers fail.  Why?   Typically a lack of tenacity or frustration from early on speed bumps.  Those that stick it out discover that the opportunities for advertisers are limitless.  As far as traffic goes, the roof is your budget.  If the campaign is profitable, and you choose to reinvest your profits backs into the campaign, then the sky turns into the limit!

Another benefit is that you’re no longer constrained to the capricious and wanton ways of some other man’s product offer.   No sir!  It’s like quitting your day job and opening up your own shop.   The autonomy that comes with owning your own campaign vs. running another man’s campaign is the cleanest breath of fresh air you can take.

PAUSE.  Changing Gears:

We’ve covered why a lot of the top affiliate marketers out there have left the industry.  Let’s now delve into why the best offers are no longer available on CPA Networks.  I can break it down to 4 succinct reasons:

1.  Shit Traffic

Unless you’re getting traffic from a small, well managed boutique network like Ads4Dough or Millionaire Network (both are still rock solid affiliate networks), chances are that you’ll get flooded with shit traffic.

What is shit traffic?   Shit traffic comes in many forms, most notably:

–  Incent:  When a website offers a consumer something (the incentive) for signing up for a bunch of free trials.  The consumer is not interested in the free trial offer, they’re interested in the reward.  i.e.  A lot of incent affiliates will offer a free iPad if consumers sign up for 30 free trial offers.  Each free trial that consumers sign up for pays the publisher $40.  The Affiliate will profit $1200 from conversions, the Consumer will NOT receive a free iPad (HAHA dummy!), and the Advertiser’s new customer acquisition won’t rebill.  It’s a zero sum game where the Affiliate wins and everyone else loses.

–  Torrent:  This is traffic from all of those sites that offer free downloads.  The people that visit these sites and buy are typically careless folks that are hurting for money.  Instead of paying for software or getting a hacked version from a reliable source, they instead go to these random sites and take the risk of downloading a virus.  What’s an even scarier notion is the consumer who’d ACTUALLY BUY SOMETHING from a torrent site.  Let me ask you something, is that the type of customer you want?  Chances are that you’re getting a broke college student or something even worse.

–  Fraud:  It is what it is.  There’s tons of affiliate marketers out there who make a living buying stolen credit cards for $.02 on the black market and push them through affiliate offers.  Often times the advertiser doesn’t know what hit him until the bank freezes his merchant account.  It’s too late then.

I even know of a CPA network, which I won’t name here, that did/maybe still does this as part of its revenue model.  About 80% of the traffic they run is solid, the other 20% is pure fraud traffic.  Helluva way to to string along advetisers.  They keep their advertisers just profitable enough for them to keep advertising, until of course their merchant accounts is frozen.
BTW – here’s the quintissentail example of a network that doesn’t give a shit about the type of traffic they’re sending to advertisers.  We know you’re “down with any traffic.”  Let’s all take a moment of silence for any advertiser that works with this network.  May God have mercy on your campaign.



2.  Too Many Middle Men

The CPA Network, Affiliate, and Ad Network all take a cut from the advertisers purse.   That’s 3 middlemen.   By cutting the CPA Network and Affiliate out, the money that would have gone to them now goes in your pocket.  Heck, buy direct from the publisher and you’ll put even more money back into your pocket.

3.  Lack of Visibility

CPA Networks won’t let advertisers know how the affiliates are promoting their campaigns, what creative material they’re using, and even who the affiliates behind the campaign.  That leaves the advertiser staring into the abyss…what’s looking back out at ya?  It’s a scary prospect.

4.  Enlightenment

All industries go through a natural progression, and what we’re experiencing now is a tectonic shift in the way the affiliate space operates.   With the advent of Advertiser Courses  and blogs like Direct Response, advertisers are provided with the do-it-yourself tools to liberate themselves from the CPA Networks.   Additionally, word gets around pretty quickly that affiliate networks are not all that they’re cracked up to be.  Advertisers that choose to test their luck learn pretty quickly that the average lifespan of offers on affiliate networks is south of 1 year.  Compare that to traffic sources like Google and Facebook, where advertisers stay on for a lifetime.


It’s no secret that I am an huge advocate of advertisers.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great offer but not having the knowledge on how to promote it properly.   With the CPA network space on it’s last limb, it’s exciting to see advertisers taking traffic into their own hands.   Stick with it and the world is yours 🙂


Rich Gorman is an internet entrepreneur. His primary focuses are on direct response offers and SaaS models. When not working Rich enjoys spending time with his family.