The Ad & Affiliate Network Graveyard

July 11, 2011 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I have an Excel spreadsheet where I keep track of all my affiliate and ad network accounts for easy access to my referral URLs and other information.

Since I have accounts on so many ad networks, I almost never check my stats on 90% of them. However, since I have referrals on almost every network that I’m signed up with, I do like to log into each network on my list one-by-one once in a while to see if I gained any new referrals and/or income.

I hadn’t done this for quite a while, however, and so a couple of months ago I decided to do so again.

The Scary Death Rate

As I was going through my list, logging into each network one-by-one, it wasn’t long before I realized that a lot of networks had gone under.

I’m by a lot I’m not talking about 4 or 5, but more like 30-35! I don’t know the exact number, as I did this a couple of months ago, but I do remember writing a note to myself to write this blog post, and wrote that “50% of networks from my list are dead”.

Fifty percent!


I had expected to delete a few entries from my list when I was going through it to update things – that was part of the purpose of doing so – but 50%? Geez.

Not All Dead, Exactly

While there were certainly a lot of affiliate and advertising networks that were simply dead/gone, I removed a number of other networks from my list because the networks either changed systems or deactivated my account.

Changed Systems

I simply do not understand it when networks change their backend system and do not migrate their user’s data into the new system. It’s seriously frustrating.

A network will decide that they don’t like DirectTrack or HasOffers as their backend anymore and move to another system – usually something custom. Okay – that’s fine. A lot of these systems are extremely antiquated and limiting (*cough DirectTrack*), so I can understand the want and need to switch systems.

But why on Earth do you just leave your advertisers and publishers – your bread and butter – high and dry? Why can’t you migrate the database and stats into the new system? I understand that we’re not talking about a simple export here… in fact, it would be quite the task. But surely it can be done… it seems rather surprising to me that a decent programming firm couldn’t do this for $10,000-$20,000 – pocket change for most networks.

At least transfer over the old account’s with their username and passwords so that users don’t have to register and be approved again, for God’s sake!

Sorry – it just really infuriates me with networks do this, and they lose a customer as a result.

Account Deactivated

If the network wasn’t simply dead/gone or purged it’s user accounts by changing systems, then they deactivated my account.

In many cases where this happened, the networks probably had reasonable justifications for doing so, as I’m certainly not active on every single network I sign up to. Therefore, I understand networks wanting to weed out inactive publishers and advertisers.

But instead of simply deactivating or deleting my account, why not try to “reactivate” me instead? Why not try contacting me to see why I haven’t been active lately before shutting me out entirely?

At the very least: WARN ME BEFORE DEACTIVING MY ACCOUNT! It’s just so frustrating to try logging into a network, only to have to find out from contacting customer support that your account was deactivated for inactivity.

That’d be like finding out you got fired from your job by going into work one day, only to have one of your colleagues say “I thought you were fired yesterday”.

Be Careful Where You Register

This post should hopefully act as a bit of a warning for you the next time you’re signing up to an ad network, affiliate network, or referral program.

Ask yourself if the network has staying-power and will likely still be around within a couple years.

The consequences are often bigger than simply an inconvenience. You could have been busy driving referrals to the network, with the intention of gaining slow but long-term revenue from them, only to find out one day that the network is no more. Those referrals could have been sent to another network instead, and still making you money today.

Some networks even go under without paying what they owe to their publishers, which can be an even bigger problem.

Then again, I myself am usually quite careful and selective in which networks I decide to use, but that didn’t stop me from having to delete dozens from my list.

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Posted: July 11th, 2011 under Affiliate Marketing  

12 Responses to “The Ad & Affiliate Network Graveyard”

  1. Michael says:

    Wow – that is pretty brutal that 50% of those networks went under! I usually only signup for the big networks so I’ve never had this issue but I can imagine that being frustrating especially if you’ve earned money with some of these networks and you just lose it.

    Good to know though. I’ll be really picky in the future for what networks I signup with. As for keeping track of all your accounts and login’s I recommend you try the software called KeePass2. It’s free and works 100 times better than excel. It securely stores the information on your computer. Its password protected and you have sections for all your different logins such as general, windows, networks, email, homebanking, etc. It’s awesome software!

  2. You can pretty much attribute all those gravestones to Google nuking 100,000+ AdWords accounts back in late 2009.

    You’re totally right though about the migration thing. Those networks should have migrated over their user data. I wonder if maybe they did migrate users, but only any who made $xx,xxx or more for example. Maybe anyone under $10k they just dumped?

  3. Jim Banks says:

    I agree that rather than killing dormant affiliate accounts that some sort of reactivation would be a better option, but even then the majority of affiliates don’t bother responding.

    The loss to the network is zero as the affiliates didn’t make them any money in the past anyway.

    I’m not sure on the number of “networks gone out of business” but it is nowhere near 50%.

    The better networks will definitely have a migration plan in place for the affiliates that matter and will also work hard to ensure any legacy links continue to redirect properly and give credit under the new system.

    I’ve seen it happen, you send an affiliate maybe 5 emails to change their links by X date and then that date comes and goes, they don’t change the links and then start moaning about the lost revenue. No point paying a ton of money to two platform providers.

  4. Dave Starr says:

    The cavalier dumping of signed up clients is something not restricted to affiliate networks, that’s for sure. It goes against all common sense in Internet Marketing in general.

    Anybody who has tried to build up a blog and or mailing list knows that it often feels like “puling teeth” to get people to sign up to anything. Once you have their permission based email it is worth a fortune in comparison to anyone who is just ‘surfing by” and not ready to sign up. Dumping them because of inactivity is dumb as dirt.

    Paul’s thought that many of them may have been weeding out the small or no performers from the “bigger fish” is quite possibly right. And there’s a good business reason to focus attention on the better performers in your network.

    But to throw out the low/no performers as if they were last night’s garbage? Shortsighted. What about moving them to a lower performance network, or offering them a prize if they get busy and become active, or selling them a course on how to be a stellar performer and change their non-performance to profitable performance, etc.

    At the very least, they were your clients/members and you at least owe them the courtesy of an automated goodby/thank you/come back when you are ready message.

    The way the Internet works, you just never know when the non-performing “dufus” of today becomes a mover and shaker a year down the road.

    Making enemies and leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth never makes good business sense, even when “firing” them is the most viable business alternative.

  5. thats really brutal news i wasnt rly aware

  6. I only use the big ones like clickbank and paydotcom so I don’t have that kind of problems

  7. used tires says:

    Thats scary right there, just goes to show the fact that you really do need to diversify yourself because even if you are making the big bucks from a certain network, you never know if that will be sustainable.


  8. Wow, this is sad!

  9. Excellent post Tyler. This is definitely something that every affiliate should be aware of and regularly checking for. There are also many technology solutions affiliates to help affiliates with dead links, etc. Actually ian just came out with pretty recently and works pretty well.

    Regarding migration, you’re also right that moving stats can be an intense process, especially depending on the data. Networks should certainly back up all of the past data for later reference (at the very least), and they should also use reference IDs to make sure no traffic is lost in transition.

  10. Hmm.. Thats very sad man….That is really brutal…50% networks…so be aware…

  11. eCOMLEADS says:

    Pretty high death rate but affiliate networks come and go nowadays, that is why it is very important to see how long a network has been in business, payment history, is it a one man show just a lot of common sense stuffs.


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