I’ve had more than a few conversations about affiliate programs with my fellow bloggers and I’m becoming more and more convinced that any attempt to generate significant income via these programs is an exercise in futility. I know, I can already hear the gasps out there but let me explain.
The typical affiliate program pays the affiliate approx. 20% – 30% of the MGR (Monthly Gross Revenue). That sounds like a pretty juicy deal. In fact it is, if you can sign up several active players a month and those players remain active over a sufficient length of time. Of course, that’s a big if.
Let’s just run some hypotheticals to see how the deck is stacked. If we use the 80/20 rule, then 8 out of 10 signups will be total duds. They either will never deposit and become a RMP (Real Money Player) or they will quit playing before they generate anything more than a token amount of rake. Now, let’s assume you affiliate banner ad has a click thru rate (CTR) of 1% or less. That’s actually stunningly generous as one is likely to have real-world results around 0.1% – 0.5% (hmmm . . . starting to see why most sites prefer affiliate deals rather than pay for impressions?). But even at an overly generous 1% CTR, let’s assume 2% – 3% will actually download the software and create an account. I don’t have any solid statistics on conversions from click thru’s to accounts created but I think I’m being overly optimistic in granting a 2% – 3% figure (you may show higher rates due to your ad landing them on an auto-download page which still counts as a download if they cancel). So what you’ve got is 2% – 3% of 1% which is about 0.02%. At a minimum, you would need 50,000 ad views to generate 10 downloads. Of the 10 downloads, 8 will be duds so you need 50,000 ad views to generate just two players who create enough rake above and beyond the bonus take backs (you don’t get paid while they clear bonuses) for you to actually see a penny of profit. And if I’m right about being overly generous about the CTR we could actually be looking at 100,000 to 150,000 ad views.
If you’re a poker blogger don’t expect numbers anywhere near that good though. Why? Because your visitors, while highly targeted, are likely to already have online poker accounts. Do you really believe yours is the first Party, FullTilt, or UltimateBet affiliate ad they’ve ever seen? Highly unlikely. They’re on your blog probably because of a link on another poker blog or message board to something you wrote or they found you via Google when they typed in “Naked Pictures of Doyle Brunson.”
I don’t have hard numbers for any of the above but anecdotal evidence and my own guesstimates suggest that 500,000 ad views would not be an outlandish number in regards the number of impressions needed to gather 10 downloads due to the negative impact of attracting active poker players who already have accounts. So now you’ve got to ask what two players might generate in rake. Maybe $500? Maybe even less if they’re starting out at the .50/$1 tables or lower. That’s a whopping $100 – $150 a month and if those two players bolt for a different site, get wiped out at the tables, wise up and get a rakeback deal or (on Party) quit playing for 60 days, you’re back at square one.
The situation is even more dire when you consider your competition. Yes, some people are making money off affiliate deals but most of them are earning every penny of it. They’ll go to any extreme to put their affiliate code out there and they tend to target groups more likely to be new players than do poker bloggers. Here’s a small sample of things people are doing to sign up players:
Posting money making opportunities on job boards like monster (i.e. MAKE MONEY FROM HOME PLAYING POKER!!!!!!)
Writing press releases around poker tournaments and other events and submitting them to paid PR agencies for release to services like Google News. For instance, XYZ Poker Announces 30 WSOP Seats to Be Given Away in May! Of course, all the links in the press release have their affiliate code in them even though they look like they were written by XYZ Poker.
Sponsoring parties and other social events (think spring break).
Hosting free roll tournaments at online sites and putting up the prize pool out of their pocket.
Handing out flyers or paying someone to slip flyers under windshield wiper blades at colleges, sporting events, casinos, etc.
Those are just the ones on the up and up. Others are going to libraries and putting stickers with their affiliate code on the inside back cover, stamping US currency with their affiliate code, and the worst (and most disgusting) idea I heard was going to book stores and putting cards or stickers in books on gambling addiction.
As you can see, it’s not as easy as setting up a poker blog and posting a bunch of bad beat posts while you wait for people to click on your link and make you rich. Your competition is looking in every nook and cranny trying to snatch players before they even become interested enough in the game to start reading poker blogs.
Is the situation hopeless? For most poker bloggers the anwser is probably is yes. Unless it’s a brand new site and you’re directing people there for some reason (a tournament, a new signup bonus, etc), most of your current and future readers already have accounts where you have affiliate deals.
That doesn’t mean there’s no money to be made from blogging about poker but it does mean that affiliate deals are probably not going to be highly profitable. Like someone once said; it’s a hard way to make an easy living 🙂