To Scrub, Or Not To Scrub

For those of you that don’t know, a scrubber is a piece of code that is added to a website to stop a pixel from firing.  Scrubbers are exclusively used in affiliate marketing.  Scrubbers essentially allow advertisers to receive an affiliate sale without having to pay for it.  Hence when the pixel fires advertisers pay.  When the pixel doesn’t fire, advertisers don’t pay.  One way to stop a pixel from firing is to use a scrubber.

The other day an advertiser I’m working with asked whether we should add a scrubber to his offer.  This advertiser comes from the affiliate world, where paranoia of scrubbing is rampant.

If you’re an advertiser that’s worked with an affiliate network then you’ve received “the call”…all of a sudden your offer is converting less than the day before and your inbox, aim, and phone starts blowing up with an affiliate manager asking you “what’s wrong with your offer.”  What’s wrong with my offer?   Why don’t you just cut around the bullshit and ask me straight up, did I add a scrubber to the backend?

The fact of the matter is that very few advertisers know how to use scrubbers, and for those that do, very few use them.

My thoughts are to NEVER use scrubbers.  If you need to use a scrubber then there’s something fundamentally wrong with your offer.  You have not designed an offer that will succeed from the beginning.  That’s key.   So it’s time to go back to the drawing board and take a look at what you might be doing wrong:

1.  You’re paying too high of a CPA.  Do not get bullied by networks.  You have to be willing to turn down the traffic and go elsewhere.

Can’t find anywhere else to go?  Then hold off on the campaign.  Look at a different vertical.  A perfect example is health trial offers.  A year ago networks wouldn’t touch trials at less than $45 CPAs.  That’s right, $45 CPA to convert a trial, whether it goes into a rebill or not.  Do you know what you need to do to profit at a $45 CPA on a trial?  When you factor in chargebacks, refunds, and legal expenses, it’s just not feasible to run a legitimate trial at a $45 CPA…So what happened?  Every single one of the health trial advertisers went out of business.  They either lost their mids, went to jail, or went broke.

These days legitimate trial advertisers in the health space can receive premium traffic at CPAs that are profitable: ranging from $26-35.

2.  Your offer’s perceived value sucks.  Perceived value is huge.  People go to your website, order a product, and receive a crappy looking box in the mail.  Alarms go off and they cancel.   Go back to the drawing board and create a product with high perceived value.

3.  Your offers actual value sucks.  Customers receive the product, they try it out, and it doesn’t work.  They cancel.  They chargeback.  They request a refund.  If you’re selling crap you’re going to lose in the end.  Create an offer that adds true value to the general public.  You will win in the end.

4.  You’re receiving shit traffic.  A lot of networks engage in nefarious activities behind closed doors – especially networks that have affiliate managers on quotas.  Incentivized traffic and fraud is abundant.

If you have 200 publishers running your offer it’s almost impossible to control the quality of the traffic.  It only takes 1 publisher to start pushing bad traffic and you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble.   Strictly control the traffic to your site.  Utilize trusted networks.

Jeremy Shoemaker recently created an offer that’s perfect for the affiliate space.  His offer converts.  It has huge perceived value and actual value.   A select few publishers are running it at a CPA that is making him profit in the first month.  It’s a win-win situation.

Zero sum games seldom work.  Scrubbing is a zero sum game – an affiliates loss is your temporary victory.  In the end advertisers that scrub will lose.

Build an offer that’s worth waking up to. Then scale your offer through the roof!

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.