Editorial Integrity & Publisher Control of Ads

Chris Brogan and John Andrews both wrote great posts about how you do not lose your editorial integrity just because you exercise editorial control of your ads.

Lets look at the flip side of the equation. Most networks do not want full transparency because it would harm their profit potential. Google claims to want to police the cesspool that is the web, and yet it shows ads for black hat SEO and deceptive ads that contain misleading prices which hide the true cost of a transaction. Automation promotes whatever makes the most per impression. In many cases that means promoting fraud (legal, or otherwise).

In time web users may become blind of most text ads the same way they became banner blind. And then publishers will have to fight harder to make a living. Free buys distribution, but it doesn't put food on the table. Our other sites (which take much less time and effort than this site) earn way more money. If this site didn't have a revenue engine on it, do you think I would have worked 70 hours a week on it for over 5 years? I don't.

My point is not that ad networks are bad, but if bloggers and independent webmasters want to make a living online we are going to need to get better at mixing ads and editorial...and one of the lowest risk and highest value ways to do that is to promote the things we really believe in - either create your own product or promote affiliate offers for products that save you time and money.

People that promote garbage should be policed by their peers, like Jerry West did to The Arbitrage Conspiracy:

Don’t Buy The Arbitrage Conspiracy

Don’t get sucked into the hype. It isn’t real. I was there and I walked out after 40 minutes because the material was very basic. I even talked to many people (other solid CPA marketers) who stayed for the entire presentation and they said there wasn’t anything new, it was all recycled material from past systems.

People promoting hyped up junk should be rightfully flamed, but we shouldn't consider it a crime to share good relevant offers. What would be a crime is if many of the best sites went offline because they didn't pay for themselves.

Published: December 14, 2008 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


December 15, 2008 - 6:09am

Over the past few days I have been considering a purchase of the Arbitrage Conspiracy. I know it's been hyped to hell, but please explain why you think it is "junk," and why you think people should not join...

December 15, 2008 - 4:10pm

I quoted Jerry West's opinions. Read his blog post for more.

December 15, 2008 - 7:11pm

You talk about editorial integrity and then all you do is quote Jerry West's opinion without even verifying the facts. I read his post already, that's why I was asking you why YOU thought the Arbitrage Conspiracy is "junk." And now what you're telling me is that you are simply trusting what Jerry West said without even knowing the facts yourself. I guess your motto is "trust, and no need to verify" as long as it gets your post out in time.

December 15, 2008 - 7:29pm

I don't have to buy every piece of hype to recognize it for what it is. If you read further onto Jerry's page:

Here is the problem, and one they hope you overlook. In order to get the refund and extra $500.00 you have to do two campaigns per day over the 12 weeks of the course. So if we use “normal” business hours, that is five days a week at two campaigns a day over 12 weeks, or 120 campaigns. If you test with just $100.00 per campaign, you’ll run through $12k.

Since you are a newbie, and they state right in the fine print that you will fail more often than you succeed in the program, they never plan on you getting that far.

Instead of doing 120 campaigns, you might do 20-30, which doesn’t put you eligible for the $500 back.

Not only was the refund policy shady, but even the endorsements for it were flat out bought

Are you aware they offered affiliates a 5% extra commission if they mailed twice during the pre-launch and twice during the launch? And to top it off they also offered an additional 5% for a video testimonial sharing how “mind blowing” the Vegas seminar was. That is basically buying testimonials. Personally, I’ve never seen that ever.

Did ANYONE recommend the product WITHOUT being paid to do so? Nothing wrong with getting paid to recommend something, but if the only recommendations are paid then that is not so good...especially when coupled with a hype filled launch sequence.

Also worth noting that I know a number of big players in the PPC market, and many of them are moving into the SEO market because their margins are getting squeezed. If the people with 5 years of experience and millions of dollars of ad spend under their belt are moving on then that is not a sign for sustained growth.

Also worth noting Google's dislike of affiliates. Why jump into a business model that Google dislikes, and enter the market this late in the game? That would be like trying to launch a general web directory that sells links as a business model in 2009. Some will be successful of course, but the timing is working against those models (at least relative to where it was 5 years ago).

The same timing comments could be said for SEO in general...with the exception that SEO is complex enough to have a significant barrier to entry which supports sustained profit margins for established players. Some aged sites nearly run themselves.

December 15, 2008 - 9:38pm

Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.

December 15, 2008 - 7:46pm

You're absolutely right Aaron, we encourage our publishers @ BuySellAds.com to not accept ads that don't fit in well with their site or ads for products they wouldn't try out themselves. Ads that don't make sense are not worth the extra $$$ at all. However, well placed ads can add value and credibility to a blog. Call me crazy, but it's true.

December 17, 2008 - 12:34pm

Quote Aaron: "That would be like trying to launch a general web directory that sells links as a business model in 2009."

That's a solid comparison Aaron. The CPA market is not a place for newbies, but that is who the course was marketed to. And the timing was just all wrong on this launch as well. We're in a world recession and right smack in the middle of the holidays. $2k is a lot for people right now.

And now the launch of the course has been delayed until after the first of the year. $10 says it was delayed because they didn't have the first module written yet. Ask yourself this, why didn't Aymen give a demo to all the top marketers in Vegas on how easy it is to find a market, find an offer, drive traffic and collect the money? That's because it isn't easy and he's not pulling the profit he claims he is.

I asked that question in Vegas and was told "no, he isn't going to show a live campaign due to competitive reasons."

There are so many things wrong with that statement.

Jerry West

December 17, 2008 - 6:08pm

"no, he isn't going to show a live campaign due to competitive reasons."

If he can't show ANY of his campaigns for competitive reasons then...

  • why create a hyped course about the topic (if he is actually afraid of competition and doing as well as he claims, why teach eveyone how to compete with him?)
  • how sustainable is the business model (maybe that is why he tried to cash out with this course of his)

How hard would it be to show an older campaign that has since expired and use it as a test example? Even I have done that with PPC stuff in our member's area (though I don't focus heavily on PPC, and part of why it returned high margin results was I did brand bidding when I was not supposed to...but that deal only lasted about a month until the affiliate offer was pulled from the market...and within only 2 weeks someone stole my ad copy and started bidding up the prices to essentially kill the margins).

December 18, 2008 - 3:08pm

Great points Aaron.

According to the sales copy, the reason why he is releasing this information is because he is going to start his own CPA network and wants to fill it with affiliates.

Running a CPA network isn't easy, just ask Keith Baxter. Most of your time is spent battling fraud, but think about it. If you were going to start a CPA network, would you want a bunch of newbies who are still wet behind the ears in CPA? Or would you want to get people who are making $100k+ annually and teach them how to double or triple their earnings with your techniques?

It's a no-brainer, right?

In other words, why market this course in this fashion? Here's how I would have marketed it:

- Charge $25k for the course (personally tutored by Aymen)
- Upon hitting $25k in commissionable earnings, they receive their $25k back with a two year agreement in Aymen's network.

This way, you only get serious applicants who have a proven track record in CPA. Newbies won't join because the price point is too high (which is the intent) and you end up working with a few dozen instead of a few thousand - thus allowing the program to be more successful.

If the goal is to build out a network, this is how you do it. You don't stock it with newbies. The reason they sold this package without an ounce of real proof of the $100k a day for $2k was to work on people's emotions and give them hope in a market that many are getting out of as you pointed out Aaron.

This maybe the most refunded launch ever.

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