CEO Interview: PeerFly Affiliate Network President Chad French
Chad French is President/CEO of Avlo Media Inc – parent company of the PeerFly Affiliate Network. A programmer by trade, Chad built PeerFly from the ground up using Windows Notepad and $0 in his pocket. Even though PeerFly is only two years old, it’s now considered one of the fastest growing performance marketing networks in the industry and is best known for it’s high payouts, and an amazing custom platform.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you?
I’m 25 years old. I was born in South Florida and raised in North Florida. I’m married with 2 children (6 year old boy & 2 year old girl). My wife is a full time college student at the University of Florida who also works for me part time in accounting. In my free time I enjoy watching weekend football (go Gators!), and mainly trying to spend time with my family.
2. How long have you been in affiliate marketing and how did you get involved?
I’ve been in different types of online marketing since 1999 but didn’t really start making good money until 2007 with an incentive rewards site. After selling that business in the summer of 2008 I dabbled in affiliate marketing and made some really good connections with people in the industry, mainly other affiliate network owners. I’ve been designing websites and programming since I was 15 years old… So, as a programmer, my initial intentions were to create a robust platform and then lease it to the bigger affiliate networks. However, the more I became familiar with everything in this industry the more I actually wanted to run one. It wasn’t long before I started writing up a business plan and getting to work on creating my own affiliate network. The word “PeerFly” has no real meaning but I used it as the name because I already owned the domain and I honestly didn’t have the $10 to get another domain name at the time. I started building the PeerFly platform in the fall of 2008 and then launched it in December.
3. How long was it before you realized you could live off your affiliate income?
It was almost immediately. I came in at a perfect time when we could incentivize rebill offers. The first month in business was amazing. The only overhead I had was a $120 monthly server bill.
4. What has been your biggest success to date?
I’d say the absolute biggest success I’ve had is creating something that is growing roots. Yeah, we’re only two years old but we’ve seen a lot of growth and huge amount of success in our short business life. Our roots our growing and now so is our branches.
5. Tell us a little bit about PeerFly and what you do over there?
PeerFly is a cost-per-action affiliate network. We extend the sales force of merchants, service providers, and product owners in the online world for free. They only pay when we deliver results rather than the promise to deliver results. We have nearly 200 client relationships, over 20k publisher accounts, and we’re growing at an enormous rate.
6. How many employees does PeerFly has and where are your offices located?
This may surprise you but we’re actually quite small – only 6 people including myself and we have no central headquarters. We have a small work force due to the benefit of technology. A lot of tasks and stuff that other affiliate networks hire people for, we replace with automated processes (think robots) that do an even better job. We’re working on an offer recommendation algorithm right now that will slap your typical affiliate manager in the face.
My employees and I all work from the comfort of our home offices. I guess you could say we have 3 offices in Florida, 1 office in Missouri and 1 office in Illinois because that’s where all of my guys live!
We will probably all come together eventually and start expanding our departments but for right now, things couldn’t be any better.
7. There are already so many CPA affiliate networks out there. What makes PeerFly different?
True… there are many networks out there. Amongst other things, here are the top 5 reasons why Internet marketers (worldwide) should choose to work with PeerFly:
a) We don’t have a huge overhead so our profit margins are extremely small which creates the largest payouts.
b) Our platform is unmatched and we’re always adding new features. Publishers can even request specific CUSTOM features for their account. We have API feeds for everything (offers, stats, earnings).
c) We have a lifetime 5% publisher referral program. We’ve had it since day one and will continue to encourage our publishers to refer others. In 2009 we paid out nearly $100k in referral earnings.
d) We’ll do just about anything to get your business including taking a negative margin to beat payouts on another network, giving monthly rewards, or helping you setup your campaign on the weekend at 3am.
e) NO TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS! We have moved past telephone interviews on new applicants for a ton of reasons but mainly because we have enough tools to detect fraud and plenty of ways to communicate online and we know that everyone hates pressured phone interviews.
8. Do you offer bi-weekly or weekly payments? If so, how much does one have to make to qualify?
We offer weeklies if the publisher can generate at least $1k a week. We also offer payments upon request (which virtually nobody else does) for a small fee. We pay many publishers every day using the payment request system. We’ve paid out requests as fast as 8 minutes after submitted.
9. Do you have any exclusive offers that other networks don’t have?
We have a few exclusive insurance offers (auto, health), a few promotional offers, and we’re also currently exclusive with a mortgage lead gen offer. We have a lot of exclusive promotional zip submit offers coming soon.
10. Which offers are performing well on your network?
We’re huge in promotional e-mail and zip submits – probably one of the biggest in the space. Our next largest vertical would be anything lead gen. We’re also huge in “As Seen on TV” offers during the holiday season.
11. Which traffic sources prove to be the most effective for your top earning affiliates? Is it E-mail, PPC, Pay Per View, Facebook, Media Buying or any others?
Our strongest promotional methods are PPC, PPV, Display and Social (FB, Plenty of Fish).
12. What are the criteria for a marketer to be accepted at PeerFly? How does PeerFly prevent and handle fraud?
We accept publishers worldwide although we will deny publishers who don’t meet certain standards. We’ll take in new industry affiliates (everyone’s gotta’ start somewhere, right?) but they need to at least know what affiliate marketing is and have some sort of goals in place. Our fraud detection and compliance team is unmatched. Upon registration we require ID uploads from certain countries and automatic phone verification. The data from new applicants are analyzed automatically by our system using over 20 different cross checks into known fraudulent accounts, fraudulently used IP addresses and a whole slew of other monotonous verification checks. After that, we have a full time fraud & compliance team managed by a guy who’s awake 24/7 and lives on red bull and a lack of sunlight. You don’t want to cross paths with him – it won’t be pretty.
13. For those who are interested in working with you and your affiliate network – what’s the best way/time to reach you?
We have official business hours for phone calls but someone from our team is usually online via messenger at anytime of the day. We also try hard to get e-mails answered within 24 hours.
14. What’s the difference between a Super Affiliate and an Average Affiliate?
A super affiliate runs with PeerFly, the rest go elsewhere!:D
15. If you could change one thing about the affiliate industry, what would it be?
It would be getting rid of the scum networks that make our industry look like a get rich quick scheme. In addition – getting truly represented by an association who can get us access to the big brands and who will fight for us in Washington when it comes to online advertising matters. Affiliate marketing (I like “performance marketing” better) might be a small sector of online advertising but we’re making huge footprints.
16. What do you think about where the industry is going? Where PeerFly may be going?
We saw a boom when ring tones were big and a boom during the rebill era but those were nothing in comparison to what types of activity we will see as an industry once we clean up, become more organized, and start attracting the Ford’s and Nike’s.
As for PeerFly, not only do we have big plans in store for our CPA platform but also we will soon be branching out into other forms of traditional online advertising. Look out for Adzur in 2011.
17. What are your goals for the rest of 2010?
To make the 4th quarter our biggest ever and to also be prepared for our first ASW show where we’ve secured a meet market table and booth.
18. What’s your favorite movie and why?
I have so many favorites and my #1 movie seems to get replaced all the time. However, I really enjoyed Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio and can definitely say that it’s in my top 10. Fantastic flick.
19. Give us a little glimpse into what a typical day in your life looks like.
I wake up at 8am and get my daughter ready and take her to school. On the way home I usually stop and get a large coffee from McDonald’s to help start my day and get me focused (it really does work wonders!). I work from about 10am – 5pm then I take a 2-4 hour break to spend time with my family. I work again intermittently until about 2am. On the weekends I try to spend more time with the family but I still find myself working a lot, mostly in the evenings and into the morning hours.