The other night I was relaxing at home after work and watching a movie. I have my AIM forwarded to my cell phone in case anyone needs to get in touch with me in the evenings. So I get this text from a guy that went by “Nicky Noodle”. Check this out:
Nicky Noodle: Josh, my name is nick, I run a service for 17 networks currently, I’m not sure if getads shaves leads, however we provide a service
Nicky Noodle: if you are interested we can have you set up within 24hrs
Me: A lead shaving service?
Nicky Noodle: correct
Nicky Noodle: our system works on any platform and you can shave leads by offer by entering a %
Nicky Noodle: most networks using our service shave 15%-30%
Nicky Noodle: we recommend 20%
Me: How did you hear about us?
Nicky Noodle: When we are out of networks from word of mouth we go affiliatepaying and approch a few networks
Nicky Noodle: we never share our clients with anyone, or name names ever.
Nicky Noodle: set up time takes less then 24 hours
Me: Sorry, we are not interested.
Nicky Noodle: np
Now I’m not naive, I know that there are networks out there that shave leads. Even so, I never would have guessed that somebody has started up a 3rd party service to cater to these shady networks and provide a way for them to shave even more leads away from their affiliates. As an affiliate myself, this really pisses me off. Sort of like when Packet Stuffer came out. It never ceases to amaze me how people will try to cheat each other out of a buck instead of working together to make more money and legitimize the industry as a whole.
The most interesting part of this conversation to me was that he has already got 17 networks that are using this service. I wish I could have found a way to get his client list from him, but I felt like if I went any further in the conversation or showed any interest (just to lead him on) then people would accuse my network of trying to shave leads.
The moral of the story is this: know who you are doing business with. The best way that you can protect yourself from lead shaving and other shadiness is to build strong relationships with your Affiliate Managers and your networks so that you know you can trust them. Also, if you want to make sure you aren’t being shaved, just split test the offer that you are currently running with the same offer at another network. It doesn’t automatically mean that you are being shaved if there is a discrepancy, since offers will often convert differently across multiple networks. However, if you find that you are consistently seeing anywhere from 15-30% less conversions on a bunch of offers from a single network, run somewhere else.
I’m a firm believer that integrity will win in the long run. I hope that someday we won’t have to worry about this type of thing happening in our industry. But until then, keep an eye on your stats to make sure that you are getting paid as much as you deserve for your traffic.