In our second segment of interviews with the CPATrend staff, we are pleased to introduce our President & CEO, Philip Shapiro. Philip founded CPATrend in January of 2010 and turned a one man shop into an Inc.500 Company, as well as a Top 20 CPA Network in 2014 & 2016.
1) How did you first get involved in Affiliate Marketing/Online Advertisement?
While I was involved in online business since I was 13 years old, I first got involved in affiliate marketing with publishing Adsense/Yahoo Ads on arcade websites over 10 years ago. I was basically purchasing traffic as cheaply as I could and monetizing with Adsense and Yahoo Ads for relatively significant profits. Due to quality control, this was more of a short-term gig. A friend of mine had then started a GPT site, and I did as well. While my site didn’t reach near the success of his, I learned a great deal by being a part of affiliate networks, and getting my feet wet with Incentives. I eventually began purchasing TV show sites; all sites which were ranking #1 & #2 for major keywords in Google. I purchased sites being monetized with Adsense making $xx – $xxx/month and converted the monetization from Adsense to content locking, I turned these into sites making $x,xxx + per month.
2) What made you decide to start an Affiliate Network?
Over the course of one year, I had built up a network of 20+ TV show sites and made a lot of money for a 17-18 year old kid. However, this niche was a short-living one and it was not really a business. My sites were sandboxed at some point by google, and my revenue was divided by 10. I needed to do something else at this point, and was of course looking for a sustainable and stable business. A friend and I had previously discussed starting an affiliate network, but we never moved forward together with it. However, it was something I was set on and I launched CPATrend in January of 2010. Of course the early CPATrend was very different than what CPATrend is today. I was 20 years old, and although I had some background in internet marketing, I had to learn just about everything on the fly. The common misconception in our industry is that running an affiliate network is simple. In theory, it is. However, in practice, it is far from it, but I have always enjoyed the challenges of an ever-changing business in a fast paced environment.
3) If you didn’t start CPATrend, what do you think you would be doing now?
This is a tough question to answer. I would likely still be in the internet marketing space. I have always appreciated the flexibility that working on the internet provides for many entrepreneurs. Where else can you start out of a bedroom in your parent’s house and build a business that would eventually be an Inc5000 fastest growing company in the world? I am constantly thinking of new business ideas, and I imagine that had I not started CPATrend, I would have come up with something else. Having said that, it’s so difficult to predict what would have been, what could have been, etc.
4) When you’re not working, what do you like to spend your time doing?
When you run an affiliate network, there is very little time that you’re not “working”. Sure there’s the standard 9-5 hours where you are easily accessible to all of your clients, but there is so much off the clock work being done at all times, including checking and responding to emails, doing research, reading about industry trends, etc. However, in the spare time that I do have, I enjoy watching sports, playing video games, playing the guitar, learning about Space, and keeping current with politics and world events.
5) Are there any exciting new developments at CPATrend that readers may want to know? What should they most look forward to in 2016?
In the past few weeks, other than launching hundreds of new dating offers, we have developed a new program for advertisers called the CPATrend Premier Advertiser. Here, we provide a full service suite of offerings to our advertisers including graphic design, suppression management, pay-per-call, etc. You can see more information in our Media Kit. We have also launched several app install offers including the popular games Mobile Strike and Game of War for iOS & Android.
6) Until now, CPATrend has been best known to affiliates for Dating and Adult Dating offers. In your opinion, why are these two of the best niches to promote offers in?
Many niches come and go. Weight loss and diet supplements pop up and go out of business every day. Games get incredibly popular incredibly fast, but then die off just as quickly as they rise up. Dating is forever. Since the beginning of humankind, our biological need for a partner and a mate has been human’s strongest instinct. So naturally, cashing in on one of the most basic desires/needs of people is a good idea. With the evolution in how people communicate in the 21st century, dating has changed greatly as well. It is now easier than ever for people to either meet somebody online with aspirations of starting relationships, or simply meet somebody in a more “adult” environment looking for less commitment. With the click of a mouse and inputting a bit of information, you can be browsing thousands of singles in your area. So to be a part of marketing within such a large, ever-growing, necessary niche is a strong, long term investment of time and money.
7) What advice would you give to someone looking to get started promoting affiliate offers?
We constantly get the same application, which is admirable, but not realistic for the highly competitive industry we are in. This application will be John or Jenny Smith, who just read an eBook or took a beginners course in internet marketing, and they are ready to sign up with an affiliate network and start marketing products. Where are the flaws here? Well, the entire approach is flawed. Starting an affiliate marketing business is the same as starting any business. You should not just jump into something you don’t understand because an eBook said it was easy to do, or because you spent $29.99, read a few slides, and Bob Brown says you’re ready.
You SHOULD make a business plan; have a clear and concise approach with a deep understanding of what you intend to do. You SHOULD already have your advertising accounts lined up, and you should be familiar with how they work. Affiliate marketing is not something that you can give less than 100% of your effort to. If you do not do things the right way, you will simply lose money and your competitors will be better off that you tried and failed. A huge majority of affiliates jump into the industry, burn through their budget, and go back to their full time job. It’s the individuals who realize it’s not just something that works overnight that have the greatest success. They understand it takes money, time, persistence, and ambition to roll with the punches and continue learning and testing.
Rather than trying to master a niche, master a traffic source. You can certainly focus on a particular niche if you feel comfortable within it, such as dating, app installs, etc. However, if you can master particular traffic sources, you will be able to send traffic to a variety of niches and find what works best for you and for that particular traffic source. Competition is fierce, not only because you’re competing against people who know what they’re doing, but also because you are competing with people who have no idea what they’re doing and drive costs up for everybody. Pick up as much information as you can, read industry forums (stackthatmoney, warriorforum, wickedfire, etc.), and just like the casino’s say about responsible gambling, bet with your head, not over it. Do not try to go too big too fast. Find success and learn how to scale it up.