Sonny Palta: The Affiliate Marketing Industry in 2023 – MaxWeb Podcast
March 3, 2023
Our Founder and CEO Sonny Palta recently sat down with Anna Gita, CEO of MaxWeb Affiliate Network, the world’s leading performance marketing community. Anna gets together with the top performance marketers in the industry for sit down sessions, where they unfold all the top tips and secret strategies that have proven them success. Listen as Sonny discusses how The Affiliati Network has made its’ mission very simple: Drive massive value for all partners in the digital marketing supply chain.
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Hi, everyone, welcome to the Max Web video podcast. I’m so excited to have our 35th episode today. And because is it’s a fun number, right? So I wanted us to have a really, really great speaker. As always, I always invite friends that we admire and we look up to in the space. If you’re listening to us on Spotify, Google or Apple, make sure you check out the podcast on YouTube or Facebook later, so you can put a face with our beautiful guest today, Sonny. So without further ado, Sonny, what we usually do, instead of me trying to explain the best about your history and background. If you can spend a few minutes talking about yourself, how you got into space, and what’s your superpower, we would really appreciate that.
Sonny Palta 0:53
Absolutely. Thank you for having me, such a pleasure to be here at the end of the year and great to connect with as you said, a good friend and calling me a beautiful guest does yourself a little bit of disservice there, you’re the one we aspire to be. I’m Sonny Palta. I’m the CEO and founder of Affiliati Network. My background, I was just a guy who graduated college, and my brother, Raul Hall was an affiliate in the industry. He took me to Affiliate Summit West, and from there, I just decided, hey, I’m gonna start an affiliate network, it seemed like a valid place where my expertise, my abilities of fiscal prudence of salesmanship, of information synthesis would be well utilized. And from there, I bootstrapped it for the first two years, and at that point, I started hiring some team members, including our current chief revenue officer who started as one of our account managers. And we just grew the company year over year as a fully bootstrapped enterprise into what it is today, we have 40 people, mostly located in Santa Barbara, and Chicago, and scattered across the United States.
And it’s just been such a blessing to be a part of this industry and join it, when we did, I’ve done one job as an adult in this world, and it’s been running this company. So often, it’s all my team members, I don’t know what I don’t know, because I’ve done one thing, and been blessed enough to have some great partners on the advertiser and affiliate side to help us get to where we are. What’s my superpower? And I think it’s, it’s three things. One, it’s information synthesis, it’s something I’m very good at, I have pattern recognition qualities, and this is something that team members have told me, so I was oblivious to it until it was brought to my attention. And then the other to our sheer force of will, Just persistence, and hustle, and hustle, sheer force of will whatever you want to call it, just a deep rooted hatred of losing. That’s been quite a bit for us. And the third is resistance, which is knowing when to say no to certain things. And not just try to say yes to everything, which is an easy thing to do in this industry. Yes, On board, that partner, yes, we can serve as this, but is it core to the mission and what you’re focused on at the time and being able to filter through. So I’d say those would be the three.
Amazing, those are wonderful ones. And I can highly relate specifically to the last one because we have learned to say no, and many times it’s better for everyone, right? Not all clients are going to be a good fit to our DNA and how we do things, and you know, that’s okay. You can really like and respect someone, if it’s probably not a good fit for your company, it’s okay to choose clients and partners that align their vision with yours, so, beautifully said.
Sonny Palta 4:18
Doing that actually leads to like a better long term relationship with that person, because if you just say yes, and then drop the ball or do a half assed job, that’s not honest. And when you when you’re upfront that hey, this isn’t the right time or the right fit right now that’s pure honesty, and that’s going to serve that relationship or friendship much better for the long term. But I’m curious what’s your superpower? But what do you consider to be yours? I’ll turn that question over to you.
Oh my gosh. Well, I I actually get this question a lot. That’s why I like to that’s why I like to ask. I think my superpower is similar to what you know, I call hustle. I think I just have the ability to work very hard. And that’s why it’s easy for me when if I’m on stage, or if I talk about something, I’m never worried about anyone copying us, because I don’t know a lot of people that can consistently put in 12,16, 18 hour days, and that’s my superpower. I wish I could be like, I have this brilliant IQ. I have all, you know, all this knowledge and everything. The truth is, I just work very hard. I put in so many hours of work. And I know, there was the saying, and I think it still goes around with Gen Z and Gen X. They always say like, you have to work smart, not hard. You really have to do both. I think I’m just the testimony of having to work hard. And I think that’s my superpower, I can do the most boring things for 12 hours straight. And I’ll just do it like, I won’t complain, right? It’s like we have to, we have to do it, especially in our shoes. And this actually goes in beautifully with what I wanted to ask you. So I can only imagine how busy you are. Right. And I know we have a lot of affiliates and product owners listening in today. And I wanted this episode to be more relaxed, right? Because we have been filling every one with just like native ads and goals and copies and YouTube.
