Today I want to talk about a very controversial topic that we have all been affected by in one way or another. This topic has so many misconceptions and leaves everyone pointing fingers while few understand the bigger picture. For this reason, I want to clear up the topic and address the elephant in the room. What I’m referring to is of course the practice of CPA Networks using Throttling/Shaving/Scrubbing on their affiliates’ traffic. I will explore the main reasons networks shave/throttle and the ethical or unethical motivations behind it.
What is Shaving/Throttling?
Networks sometimes have the ability to prevent a % of your conversions from displaying in your affiliate portal reporting. Let’s say a network decided to enable throttling at 10% for your affiliate account. If you received 10 conversions that day, the affiliate portal would only reflect 9 conversions. This might not seem like a huge deal if you are running email submits @ $2.00 per conversion. This would have a bigger impact on your traffic if you are running a higher payout offer like a supplement that pays $50.00 per sale. What if you were driving 1000 email submit leads per day? That’s 100 conversions!
Where Does The Shaved Commission go?
This is where things get sticky. It goes into the pocket of the network or advertiser. I know, that sounds ridiclious but there are ethical and unethical motivations behind shaving/throttling which I will explore.
SHAVING IS STEALING – F U PAY ME
Lettuce B Real – If a network has not approached or advised you that a throttle has been enabled on your account, they are stealing from you. There is no way to sugar coat it. Not only are they stealing but it’s extremely difficult to prove it. Shady people are everywhere! Just as there are Shady affiliates out there looking to defraud networks, there are shady networks out there looking to defraud affiliates.
THE INTENDED PURPOSE
There is an actual ethical purpose for using the throttle/shave feature as crazy as that might sound.
Let’s take a look at an example.
You are sending over 1000 email submit conversions per day.
The network is paying you $2.00 per submit.
The advertiser has been taking your email leads to create mailing lists.
The leads generated by your traffic has a near immediate unsubscribe rate of 40%.
The network is paying you $800 for 400 junk leads.
The advertiser is likely paying $2.25 or more to the network for your traffic – $900 for 400 junk leads.
The other 600 leads turn out to be solid and the advertiser is able to make a decent return.
The advertiser still wants your traffic but doesn’t want to pay for the poor quality leads.
One of three things happen at this point:
-Advertiser says to turn off your traffic due to high unsub rate and poor quality.
-Advertiser offers a lower CPA on your traffic to justify the high unsub rate.
-Advertiser negotiates a throttle/Shave percentage to make up for high unsub rate.
So you can either shut off your traffic, take a pay cut on your CPA or allow them to throttle/Shave. In Most cases the throttle option is the best solution for all parties involved. The advertiser offsets the bad quality by using the throttle/shave and you get to keep running your traffic. The use of the throttle/Shave feature should ALWAYS be negotiated between the Network & Affiliate and ideally should be outlined in a signed agreement to protect both parties involved.
Affiliates always assume shaving is the culprit when their traffic sucks. When you have it in the back of your mind that a network has the potential to steal from you, that’s the first place most affiliates go when things don’t shape up for them.
Clicks DO NOT mean conversions.. EVER
Affiliates often send over 1000 clicks with no conversions and automatically point the finger at the network. This is almost ALWAYS a false accusation and here is why. Networks have no motivation to shave a new affiliate testing traffic. Why would a network shave an affiliate who is trying to test something new? The network might get away with stealing a few conversions but that’s where it ends. It would make more sense to shave someone who is doing consistent daily numbers. If you are driving 50 conversions per day consistently, you are much less likely to notice 1 or 2 conversions missing each day. In cases where you send over 1000 clicks with no return, more investigating usually determines the reason. These include bot clicks, poor traffic quality, poor landing pages and sometimes just a poorly designed offer.
Changes In Your Conversion Rate
Sometimes affiliates see a drop in their daily conversions and assume that a throttle/shave is in place. This shouldn’t be your primary conclusion. Understanding how data works is crucial when making assumptions. Depending on your current volume, this could just be a numbers game. If you are in a position that 1 or 2 conversions will put you back on track, don’t assume the network is shaving. Data sets can have highs and lows. Depending on many factors, you might be experiencing a low. Stay Calm and Keep running.
How Can I Be Sure That I’m Not Being Shaved?
It’s a small world we live in and an even smaller industry. If you are running an offer through a network, chances are you can easily find that offer with another network. Split test both offers and see what the difference is between the two sets of data.
Work with a solid network
Ask your network for advertiser data. Most networks won’t take the time to do this but there are a few that exist. Compare the network stats with that of the advertiser to rule out any shaving on the network side.
7ROI has a great reputation for transparency. We are always willing to provide click reports and advertiser data. In some cases we even facilitate a group chat between our advertisers and affiliates to ensure everyone’s peace of mind. Just as affiliates who run fraud never have long term success, networks who shave are normally short lived as well. The long term game is our focus as we try to deliver an experience that is unparalleled in the industry. We thrive on the fact that our affiliates have our trust, knowing they have full transparency whenever they ask. These moral convictions have placed us at the top of an industry full of deception. Affiliate Marketing doesn’t have to be Shady, at least not while working with 7ROI