Adam Weiss is the founder of Weiss Digital Consulting and the former General Manager & SVP of the Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Network. Adam has more than 20 years of experience working with publishers and affiliate programs. Adam now operates his own affiliate consulting practice with a focus on the Publisher & Technology side of the performance marketing ecosystem. Adam sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss how advertisers can launch a successful affiliate program.
Today’s show is sponsored by banks.com – the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products & services. Banks.com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands.
[00:00:44] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder of Banks.com. On the show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure, told to the stories of the top entrepreneurs and executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Today's sponsor is Banks.com, the world's most comprehensive and trusted branding and discovery platform for banks and banking related products and services. Banks.com is aligning consumer core values with trusted financial institutions, bringing attention and awareness to leading financial brands. To learn more, you can go to banks, dot com forward slash partners, or you can send an email to info at bank stock. Com. Okay, our guest today is Adam Weiss. He is the founder of Weiss Digital Consulting and the former general manager and SVP of the Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Network. Adam has more than 20 years of experience working with publishers and affiliate programs. Adam now operates his own affiliate consulting practice with a focus on the publisher and technology side of the performance marketing ecosystem. Today, we're going to discuss how advertisers can launch a successful affiliate program working very closely with publishers. Welcome to the show today, Adam.
[00:02:17] Thanks for having me, Chris. Looks good to be here.
[00:02:19] Absolutely. And as I was reading that intro, I said, Adam has more than 20 years of experience working with publishers and affiliate programs. And by the way, I think that's about as long as this business has been around.
[00:02:32] Like, I don't think it's been around more than 25 years in total.
[00:02:36] But I think I'm close to 20, I guess.
[00:02:39] So from the beginning. So this is going to be a good episode. And a good friend of both of ours said you should come on the show. And, you know, I think Brian over at TUNE him and I had a spirited discussion about affiliates and tracking an affiliate marketing, which was awesome. And, well, we're going to do it again today. So before we kick this off, though. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.
[00:03:07] Yes. So I'm a New Yorker through and through. I grew up here.
[00:03:12] I'm in the Hudson Valley in New York State, too. If you don't know, that's about like, you know, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes north of Manhattan. But I grew up in Rockland County, which is on the western side of the Hudson River. I went to school upstate New York and Buffalo, New York. Underrated place. In my my opinion. My biased opinion.
[00:03:36] I agree 100 percent.
[00:03:38] Europe state also. That's right. That's right.
[00:03:41] Buffalo. Rochester. But, hey, I heard they have good buffalo wings there. That's a little bit of softball, but whatever.
[00:03:47] Well, well, we made the rotor man.
[00:03:49] And people know we made the road trip all the time to Rochester for the garbage plate at Nikolaos, which we can probably do a whole separate podcast talk.
[00:03:56] Good. We couldn't get CS on. Monroe Avenue has a garbage play as well. For those of you that are interested, just saying that.
[00:04:04] Is that L.A., right?
[00:04:06] No, that's Rochester. Monroe Avenue.
[00:04:08] OK. OK. I don't know the address. It was a long time ago, but I know there's like three new cars there.
[00:04:14] The Philly affiliate and digital marketing universe has created old men out of us.
[00:04:21] All right.
[00:04:24] But yeah, I went to school up in Buffalo. Loved it there.
[00:04:28] Came home, was in Manhattan for 10 years and, you know, got my start in the digital world in the late 90s. Work that 24/7 media, which at the time I worked on like a small site publisher network Soup to Nuts. And I was just I had no idea what I was doing. I learned a ton, though, work with such great people. And then from there, I worked at about dot com for a little bit on. Oh, yeah. Publisher side business. They had a another publisher network within about Hot Springs, and I was a keen textual based ad network, but there really wasn't much in terms of technology at the time. Yeah. Kind of more category matching of ads to publishers. And then from there I landed at what was lunch chair and got my start in the affiliate world. And then my, you know, on the personal side was living in Manhattan and eventually, you know, got married, had kids follow the script and moved to the suburbs right back to the suburbs.
[00:05:35] I'm in Westchester County now.
[00:05:36] On the other side of that, as you get a minivan, did you get an odyssey or did you get a Dodge Caravan?
[00:05:42] I I appreciate the question, but I read I refuse to get a minivan. And that was like through the high line, like, you know, we got the SUV and then we realized we had the SUV with the third row. Yeah, but I refuse to get the minivan if I ever do. You can just steal the keys and driving in the river.
[00:06:02] Oh, you know what? You know what I wanted to do? We refuse to get one, too. But you know what? I wanted to. They are quite nice. I've seen so. Well, I. But they are. They drive them sheepishly. Although maybe it's the new generation. Maybe that's OK to drive those things. But what I wanted to do was take a minivan. Have you seen that show Pimp My Ride.
[00:06:21] Like from back in the day in and day out.
[00:06:24] I give them give those guys a minivan and just have them just completely pimp it out. Big, big wheels, you know, lift kit. Hit the windows, do crazy kinds of TV's and sound system. Would you still not drive a minivan?
[00:06:44] That's interesting. I can't imagine they didn't do that. I got to think they did.
[00:06:48] I live in L.A. You lived in New York for your whole life. So maybe what we should do is a follow up to this show is find one and bring that person, bring that human being on. Hopefully he's like an ad with like three snot nosed kids. Tell us all about why he did this to his minivan.
[00:07:07] Well, I yeah, I think about like, we're gonna away off topic real quick. Like you ever go to a tailgate at a football game, you see. Absolutely. These vans that have like flat screen TV is on the inside and the outside. So I guess maybe it's kind of sort of having somebody have, like kitchens and it's crazy.
[00:07:22] Yeah. Yeah. So now you're talking about, like, that big Mercedes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Kind of surf mobile out here to surf mobile to Campbellsville out there. All right. So no minivan. You move to the suburbs and you're working for Lync share. Right.