Sonny Palta 6:22
We got to make it more relaxed.
I know, I know. And I wanted to focus on mindset, because it’s something that everyone has shifted. And I love that people are talking about it. But I feel like there are not a lot of operators that are honest about how to achieve a really good and healthy mindset. So I would love to hear your thoughts on how you work on your mindset, any tips, any, you know, beautiful people that you were in a room with that have helped to be stronger, you know, emotionally and have the mindset that we have to have everyday to run a big business?
Sonny Palta 7:00
That’s a it’s a great question. I think everyone’s struggling with it, like you said, and it ties into the ability to have that work ethic and output. And the harder not smarter, sheer force of will, whatever you want to call it. I think for me, the biggest thing has been just really focusing in on a specific philosophy that I’ve spent a lot of the year with. I’m sure many of the listeners have heard about Stoicism, and that’s with a capital S Not a lowercase s as a as like a philosophy and framework for life. And a lot of it is predicated on finding happiness in putting out your best work or putting in the effort and realizing and really just owning the statement. Everyone says it, it’s hard to own it. Life is never going to be perfect, the stars will never be aligned. There’s an old saying like life is one damn thing after another. That’s a true statement. But you can look at that as those are problems that are going to take you out or those are opportunities for you to test your mettle, improve your mental willpower, your persistence, and gain some experience in solving that problem, and shifting into that latter bucket has really been the thing that’s kept me going. Particularly like the past three years, I have four children under 10. Well, I guess my my oldest just turned 10 A couple of days ago. Happy birthday, Sophia. Watch this. You know, in the past decade, it’s running a company and having four children, it’s a wild ride. And like you said it contributes to all that busyness. And you can find those moments where you’ll you’ll be defeated. Or you can really pull from within and say these problems are now opportunities for me to test my mettle.
So early on in the year I got introduced to stoicism by a good friend. And a couple of good books that I recommend are like “the obstacle is the way”, “meditations”, really great. But it’s not a widely spread lie, studied philosophical school, so they’re good ones. But so much of it is finding the the ability to shift your mental thought on the problems, turn the problem upside down and look at it as an opportunity. And so that’s like when it comes to mindset. That’s been the thing that’s kept me going through the problems because the problems will always be there. It’ll never be a good time to make a big change to hire a key role or fire key role that you’ve been putting off, to have a kid, to take the vacation, there will never be a good time. And you have to find that way to make it work. So that’s been a big piece of it. I think the other one for me is this concept of kaizen. which is a Japanese thought of getting 1% Better per day. And that’s been with me for a very long time. I think it was atomic habits and James clear some five, seven years ago, when I read that book, put that bug in my ear, like just, it’s not going to happen overnight, just get a little bit better put the work in every day. And that whole concept of just slow, steady, measured progress, showing up every day, like you said, every day, even when you don’t want to every damn day. That’s been a big one. For me, I take that like to the gym. So when we talk about personal habits, about three or four years ago got really into weightlifting. That release of just moving heavy objects, at the end of the day has changed my ability to process stress. And it at least once a week, I’ll go to a yoga class and find that stillness, which is kind of the counterpoint of weightlifting, and meditative state. How about yourself? What are you? What tactics are you employing or what mental models?
I was smiling and nodding because a huge one for me was the 1% every day and being consistent. So I always remind myself, you know, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, change everything overnight. You know, hire all the key roles this week. 10x Everything. You know, Grant, Grant Cardone is a great dude. But I’ve never agreed with a 10x overnight. And I’m sure that’s not he meant right. But it’s about consistency, and showing up every day, being consistent and being present, that has helped me the most. So I tried to learn and to put the pressure of because people always expect a lot, right. So you have a successful company, and people expect you to bring more new amazing offers, be there be present, be at all the conferences all the time, and it’s really hard. So I learned to show up, be present, tried to do better every day. And honestly, the biggest one for me was to not take things personally, in my 20s I was so lucky to be, because usually takes a while to get to be comfortable with not taking things personally because we’re human. And no matter what people say, we’re human, and we get our feelings hurt, right.
