Affiliate Marketing

[Video] Exclusive Interview With Josh Keller, Part 2: Continued COVID-19 Advice For Affiliates

Lauren Pica
Lauren Pica
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And we’re back — Part II of our no-fluff interview series with Affiliate Marketing legend Josh Keller, transitioning from case study to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus is still taking the world by storm — the W.H.O. reporting more than 183,000 new cases just this week, the largest one-day increase yet, as the global case tally is nearing nine million.

Add that on top of a global recession, surging unemployment rates, immense health risks, and continued movements to end racial disparities. It’s a trying time on us all as we discover a new way of life, a new way of consumption, and for us Marketers, a new way of branding and advertising.

On the brighter side, premium online traffic is still surging, practical and “essential” vertical performance continues to soar, and networks remain less competitive.

Battling COVID-19 head-on alongside his full-service digital agency, Union Square Media, Josh challenges Affiliates to keep an open mindset during this time as we continue to pave our way through the unknowns.

Take it from here, Josh!

Q: How is COVID-19 affecting your advertising strategies at Union Square Media?

TL;DR

Costs are inexpensive with higher traffic and less competition in market, though the timeline is a big unknown.

TS;WM

“Everything seems to be performing the same or better during this pandemic, and the traffic costs have come down because the networks, and Facebook, and everyone is losing budgets from the Travel, Cruise, Planes — all these people that spend a lot of money and don’t care that much about performance. So, the cost has come down and the conversion is basically either stayed the same or have gotten a little bit better.

So, I would say in general, in certain verticals, it’s really good right now, except for, nobody knows how long it’s going to last. In two or three months, if this continues on, nobody might have anything to spend on anything. And then, maybe we can diversify into downloadable games that are free, or you know, Publisher Clearing House-type offers.

You know, as people have less and less money to spend, I feel like the advertisers will become probably more and more schlocky-ish, for lack of better term. But for right now, everything is stabilized and holding, but nobody knows how long it’s going to last.”

Q: How are you discovering new opportunities with the effect the coronavirus is having on advertising?

TL;DR

Go in with the mindset that everything that’s working could come to a halt.

TS;WM

“We’ve started looking at other Advertisers pretending that if all the stuff we have working right now doesn’t work anymore, what would we do, what we try? And that Sales cycle takes a while to bring in — you know, you have contracts, and negotiations, and all that stuff.

So, we’ve started the process of bringing those in and heavily testing other stuff to try and find new things — more than we would have if this wasn’t going.”

Q: Are there any specific verticals or offers that you’re testing during COVID-19?

TL;DR

Consider testing free-to-download, engaging games.

TS;WM

“I think the thing I’m going after most are these games, like there’s one called Forge and there’s different like free casino apps — different things that people are sitting at home and they’re bored what are they going to do when they have no money, things like that.

We’re going to focus on those things — they don’t have to spend much money, I mean, obviously, within the game you can spend money, if you want to, but you have a choice not to. Doesn’t cost them anything to download. They’re bored, something to do. Gotta focus on those things.”

Q: Do you have a platform preference for certain offers? Do you prefer Facebook over Native, for example?

TL;DR

All platforms are complementary and depend on the offer, though campaigns should be spread horizontally.

TS;WM

“What can I do at home that’s not going to cost me money? And then, as far as other Marketing channels, is it better? It’s not better — it’s complimentary. It should never really be one of the other. The only reason it should be one of the other is if you have a lack of resources, and you should do whichever one you have more experience in or are better at because you have a better chance of making money and be able to scale up.

But, like I said, I want the higher-quality from Native and I want the scale from Facebook and Google. It’s the same thing with Snapchat — Snapchat has even worse quality than Facebook, but has a tremendous amount of scale. I mean, again we see these people are coming in. filling out our offers on Snapchat, you’re talking about mostly 18 to 24 with horrible credit, not married, don’t own a home, don’t have insurance, just getting insurance for the first time.

So, it’s pretty interesting — it’s like, it’s more like they’re all just part of one big recipe of Performance Marketing, and depending on the offer, you need to just go where it best suits that offer.”

Wrap Up

Josh said it perfectly — nobody knows how long this pandemic is going to last. Though during these times of uncertainties and new normals, Affiliates should:

  • Take advantage of the high traffic and low competition.
  • Be prepared for the worst, unsure if performance will last.
  • Consider offers that are free and can be used at home.
  • Not put all budget eggs in one basket — instead, launching campaigns horizontally.

Hope you enjoyed Part II of our exclusive interview with entrepreneurial extraordinaire Josh Keller — and be on the lookout for Part III next week, as Josh gets candid about your favorite advertising platforms, from Native to Social to Search.

Looking for more expert Affiliate Marketing advice on advertising amid COVID-19? Check out James Van Elswyk’s take on this very subject in Part I of his interview series.

As always, you can turn to our Strategic Affiliate Marketing Hub for always-on insights and content tailored to your marketing experience. And, if ever you’re feeling a push of inspiration, definitely be sure to sign up and see Outbrain’s native dashboard for yourself.

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Lauren Pica

Lauren Pica

As the brains (and voice) behind the Outbrain brand communications (and our Head of US Marketing!), Lauren spends her days of marketing scrappiness doing everything in her power to gain and retain happy customers.

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