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Interview with Kristopher B. Jones – PepperjamNETWORK

kris.jpgEarlier in the week I posted that PepperJam Network was giving all new publishers who signed up with their network a signup bonus of $10. Today I’ve managed to get a quick interview with Pepperjam Network’s CEO and President Kristopher B. Jones to ask him about the network, why he started it and what tips he could give us as publishers for using it in a way that earns us the most money.

By the way – the $10 Signup Bonus runs through until the end of the month but to get it you need to sign up through this link - Pepperjam Network

Could you start by explaining to ProBlogger readers what the Pepperjam Network actually is?

The easiest way to describe Pepperjam Network is that we help affiliates and bloggers monetize Web traffic (aka, make money) by partnering with well-known advertisers on a pay-for-performance basis. The affiliate or blogger promotes the advertiser through links (banners, text links, pepperjamADS Widget, etc.) provided through Pepperjam Network – when a referral is made, the affiliate or blogger gets paid either a percentage of the sale or a flat fee on a lead. Affiliate marketing is really easy to get started with and we are finding that some of our top performers are bloggers just like your readers!

There are quite a few other affiliate marketing networks around – why did you start another one? What differentiates you from the rest? Why should bloggers consider joining pepperjamNETWORK?

I can’t disagree with you – there sure are a lot of affiliate networks out there!

However, most of the other affiliate networks either run off of the same technology platform (Direct Track, for instance) and / or are small operations with minimal reach and little to no access to top tier publishers and advertisers.

Unlike many of the “start-up” affiliate networks, Pepperjam is no stranger to affiliate marketing. I started out as an affiliate marketer myself in 1999 (see below). By 2002 I became (so I’m told) one of the most successful affiliate marketers in the business and had already started working as a consultant on the advertiser side of the business.

Before we launched our affiliate network in January of this year we had already established our company as one of the industry leaders in search maketing, affiliate marketing, and online media planning & managment – we already had a client roster that included some of the leading brands across all areas of business and we brought over 8 years of experience to the table!

In short, the above makes us different! But here’s how we executed….

Pepperjam Network is a “next generation” affiliate marketing network. It took us about two years to build and we incorporated the input of over 100 top advertisers and affiliates. In addition to being a network built with Web 2.0 technologies like AJAX, which dramatically improved user experience (aka, usability), Pepperjam Network addresses the two most prominent shortcomings of other networks, namely (1) poor communication tools, and (2) lack of affiliate transparency. Among other tools, Pepperjam Network empowers affiliates and advertisers to communicate more effectively through an internal, real-time chat solution called Pepperjam Chat – with PJ Chat affiliates and advertisers can negotiate private offers, discuss promotional strategies, request coupon codes, and talk about anything they want to improve the relationship. On the side of improving affiliate transparency, Pepperjam Network “ranks” all affiliates on a 5 point scale based on their willingness to disclose promotional methods, Web site(s) used for purposes of affiliate marketing, and accurate, verifiable contact information. In short, the more “transparent” the affiliate is within the network the more likelihood they will get approved to a program, qualify for higher payouts, and be eligible for special incentives.

The goal with Pepperjam Network was to provide a next generation solution that both advertisers and affiliates could build long-term profitable relationships.

From what we are being told by our advertisers and affiliates we have advanced the affiliate marketing industry further in a shorter period of time than anyone before us. :)

One of the concepts that you talk a lot about in your promotion is ‘affiliate transparency’. What is it and why is it so important to you as a network?

l talk about this a bit above. For purposes of Pepperjam Network, “Affiliate Transparency” is a relative measure of any given affiliate’s willingness to disclose and share important information to PJN advertisers. For instance, we ask affiliates upon signing-up for PJN to disclose basic promotional methods (i.e. search, direct linking, loyalty, software, etc.), all Web site(s) used for purposes of promoting PJN advertisers, and to provide accurate, verifiable contact information. Based on this transparency data, along with an analysis of marketing potential, the affiliate is given a score from 0 to 5. While the affiliate may start out with a low transparency score…the good news is that the score is dynamic. This means that if the affiliate really wants to be transparent with the advertiser than they can log back in to their PJN account and become more transparent!

Transparency scores can have a significant effect on how affiliates are viewed by Pepperjam Network advertisers. On the one hand, some PJN advertisers (not all) see low affiliate transparency scores as representing a higher level of “risk” or overall lower level of potential. On the other hand, if an affiliate has a transparency score of 3, 4, or 5 they may automatically qualify for special commission payouts and incentives from select PJN advertisers. In addition, some PJN advertisers automatically approve affiliates with a high transparency rating – this means that an affiliate stands a considerable advantage to other affiliates if they have a high transparency rating. Another benefit of a high transparency rating is that the affiliate is more likely to have access to higher commission payouts.

