We had an amazing show at the Affiliate Summit and had a chance to meet some real cool people for sure. One of the guys we met was Brian McLevis, founder of ScrubKit.com as well as his lovely wife. We spoke a little about the industry at large and a bit about his business and decided this would be a great time for an interview, so here it goes:
Brian, please tell us something about yourself.
Well, my professional background is in System and Network Administration. I’ve got a wide array of varying background knowledge – everything from enterprise corporations to small business start-ups and the like.
I’ve been hacking away at computers since the ripe old age of 13 and can still vividly remember the good old days back when I was running a single-line BBS system from my room. You see, at that time, running a BBS was considered “l33t” so to speak.
More on topic, over the last decade or so I’ve become well-acquainted with any and all angles and avenues in regards to both the Internet Marketing and Fraud/Risk Management. Currently, I’m the Co-Founder of Scrubkit.com which is fast becoming the industry standard for fraud and risk management catering to networks, advertisers, and agencies.
Overseeing the business-side of the company, I come up with all of the widely varied and creative fraud data points that ScrubKit helps monitor. Chris who is the other owner of the system is the whiz bang lead developer that puts my ideas into code and always one ups the outcome of the ideas.
How did you get you get a start in this industry?
I actually ended up getting my first taste of the Affiliate Marketing industry in late-2006 via my brother (who works at a well-known adult dating site) when he turned me onto a bot that created different accounts, sent messages and did all sorts of basic functions within MySpace. And it was all completely automated.
At the time, MySpace was still but a fledgling company and their code was, well… let’s just say that it was weak, poorly coded and full of tons of different exploitable little loopholes. In layman’s terms, it was very “spammable” at the time.
As I alluded to before, I was working as a system/network admin in the professional world at that time and fortunately, I possessed the technical knowledge to scale this opportunity and take full-advantage of it.
Before you knew it, I was running 12 servers 24/7/365, pushing 3,000 GB xfer/mo through the Internet pipes and generating 30,000 unique views a day on my landing pages. A baptism by fire my wife calls it – and it truly was. I was thrust unknowingly into the online world of making money online and the money I was making… it was astronomical and quite literally keeping me awake some nights.
What led you to get into this industry?
I’ve always had a very strong, sound technical mindset and everything just came almost second-nature to me. It came naturally. Initially, I turned it into a career of managing servers, routers, concentrators, storage area networks and architecture of small and large corporations. But when I found out about Internet Marketing and started out with a bang (a loud, LOUD bang, really) due to my highly technical background, I effectively applied what I learned during my professional career to the Internet Marketing industry.
It really was a match made in heaven, because I was able to almost effortlessly ramp up my money-making ventures in the Online Marketing world. And the rest is history.
Can you tell us something about your new venture, Scrubkit?
Scrubkit is an immensely powerful fraud analytical system that has a tried and tested track record of protecting networks from the overall threat of fraudulent activity. Scrubkit is your ultimate answer to anything and everything fraudulent in the world of Affiliate Marketing. Hands down!
We process and analyze data against our complex system of algorithms and thresholds and then, using this data, compare the network traffic using formulas and even more of the meticulously-defined thresholds. This ultimately protects your network from practically every kind of fraudulent activity out there currently.
And you can rest assured we’re fully committed and constantly busting our behinds to ensure that we stay one step ahead of fraudsters, essentially evolving as the need arises and showing them that we are, in fact, much better than them at all this. And always will be.
Unfortunately for them, they’re fighting a losing battle thanks to Scrubkit.
You can easily and conveniently monitor fraudulent activity 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year. It really goes without saying just how useful and helpful running historical, analytical and trend reports on all of your affiliates – or even just a select few – can be.
Thanks to Scrubkit, it can now be at your fingertips whenever it is that you need it. You’ll have complete control and – perhaps most importantly – the peace of mind that comes along with knowing the traffic running through your network is clean and not infested with fraud.
The outcome is a product that allows you to sleep better at night — which is something that’s likely eluded you thus far as a network owner. Scrubkit never takes a day off so that you finally can.
How is it different from the other similar services that are available?
You’ve most likely seen or heard of some of the other companies in the fraud management space as it’s increasingly becoming more and more popular. What truly separates us from the pack however is that we provide you with a self-managed analytical system that quite literally provides you with the raw data and technical details that are most useful to you. We’re also entirely transparent, so not only do you see where the fraud is coming from specifically, but you also see what kind of fraud it actually is in addition to how it was identified.
Unfortunately for our competitors, they only offer a “risk score” and simply tell you that it’s fraud. They don’t tell you why or what led them to come to this conclusion as they don’t disclose details of any kind. Why? Hey, your guess is as good as mine!