[00:07:39] Back in the day. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So I you know, I kind of would would put my career at Atlan, share slash racket's and I'm kind of three buckets. When I started, you know, I started as I was an account manager, a publisher, account manager who's a very small team. And, you know, essentially over the course of a few years built out that team, built up and built out that team. And really kind of what I think I took ownership of it. Right. Like, there's a big opportunity. It was underserved part of the ecosystem. I had a real interest in it. So that was kind of the first part. Second part was doing more. You know, at that point, I understood the ecosystem really well and did a little bit more on the what we called product strategy. Looking at other potential strategic partnerships, I was fortunate to be in, you know, a little bit on the peripheral of some corporate development work that we did in acquiring some businesses that led us to be a business that had multiple PNL. And then kind of the third chapter of my career there was running one of those PNL. So they were OK. We've got all these different business units like you fill it. One is yours.
[00:08:47] Let's talk about let's talk about what a publisher account manager does, because I know you build and manage teams and you have done this for literally over 20 years. I talked to publisher account managers all the time. But what is the real idea there behind what their role is? What are they supposed to be helping us do? Because this is what your firm helps people do, right, is get this crap in order. So it's supposed to be doing well.
[00:09:14] I think there's kind of two ways to look at it. Right. There's a publisher account manager at the network. Yeah. Like working for the middleman. And then there's the account manager at the publisher. Yeah. There's probably a little bit of overlap. But if that network, you know, our job we had we had tens of thousands of publishers. Right. And we have all these great brands and retailers that work on the platform. And why do people choose to work in affiliate marketing space? The technology is great. And, you know, the payments and the tracking it all up again to the day. They want distribution. And want have the publishers. So the publisher, account manager, like, we needed to understand who are the publishers? What did they do? Had they drive traffic? How can we optimize with them? You know what's meaningful to them in terms of the audience that they're speaking to and the advertisers that we can potentially bring to them. And once you kind of know who your publishers are, the value prop that they bring, you know, it was our job then to make sure that the account teams on the advertiser side understood. You know, being a network, you've got to have the two sides there. So at a high level, our job was really to understand the network and how they were different, too. It's real easy. You can look at like five publishers with maybe coupon and the name when you really dig in. There is there's differentiation there, whether it's the audience, how they drive traffic, you know, demographics, whatever the case may be. But you've got to ask those questions and understand.
[00:10:43] So this isn't. So this is it. And when you say network and just so our audience knows, a network like Link Share, which was one of the original networks along with Commission Junction. A lot of these companies have changed hands a lot of times, but bought, sold absorbs, whatever you want to call it. But I mean, this network is just a marketplace full of offers. Right. Whether they be, like you said, coupons, they could be commerce. They could be financial related. And all these publishers and all these advertisers gather on this network to create this ecosystem of transactions. Right.
[00:11:26] Yeah. Essentially, this is where I wish I had a whiteboard, which can't do that on a podcast.
[00:11:31] But like I, I tend to think of it like the network. You said it great.
[00:11:37] The network is like this interchange in the middle. There's some key parties. Right. You've got the network. You've got the publishers on one side, the advertisers on the other. You've got the consumers that the publishers are bringing in and sending to the advertisers. And in some cases, you also have the service layer that the agency layer, which helps the advertisers essentially build strategy and execute on their affiliate business. To your point, the network is where everyone kind of meets. So we say like think about it. There's so many publishers out there and there's a lot of advertisers. If all those partnerships had to happen one to one. Right. If I'm Adam's publisher size and you go on Craigslist publisher sites and we want to call you know, we want to work with Macy's and Wal-Mart and Target. And Ari, I like think about all those one conversations you have that not happen. Right. It's it doesn't scale. The networks provide scale. They provide efficiency, because there really is you know, there's call it can be like, you know, big networks out there. And there's a couple other smaller ones and niche ones, etc. But that makes it a lot easier to manage those relationships, the relationships with the publisher and the advertiser or strategic partnerships. How do you make that happen in a scalable and efficient way? Now, leveraging the networks. Right, because they handle everything from an unbiased right. I worked for a long time. But like, they handle the tracking, all the plumbing, essentially the handle that that plumbing, which was one you know what I heard you and Brian actually talk a lot about and it couldn't be more spot on there.
[00:13:17] So if we wanted to let's hypothetically say we wanted to go out because we know a lot of people, we have a lot of relationships in a very defined space. Let's call it a vertical. Maybe it's commerce. And maybe it's not just commerce. Maybe it's, you know, men's hats. We are the platform for men's hats. Right. We go out, we find all the publishers that are selling men's hats, who are all the advertisers that are selling men's hats. And then we go out, we find all the publishers or all of the writers or all the people that have blogs that are writing about how to buy a man's hat. Right. And in theory, you and I could actually bring everyone together inside of Iraq who 10 or we could bring everyone together inside of a two, maybe even or a commission junction or any of these. And we could build we could basically just be sales and marketing people. We could bring it in the network and hook them up. Is that accurate?
[00:14:21] Essentially, yes. I mean, essentially, it's all about finding the right distribution. The beauty of the network is, you know, if you're a publisher and you spend your day writing about men's hats, that's great. And you find this advertiser on a platform. Right. The benefit for the advertisers of a network is that you leverage everyone else's ability to recruit publishers, meaning, you know, men's had advertiser. One brings you in. And then number two can work with you. But here's my bring in my site. And then one gets the benefit from that. So it's kind of like everything that network. It's the network effect right now. Definition of it.
[00:15:02] That's interesting. I never really thought of it that way. It does make it's more than just that marketplace where everybody knows to go. There's all some built in network effects to the marketplace. So you're cranking along. You spent a lot of time at Rakhi ten. You know, you got into you you're actually the general manager and SVP there for for a while. Could you give us maybe two or three things that you thought, oh, man, this stuff and forget 10. Let's continue to talk about the business as a home. Oh, these are the things that affiliate networks, whether it be tech or whether be deal making or whether it be service or support or tracking, whatever it may be, you're their tours re things out. We do really well and not you can never get this done. If you go by a Google ad, right? Stuff like that, and then maybe two or three things that you feel like maybe the industry's got a bad rap. Right. It's just you'd have to be an insider to know that some of the things that you read in the trades are not true or the way people feel about affiliate marketing or partnership marketing. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of this space?
[00:16:15] So I think it's a good question. I think on the advantage size. It's like we just talked about, it's the scale, right? It's you. I mean, you meet and we want to form a partnership.