At the same time, just because an affiliate has a 1 or 2 transparency rating doesn’t mean they can’t get accepted to Pepperjam Network affiliate programs or can’t get higher payouts – however, it does mean that they become a more transparent affiliate.

BTW – let me address a concern that some of your readers may automatically (and rightfully!!!) have regarding “transparency.” “Being transparent” on PJN does not mean that we will disclose confidential or proprietary affiliate information to advertisers. In fact, Pepperjan Network is absolutely committed to maintaining the confidentiality of important affiliate information and data – we will never share that data (i.e., SSN, reerring URL’s, etc.) with advertisers without legal intervention. However, we strongly believe that it is very important to provide enough basic, verifiable information to advertisers so that they are in the best possible position to build an open, honest relationship with the affiliate and pay the absolute highest commissions!

Many ProBlogger readers are new to affiliate marketing or have had limited success with it – what tips would you give them to lift their performance?

The key is to find something that works, replicate it, and scale it. This is the formula I used back in 1999 when I started out as an affiliate and in my prime (I’m now an old man at 32 years old) I was making enough money to do just about anything I wanted. Instead of buying a big house (my current house is modest) or a $200K car (disclosure – I do drive a Cadilac Escalade in the winter and a BMW Z4 in the summer :)) I took all the money I generated as an affiliate and helped build the fastest growing full-service internet marketing agency and affiliate network in the United States. So the moral of the story is that my simple formula works!

Again, here is my three step process to affiliate marketing riches. (1) Find something that works. (2) Replicate it. (3) Scale it.

For instance, I shared this formula last year during the A4U Expo to an audience of about 400 attendees and I even gave a specific example of how it can potentially work, which I will now share with your readers.

I said…while I never personally tried it, that bidding on high traffic typos on pay-per-click engines was something that I knew would work, was easily replicated, and highly scalable. Typos are common misspellings of words that people might use when looking for a specific product or service. Anyway, the idea was that an affiliate could easily and most likely make money by bidding on a typo such as cheeze or Pollo Shirt and sending the traffic through a landing page with an affiliate offer or directly to an advertiser selling cheeses (i.e., igourmet.com) or Polo Shirts (i.e. bluefly.com). I also argued that since there are literally thousands upon thousands of affiliate programs across multiple networks my “typo” affiliate marketing strategy was both easily replicated (think about it…offfice supplies, Nick sneakers, Blueflie, etc.) and easily scalable (Amazon, eBay, Pepperjam Network, Tradedoubler, Linkshare, Google Affiliate Network, etc.).

A few months later I spoke at a conference and asked if anyone in the audience if they had ever heard me speak before and learned enough to make a lot of money. The good news is that a few dozen people raised their hand, including the TYPO GUY!!! The “typo guy” heard me speak at A4U Expo, took my advice, and said he was poised to make 6 figures in 2008 based on that strategy. True story.

The simple formula works, but it is worth spending as much time at step one (1) as necessary since it is the most difficult, challenging, and critical step in the process!

What are pepperjamADS?

pepperjamADS is an affiliate marketing widget that an affiliate can use to serve customized contextual ads from one or multiple Pepperjam Network advertisers at the same time. The ad units come in various shapes and sizes. The affiliate can mix and mash ads from any of their merchant partners. For instance, the affiliate can create a fashion widget by selecting various ads from multiple fashion merchants. Likewise, the affiliate can create a specific widget with ads from any one merchant.

We find that pepperjamADS converts almost five times as well as normal banner ads and about three times as well as normal text ads. In addition, we find that pepperjamADS works especially well with blogger affiliates since pepperjamADS looks a lot like Google AdSense units, which are very easily integrated into existing content / posts. Also, since you can choose the ads you want within the widget, and can change the look and feel (i.e. color, size) to fit the theme of your site, pepperjamADS are worth testing if you are a blogger.

Click Here for a Video Tutorial of pepperjamADS.

Could you talk us through the blogger incentive program that you’re running this month?

Since we launched Pepperjam Network we have had a very successful publisher referral program that paid out up to $7 flat for any new affiliate referral.

For the month of July we decided to increase the payout to ALL Pepperjam Network Publisher Referral Program affiliates to $7 flat…but that’s not all.

