17 Nov 2009

This is why you don’t gossip on the Internet

24 Comments affiliate marketing

Some affiliates are losing millions per month, I’m told, as a result of my TechCrunch post.  And Shoemoney has not been shy about his willingness to write blog posts for money. If someone is about to ‘topple an industry’ (highly unlikely), one strategy is to trash his credibility and scare him into not writing anymore.  But what I didn’t expect was that folks like Jeremy Schoemaker would be out for blood, misstate facts, and even email our advisory members.  I reached out to him, to give him a chance to explain why he would go so far out of his way– so far, no response.

Let’s clear a few things up:

  • Scott Richter does not have ownership in BlitzMetrics. Yes, we were in his building.  No, his dad never threatened to sue any of these gossipers– he’s got more important things to do.  Yes, Scott has paid for many meals and entertainment.  No, Scott did not cover Jeremy’s travel and lodging to come see us– that was 100% paid for by Blitz, including the loan we made him at Affiliate Convention in Denver when he had no money.
  • Gillian Muessig has no ownership in BlitzMetrics and is not employed by the company. She is a friend, colleague, and mentor– since she knows how to navigate the waters in building fledgling companies to industry leadership.  She is the President and co-founder of SEOmoz and Rand Fishkin is her son.  SEOmoz is her baby and she has said so quite plainly– why wouldn’t she take this company all the way?  I respect her deeply for her insight and integrity, which has carried her company to where it is today.
  • I’ve written a lot of articles. You’ve probably read some of them, maybe without knowing, as I wrote under other people’s names.  For example– a number of ad serving posts, as well as most of the ShoeMoney Xtreme guides. Look at the examples referenced in the articles and compare the writing styles if you’re not sure.
  • We’ve been burned a number of times: This is common in affiliate marketing.  What’s not as common is someone that I’ve had deep respect for and trusted, such as Jeremy, do that to us a couple times, then claim the reverse.  He is a prominent blogger and a lot of folks look up to him– therefore, he should be careful as a role model.  Yes, the Facebook whitelisted account was his.  He called me up while at Facebook and agreed to a 50/50 revshare, so I assigned 2 full-time employees to that account.  After a ton of Russian brides and dating ads, and a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue, BlitzMetrics was left with no earnings and Shoemoney took 2 employees. We lost a lot of money, which hurt a small business like ours, but we did not pursue him.  His recollection is different, although the email trail and IM chat logs of these employees tell another story.

I’m owing up to all the spam (or call it by whatever name you want) that I’ve done in the past. The TechCrunch article was part of that– and there are more articles coming.  Facebook has done a commendable job in shutting down loopholes– but there are many, and the players are so clever.  Are these players still making money?  Certainly.  Could we have?  Perhaps, but we didn’t. And whatever money we did make was spent on building our local platform– let me tell you that the road to scaling up real clients, especially in local, is hard. We don’t have much money.

I would be naive to think that I have enough power to shut down an industry– I am just one guy and BlitzMetrics is a tiny company.  Would you ever fall for a MyLuvCrush ad?  The folks who read this blog do Internet marketing for a living, and I know you’re not falling for it.  At the same time, don’t fall for a hate-motivated piece– examine their motives and then check the facts to see if things add up. Jeremy mentioned that the reason the picture of sheep is the default avatar on his blog is that most will blindly follow whatever he says and not think for themselves.

One thing that has surprised me is the amazing support we’ve received from white hat folks, small businesses, industry friends, and the press. How folks have reacted to events of the last two weeks clearly define if they’re black or white hat.  If you’re an affiliate running deceptive stuff, you know that profits are hit-and-miss and that there’s often high school drama involved.  We did some consulting for the FTC– a nice surprise, as they promised not to sue.  The local and agency work is steady, the people are easier to work with, and you can feel good about what you’re doing. Ironically, we’re helping build a new form of affiliate marketing– it’s the local space. If you define an affiliate as someone who gets paid to promote someone else’s product or service, then you’d likely believe that Russian brides is out and local is in.

There’s two sides to every story, so consider the facts and make your own decision.  Meanwhile, I’m getting back to focusing on local. If you want to build a real business with local clients, I’d love to hear from you.

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Dennis Yu is the CTO of BlitzMetrics. He is an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook marketing, having been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. He is also a regular contributor for Adweek's SocialTimes column. Dennis has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines. He studied Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at dennis@blitzmetrics.com, his blog, or on Facebook.
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