[00:16:26] What do we want to figure out like. Right. How we're going to track it. You're sending people to me and then, you know, this SKU has a different margin than this SKU, and I've got to track that differently and pay you differently. And then on top of that, I've got to send your report straight. And then once we figure that out.
[00:16:43] Now you get a payment and back into work and I'm in the country or whatever the case may be. So I think the ability to have that built in infrastructure, for me, it's essentially what we call affiliate marketing. But at the end of the day, to me, they're strategic partnerships. Right. Now, you know, and how there's so many deaf people out there and partnership people out there. Right. And you have this wonderful infrastructure that's already been create a few to manage all your partnerships, just like, hey, go on.
[00:17:15] I've signed up with RACQ 10 or I've signed up with Commission Junction. Chris, just go in there and, you know, checkbox the terms and conditions. Your payouts are in there, you're creative is in there, that you can be off to the races as fast as you want. So good luck with that, Chris. Right. In its Yes. Manual. So you get automatic access to distribution. Some some some deal making efficiencies and contractual efficiencies and also technology efficiencies. Those are the positives. Are there more positives or should we.
[00:17:50] Yeah, I think yeah. I mean, I can I can go on. I'm a I'm a total Holmer like for the industry.
[00:17:57] But like the other thing I think that's really great is, you know, if you're starting out right and you've got, you know, you've got this idea and you know, maybe there's some money behind it, maybe there's not. Maybe you've built an MVP and you want to partner with, you know, big brand big box retailers or big brands. Right. I would tell people like if you're starting out, you're going to call up, you know, Nike, let's say, for example, or whoever I like. You know, they're great folks. But like, I know they could take your call or not. Whereas you could just go into I think I think they're on commission junkie. You go into the commission junkin platform and like join the program. And there's just this dossier on you as a publisher and what you're doing. And now you have the you essentially have the ability to build a relationship, you know, from scratch rather than starting. I like we're talking about before just being on everyone's on everyone's door. So I think for folks starting out who are looking to create value for consumers in terms of, you know, e-commerce. Right. Better technology solutions to shop online, making people's lives easier to get to those brands and to those retailers. Again, like here's like rather than trying to figure out who I have to call out a brand, I've got it all right there in front of me for the most part.
[00:19:17] And you're right, this manual, it's one to one from the partnership perspective. That's what I think is also a benefit. You said has it differ than, you know, a traditional display ad like a lot of. And I'm not an expert on traditional display, but it seems a lot of it is. You know, there's kind of like you don't know what's going to show up next from now.
[00:19:35] Herbert would fill it. You know exactly what's going to show up next. You've had a conversation with the brand manager of the marketing manager, whoever owns that budget, and said they said this is these are my goals. And you say this is what I can do, real strategic partnership together. So I think that that is something that, you know, sometimes people don't really think about when they think about affiliate is this ability to have this access so quickly. So some of the world's two deals are the world's largest retailers. I mean, Amazon has this program.
[00:20:05] You know, these big, big brands and retailers have programs that you get access to, whether you're building something that's, like I said, how they funded or if you're just right. And, you know, Chris Hat blog, you saw something cool on Nike or Macy's or whoever it is you have access to that, you know, provided they accept into the program. But it's a lot easier than, again, if you go on knocking on doors.
[00:20:25] Is it is it? I mean, I would think that there's a lot of very large. Influencers out there with large audiences. I would think that they would be able to go to any affiliate network, plug in, go search for offers, plug in and be off to the races quite quickly. Do a lot of these really big influencers do that? They have affiliate programs or they do something different because influencer marketing is different. Right.
[00:20:52] It's a mix. It's a mix. So it depends on if they're featuring products on site. It depends on how they decided to monetize the site. Some of them do get access to brand dollars. I think it depends on also where the budget moves on the advertiser side. So, you know, coming from there, their branding department, it could be more of a PR strategy with influencers. But that's one of the things in terms of trends in the space, like bloggers and influencers, like taking off in the space. There's been a lot of tools built around supporting them as well to grow that distribution and the affiliate ecosystem as well.
[00:21:26] Got it. So it sounded like the kinds of budgets that. That you get access to or that publishers would get access to from the brands or the advertisers, it sounds like this is more of an accountable, performance driven bottom of the line, not top of the line.
[00:21:47] You'd mentioned brand, dollar, PR dollar. This is not that, right? Like, where does this budget come from for sales and stuff like that from the brand budget?
[00:21:58] So, I mean, it's going to depend on who you're dealing with. A lot of times it is. Most of the time it's the performance, budget, performance, marketing budget. But I've seen instances where no affiliate has been tasked with getting eyeballs and getting rich. And so there's dollars pushed into that particular budget. You know, on an advertiser, on the advertiser side. So they're all they're all different. It depends on what their you know, their objectives are, I guess, at the time. And if they see that they have success because they get access to those influencers, what, through affiliate or maybe most some dollars there and maybe it's more top of funnel stuff.
[00:22:37] Yeah. What do you think? Because you're more on the publisher optimization side, right? I mean, obviously, you have to think about the whole network holistically, but your particular expertise is leans in. More on the publisher side. What do you think are some of the things that are gotchas that publishers do or things that they should work on more to do a better job?
[00:23:01] Great question. And it kind of you know, I think, by the way, this is a selfish question.
[00:23:11] It's like, you know, I own and operate Banks.com, like, how could we do a better job because we want to make more money. We also want to take care of our our customers, both on the consumer side. Those are customers technically total. We want to take care of our customer customers, which in the B2B sense would be our advertisers. Right. But we're working with the networks and we're working with everyone, like, how can we be the best publisher that we can be?
[00:23:40] So it's not me. So it's I think you actually answered the question, right? It's in my opinion, it's thinking about the customer first, the end consumer. Right. We exist as publishers. For all intents and purposes, to add value to a consumer, whether it's helping them save money or for banks outcome, finding a, you know, a savings account at the right, you know, at the right a P, y or whatever the case may be. It could be just like content. Right. What is the right laptop to buy or the right, you know, monitor for for my laptop or whatever. Right. So there's it's about thinking about adding value to the consumer. And I think if you focus on that, you can't go wrong. Right. Because you attract an audience. You create stickiness with that audience. And then the advertisers want access to that audience. The next part to me is also you touch on, which is, you know, you're more your B2B relationships with your advertiser partners. I think it's important to think about the value exchange, not just hey.