We also decided to give our affiliates the ability to give away $10 for free to help them sign-up new affiliates…but that’s not all.

Finally, we decided to launch the affiliate marketing industry’s first ever Blogger Incentive Program!

There is no doubt about the fact that Bloggers are the lifeblood of the PJN Publisher Referral program and tend to be our biggest supporters and closest friends.

As a result, we created a sort of “Pay Per Post” incentive program where any PJN publisher / blogger receives $10 for each post they make (up to 5 per month) that promotes Pepperjam Network or any Pepperjam Network tool.

The cool thing about the PJN Blogger Incentive Program is that not only can the blogger make $10 for each post, but they can give away $10 to new affiliates, and make an additional $7 for each new affiliate they refer to Pepperjam Network.

BTW – if any of your readers are interested in signing up for the PJN Blogger Incentive Program they first need to be accepted as a Pepperjam Network publisher / affiliate. Then they have to apply to the Pepperam Network Publisher Referral Program, which is found under the “Find Partners” tab once they log-in to their account for the first time. Once approved for the referral progam they should read the rules to participate in the program, which includes sending a topic proposal and blog URL to the PJN Blogger Incentive Program management team for approval, along with a few requirements to reduce spam and maximize quality. While this is an easy way for bloggers to make money we are absolutely committed to making sure the program is of the highest quality!

BTW – for those Problogger readers looking to learn more about Pepperjam Network and to look for blog ideas they can visit the Pepperjam Network blog – www.pepperjamnetwork.com/blog.

Explore the Pepperjam Network for yourself by signing up here

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Nice read, maybe i should try Pepperjam network! I want good company that cares about their publishers, and this company looks good!

  2. Raag Vamdatt says:

    This interview gives a lot of details about the program…

    It look s good, and now I am tempted to try it out!

  3. Shafar says:

    This affiliate sounds too good now. I’m gonna try soon. Thanks Darren.

  4. jan [ipears] says:

    Darren, there is a . in the last link of the article (the link to their blog)… causing it to 404.

    Furthermore, really interesting to explore and test, thanks for the elaborate interview!

  5. Mike King says:

    Thanks Darren for the article. Sounds like a great network to get into early and see some benefits from. I like how open they are with their network and how it works. Would like to see some example numbers as well on performance as its hard to compare at such an early point with a network.

  6. Mike King says:

    BTW Darren. The blog link at the end should not have the period on it, its currently broken.

    The link is: http://www.pepperjamnetwork.com/blog

  7. Wayne Tully says:

    Already Joined and am going to devote a full night to check it all out and run it on one of my blogs.

    BTW Kristopher, You look a bit like Jack Osbourne in that picture….! anyway!

    It seems like this is the new way of affiliate marketing evolution it seems with the emphasis placed on building a working relationship more with the affiliate and the publishers of both sides.

    I’m looking forward to testing this network out!

  8. GettyCash says:

    I hope Pepperjam will get more clothing&accessories advertisers.

  9. JK Swopes says:

    Honestly, I absolutely love this network. I love the interface, the communication, and the fact that Kris is accessible and easy to get in contact with.

    I just started with CPA networks, pepperjam was the third one I joined and so far it has been my favorite. They really do treat their affiliates like partners. I’m not saying the other ones don’t, but there was something about the network that “drew me in” and moved me to get involved.

    great interview.

  10. AffiliateDreams says:

    Kris is a lot more attractive than I expected. Does anyone know if he is married?

  11. jaklang says:

    His talks about his own success is a good read. Good to know he is someone that has actually done it before as an affiliate marketer.

  12. Chris says:

    Great interview.

    I have been using CPA networks for several years now. I have been happy with some and disapointed with others on how they treat thier affiliates.

    I have seen the PJ ads all over the place latley and wondered what the deal with them was. This interview answered all my questions. I will be applying to become an affiliate / publisher with PJ soon.

    thanks
    Chris

  13. amirulcyber says:

    darren this interview open my eyes about something that i never thing before.Thanks..

  14. freestuff says:

    i already joined pepperjamNetwork but when come to applying to a merchant for a campaign, they always reject me :-)

    Is there any tips to be accepted by them ?

  15. AB says:

    If you go to any Affiliate forums you will find they work in a very shady space and encourage very sneaky tactics. ABestWeb is a good place to start. AB

  16. Great interview, and PJN is a great network. @freestuff there could be many reasons, but PJ prides themselves on communication and transparency. Just click the chat link or send them an email and I am sure you can get accepted.

  17. I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting article