Interview with Serj from RevenueLab
Here is an interview with Serj, Head of Media Buying at RevenueLab. We talked about what his main focus as a chief media buying executive is, his 6-year expertise in affiliate marketing, as well as team-building, management, and leadership.
Hi, Serj! You have 6 years of experience in affiliate marketing under your belt, which is quite impressive. Could you tell us how it all started?
Hi there! First of all, thank you for having me and I hope I will be able to share something noteworthy and relevant with your audience.
I started my affiliate marketing journey as a sales and support manager at AdMobiSpy, a mobile ads spy service and a sister branch of AdvanceTS. For the first two years, I was learning the affiliate marketing basics and communicating with actual affiliates. Speaking about my experience in running ad campaigns, it spans about 4 years.
As far as we are concerned, you promoted nutra, gambling, and adult offers. Which offer vertical turned out to be the most profitable for you?
Actually, I enjoyed promoting all kinds of offers you have just mentioned. However, I was particularly fond of running adult campaigns that also brought me the most income. For this, I should be thankful to Thai guys who are always looking for remedies to enlarge their manhood. To all those working by my side, thank you guys for the time we shared managing this campaign 🙂 That entire experience was life-changing and gave me momentum to proceed with my journey and reach new heights.
So, you were advertising three different offer verticals in a three-year time frame. What was it that annoyed you the most when it comes to each of them?
As far as adult offers are concerned, I was particularly mad at Thai men who were always ranting in the comments showing their frustration with the product and writing “555” (Thai people use 555 when they want to imitate laughing sounds, such as ha or lol — Ed.).
Another thing I found stressful was frequent domain bans.
But this is nothing compared to waking up in the morning and seeing 200+ leads on your tracker page only to receive a message from your affiliate network manager saying “Guys, we need you to stop your traffic ASAP because the cargo got stuck on the border, and we won’t be able to approve your leads for a couple of weeks”. 😖
When it comes to nutra, we were mostly promoting weight loss and anti-wrinkle products and running native traffic campaigns. So, I think what was probably the worst day of my affiliate marketing career happened around that time. I was partying with my friends out in the country and I had an active campaign running.
Unfortunately for me, I failed to spot and disable a bot placement that could spend $500 in 12 hours without generating any landing page visits. That day, it was quite painful for me to realize that party was probably the most expensive in my life.
P.S.: There is also a story about me accidentally spilling Bacardi on my MacBook. That glass of rum cost me about $350.
As for gambling, there are too many annoying and frustrating things I can list:
- As a lot of affiliate marketers confused about what they shall do next turned to gambling, the vertical became overly competitive.
- Constant app bans.
- Mass account/BM bans.
- Counterintuitive Facebook algorithms.
- People who fail to get it past the baseline if the offer terms say that minimum deposit is not equal to the baseline.
- Shady advertisers that shave 5-10% of your approved deposits simply because they can get away with it.
- Not to mention the last quarter of 2020…
So, each vertical has “perks and benefits” of its own, and it’s up to you to decide which one to choose and what problems to wrap your head around. 😅
Has the market changed in terms of things that used to bring you the most difficulties?
Not really 🙂
The main things I’m struggling with are account bans and counterintuitive social media algorithms.
And fake gurus, of course.
Have you ever thought about quitting affiliate marketing and doing something else?
Yeah, that’s something I consider every month or so. The thing is that affiliate marketing is a volatile niche with constant ups and downs.
I’m looking for ways to stabilize my income and have some ideas I’m going to implement in the future.
If you could go back in time, what would you change or choose differently?
First of all, I would buy Bitcoins at a human price tag.
Second of all, I would spend more time working.
When the market was not that crowded, each buyer would just launch 5-7 campaigns a day and then start playing PlayStation and enjoying oneself.
And now we launch about 30 campaigns daily… (Had our traffic volumes been the same, we would have already bought a spaceship.)
Then, I wouldn’t focus on one GEO only even if it generates a 200%+ ROI. It’s a very common mistake to think that your campaign will be that profitable for quite a while. It couldn’t be far from the truth. You always have to test out new products and GEOs to be able to switch your traffic to a new offer in case your campaign stops bringing you money. If you stop testing, it may take you 2 or 3 weeks to score another winning campaign.
So, you absolutely need to have a backup offer or two.
Last but not least, the most valuable lesson I learned is that you should never hire your friends.
Why are you so convinced that working with your friends is a bad idea?
I know from experience that your closest friends can envy you the most, criticize you behind your back and even rip you off. So, having met people like that in my life, my worldview and approach to business have changed considerably.
As a good friend of mine puts it:
If it looks like a human, walks like a human, and talks like a human, then it probably is a prick.
Let’s talk a bit about your team. How did it all start? Tell us about your journey to becoming Head of Media Buying.
I was basically headhunted from my previous workplace and that’s how it all started.
As for now, we have 9 media buyers (2 of them are driving traffic from Google and 7 are running Facebook ads), one developer, 11 account farmers, and one HR.
We are now hiring new media buyers because an extra set of brains and a skillful pair of hands are always a nice addition to any company.