We also actually take the time to train and educate you to use our system effectively in order to help ensure that you have a solid understanding of everything that’s going on and the wide array of tools at your disposal.
The amount of data points we monitor in regards to your network’s web traffic is extremely extensive. And even though our system is very robust, it’s incredibly simple to use. Instead of sifting through the data on your own and trying to find what you’re looking for, textual alerts are trigged on pre-defined thresholds and risk is identified for you via conveniently highlighted color codes based on their severity.
Do you see this making a big change in the industry?
Let’s just face the unfortunate facts. This industry, unfortunately, is positively inundated with fraud and it runs rampant everywhere and at all times. It’s like a virus that won’t go away and just seems to keep multiplying. And it’s only getting worse as fraudsters evolve and become craftier than they were in the past.
There are actually advertisers out there who don’t even know how to manage fraud so they simply ignore it. And then, consequently, they spend a significant portion of their yearly online advertising budgets on the fraud that they ignored via their lackadaisical efforts.
It’s just sad. It’s sad and it gives the industry a bad name and puts a bad taste in the advertiser’s mouths. And in my mouth as well. I hate fraud with a vehement passion that I’ve harnessed to help fuel the creation and continued evolution of Scrubkit. We’re all extremely passionate about combatting fraud here. I mean, you have to be!
Thankfully, Scrubkit is helping to solve these problems by providing everything that is needed to effectively and completely manage risk and fraud. And it’s so simple to use because it’s extreme robust and flexible, enabling you to virtually eliminate fraud in real-time.
I’m not one to brag or make extravagant claims or anything, but the fact of the matter is that Scrubkit has become the industry standard in regards to fraud and risk management.
It is THE system that all other systems will be judged by and we’re constantly working to evolve, update and strengthen the infrastructure so that it’s only going to get more and more amazing as time goes by.
In 2009, the affiliate marketing industry was plagued by $1.9 billion in fraud. Will we see this number going down with Scrubkit?
As more and more networks, advertisers and agencies recognize the need to come on board, yes, you’re going to see a reduction in the fraud totals within the industry — a drastic reduction, actually. Mark my words!
You’re going to see bigger brands that traditionally shy away from the CPA networks start warming up and jumping on the bandwagon testing the waters. Namely because said waters have, theoretically, been cleared of the vast majority of sharks that were formerly littering that landscape.
We’ve even had some advertisers who’ve joined up with us mention that they want to eventually make it a requirement that Scrubkit be run by any networks who they work with. Before they’re even allowed to run any of their offers!
Essentially, we’re changing the industry – and for the better. It really is a win-win for everyone, save for the fraudsters themselves and, of course, our competitors.
How have things changed in Affiliate Marketing over the years?
I think that the biggest change is the sheer amount of networks that pop up and think they’re going to stay afloat without effectively arming themselves against fraudulent traffic. They’re completely unprepared for what they’re up against and this is arguably the biggest reason so many new networks fail to even make it off the ground.
It’s like these people think that running a network is so easy and that it’s a surefire way to make them mountain loads of money.
As most knowledgeable people within the industry know, running a network is not easy. It’s not even close to easy. In actuality, it very well may be one of the most difficult business ventures you can undertake not just in the Internet Marketing realm, but in the entire world of business as a whole.
If you’re running a network then you’re going to experience roughly 90ish% of fraudulent signups. And if you don’t have your vetting process down to an exact science then you’re going to let these people in — people who are literally going to end up costing you quite a bit of money. They’re going to wreak havoc and cause you a lot of heartache, stress and strained relationships with your advertisers.
Another thing that I’ve noticed personally is the level and advancement of fraud is (unfortunately) increasing every single day. As much as we like to paint the picture of the average fraudster as being a straight numbskull, the fact of the matter is that they’re getting smarter and are constantly coming up with new ways to try and fly under the radar. It’s almost as if you can see the similar patterns of fraudulent sign-ups in waves as if they’re trends. I mean, they practically are trends.
Again, the good thing about Scrubkit is that we’re constantly doing whatever is necessary to stay one step-ahead of these guys so they won’t have a chance against our system. They may be becoming cleverer over time, but you can rest assured that they’ll never be as clever as we are. It’s just not happening.
We have a lot of clients using the system that provide us with feedback on issues they’re personally facing and so we work on coming up with a solution for those issues. And that solution not only helps that particular client in question, but every Scrubkit client. It really is a team effort!
Usually networks Google an affiliate and gather data, will ScrubKit help get more data on the affiliate and their traffic?
Google is a great tool to use for a search engine, but isn’t very useful to find out if a particular portion of traffic is fraudulent.
