Affiliate Program Overkill Part 1: The Cloaker
Affiliate Program Overkill Part 2: Scaling The Operation
Affiliate Program Overkill Part 3: Explaining The Setup
Alright, let´s get ready for the big final.
Now it gets really crazy.
I had my setup running with few hundred affiliate programs for some time already.
Then I decided to scale it massive.
Of course at this stage I used some tools to make the work a bit easier.
Zennoposter – With Zennoposter I created some scrapers and signup/login bots
Winautomation – Winautomation helped me to sort lists and clean my data
Scrapebox – With Scrapebox I got me lots of Google results and also used it to sort data
Ok, here we go 🙂
Few hundred affiliate programs were not enough for me.
I wanted to have more.
So at first I prepared a list of affiliate networks with many different affiliate programs.
There I came up with several platforms that gave me altogether more than 10k affiliate programs to promote.
The annoying part was to apply for all the programs if needed and grab all the links.
For this I used Zennoposter again.
I wasn´t picky with the choice of programs that I want to promote.
I only went for pure quantity.
The more – the better.
As I already told in the previous posts, one big problem was to produce “Safe Sites” to show as a referrer for all the programs.
When I only ran it on low scale with very few programs I just created a basic template that I changed for all affiliate programs separately.
But when I started to scale it wasn´t possible anymore.
Or can you imagine to create separate landers for few hundred programs that you run all at the same time.
And now think about thousands of programs.
I already had an idea and contacted my coder.
He understood pretty good what I wanted to archive and coded a platform for me that I then used for this project.
Unluckily I can´t tell too much about it because it´s still in use and for some reasons I better keep it underground 😉
Anyway, this platform was able to show reasonable safe sites for as many programs as I want to.
I run it in few slightly different versions for different languages or verticals.
When my coder sent me the final files the first thing I did was to try to understand the whole structure.
It´s built on Codeigniter so I needed to check how it´s all connected.
As soon as I knew it I had some ideas how to improve the software and started working on it.
Now it´s not only a great platform to use for tens of thousands of affiliate programs.
It grabs parameters from the URL and based on the values it redirects and fakes/hides the referrer.
Then I had another problem.
When I checked my platform on Similarweb I saw that from the referrers you could see the origin of my traffic.
And that was not good.
So far I could only fake the outgoing traffic from my platform to the affiliate programs.
But the incoming traffic also needed to be faked.
As usual I did some brainstorming and came up with a pretty sneaky trick.
I just used Google as referrer.
What could be better than the big G when you want to fake the origin of your traffic and pretend to be high quality.
To do this my website only needed to be indexed by Google.
Then I searched for my website on Google and checked the source code of the search results.
There I had to find the Google redirect link.
That´s the link that opens when you click on a search result.
– Well, maybe it is 😀
I am not sure if the trick is still working nowadays but when I used it it worked.
Now the redirects were like this:
Trafficsource -> Tracking Link -> Redirect through Google to platform -> Fake referrer – Redirect to affiliate program
Alright, one more problem solved so let´s start the fun.
Although I had more than 10k or so affiliate programs to promote they were all from big networks.
I wanted to get inhouse programs as well.
So first thing I did was to create scrapers for Similarweb and Alexa to get me the top sites.
I know that I could just download the sites but with my scrapers I automatically could grab related sites.
Additionally I prepared a list with keywords like “affiliate program”, “partner program”, “partner signup” and so on.
I used Scrapebox as well as an own created Google scraper to search for such keywords.
That way I gathered a really big list of websites.
I cleaned the lists, stripped all entries down to root domain and removed duplicates.
Now I searched for affiliate program software like iDev, Omnistar, Postaffiliate Pro and so on.
I visited some websites that were using these softwares.
In the sourcecode of these websites I searched for footprints.
Then I used Scrapebox to search millions of websites for footprints of the affiliate softwares and saved the results in separate files.
I created bots for all these softwares to sign up, login, check if approved or not and get links.
I ran the bots once a day to check for new approved programs.
The results I saved in new files again.
One file for pending, one for approved and one for bad/not worth it.
The pending sites were checked once a day, the approved were used to login and grab links.
Then I signed up for some affiliate program aggregator platforms and got additional thousands of programs from there as well.
Many of these programs I already had from other platforms so I created scripts with Winautomaiton to compare.
When the program is available on a real network or inhouse already then delete it from the aggregators.
When it´s not available anywhere else keep it.
Next step was to be little bit more niche specific.
I used search terms like “VERTICAL affiliate program” to get as many results as possible for specific verticals.
The results I sorted again, removed duplicates and stuff.
I took the clean results and checke them on Alexa and Similarweb to see if it´s worth it or not.
That way I generated a new list.
Well, all in all I had XX,XXX affiliate programs to promote.
I can´t tell the exact number because it were so many and I just didn´t care about it.
Of course I also had to add the programs to my platform.
I created a bot again, for this task I used Winautomation.
Now you probably ask yourself how I could run these campaigns?
How did I track it?
What was with payments, isn´t it a big mess with so many different programs to work with?
The truth is that I just didn´t care about all these things.
I created very big campaigns for many affiliate programs per campaign.
Sometimes I even had to split campaigns because of trafficsource limits.
Then I just keep it running and didn´t really track anything.
I just check the targets that spend much money.
There I control if they are profitable or not.
The rest I just keep running because the profitable high volume targets make good for all non profitable low volume targets.
When I see that targets spend much money but the connected program is not converting I stop it.
About payments, for most programs I use Paypal and just collect payments.
Other programs, mostly inhouse programs, send checks.
I then just collect some checks and bring them to my bank.
They probably hate me because I am the only person that always brings checks from foreign countries.
Well, now you know my story how I scaled to a really crazy amount of different programs that I ran all at the same time.
I hope you enjoyed it and I didn´t forget anything.
When you have any questions about it feel free to ask.
I can´t go too deep into details for some things because I still have some campaigns running.
Because of changes in the traffic landscape it´s not working as good anymore but it´s still generating some nice money.
In my interview I talked about campaigns that I have running for many years already basically on autopilot.
These are the campaigns, some of them are running since 2013 or so already and I hope that they will live for some more time.