I am especially please to post this next interview as he is truly a stand up guy in a typically not so stand up industry. I have had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions and truly a breath of fresh air. I am thankful for him taking the time to do this in-depth interview so here it goes.
Phil, tell us something about yourself
My name is Philip Shapiro, I’m 22 years old and was born, raised, and reside in NY. I’m the owner of the affiliate network CPATrend, which has been by far my greatest achievement as an entrepreneur. A few random things about me: I’m a huge sports fan, I play the guitar (unfortunately terribly), and I’m a work-a-holic, just like you Ricky!
How did you get you get a start in this industry?
I’ve owned various online companies/websites since I was 13 years old. A friend of mine at the time got me involved. He owned a game server provider for games like Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, etc. He got me involved and we partnered up on it. At age 13, we had an operation with 6 dedicated servers across the country, and 75 monthly clients. We then ventures onto different things, messing around with YPN when it was in Beta version, followed by getting into affiliate marketing with incentivized websites. After running a GPT site, I moved my incentivized focus over to the TV show site niche. I purchased up just about every single major tv show streaming site until I built a network of 25 sites, all ranking #1-2 for multiple major keywords in google, delivering insane amounts of traffic. I monetized with content unlockers and pulled in 6 figures from that network of sites. In the meantime, I had been an affiliate marketer at various affiliate networks and felt that I had the right background, experience, knowledge, and capital to start my own network, which looking back was pretty accurate.
Tell us something about CPATrend
CPATrend isn’t like every network out there. We’re a small network, but we’re competing with the large networks both figuratively and literally. We put 100% of our focus on the needs of our affiliates in terms of the offers we pull in, payment terms, and overall customer support. We do not pull in thousands of offers and hope that people will latch onto at least 1 of 5,000 offers. We do, however, pull in offers that we’re confident will work for our affiliates based on our knowledge of the offers, and the history of certain offers/advertisers. CPATrend is small in staff as well. We’re currently in an exponential growth phase, and will be hiring accordingly, but it is currently owned and operated by myself, with my life-long friend Andrew Maya running much of the network’s duties as well (particularly Affiliate relations, while partaking in quite a bit of business development aspects as well). We are two like-minded, and equally motivated people who will go out of our way for our clients, and that has been proven by the immediate, and incredible success of CPATrend.
How is this different from the other networks?
Our network is different than others because we cater to our clients’ every needs. Whether you’re an advertiser or an affiliate, we will focus on what YOU need to make your campaigns as profitable as possible. We will match up your traffic sources with offers that WILL perform well for you. If you’re an affiliate sending high quality traffic and are facing a bit of a cash flow issue, we will pay you more quickly to make sure you’re campaigns never have to shut down. We have extremely close relationships with our advertisers and rather than letting affiliates simply run traffic to an offer and hoping the advertisers don’t say anything, we actively engage with our advertisers to make sure quality is good, and if quality isn’t holding up, we will work with our affiliates to increase quality to hit our advertisers ROI targets. It’s really our work ethic at CPATrend that sets us apart from other networks because we do every single thing in our power to make sure everybody that is working with us is more than satisfied.
Is there a minimum traffic level needed to join CPATrend?
Realistically, yes and no. We don’t require that a publisher has a website with 10,000 uniques per month or more. In fact, most of our publishers don’t even use “websites” per se. Most of our publishers are driving paid traffic to landing pages, or directly to the advertisers websites. We also have quite a few very high quality email marketers. We obviously welcome display publishers as well, but there is no set “minimum requirement of traffic” – more so a minimum requirement of experience/knowledge of the industry.
What kind of advertisers and publishers does CPATrend seek out?
We seek out the highest quality of advertisers and publishers in the industry. In terms of advertisers, we are always searching for reputable, trustworthy, honest companies who are willing to work with us, and our talented affiliates who are always willing to comply with the advertisers needs/guidelines. We are an ever-compliant network, and we are always happy to take on new advertisers that need high quality leads to their service, or are looking for distribution/sales of their products.
In terms of affiliates, we do have a level of experience that we require. We are “noob” friendly, but we are not affiliate marketing teachers. That’s simply not a part of our business model. However, we do work diligently and closely with each of our affiliates in order to help them optimize their campaigns. I don’t want to take credit for the hard work that our affiliates put in, but I can safely say that CPATrend “breeds” successful affiliates so-to-speak. We have countless stories of publishers who have made $50-$100 in a day, to publishers making $500 – $1,000 a day (and quite a few making even more!). Sometimes affiliates are just at the cusp of making it big, but they just need a nudge in the right direction, or a partnership that makes their expansion possible, and that’s certainly what we’ve seen. So although we wont spit at your feet if you know nothing about affiliate marketing, we do require that you have a knowledge of the industry, since like any job, you will need knowledge/experience, and an affiliate network’s business model is not to provide you with that entire education, only a fraction of it (while providing you with the tools you need to become a successful affiliate).