So, what started as a small team of three ambitious people has grown into a full-fledged affiliate company that, of course, has also had its share of ups and downs, etc.
How do you like being Head of Media Buying? Can you describe the pros and cons of your role?
I have been holding this position for quite a while already, and so I have long got used to my responsibilities as Head of MB.
- Developing your self-discipline and responsibility skills (managing a team of 20+ people changes your attitude to a lot of things).
- You decide what you are going to do yourself.
- You don’t have to save money on a brand new iPhone.
- You have more than 20 people on a payroll.
What do you do on a daily basis? What tasks do you have as Head of MB? How are they different from that of your subordinates?
Basically, what I do is communicating with our partners and closing deals. I’m also involved in operational matters. I put a lot of effort into ensuring seamless workflow, quality results, and efficient department management.
When it comes to buyers, they focus on their personal results, whereas my goal is to maintain high overall team metrics.
Three things you need to know when building your own team:
- You need strong stamina for decision-making.
- Better safe than sorry.
- Never work with your friends.
How would you react if someone headhunts a buyer from you?
It is extremely difficult to headhunt someone from our team because we offer our buyers lucrative terms that are better than the market average. So, if you are interested, you are welcome to join us 🙂
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Do you pick up buyers yourself? Where should one look for the best buyers in the market? What kind of experience do they need to have?
Some of our media buyers are from an account farming background. However, given our lucrative work terms, most of them come to us themselves. What we take into account first and foremost when hiring a new media buyer is their expertise and what added value they can bring to the team.
What kind of offers are you promoting right now?
Online casinos and dating, as well as in-house RevenueLab offers. If you are in any way interested, you can reach out to our affiliate managers and they will help you figure everything out.
If Facebook continues to block ad accounts for no apparent reasons on the same scale as it does now, will affiliate marketing on Facebook stop generating profits?
As far as Facebook is concerned, I think, yes, it will. Luckily, it’s not the only traffic source out there.
What three things you need to take into consideration when launching an ad account and what you need to avoid lest you are banned?
What you absolutely need to do:
- Quality farming.
- Don’t launch your ads right away, just leave your account be for a while.
- Trusted payment systems.
Things that can get you banned:
- Suspicious proxy services, payment systems, or creatives.
- Changing your account personal data.
- Excessive social media activity (such as liking each and every post in your feed and posting thousands of photos in a minute, etc.).
You mentioned that you have an account farming department and you talked a lot about it during a live stream with ProTraffic. How much does a farmer cost a day? Including their salary, all the necessary supplies, etc.
About 60 bucks.
How do you manage the farming department? How did you organize their work? Have you written some guidelines for them or what?
I’m a strong opponent of bureaucracy and strict guidelines and tend to give my team members quite a lot of freedom.
We developed our own working processes and algorithms, hired people, and trained them by sitting next to them and showing them what to do.
So, I can’t say that I told them how they should do their job because we figured it out by trial and error.
How many hours a day does a super affiliate work?
How should I know? 😂
Jokes aside, a super affiliate works 24/7.
Were there any conflicts in your team? How do you resolve them?
I guess conflicts are an inevitable part of any workplace.
Fortunately or not, I’m the boldest and pushiest person in our team, and so all confrontations are generally nipped in the bud.
What kind of an incentive scheme do you have?
Most importantly, we support our employees and treat them right.
What’s more, we offer a lucrative 30-50% bonus system.
Please find a link for your CVs below. 😉
How can one get into your affiliate marketing team?
Coincidentally, we are hiring new people right now. So, if you have the relevant experience and skills, as well as some profitable case studies, follow this link to submit your CV. Welcome to the dream team! 🙂
What qualities do you look for in an applicant?
Determination, commitment, a strong analytical mind, flexibility, self-organizational skills, and loyalty.
What qualities in a job candidate make you realize you won’t hire them?
Lack of soft skills, dishonesty, unscrupulousness, and other traits that appall most of us.
Will affiliate marketing become easier?
As far as some new traffic sources are concerned, probably yes.
When it comes to Facebook, the golden days are long gone.
What should one always have in mind when launching a campaign?
If your campaign is generating profit, just leave it be so as not to ruin everything.
What qualities does an affiliate marketer have that a white hat marketer doesn’t?
Brain. What I mean is affiliates are always more intelligent simply because they are always on the lookout for ways to outsmart the algorithm, which makes you think outside the box.
Will you risk everything for a campaign that has a 50% chance of generating a 200% ROI?
Do I look like an idiot to you?
If it’s a 50% chance, then I definitely won’t.
If it’s a 55% chance, however, then probably yes.
What advice would you give to a beginner affiliate?
Don’t buy courses from fake gurus.
Be patient and don’t give up even if your campaigns are in the red.
You attended quite a lot of conferences as a speaker, what kind of talks can we expect from you in the future? Any ideas?
I can talk endlessly about my affiliate marketing case studies if the audience is willing to listen. I always have new actionable tips and info about account farming, etc.
Thank you for your time! We hope we will meet you offline soon to ask you some more questions.
Thanks for having me and see you soon! Wish you all a high ROI!
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