Hunted Cow Studios (HCS) rolls out a cash-paying affiliate program by contracting with AdsMarket (renamed to Matomy Market in 2011), but is it worth it?
HCS began this promotion to help gain more players for their popular Fallensword PBBG as well as a couple of less-popular titles. Acting as liaison, AdsMarket offers to pay for every free sign up (pay per lead) or for every paying customer (pay per sign up).
- Fallensword Pay Per Lead requirements. Upon clicking an affiliate URL and signing up for a free account, AdsMarket agrees to pay the affiliate $0.20.
- Upon clicking the affiliate link, signing up for a free account, then puchasing any amount of FSP (Fallensword Points), AdsMarket agrees to pay the affiliate $3.50.
After seeing this offer I immedietly looked up the phrase [Fallen Sword] using the Google Keyword tool to estimate click value, this value was estimated at $0.39 CPC. So while Search competitors are paying up to 39 cents for a click only, AdsMarket will only pay you 20 cents for a visit AND signing up for a free account. AdsMarket expects more but pays less and for affiliates, this is not very appealing.
The pay per sign up option is a huge flaw because as an affiliate, you have absolutely no control over the conversion rate of the site. I have roughly 500 casual referrals to Fallensword and of those, only 8 are currently active players. If you assume the same conversion rate, you would only earn $28. On the other hand, by opting for the PPL choice, I would have earned approximately $100, but this is not a very good deal when search engine marketers are paying Google almost twice that and for much fewer leads. If you assume a 5% conversion rate for free signups, the Google search traffic is worth $3900 in the time it takes to get 500 free sign ups.
So to break this down, at a 5% conversion rate, I have provided Fallensword with $3900 worth in click-thru traffic (10,000 visitors at .39 cents per click) and in return I have 500 free account sign ups, and 8 paid accounts. Here is the conversion funnel:
Free Signups: 500 (5% conversion rate)
Paid Accounts: 8 (less than 2% conversion rate for leads)
This of course assumes a 5% conversion rate, this rate could be much higher, or lower, of course AdsMarket was not forth-coming with these numbers. For me, the bottom line is that I AdsMarket was offered between $28 to $100 for $3900 worth in advertising.
AdsMarket = Poor Service
I suppose if I was desperate for some extra money, I might do it. But herein lies the other problem, AdsMarket does not have what I would consider to be a good track record.
When I was originally invited to join AdsMarket via an email from Hunted Cow Studios, I was surprised to find no payment details. Instead, I was expected to sign up having no idea what amount was being offered to me. Curious, I signed up anyway expecting to see some numbers. Instead, I received an email from AdsMarket with a long questionnaire and demanding that I answer within 24 hours or my application would be rejected. This raised 3 red flags:
- I don't like being rushed and anytime someone rushes me, I believe that they are trying to prevent me from taking the time to evaluate a service.
- I hate ultimatums, if you want negative attention from me real fast, just give me an ultimatum and see how well that works for you.
- I had already applied via the form. It made no sense at all that I had to apply again via email. The questionaire sent to me should have been included within the original form application.
So rather than jump through their hoops, I refused to answer any more questions or continue the application process until someone explained the commission rates to me. It took two more emails before I received a reply from AdsMarket. A few days later I received an email notice that my application had been approved and offering me thanks for the feedback I provided, but there were no answers to my questions provided.
After conducting a search online I found several complaints against AdsMarket including complaints of non-payment, payments that were months late, complaints of being dropped from the program without notice or explanation and well after investing time, effort and in some cases money to promote affiliate links. And complaints of being ignored by AdsMarket staff.
After looking over their terms of service, I found no express legal obligation to pay affiliates, but I did find reasons listed for refusing payment including "technical issues".
After reviewing AdsMarket, even if I thought they payout rates were fair, I still would have declined them as I'm just not comfortable working with a company that seems to look for reasons to deny a payment. There are too many reputable affiliate programs out there for me to waste time on AdsMarket.
Here are some of the references I used in evaluating AdsMarket:
Note how fast AdsMarket is to jump on these forums and reply. Note too that in the first example listed above the forum admin caught AdsMarket pretending to be a customer.
There is a great deal of people complaining that they were dropped the day before payment was due. AdsMarket claims that they audit accounts just prior to sending out payments. This indicates to me that they do not have your best interest in mind because if they did, their "account managers" would notify you early on to fix any errors and retain you as an affiliate, instead they let you waste time promoting links because they know it's free advertising, at your cost, and then drop you without any payment a day before your payments are due.