[00:24:51] Hey, Mr. Advertiser, I need your best offer. Right? I need a higher admission rate. And, you know, just just I can't be successful without a better commission rate. OK, that's fair.
[00:25:02] But like as an advertiser, then what's in it for me? Right. Like what? Things like Tom or whoever the publisher is doing for me. And I think approaching the conversation with the advertiser from the perspective of value exchange, not just give me is important. And I think the industry is really matured in that regard. You see a lot more of that because as these publishers get so big, they truly are strategic partners to the advertisers. But I do think maybe more for people starting out to really think about what value they're adding for the consumer and then how they can harness that and create value exchange with the advertiser as well.
[00:25:39] Does it make sense, as a publisher to be, you know, affiliated with five of these platforms or Tennenbaum? I know not all them have the same offers it gets. It gets really tricky. And it gets a little operationally heavy. I know for us, we I mean, we had to give last pass because you have so many goddamn passwords to I don't know how many networks and everyone's got a network or everyone's got a back end tracking system. Do you see any efficiencies that can be gained by trying to figure out a different way to sync with all of these networks? Is there any way to get around this as there's a lot of work, man?
[00:26:21] Totally. That's a good question, too. I think it's interesting because it's like it's almost like this funnel of efficiency, right, where the networks. Provide efficiency so you don't have, like we talked about, a partner with 10000 advertisers, right? That narrows it down to call a 10 or 20 networks. So to pause there and hopefully not lose my train of thought. You know, partnering with those networks. Yeah, I think it's beneficial to partner with all of them if that's the route you want to take and have direct relationships with the advertiser partners. Right. Now, when you go further down that efficiency funnel. One of the cool things about the industry is that, you know, it breeds innovation and people recognize exactly what you recognize. OK. Even partnering with 20 folks to be tough, 20, 20 networks will be folks. There's a concept, I guess, within the ecosystem. We refer to it as a subnetwork. Yeah. And what those guys do is they kind of lasso up all the networks. Right. And they're like the super publisher, partner with the networks and partner, all the advertisers. So then you as the the sub publisher again, I wish I had the whiteboard here to clear from.
[00:27:37] But, you know, you partner with one person who has all the relationships and also has some efficiency in the sense that they have so much volume from all of their publishers that they can say to the advertiser, look, all the volume I got and actually maybe even potentially get you a better rate. So there's simplicity, potentially better rates. And the technology is typically they make it a little bit easier for the publisher she is. Now, the flipside is, you know, almost although there have been a lot of changes of late in the space, you know, you don't have that direct relationship. The sub networks have done a better job lately, providing more transparency and facilitating that. But historically, that meant that you were kind of under this umbrella and weren't really was really transparent, like, you know, Chris aside or Adam side. You know, it's just more like the subnetwork when you're looking at it from the advertiser perspective.
[00:28:34] But it's a lot. But there's not really any tech enabled middleware that brings all the networks together. So if, you know, Chris and Adam started their own firm that basically said, you guys don't want to manage all this, trust me, like you do not want to manage all this. We've created a layer that allows us both with our people and our expertize and some technology. No or of tune would do this. Maybe they have integrations with everybody because it's just I got to tell you, man, it is really hard to get, you know, 20 offers from one network and then 20 offers from another network. And then you've got to go to their platform and download the offers. Then when they make changes, some of them have wrapped, some of them don't. It's like kind of feel like there might be an opportunity to play in that space where there's a lot of inefficiency in trying to figure out all these networks there, you know.
[00:29:32] So I think the middleware that exists there is actually there are solutions, but it's it's kind of category driven within the space, meaning there are solutions like S.A.C., which will provide you with an aggregated deal and coupon feeds glass like skimming big lank genius link that will give you, again, that kind of tracking. There are solutions like affluence or economics. I do the reporting and they do some other stuff as well. So different parts of the pipes, I guess, are kind of lassoed up in some of that, would you, what you call middleware. But, you know, tying it off and then there even payment solutions out there as well.
[00:30:13] So I think that kind of helps, again, kind of move further down that funnel of efficiency when you think about it from that perspective and using folks like that.
[00:30:21] Yeah. And I think there's firms that go out and just do this. Right. It's more of a manual thing. Right. They just go out and say, hey, we're gonna take care of all this for you. So you don't have to work directly with the S.J rap and then work directly with the RACKETED rep and then work directly with the.
[00:30:39] Well, let's talk about that. Yes. I mean, that's the service side. Right.
[00:30:43] God, there are plenty of agencies out there who do a great job. And we'll say to an advertiser, you know, we'll take care of it. And sometimes the advertisers want to say and what platform they use and all that. But these are folks and some of the networks have their own in-house services team. Yeah. Right. Like where if this is like all over the place, it's like.
[00:31:03] Okay. Like the John Madden and X's and O's. Yeah.
[00:31:07] But you know what. You know what I think honestly what I'm kind of driving at is this shit's really hard. And the conversation we're having right now, we're having this conversation pretty normally. But if you're listening right now and you try to go at this on your own, you're do you do not do this by yourself because you're going to you're going to be in trouble fast. You're gonna waste a lot of money and a lot of time, you know. And if you hire if you hire people that you don't know or you don't trust and they say they've done it before, but maybe they haven't. You get on the wrong platform. You don't set up tracking. Right? Well, actually, let's talk about that. Let's talk about setup on. I don't care if you go with the advertisers side or the publisher side. Let's talk about maybe how how you guide strategically the steps that this someone has now decided. You know, banks stock. OK, let's use Banks.com. Why not? Banks.com has now decided and I have a lot of these relationships already, but I've now decided that I should go and get offers from somewhere, something like what should we do? What should we do next?
