November 22, 2011
When I first came into contact with Telly, he was a new affiliate manager with Grooby Productions. At first, all I saw was the potentially glamorous side of working for one of the most recognized companies in the adult industry. I found myself wondering if he had the chance to meet the models and performers, to attend trade shows with free passes, gifts of free porn products, etc. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that even if these perks come with Telly’s job, he’s still in a very demanding line of work.
An affiliate manager is someone who handles every aspect of the company’s affiliate program, freeing their time to concentrate on the more important things to them such as content creation, customer service, shipping as well as everything else needed done in order to run a successful adult industry business. It was his job to actively recruit new affiliates, to building an entire sales force and to motivates the affiliates to be more active. Training and consulting with affiliates is the only way to create a knock-out affiliate program.
Although the adult industry is one of the most active sectors for affiliate marketing, Most affiliates fail or give up before they become successful “super affiliates”, capable of generating $10,000 (US) or more per month in commission, leading to my first question for Telly:
Caramel: How do you keep affiliates motivated to stay in the business and to stay
Telly: Before getting them motivated, establishing a line of communication is key. All traffic is not created equal and promotional tools/ideas for one might convert fantastically while producing nothing on another. So through frequent communication, I can better understand an affiliate’s promotional methods and tailor promotions or offer suggestions to maximize their potential.
Good communication has the added benefit of allowing me to connect with affiliates on a personal level; we’re all just people with real lives, hopes, dreams, problems, and perspectives. These all affect productivity but more importantly they create a unique voice and presence that is apparent in the way each affiliate handles their own promotions and must be appreciated in order to help them achieve their desired result.
Caramel: When a company like Grooby Productions uses the affiliate marketing “pay for performance” model, meaning that the merchant does not incur a marketing expense unless results are accrued (excluding check or wire processing costs), it would seem like there’s little risk involved. But are there any potential drawbacks?
Telly: Wherever there is a financial incentive, there will always be the potential for fraud and abuse. We have significantly limited the risk by limiting the payment methods and more importantly by just keeping in contact with our affiliates while monitoring stats for red flags. Through open communication we can address issues with an affiliate’s promotions that either conflict with our terms & conditions of affiliate promotions or have a risk for potential abuse.
Some might see the time and resources used to stay in touch with affiliates and constantly create new promotional tools as a “drawback”, however I believe that what Grooby Productions ultimately does is build solid relationships, between its web sites and their members, so this same care and consideration should naturally be applied to our affiliates.
Caramel: Piracy affects your job security and I know you’re working diligently to protect website owners to fight it. Have you seen any positive recent developments to fight against piracy?
Telly: I think that fighting piracy is beneficial to everyone’s financial security, from the individual affiliates to program owners and operators. The diligence of our anti-piracy staff has greatly decreased the proliferation of stolen Grooby content across the Web and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work. Their efforts help to reinforce the exclusivity of our products and allow us to justify a price point that I know is becoming steadily harder for other niches to justify. We must always remember that members are just regular people like us who work hard for their money and must justify the cost to themselves before pressing the join button; how can a sponsor ask someone to justify paying for content while letting others steal and devalue that same content with impunity?
This mindset seems to be well received and has spurned our members and affiliates to become unofficial anti-piracy advocates, taking it upon themselves to report stolen Grooby content without any direct financial incentive. This growing respect for intellectual property rights against the backdrop of rampant piracy across “mainstream” adult niches is by far the most positive development we could ever hope for.
Caramel: How do you keep rogue affiliates in line who use spamming, trademark infringement, false advertising, “cookie cutting”, typosquatting and other unethical methods that have given affiliate marketing a negative reputation?
Telly: Again this is another benefit to open communication with our affiliates. Often they will shoot ideas off to me and I can tell them beforehand of any issues that might conflict with our terms & conditions while offering alternative ideas for promotions. Our affiliates also police promotions and send me links to questionable promotions.
For a long time I manually approved new affiliates, asking for links and questions about their promotions to look for warning signs of abusive promotions or things that might violate our terms & conditions so that they can be addressed ahead of time. I think that this policy allowed us to discourage a great deal of “rogue” promotions.
