You can make a lot of money with CPA ads. When one lead for one offer can generate $100 or more, and you have a ready source of tens of thousands of interested people, you can make absolute bank.
That is, right up until the CPA network finds some excuse not to pay you. This happens all too frequently in the world of CPA, and it’s a serious problem affecting new marketers. When you don’t know any better, one attractive network can screw you out of thousands of dollars.
Oh, rarely will the network disappear with your money. They won’t be so blatant. Instead, they’ll find some excuse, some rule you violated, and present you with the violation in lieu of a real customer service response. As far as they’re concerned, the money you earned wasn’t legitimately earned. It’s theirs to keep. Of course, you’re new to CPA marketing and don’t have the legal or financial resources available to take action.
This gets even worse if the traffic you drive to your offers came through PPC. You’re paying for the traffic, and you’re getting conversions, which you expect will cover the cost of the ads and profit. When you find out those conversions didn’t count, you’re in the hole for your ads and you have no profit to cover them. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Thankfully, if you do your research, you can identify the worst of these scam networks and avoid them. What follows is a list of only five, and then some tips on researching and judging any network that isn’t on the list. Never take a network at face value; scammers lie.
Feed Flare is notorious for changing up their minimum payment and for not paying people, or for declaring leads to be invalid. It’s painful all around to try to contact their support and their owner, Collin, makes excuses for advertisers but refuses to relay direct complaints.
EWA does a lot of PR management to hide their scams, every several months sending out placating messages to sacrifice a major player, announce the sacking of some poor dude who might not even exist, or to talk about a reorganization meant to rid the network of fraud. It never sticks, and a few months later, EWA just stops paying again.
Anyone advertising themselves as great is either full of themselves or lying. This one is both. Frequently, they won’t pay, or if they do, they conveniently lose a number of qualified leads to pay less. There have even been reports of them sending out tax documents to people they didn’t pay, just for that added kick in the pants. Always be wary of a CPA network that spends a lot of time replying to reviews on third party sites, particularly if they ignore the good ones.
Okay, so this one isn’t that bad, but they’re pretty bad with customer service. In fact, they have even been known to call out their affiliates as illiterate, lazy morons who don’t know how to read TOS documents or parse the dense legalese they use to try to scam newbies. They pay well, for those they like, to keep reviews up. They scam the people who aren’t as invested, and drown out their negative reviews.
Even if I wanted to, I can’t link you to COPEAC’s website, because they finally shut down back in 2012. This is after literal years of doing basically no business. No advertiser would work with them, but they still presented offers, they still ran a public face, and they still duped CPA marketers into sending them traffic. They didn’t pay anyone a dime, and no one lasted there for more than a few weeks, but they were a huge trap for newbies. Thankfully, they’re gone now.
Warnings and Methods for Identifying Scams
So, here’s the thing. Anyone at all, even you, right now, can start an affiliate network. All you need is some web hosting, a software suite for tracking affiliates, and a lot of time. Go out and sign up for 200 CPA networks, register for every offer they have. Now forward the offer to people in your network, and pay them less than you’re being paid for the offer. The referral goes through you and your network.
For example, say Dating Site A pays $50 for a lead. You sign up for that offer and put it on your site, paying $35 for a lead. Some poor newbie CPA marketer signs up for the offer and runs it, and gets ten conversions. That means you have to pay them $350, and you do, and that’s fine. Because you refer the leads to YOUR offer, and you get paid $500 for them. That’s a profit of $150, and you didn’t do the advertising work.
Add on a ton of volume and offers from a ton of affiliates and you have a massive moneymaking scheme. Now toss in a little loose bookkeeping – “losing” leads here and there, or disqualifying some perfectly legitimate leads but counting them for yourself – and you have a lot of money you’re scamming out of people.
Now look at it from the CPA marketer newbie’s perspective. They see a network that accepts anyone, and decent $35 offers. They sign up, they run them, they get paid, though maybe some of their leads go missing. They never know that a better network around the corner – one they can’t get into as a newbie – has the better offers without the middleman. In fact, they never know there’s a middleman.
And this is all just one of many ways a CPA network can introduce fraud into the proceedings.
Whenever you’re investigating a new network, check it out on both Affpaying and oDigger. These will give you an idea of the sorts of offers available, as well as their reviews, their minimum payment, and a number of other terms. Pay special attention to negative reviews; positive reviews are easily faked and aren’t worth much anyways. Negative reviews, well, you need to take with a grain of salt. Some users really will be breaking the rules and complaining about not being paid. Some will legitimately be scammed by the network.