[00:32:17] So I mean, you're talking about from the publisher side. Right. Wanting access to advertisers. So I think, you know, you're in a you're in a good spot already and that you've got a domain that's pretty vertically specific. Right. So we know it's financial services related. And I think, you know, the starting point really is what are we trying to achieve here? Right. What's that goal? What we're trying to bring to the consumer. Yeah, I love that. Yeah. Right. What what are we trying to bridge in the consumer? And who do we think are the right partners for us? Based on what I've done? You've obviously you've got some existing traffic and you have history with the site. You know what works, what doesn't work. But, you know, to me on that on the publisher side now it's what's the right thing to do. We want to have direct relationships like we're just talking about with these advertisers. And if so, we now need to go set ourselves up with a network. Right. Joint the legal agreements. Look at the link structure. Get those links on our site. Right.
[00:33:15] I know there's there is when I go into some of these platforms, sometimes I have to click a button. It says, you know, join. And then I wait for them to approve me. And then sometimes they don't. It was only one time that it is that one thing. But it's like, why do you have no one to contact? Is that a pretty common occurrence at Adam or how do you get around that for your publishers? Because your job is to kind of make sure strategically that these guys are going to get connected and get distribution. Right. I mean, what happens? What happens with that?
[00:33:52] I mean, that's really harnessing relationships, man. I mean, to be honest, like what I'll do, I say I did it today with a client where we'll reach out to the networks and I'll say, hey, listen, I've got a new publisher. Yeah. It's going to be joining programs. We want you to get familiar with us. We're not we're not asking you for anything. So just listen so you know what we're doing. So when we do apply, you know, we are you know, we are we don't get caught in any filters. And also, you know, they're going to their advertisers. And again, back to the beginning, what do advertisers use? Affiliate for distribution publishers. So, of course, you want some new ones. I hope you want some new ones. Really hear what's going on for when you are ready to accept new publishers. So we'll start those conversations. And I want the networks and the platforms and the agencies, the advertising agencies to understand who the publishers are. Then I'm working with what's the value prop? And I'll work with them beforehand on, you know, positioning and their media kids and all that stuff. And I thought that I would have to learn about their business, customer acquisition, how are they different, etc. so we can bring it in. And also, like, you know, candidly, having done this for so long. Like, you know, you sometimes get a sense of we know what the advertisers are going to ask for. Right. Yeah. So how do I make sure to articulate, you know, those particular goals or KPI and say, here's publisher A right, we're launching soon or ready launch and we've got a great opportunity for, you know, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going into holiday or whatever. Here's what it is. Right. But but even backing up and get ahead of myself. I want to know, like, what are your goals, Mr. Advertiser, right now? How do you measure success? Right.
[00:35:27] How does a person want to make a measure a million dollars and two days with no risk? Awesome. No, that's I'm being a bit specious. But, you know, I wanted to ask you a question, and I don't know if you hear this from your publishers. Well, two questions. What is the size? Maybe by traffic or by vertical? I think you're mostly in commerce. But I don't know if you've done B2B Legian or Bucy Legian or. I don't know, maybe you can comment on a vertical. When is it really makes sense to think about being a publisher on a network and having any expectation whatsoever making any money? Because it is hard. You don't just create a Web site, have a thousand visitors a month and all of a sudden you're going to Jamaica, right? That's not how this works. So what is the profile of a vertical maybe in a publisher that you'll have to name any names? But what are you looking for, for success?
[00:36:23] Well, I'm looking again, I'm looking at the audience want of anything. It could be a thousand pages a day. We. A month. But if they're the right pages now, if it's an engaged consumer and it's also as the publisher, like, what are you doing? Are you building a big business? Is this a lifestyle thing? Are you an influencer? Do you have a job and you come home? You know, I've worked with publishers. I worked with a publisher. And she she used to be a consultant. And she was traveling all the time. And she found the challenges of traveling as a mom and all the so-called traveling mom. And, you know, she was she's great. And she was able to harness that.
[00:37:00] And there's you know, there's affiliate opportunity and content that she's built for for advertisers on the site. But, you know, again, everyone says they're kind of their different objective. Right. So you can have one page view or you could have 10 million page views. It's all about, you know, the conversion rate for those. Yeah. And also what you're selling at the margin is the offer that you're getting and what they're selling. So it's hard to really say this is it. But that's the beauty of it, right. Is that there's, you know, small. The big. Right. Different verticals, different life cycles of the publisher business. And you essentially, as an advertiser are creating a portfolio. You're not going to folio publishers. Again, some who have, you know, millions upon millions of users. Right.
[00:37:48] Of registered users that come back frequently. You have some who have great SEO. You have someone do a great job of sitting on Google on longtail keywords. You have some who have their own special sauce on getting customers, some who write content. And you always want to be looking for what's next. So you got the big guys. And then you always want to, like, nurture. It's like anything you want to nurture that middle tier and keep an eye on the long pouncy. What's up and coming in like you build this portfolio of publishers. So, you know, the the answer slash not answer is it depends on on so many different things. Right. It's I can't say what good analogy off the top of my head. But at the end of the day it's like what converts. And from the advertiser perspective, it's having this, you know, distributed distribution, essentially this portfolio of different publishers that you're working with.
[00:38:41] How do you how do you encourage or coach your publishers into you? You know, I'll give you an example. Sometimes I feel like if I grab offers from, you know, name your network, whatever, C.J. Rackety and whatever, I put them on my site. I'm like, OK, we get all excited about it. By the way, this is work. This doesn't use these offers. Don't just magically appear like you have to find the offers. You have to get approved for the offers. You have to read the Ts and CS. You have to grab the frickin creative. You have to find the pages that we believe are endemic or congruent with the offer and the content you did. Then you let this thing sit there on your site for a week. You send these guys a thousand clicks. You get nothing out of it. There is a little bit of, you know, psychology there that I'm sure you have to inform the publisher that, well, wait a second, guys. Like, it's there's a lot of stuff we have to do here to make this work. You have any coaching or advice for people who are trying really hard to optimize their revenue on their site and they're just having a hard time with that?