Again, Scrubkit processes and analyzes data on an individual basis via a complex system of algorithms and thresholds. It’s literally been built from the ground up to combat fraud and as we’ve already discussed, it’s constantly evolving and being amped up thanks to both our and our clients’ efforts.
I’ve already said this but it’s worth saying again:
Scrubkit allows you to easily and conveniently monitor fraudulent activity 24/7/365 – and in real-time. It’s obvious that we don’t even really need to elaborate on how useful this is to networks and advertisers alike and how much money and stress it can ultimately save you.
Who do you think is your biggest competition in the industry?
I’d like to give props to a Scrubkit competitor here. I really would.
But the simple fact of the matter is, we don’t really have any competition because what we offer is leagues and miles ahead of where everyone else is currently doing. We’re literally and figuratively operating on an entirely different level than anyone else.
Not that it would matter even if we had some kind of peer competition. Scrubkit is and always will be the industry leader and standard in regards to the fraud and risk management industry. You can write that down and take it to the bank, because it’s practically already been written in the history books.
What are the 3 main benefits of using Scrubkit?
Scrubkit is a very cost-effective tool that is – as we’ve already explained to you – extremely, extremely powerful. On average it costs a company about 2% of their monthly gross profit to run our system and the benefits of running it are endless. I could literally go on for days!
To touch on a few of the more important ones and arguably the biggest first-off, advertisers will definitely commend you on identifying fraud first so that they don’t have to waste any of their own time and/or resources doing so. It cultivates and helps you establish some really strong and mutually beneficial relationships with them, ultimately rewarding you higher payouts, more frequent payment terms and an overall reputation as a high-quality establishment.
You’re also going to be able to establish your “true” revenue throughout the month because you’re not going to be dealing with and worrying about excessive amounts of chargebacks when the month is done and over.
And you can also harness the power to know exactly what is going on with your affiliates traffic at all times. This will ultimately help eliminate the whole he-said, she-said scenarios — when an advertiser deems an affiliate’s traffic fraudulent – completely. Mainly thanks to the fact that you’ll have the documented technical proof about the traffic that has been run on the campaign in question readily available.
Anything else in the pipeline that we may expect?
Scrubkit is a living, breathing, constantly-evolving fraud and risk management system.
It’s only going to grow stronger and more effective over time and the more people that hop on board, the easier it’s going to be to stay one step-ahead of the fraudsters.
We’ll essentially always have things constantly coming through the pipeline. You can rest assured.
If you’re a network, advertiser or agency then it’s simply in your best interests to hop on board because you’re going to empower yourself with a vast plethora of useful and helpful data and knowledge. Not to mention finally enabling you to get a good night’s sleep for the first time in who knows how long!
What advice can you give to networks trying to minimize fraud?
If you’re a network trying to minimize fraud, you’re going to need to acquire some proper tools. Scrubkit provides you with an all-encompassing solution as it’s the most advanced fraud detection product in the industry hands down. And since it’s always evolving, you’re always going to get your money’s worth and feel safe and protected against fraud of any and all kind — both presently and well into the foreseeable future.
We have clients that have just started out running their networks and we have clients who’ve been in the industry for more than a decade. We’ve even gotten some clients who have attempted to code their own internal fraud management systems and have been positively “floored” and “wowed” by our technology.
If you’re truly looking to minimize risk and fraud on your network then we have the solution for you. Scrubkit is hands down the best system out there and it’s only going to get better and better with time. Once you have it running, your only regret will likely be that you didn’t join up sooner!
I mean, it’s just a no-brainer really.
How does Scrubkit integrate with tracking systems and what is your pricing model?
Scrubkit is what we like to call “plug and play” with the major tracking systems of the industry. What we mean by that is that we’ve worked extensively with vendors to seamlessly integrate them with our platform. The only thing we require is an API key that your tracking system vendor provides to you and then you’re up and running. It’s really that simple.
There’s no maintenance on your end whatsoever, no upkeep, pixel placement, adding offers or having your advertisers add any special code or anything of that sort. We handle literally everything and make it extremely simple and as stress free as possible for you. We’re extremely customer service oriented and are fully committed to providing the best risk and fraud management system the world has ever seen. Or will ever see.
Pricing depends on how many conversions you have per month and we work on this pricing model because we utilize high-end databases – many of whom require us to pay-per-lookup. Payment operates on a month-to-month contract so there’s no long-term commitment whatsoever either. Even more impressive is that, to date, we’ve not had a single client cancel their subscription to Scrubkit and every client has been on the month-to-month contract since signing up with us.
I mean, seriously…
Are you ready to sign-up yet or what? ;)