Each day new players are starting to conquer the affiliate marketing industry. They all aspire to achieve great success and hope that someday their names will appear along with the affiliate marketing leaders’. Now we could hardly imagine that days and years ago all of these giants were newcomers as well. What were they dreaming of? Which problems did they have? What were the key factors to their success? How did they become globally known? What was the affiliate marketing industry like back then?
We continue sharing the answers to these and many more questions in our series of articles, Affiliate Network Insider*, that touch upon the working life of the biggest and most prominent affiliate networks in the industry. Stay Affised by keeping up with the latest content released on our blog and give a warm welcome to our new guest, the CEO and founder of exmox GmbH, Alper Eger.
Alper Eger, exmox founder and CEO
– Alper, as far as I know, exmox is working solely in the gaming vertical. Let me guess: it all started from your personal passion for online games, didn’t it?
Actually, yes. As a gamer myself, it was a no-brainer to stick to my roots and move into an industry that suits me – Gaming! I started my first official job, at Goodgame Studios, and very soon realised the importance of User Acquisition in this space. That is why I founded exmox. In the very beginning it was just me, but we are all grown up now and have a team of 12 passionate individuals who are great at what they do.
– When you had just started (12 years ago – editor’s note) affiliate marketing was quite raw. Was it difficult to find the right people to build exmox around?
Finding the right people is always a lifelong quest, but luckily, step by step I was able to build a strong team. Initially what I was looking for was proper English skills. I know, pretty straightforward, English and common sense – however, we were willing to help with the rest and teach the basics of affiliate marketing. Which we did successfully. Now we are in a different league, so we need to be more specific around who we bring on board and are looking for people who can leverage our existing ecosystem or bring in their own “network”.
– Aside from finding the perfect team, what was the biggest challenge in the very beginning?
Gaming used to “happen” mainly on desktop devices, but in the last 5 years mobile games have become a significant part of our business. Our biggest challenge was finding a stable and cost-efficient tracking platform, but Affise has helped us overcome this obstacle.
“Affise has become a stable and cost-efficient tracking platform for us,” – Alper Eger with Anton Karputs, Affise Customer Success Manager
– With such a profound background I bet you have a bunch of interesting stories to tell. Can you recollect any of them?
I remember a very funny story from a business trip to Amsterdam. We had a client that was just getting started in gaming on top of his main vertical which was adult. He invited us to one of the parties he was organising. We weren’t actually sure what this party would be about, we thought it would be related to gaming. But as we arrived, it appeared to be one of those big porn parties. They rented a huge hotel room with a swimming pool, and everybody jumped in there. Once I saw dudes getting naked, I clearly understood that it was time for me to leave.
– Speaking about the partners, how do you attract affiliates to your network?
You know, in Germany we have a very good word that perfectly describes our network, “Verein”. For example, a soccer club can be “verein”. It means that this club doesn’t try to get everybody on board. Instead, it encourages people to recommend it to their reliable friends.
We deploy the same principle. We believe that 20% of affiliates do 80% of revenue and the rest are just a waste of time. So, we try not to attract new affiliates to our network. Instead, we cultivate the relationships with the partners that we have on board right now. If they can recommend somebody to us, we can consider them as a potential partner, but only if they can prove their reliability.
– This is very unusual approach given the fact that right now all the networks are fighting to get more new affiliates. But, honestly, what is the main reason behind this?
The logic behind this is that there are so many fraudulent activities going on in affiliate marketing that it’s just a matter of time till it hits you. The only way to ensure it won’t hit you is by making sure that you are working with the right people, be they affiliates or team members.
– So in your opinion, fraud is the main threat to affiliate marketing today?
Yes, it’s all about fraud. In my opinion this is the only thing that I can say with certainty, we need to be prepared for. So much so, that we are even developing our own tool to fight it. Thanks to Affise we have the flexibility to integrate it with our operational process. Naturally, the whole industry is preparing for a bigger year and you hear a lot about the latest fingerprint technology, cookies integration and so on and so forth. Frankly speaking, I don’t buy into any of this, because at the end of the day, what really makes or breaks this industry is the people behind the campaigns.
Alper at Gamescom 2018, Cologne. You can meet exmox at the most influential events related to Gaming.
– Except for the new fraud detection tool you are developing right now, can you name any other technical advantages of working with your network?
I am not gonna lie, there are no real “technical” advantages to working with us except for our partnership with Affise, which in our experience is a stabler platform when compared to HasOffers, Afftrack, Cake or whatever else is out there. With Affise we have 99% uptime, this helps us grow. The other advantage that we have, the USP I’d say, is our account managers. We know that business doesn’t only happen in the office from nine to six, business happens everywhere at all times. We are always there for our partners to help with any and all issues. This is the culture we try to cultivate here to the fullest.
– What about Advertisers? What is your USP for them?
We are aiming to remain a private performance marketing network, that only accepts publishing sources that we personally know. We are one of the few networks who are committed to having proper gaming related sources that are scalable and transparent enough to facilitate any goals our advertisers have.
– What are your top tips for affiliate networks to increase ROI?
It’s all about cost efficiency. If you have a cost efficient platform and cost efficient operation, you can grow slowly, but surely. You will avoid putting your business at risk of getting scrubbed, losing a lot of revenue etc. This is also the reason why we as an affiliate network operate privately and only work with partners that we know. So, pick the right partners to work with, try to avoid having third-party offers and don’t give affiliates wrong expectations. The rest will follow.
– What do you think the main secret to your success is?
Simply put, there is no black magic when it comes to running an affiliate network. Of course, you have to have initial cash flow, and sometimes need to act as the bank, but this is no different from any other business. Mindfulness, establishing your competitive edge and access to the proper set of tools are all important. But at the end of the day it comes down to persistence: at exmox we have a bias for action meaning we put our heads down and get things done. This is how we achieve success.
* AFFILIATE NETWORK INSIDER is a project, covering success stories and inside life of the biggest and most prominent affiliate networks in the industry. Make YOUR story heard by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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