“Affiliate marketing is a codependent business model” – Bram van Pul
Bram van Pul, Team Manager Sales of Advidi, joins the latest series of affiliate interviews on Affiliate Grand Slam
Bram van Pul, Team Manager Sales of Advidi, describes Advidi as expert matchmakers, ensuring the right affiliates are paired with the right advertisers to deliver work with impact. Their role is supportive, and they exist to make other people grow. They are focused on building long-term relationships that last more than the first transaction as they are here to stay – follow his story below.
How did Advidi take off?
When new networks emerge, they often follow a similar format – they start out as an advertiser and then onboard the technology that will allow them to manage a large number of affiliates. Advidi’s story is different; we began with traffic. The company was founded by two large media buyers who bought traffic in Dating and were smart enough to use the volumes they were running to establish lucrative deals with advertisers. That media buying mentality is something we still adhere to, all these years later. We are not an advertiser disguised as a network, competing with other advertisers. We knew how traffic worked and how to use it and we stuck to that. That’s our expertise and our strength and we continue to build and expand on that.
Advidi is a performance marketing company. Can you tell us more about Advidi?
We imagined Advidi to be a place where brands go to reach new levels of success; where affiliates go to grow, where business partners simply come to take a breath because they know someone will take whatever complex things they are dealing with and simplify it. We’re expert matchmakers, ensuring the right affiliates are paired with the right advertisers to deliver work with impact. In this dynamic industry, that involves a broad range of efforts, including technical optimisation, resource allocation, consultation, cashflow support… the list is endless.
We managed to thrive in this very dynamic industry because we understood our role quite early – our role is supportive, and we exist to make other people grow. We also don’t chase the quick buck, and we are focused on building long-term relationships that last more than the first transaction. We started almost 10 years ago as a private Dating media buying club. Today we are a global company of over 80 employees, with a diversified business in multiple verticals. Among those employees you’ll find vertical experts, traffic consultants, data scientists, developers, and marketers. We are proud that our company’s culture and brand became sought after, so we can employ some of the best talent out there.
Which are your strongest verticals and GEOs? What marketing services do you specialise in?
We are a European company, based in Amsterdam, but our biggest market is the US. People are often surprised to hear that we have traffic for GEOs outside the EU. Being a European company doesn’t mean you’re limited to the European markets, especially in a digital age, and even more so being an online performance marketing company. So that being said, our strongest GEOs are the United States, then the European markets (both the Western and Eastern block), Australia, and New Zealand. We constantly travel to meet with marketeers from all over the world, find the best people from the industry and connect them. We also hire account managers who come with different cultural backgrounds to accommodate the needs of different regions and cultures.
In regards to the verticals, Dating is our bread and butter. With inhouse products in over 20 GEOs, this is definitely our biggest vertical. That’s followed by iGaming, Nutra, and Sweepstakes. Our biggest focus of late has been in building exclusive partnerships with eCommerce advertisers. Our overall ambition is to create technological advancements in all of the above verticals.
With regards to eComm, the transition to selling online has shifted dramatically, particularly during the pandemic. We help businesses to kick start their online sales. If they don’t have one already, we build an affiliate program on top of their existing outreach and demonstrate the benefits of having one.
Tell us a bit more about your business model, concept, culture, and mission.
Our mission is to find and connect the best people in the industry while inspiring and empowering them to be more successful. We strive to create opportunities beyond our clients’ expectations by being the most complete, organised, and trustworthy performance marketing network out here.
Businesswise, we have always focused on models that are bringing a high level of performance. We strongly believe it’s the most transparent way of doing business, as the advertisers are only paying for the actual sale/conversion. Consequently, we only work with CPA, CPS, or CPL offers.
What incremental value will you provide to affiliates and advertisers?
Well, to begin, we have our own products within Dating that live in more than 20 GEOs.
In regards to affiliates, working with Advidi means they receive quicker and safer payments and have access to a portfolio of alternatives when an offer goes down. We also provide filtering sources, feedback on channels, and creative support. As well as this, being part of a network such as ours means they have a bigger leverage when it comes to advertisers. They have a representative in the negotiations and so any initial distrust is gone. They’re no longer “just another affiliate” that approaches the advertiser for CAPs, but a trusted partner.
For advertisers, we offer a preselection of quality sources for their particular products or offers. We deal with all communication which unburdens the advertiser, freeing them from daily communication with affiliates and enabling them to focus on their other tasks. Basically we act as an outsourced affiliate department for advertisers who don’t have inhouse resources to manage affiliates (an extension on their business).
What we are seeing more and more is the emergence of protected bubbles or ecosystems – advertisers or other service providers are looking for partners to work with. Thanks to our years of experience and consistency in providing professional services as well as our long standing relationships, we often find ourselves on the shortlist as a preferred partner. The reputation we have built tends to put us high on a list of networks to work with. With the constant changes in the market and added regulations, people look for stable and proven partners. A network should be a reliable, core business partner that can anticipate the fluctuations in the market.