Caramel: Your work iinvolves working at the edge of Internet marketing, so you’re often one of the first professionals exposed to emerging trends and technologies. Is is safe to assume that since your field is still relatively new that the “trial and error” approach is probably the best way to describe your operation methods?
Telly: Yes, I think at times “shooting from the hip” is the only way to learn what works and what doesn’t. However I always have to ask myself this one question,“How am I bringing value the the user experience?” The most important person in this is the member. Every new idea or promotional avenue should benefit them or else it just isn’t worth the energy.
Caramel: Online forums and industry trade shows are the only means for the different members from the industry—affiliates/publishers, merchants/advertisers, affiliate networks, third-party vendors, and service providers such as outsourced program managers—to congregate at one location. Is it a job requirement for you to attend trade shows and to website owners, photographers, models and performers?
Telly: Working with Grooby has allowed me to meet some pretty amazing individuals across the industry. It was eye-opening to see how humble and down to earth everyone is, shattering many stereotypes and assumptions about this business. The meetings and connections generated by these meet-ups are all in hopes of providing more value and a higher quality user-experience to our members, which ultimately creates better retention, and more re-bills for our affiliates.
Caramel: Why do so many, if not all, affiliate managers use ICQ to communicate with
Telly: I think it’s a remnant from the early days of Internet porn. People were wary of
government intrusion and monitoring so the peer-to-peer features of ICQ alleviated some of these fears. As time passed everyone just became accustomed to it, making ICQ the adult industry’s defacto-standard method of communication. And if that’s not the real story at least it sounded good 🙂
Caramel: LOL. That explanation actually makes a lot of sense and it works for me. So, is develop an affiliate promotion center to keep all of your creatives, advertisements, graphics, articles and any other promotion items available in one place to make your program more user-friendly to your affiliates the hardest part of your job? If it’s not, what is?
Telly: While Groobybucks is the driving force in transsexual erotica, we are still a small company and each team member must wear multiple hats. My job loosely consists of creating promotional content, addressing billing issues, NATS issues, sometimes photo retouching, creating artwork for DVDs, monitoring stats, touching base with affiliates, maintaining TGirls.com, payments, generating video content for internal promotions, coordinating with other sponsors for cross-pollination promotions, and to look for new promotional avenues or ways to improve our user-experience; I guess the hardest part of my job is just trying to stay on top of it all. Post-its help to keep me organized but even the most stringent lists can’t hold up to the random issues that occur
from day to day.
The best parts of my job are the people I work with, the time spent connecting with affiliates, and the knowledge that I work for a company dedicated to providing a quality product and experience for it’s customers.
Caramel: Something tells me you were no stranger to the Internet marketing game. What
sort of training did you need to acquire to get this job?
Telly: Initially I was brought on to assist in the graphics department but when Groobybucks.com converted to NATS we needed to provide more affiliate support and my time spent with another affiliate program along with personal experience in affiliate promotions made me a natural candidate. I can’t help but thank my friend Alfred for showing me the ropes of adult affiliate promotions so many years ago. His tutelage was the catalyst for my growth in this industry and showed me that creating something for yourself is possible and profitable. For that I am eternally grateful.
Caramel: What do you have to say about the myth that since you work for an adult
entertainment, you’re practically surrounded by a harem of babes when you get to
Telly: If you walked into our office you’d probably never guess what we do. It just seems like a regular place where ordinary people crunch numbers or write reports. We show up at 9 and leave at 5, have hobbies and relationships like anyone else. It’s kinda funny to see the disappointment on people’s faces when they come in expecting Mad Magazine and get The Office 🙂
Caramel: I can imagine and I find that hilarious, especially because a few years ago, you would have seen the same reaction from me. Exactly what sort of perks come with the job?
Telly: Apart from getting to travel, going to shows, and attending dinners/drinks with people and in places not easily accessible or readily afforded to me, I also get to work with a great group of individuals. Steven’s a pretty cool boss who sees the bigger picture rather than micro-manage every aspect. The people that make up Grooby Productions is the best incentive 🙂
Caramel: It sounds like a lot of hard work and a whole lot of fun, too. Thank you so much, Telly.
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