[00:39:50] Yeah, I mean, I think it's you know, I'm just a big believer in kind of test and learn and iterate. There's no no, there are a couple of of like playbooks you could run right. And tried and true stuff. And I might want to do to see does this work? Can we get traction? But ultimately, you know, you're you've got to understand, like the consumer experience on your site. Well, I think maybe one advertiser, maybe it's the wrong dose on the page. You know, maybe we're kind of barking up the wrong tree here. Right. But like, maybe we have the wrong Democrat. We were targeting the wrong demographic. I think about a lot of different things, but it's test and learn. Right. And if you take you know, if you if you're not doing it right. Yes. Thousand clicks. They don't convert and you just leave it there. That's the biggest mistake you can make. Just got iterate. Right. Sit there and you could, you know, wonder why and throw your hands in the air and blame everyone else or, you know, it's our site. Let's figure out what's wrong. There's clearly something, right. Consumers are looking for, you know, what you have to offer on banks. How do we get them there? How do we create stickiness there? You know, it's back to school shopping now. Right. We're looking at, you know, my kids. You know, they grow out of their clothes every two weeks. Like, what can help me, right? Create a better will create a better experience for me in finding the stuff that fits them. You know, help us save a little bit of money because, you know, despite the fact that my son wants, you know, a three hundred dollar sneakers, he's going to grow out of them by, you know, in two or three weeks, like what exists out there in the publisher. And I think it helped me make a better decisions. Just got to keep iterating right to the consumer and like, how do we eventually create some stickiness? And it might be that, you know, you can't be everything to everyone, but like, let's narrow and.
[00:41:31] Oh, well, maybe, you know, these retailers aren't converting, but wow, you know, in the shoe vertical or the vertical or like, we're seeing protests.
[00:41:42] OK, cool. Let's focus on that now. And then we'll build out slowly but surely if you try to go. Like what? The shallow and wide, I guess. All right. That's a very narrow and deep. Yeah. All right. You're just throwing shit against the wall at the end of the day.
[00:41:56] Yeah, no, I think we've all been guilty of that at some points in our career. You can you can go super wide, but it's just gonna take you a real long time and cost a lot of money to get there. Or you can just stay focused. I think any business book you read or podcasts you listen to for many gurus is going to tell you to stay focused. So that's that's great advice. Do you see, you know, when I was talking to Brian over at TUNE, he was like, I mean, he is the apostle for this stuff, right? It isn't so. You know, he sees this becoming, you know, much larger. If you think about the space strategically and you think about how digital advertising has surpassed TV, now, obviously it's one of the biggest channels you think about the, you know, oligopoly of Amazon, Facebook and Google. You know, they're obviously, you know, between 70 and 85 percent of all media spend, depending on how you look at it, I guess. Know, those are big ranges. Brought the numbers right from me through at least 70. They could be closer to 80. If you had to forecast. You know, consolidation in the affiliate space or partner space. Our view defined it. We're expansion. You know, it feels like it would be really hard for someone to start a new racket in as an example. It'd be really hard for something. I remember when, you know, Paire started impact. You know, he started Commission Junction. He started impact greatly. Are we going to see this space continuing to grow or what's what's your forecast here for this space?
[00:43:39] Yeah, I mean, I know exactly which eruption with frames. I agree with him. I agree with him on most things. His general practice in life.
[00:43:46] But I think I like it.
[00:43:48] But he's right. You know, then when you talk about the industry itself. Yeah. I think there's going to be expansion. I mean, you've seen iterations of it over time from the loyalty side, the coupon and deal sites to the influencers. Now you're seeing more the mass media kind of content sites out there leveraging affiliate. You have technology partners out there who are doing interesting things. Yes, I think it'll grow. I think from a network perspective, you know, there is you know, there's definitely there has been consolidation over the years, like what will happen next? I mean. It's a good question.
[00:45:31] Is sweet.
[00:45:32] These influencer networks popped up who essentially did something similar but said, here's a here's a widget or a link type that's going to help you monetize your site as an influencer. And we're going to give you some coaching and etc touch on that. So you don't have to go and join that cause, you know, the influencers, their business is fashion or cars or whatever it is they're writing about, you know, so to start then having to become a full time affiliate marketer, I mean, I think there's a benefit to that. But for them, you know, you're managing a small business essentially. So how do you scale that? Well, these are these influencer networks popped up that some of them sit on top of the affiliate tracking as well. So I think you'll see some more of that. There's a lot of those today. I'm curious if there will be consolidation there. So I think vertically and I think kind of when you think about the type of publisher of the category of publisher, there'll be some specific types of networks, if you will, that pop up. But it's all one big Venn diagram in my mind. Everything's gonna go up at the outset and everyone's kind of piggybacking off of that everyone to make it simple.
[00:46:32] How do you see any advancements in tech? Like I know you had mentioned, like when you're typing stuff in because, you know, I feel like a lot of these publishers, the writers or their creators, they're usually not engineers creating a site or are usually a creator that means or a writer or they're taking pictures or you're doing something a little bit more creative to gather that audience and entice them and educate them in some way with their capability as a human being. Do you see any. Tech that my. That's coming around the corner, I hate to use words like A.I. and Right and l.P and all this crap, but I mean, it feels like that sort of stuff is starting to become more of a reality. Do you see any tech advancements in the affiliate space?
[00:47:23] Yeah, I, I think I'm a public facade. You see them using things like machine learning and I and I use the terms as well. But like to start to think more about targeting and segmenting. I think that's, you know, that's from like a bigger publisher with the right resources.
[00:47:41] You know, you just brought something out the Google hookey and you hit the Google cookie deprecation with all the tracking. Actually, I just got a note today from Google AdWords saying that we are no longer allowed to target. And there was a list of items and they basically just said, you're done. We're not doing this anymore. I mean, obviously not that we were doing anything wrong and no one is doing anything wrong. But the world has decided that you can't chase after groups of people that can be identified in a certain way to meet the different socio economic class of of. You cannot you can't just send, you know, platinum American Express cards offers to neighborhoods and cities that look like this. You have to. So all these guys are going to be flying blind now. Do you see any of that? P.I., eye tracking, identifiable information, cookies. You see that as an impact in the affiliate world, is that going to impact you guys at all?
[00:48:51] Well, I think, you know, from a network perspective, it could in terms of how they track. But there is you know, there is there are multiple methods for tracking. And I'm not an engineer. I'm not an expert on it. But I would say, you know, there's a server to server track. And O'Brien and talked about like the post back tracking, like, you know, there's there are ways to do it. They don't rely on cookies. Right. Or it's just basically two companies talking to each other right. Through an API or something like that. And then on the publisher side, you know, if you're a registered user on a publisher site, you know, there's information that they know about you. And it's not always like I see you, I'm going to push this to you. It could also be the flip side. We're just like, hey, as a as a strategic partner to an advertiser, I know that advertiser wants to sell more, you know, hiking shoes or, you know, outdoor furniture or whatever it is. And it's starting there with that type of segmentation and targeting as well. On, you know, who your audience is as a publisher. So I think there'll be some impact, but I think there are ways around it. But I don't think, you know, from the affiliate perspective, again, you know, you have this kind of one to one relationship between partners and the consumers coming to your side are looking for something specific anyway. How do you just help them find that?
[00:50:12] Got it. So let's talk about. You're consulting practice. What kind of services do you offer? How does that work? You have. You're like strategy, advice and execution or just strategy and not execute like her. Right. How does your offering work? So people can learn a little bit more about maybe if they want to work with, you know, work with your firm on this.
[00:50:37] Yeah. Now. So. So it's a little of all it's mostly, you know, so I try to focus on the publisher side or the business. Like I was saying earlier, a lot of folks out there are great folks who can help advertisers. I just felt like as a publisher, you know. Where do you turn to if you need some experience and expertize.
[00:50:55] I have no one. A man with a love. Well, I do. Now, it's a race to get to Adam.
[00:51:06] I you know, I typically, you know, it is strategy, but also depends where you are on your lifecycle. Right. So there's a lot of different factors. But it is strategic help. Typically, it's your general business strategy within the affiliate ecosystem. And then it's, you know, things around partnerships, development, monetization, strategy. Like you said earlier, it can take a long time to figure that stuff out. Like, I'll help you grease the wheels pretty quickly once we get some of the strategic blocking and tackling does. And then I'm happy to kind of set up the operation as well, which I've done, and then even the execution to a point, depending what that is. A lot of times these guys have teams. So I kind of come in. It's like this fractional, you know, CIO, Chief of staff, S.R.O., whatever you want to call it. And, you know, here are the problems we need to solve as a publisher. Like, I need to do X, Y and Z and I'll help them get over that hurdle. And sometimes, you know, it's a short engagement, sometimes in so many engagements. I've had a very long I'm just staying on helping operate, you know, the business and get things going and keep things moving. So, you know, it's just me. Right. So you'd like to hear what people need. And if it sounds interesting to me, it's something I think I could help. You know, no matter how tactical it is, I don't mind if I think that there's real value there. And it's something I can add value for and something I feel like there's no value exchanged. Mutually beneficial. Absolutely. And yeah, that's kind of like, you know, at the high level, I think, where you try to mix in a perfect world.
[00:52:43] How long would it take for someone to to get a logit? You know, aurally positive affiliate program running is are we talking 60 days or are we talking 90 days? Are we talking a year or are we talking two years? I know it. I know it's a little bit of a loaded question. I know it does depend. But nothing that's worth doing happens overnight because. Correct. Like I tell my clients, like, well, shit, man, if I could do it for you for free and be are positive in 60 days, I don't understand why we would be having this conversation. Let's do it for myself for free. I was like, come on. So how long does it really take to build a world class affiliate program? Let's assume you've got the right product. Let's assume you've got the right team. Everything is perfect.
[00:53:36] Are you talking on the advertiser side?
[00:53:38] Publisher side and then. Yeah, maybe comment on the advertiser side. I mean, think about it right now.
[00:53:45] You know, a site like being Starcom, I would say there's got to be massive opportunity because I really philia people. We've done things differently for a long time.
[00:53:54] But there's a whole thing there. Like it's ready to go. I feel like it's ready to go. And then on the advertisers side, let's say you've got a bang in product. You've got product market fit. You sell a lot on Google and Facebook already. And then you woke up one day and you're like, I've got this amazing team with amazing products. I'm Drew. Call Adam. How long is it going to take? Like, really on the publisher side and the advertiser side, you give me ranges.
[00:54:19] I mean, I think for the advertisers side, you know, if you're not like an established brand, who's out there and just kind of turning it on and everyone knows you could take a couple of months, two months later, you know, three, four months, he's going to build your brand. You also want to spend the time to understand who the distribution partners are. Right now, they can do for you. So, like, if like like you said, like it's a ramp, you know, and it takes time because, like, you can have a publisher who's just, like, pushing your brand. Right. And they're making from sales. And that's great. But if you have another conversation to say to them, like, here's what my brand stands for, here's, you know, the type of products that sell well, you know, and I guess and here's what sells well in September or whatever, or here's what's all this I've got on clearance.
[00:55:01] Can you help me push it like then boom. Like it could ramp pretty quickly, which can have those conversations are really understanding. You got to each of these publishers, right? Yeah. Like sign to each one and really understand like what levers you pull. Based on what your goals are. So it could take a few months. Publisher side says the same thing, but the publisher say, you know, there's a big piece of like we can get you set up, like you work at me.
[00:55:24] Whatever it is, you get set up pretty quickly, join the network, you know, join the programs, get to know the advertisers, have some conversations, 60 days in a couple months. Right. But but what's customer acquisition strategy? I'm not a guy.
[00:55:38] My thing I'm not the guy who's gonna go bid on Google Keywords. I'm not an SEO expert. Like, now, that's important, too. So what's happening on that side, Steph? That's the the unknown, right? It's like, what are you doing to hit that? But what kind of investment are you making there? So, yeah, I mean, you could, like, throw it all against the wall and it could work and like you said, and overnight. But I think it would take longer because you want to have a meaningful customer acquisition plan. I mean, you look at like, you know, look at over the years.
[00:56:06] I mean, you know, eBay was a great business and then it really started to grow or honey or folks like that took a little bit of time. But, you know, to really, really hit kind of the pinnacle, it could take a couple of years to get going. Couple of months, you know, do the right things, which really hit the Pentagon really fine. Tune it. It takes time.
[00:56:24] Yeah. What would you say? You've seen affiliates as an overall part of the marketing mix. Just on some of your experience, I mean, you spent 14 years Iraqi town. You probably had a few these discussions. Is it 20 percent? Is it 15 percent? Is it 50 percent?
[00:56:41] Usually about, yes, 15 to 20 percent of AECOM is affiliated.
[00:56:47] Got it. Is that because it can't get bigger or is that because they just don't want to take the risk in not being able to control the. The distribution, because you can control distribution on Facebook, you can't really control publisher distribution, right?
[00:57:04] So control who your publishers are. Yeah, their traffic. I guess you can't control them. The right publisher. It's not the right publisher. The beauty is you can hit the button and turn it off.
[00:57:17] Yeah. Yeah. So 15, 20 percent. You see that percentage growing as an overall part of the media mix?
[00:57:25] Yeah, I think it will. Because I think again and you start to see different business models. Leverage affiliate. Right. They want to take advantage of that. The pipes that are there and get access to those brands. So, you know, one, you've got the foundational guys who are growing their traffic, still getting more and more consumers. Right. You see their ads all over the place for some of these these big guys like like RACT and Rewards or or honey. And then you see, like we're talking about these content players coming into the space and then who knows what's gonna be next. Right. It's going to want to leverage affiliates for monetization. So I think it will grow as the distribution grows as well. Yeah.
[00:58:06] Well, last question. I always end on this. I would like to hear, you know, entrepreneurs, executives, founders, if you had to give, you know, one or two pieces of advice to our audience. You know, it can be personal. It can be business related. It doesn't really matter. But you've seen a lot. You've done a lot.
[00:58:25] What do you have to say to the folks out there after we shut this thing down?
[00:58:30] It's two things. So I guess on the the affiliate side, which we touched on to really think about the consumer. I think if you focus on the consumer, you'll be successful. I think on the kind of business entrepreneurial side, you know, I never considered myself an entrepreneur. But as we were talking about before we started recording, like I started doing this two years ago. So I got a passion for the industry. And I also, you know, wanted to spend time at home. But it's a hustle. Right. And the thing I learned is like talk to everyone. That's the bottom line. I talk to everyone, like, you can learn so much from talking to people, asking questions. And don't be afraid to do it. Like, I feel like that was one of the things early on, too. Like, I don't want to bother people or, you know, take their time. But people are willing to help. I can't like there are too many people to name like who have got on the phone with me and have imparted some level of wisdom or. And now when people reach out to me, like I will talk, I tell people all the time.
[00:59:35] You know, the polite thing to do is say, send an e-mail, say, hey, Chris, I want you to meet so-and-so. Is it okay if I make an introduction? Right. You should do that for me. Don't. Just in traditionally people. I'm happy to chat with folks. I want to hear what they're up to. I want to learn about what they're doing. If I can help, I could help. And it might not be today. I might be down the road because, like, I had this great experience where I try to abbreviate the story, but spoke to someone I knew just caught up. Like, you should talk to this person who said you've talked to this person. So you started this person literally. And I think that it was like five dominoes that fell on. The fifth person was like, hey, I met this publisher. You can help him make the intro. That's a client now. Yeah. Each conversation that I had and I wasn't like it wasn't like anything worth knowing.
[01:00:25] I wasn't selling. I wasn't looking for a client. I just wanted to hear what was going on because that can only benefit me and benefit my clients who I work with. If I'm talking to people in the space and understanding what's going on and what are people's challenges and where are they winning, where are they losing, etc.. But this was like this domino effect of conversations I always go back. Is an example of how that's so cool. Like I had this one conversation back in October and then, you know, two or three months later and five or six conversations and boom, it's a really cool client that I'm working with now.
[01:00:54] So two things. Take care of your customers. Right. Or any of your consumers. If you are a publisher and you can have customers if you're beat of your consumers and then, you know, second parties talk to everyone. Don't. Hey, I'm the same way. By the way, just reach out to me if I don't want to talk to you, old signori you like. Actually, I won't do that. That's fucking rude, but I will send a no and say, hey, what are we actually going to discover or explore? You can. You can learn. You can learn about what someone's up to in ten minutes. It does not need to be an hour call. Doesn't even know a 30 minute call within ten minutes. Two people can be like, here's what I'm up to. I think this is what you're up to. Can you help me with this or I can help you with that. Oh, you can't. Okay, great. Well, maybe someday we'll have a berry seem like a nice person. Or I mean, just for now, though, right?
[01:01:49] Copper mine right there. People have reached out to me and said, hey, you know, here's what I did. And Mike, this there's someone actually just texting me before this this show. I spoke to her that she's really smart. But your mom is looking for some help and the affiliates basically stopped her. I just spoke to her. She's somebody she's good. And boom, now they're working together.
[01:02:07] That's that's it. Right. It's like you never know. There's somebody good, smart people out there. That's a beautiful thing.
[01:02:12] I just don't expect. By the way, don't expect to get some kind of referral agreement at this stuff. For those of you out there, I mean, like, just make the introductions. It'll come back.
[01:02:23] Karma man. Yeah.
[01:02:24] The time you waste trying to figure out how you're gonna get paid. Like for just going to the bathroom or moving your mouth a little bit. That is not how you get paid. How you get paid is by providing value over long periods of time. Someone will recognize that and pay you for making an introduction is not worse. That that is not how you get paid.
[01:02:44] And just being a good person to help people out. Because at some point you're going to need help, too. Right. So, you know, you'll feel like you've been taken advantage of.
[01:02:52] You know, it's important that a choice for President Fox said on that show. Talk about that. So.
[01:03:04] All right. So Adam Weiss, founder of Weiss Digital Consulting and the former general manager and SVP of Rocky Team Marketing Affiliate Network. He's got 20 years of experience doing this with publishers managing affiliate programs. We're fortunate he has a business now. He'll take anybody's phone call.
[01:03:25] So if you're not taking advantage of that, then shame on you. Don't talk to someone that's 20 years of affiliate experience. Sounds like a good guy. That's on you. Go ahead. So thanks a lot, Adam. I really appreciate your time today.
[01:03:38] Likewise, man. Great topic. All right.