What is your approach in the initial stages of a new partnership and what are the steps you take?
For affiliates, there’s a vetting process. We have a very strict and thorough onboarding process on both sides (affiliates and advertisers).
We don’t want to work with everybody. We are looking for a specific mindset and the right intentions. The right mindset is vital for us. We have to know that we’re aligned and have the same business goals, particularly in the ways we want to achieve success. We do lots of background checks to ensure this, and a lot of conversations to establish our goals.
What’s important to us is also the level of transparency and the openness to share information, in the good times and in the bad. To be able to grow together and build a new business relationship you shouldn’t play your cards too close to your chest, you should open up and share what your ambitions are, what works for you, and what you’re struggling with.
We are here to stay. We are here for the long run.
How important is data to Advidi?
For us, data is everything. It’s what we base our advice on. If your data housekeeping is not in order, then you can’t possibly give the appropriate information to your clients. For example, if several affiliates are running similar traffic sources, we have lots of data points on the CRs, the EPCs, and the overall performance of those campaigns. This helps us to advise the affiliates on what is working well on their traffic. This also links back to the transparency in our relationships; the more a client is willing to share data with us, the more we can analyse and the better we are at advising them on how to scale.
We have an inhouse BI team and data scientists, as well as our own internal developers. Over the course of several years, we have custom built features and tools that are unique. This gives us an advantage in terms of the possibilities to connect and analyse various data points and make sense of that for our clients.
We’re committed to transparency when sharing data with advertisers and this gives us a stronger position when negotiating payout. For example, with eComm advertisers we look into the data of the average order values. By being aware of this and the individual traffic sources, we are able to negotiate better payouts for affiliates simply by understanding this type of information.
How does technology play a part in your day-to-day?
We have custom features built into the regular tools. These give us an advantage in terms of deliverability, data insight, and custom domains for our top affiliates. These features enable us to not only understand, but analyse data points in an incredibly detailed way. It’s just one of the many services we provide which are unique to the market. The outcome of all these services combined is an enhanced CTR and consequently, sizable conversion rates.
Have you seen any new marketing trends this year?
We’ve witnessed an explosion in variations of product and format within eComm. The industry was advancing even before the pandemic and preparing for the digital transformation many businesses needed to undergo. But, I believe, the pandemic accelerated this at an unprecedented speed. What we see now is a huge space in the middle of the online marketing industry which is hungry for constant innovation and improvement. We saw a huge fluctuation in varying products and formats across eComm this year and we expect that to continue to expand further.
Can you explain briefly what, in your view, is affiliate marketing?
I’m sure you’re asking this question as there are so many different definitions, discussions and opinions out there about affiliate marketing. What I can tell you is how we define and practice affiliate marketing here at Advidi. In our eyes, affiliate marketing is a codependent business model – an ecosystem if you like – in which each segment is depending on others in order to function, survive, and thrive. Each segment is also investing its own money.
Consequently, there is a high level of involvement, but there has to be a huge level of trust for all of this to work well. We as a company drew a line a long time ago about who we want to be surrounded with. And yes, in those choices we sometimes had to leave money on the table, but that doesn’t matter. We are not here to make a quick buck. We are here to stay.
Unfortunately, over the last few years, we’ve seen many industry players closing up shop. Most of the time, that was down to their choice of partners. The affiliate marketing we practice is not “get rich quick” marketing. We choose our colleagues, partners, and clients very thoroughly. We trust them. We do our part of the work and let the others involved in our ecosystem do theirs.
Have you ever been to SiGMA? SiGMA Europe, Africa, Asia, or Americas – which of these four expo shows would you likely book in your diary for 2021, COVID-19 permitting?
We’ve been in Europe, yes. And we’ll be back again!
Tell us a bit about yourself – after all, business is done with people, not just companies! Your hobbies, favourite book, favourite quote, etc.
My career began seven years ago when I started working for a lead generation company. I’ve been with Advidi for five years now, initially growing the affiliate side of the business before moving on to manage the sales team.
I live in Amsterdam with my girlfriend and our dog. If not at work, then you’ll usually find me outside, training – running, hiking, and of course, being Dutch, cycling. In 2018, I ran the New York marathon, but sadly didn’t make it in under four hours so I’m planning to do it again. As soon as we can travel to NYC, of course!
If I’m honest, I’m not really a book person but I do keep on top of the news. I read the papers daily and listen to a lot of podcasts. Again, quotes aren’t really my thing but I am a fan of this one: “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
I really believe in the importance of challenging yourself and analysing the people you surround yourself with. If you feel you’re the smartest, strongest, fastest then you should keep moving and look for others who can challenge you.
Join us for the next SiGMA iGathering networking event in Amsterdam on the 29th of September at 19:00. Indulge in a delicious dinner at the Persijn Restaurant in QO Amsterdam Hotel while interacting with like-minded individuals as well as the region’s top industry leaders.