Is there something from your experiences in the past that has helped you run your networks?
I think just my vast knowledge and experience of the affiliate marketing industry has helped me grow the company properly, but I believe that my patience, and willingness to work closely with so many different people/companies has truly bred the success of our clients, as well as our company itself.
Are you worried about being lumped into the same category as other networks that routinely get classified as being in it for the wrong reasons? What sets you apart from the rest?
Honestly, I try not to worry about being lumped into a category. Those that work with us know that we’re not the same. When you work with us, you will feel like our partner. Working with other networks has that “corporate” feel, with rigid structures that don’t bend for anybody. CPATrend is like a piece of rubber with lungs. We bend, and we breathe. We’re always evolving based on the needs of our clients, and the needs of the industry.
The reason that people should not lump us in the same category as every other networks is as follows:
I started CPATrend because I saw flaws in most companies that I worked at, and like most entrepreneurs (not inventors), I saw something that works and decided that I could do it better. If I did things the same way as every other network, sure I’d make money, but I’m not only in business to make money. I’m in business to change the way people work with their affiliate networks. I’m in business to develop strong, trust-worthy, bonds and relationships with my clients. I’m in business so that when I walk through a conference floor, people have nothing but positive things to say about me, my business, and how we represent ourselves, and the industry! Sure running an affiliate network is a great way to make money. Ricky, you’ve been in the industry for 10 years, so who knows that better than you! Having said that, you’re also an honest man, and I’m sure that when you go home to your family, you sleep very well at night. I sleep well at night as well and I can’t foresee that pattern ever changing. (The point of that novel is – do not lump everybody into one category!)
What are some trends you are seeing in the space and what are you doing to put yourself out in front?
CPATrend is what I like to call a “minimal-risk” affiliate network. The affiliate networks that took big risks and saw huge rewards are currently facing FTC charges, went out of business, or are not paying their publishers. This is disgraceful to me, and it makes me feel very proud of myself for not trying to chase a quick buck, but for realizing long-term potential in building up niches that are low risk to our company. We work with companies that we’re confident we will always be paid by, and in turn our affiliates never have to worry if we’re going to take a million dollar loss and decide not to pay. We’ve been stiffed a few times, and each time, we’ve paid out of affiliates in full. We mainly focus on dating offers, but also have quite a few other lead generation offers such as credit reports, gaming offers, mobile offers, etc. The past, the present, and the future will always be dating, and I am firmly animate about that, as we have built a large percentage of our business around this. The other present and future is mobile! We are diligently working on building out our mobile department with the help of some of our best publishers, who are supplying us with the traffic we need to build this out.
Who are some of the networks you hold in high regard?
I obviously hold AVG (Affiliate Venture Group) in great esteem, and although we have very different focuses, I have happily referred anybody who deals with financial offers to work with AVG! I have a lot of respect for Brian and Paul over at Envyus Media as well. Envyus and CPATrend literally started at around the same time, with quite a few other networks, and together (but completely separately) our businesses have grown exponentially in a very short period of time, while many of the other networks just died off. I hold lots of other networks in high regard, most of which are a part of the ECPM (http://ecpmgroup.org/).
What advice would you like to give the newer networks in the industry?
The affiliates and advertisers that you allow into your network are a representation of YOU. Be selective, and only work with people you have a mutual respect for. We are diligently seeking out quality traffic, but we will never allow a publisher who can send high volumes of poor quality/fraudulent traffic into our network just to try to make a quick buck. If you have a legitimate business model, and stick to it, you will succeed. In an industry with tremendous competition, it’s NOT EASY to succeed. In fact, a huge percentage of affiliate networks fail. Legitimate networks that are marketed properly tend to prevail, so if you’re not making as much as you’d like to right away, stick with it and hopefully in time, you will do well. Or, you can just give up now and I’d be happy to harvest your publishers! :)
What takeaway should my readers have from this interview – is there something specific you care to share?
I spent a lot of time promoting myself and my company in this interview, which Ricky, I truly thank you for taking the time to put these questions together and posting this on your site! Aside from everything I’ve said about CPATrend (which I would obviously hope your readers absorbed), I think the major point I’d like to stress is legitimacy. Affiliate marketing is like any offline job. If you’re looking to make a quick buck, it’s possible (at networks other than CPATrend ;) ) . If you’re looking to make a legitimate career, it’s much more difficult, but it’s much more rewarding. It’s just like the old adage; “If you catch a fish for a man, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” So what that should tell everybody is; don’t try to eat for the day. Try to eat for the rest of your life, and put in the hard work to achieve your goals, rather than relying on illegitimate business practices and scams to get you by on your day to day life.
Thank you so much Ricky for this interview and as always, I wish you the best of success, health, and happiness!
Thank you everybody who read this (and if you read it all the way to the end, pat yourself on the shoulder because you just read a novel).