So that was a really big one for me, I think if we can invest in anything, is to learn to not take things personally. Because believe me, most humans in this world, they really don’t mean to hurt you, especially at work. When someone says something, it’s not their intent to, for you to have a bad day, right? They’re probably going through something they’re probably just more direct, more assertive. There’s so many different ways of communication. So especially in our business, in our culture, and you know, the digital nomads culture, don’t take things personally, I mean, you there’s going to be so much drama that we can just simply avoid by not taking things personally, being direct. That has helped me a lot. But it’s beautiful that you talked about the 1%. Because a lot of the viewers have, have heard me say a lot of times, so I promise you guys, Tony and I did not cross check notes before.
Sonny Palta 13:27
No. Two things you said there that really struck a chord for me. I’m not taking things personally, a good skill set. And I think I said this to the team on our last all hands call is seek to understand before you seek to be understood, and doing it in that order has really served me well. Good anecdote like I had a an affiliate reach out and he was very upset because of the performance on an offer. And I was cursing like a little, little virital being spewed my way. And rather than getting reactive, which was my initial reaction, I promise you, I’m human. I just slowed it down and got to the meat of the matter about what was going on. And as soon as that happened, the entire tone of the conversation changed. And we all walked away with a positive outcome. And that was really powerful. But the the 1% thing, I think Buffett said it a long time ago like no one wants to get rich slowly. Yep. But that consistently that 1% per day that I’ll be 36 in March. So I guess I’m starting to get up there.
I turned 36 in August.
Sonny Palta 14:39
I love it. And it’s taken, you know, 12,13 years of running the company. But it’s been a fantastic journey. And the outcomes are there. It’s just steady measured progress. I told one of my friends, he asked me we’re hanging out like how long have you been doing it? I said 12 years oh, an overnight success. I got it, you know?
Amen. And I have said this so many times. And again, guys, we haven’t crossed notes, it just happens that we see the same patterns. We have this flocks of people in our industry. And we have so many people with, you know, not just courses, but all this information for affiliates out there where you can make money overnight. Right? And I am just so cautious about putting information like that out there. Is it possible to make 50k a day as an affiliate? God, yes. But the affiliates that make those numbers, they have worked hard for a long time, they know how to create fresh ads, they know how to optimize. So we need to be really careful with you know, and emphasize how important organic growth is, right? I wish we could tell you guys just follow a, b and c and you’re going to be a millionaire by next year. But truth is the people that I know in this industry that are relevant, that have successful companies that are in the green, right? They focus on organic growth, not making a lot of money overnight. And that’s paramount to remember. I wanted I wanted to ask you, so we’ll I’ll have a few mindset questions too. But I know a lot of people are dying to know, because you’re also running a network and I’m all about the abundance mindset affiliates should always test and see what are, you know, the BEST OFFERS out there. What type of niches and offers you’ve noticed, and traffic sources that have been doing good for you guys and your community?
Sonny Palta 16:37
Oh, absolutely. And I know that we operate on some slightly different offers, so the overlap can be minimal between our companies. And on our end, we’ve taken a big focus on some lead generation verticals that weren’t quite as popular a couple years ago, and we’ve been able to gain a good foot hold, with the brands and advertisers there. So we’re looking at kind of an underserved community and the pharmaceutical community has been a big one for us over the past two, three years, I’ve really enjoyed figuring out how to bring more entrants from that sector into performance marketing, I think that’s a really interesting mindset as a whole is just figuring out an untapped niche. Because understanding the model of the performance marketing funnel and the traffic funnel, and taking that out to an untapped sector can yield some really incredible results. Because brands and advertisers everybody wants what we can do, and when you can bring a new entrant in, you can show the power of this machine. So that pharmaceutical sectors been really interesting for us. We’re still very big in E commerce. So just direct to consumer products.
Outside of that, we’ve always been strong in the nutrition space. So weight loss, anti aging, CBD, things of that nature, and a big push in financial. That’s obviously tougher right now, given the lack of economic climate which, if you want to spend some time on I love nerding out on that. I’m an economist by trade and, you see the market shocks there, but I think it’s about looking at okay, am I just am I just purchasing mortgage and refinance? Or am I able to take a larger swag at the financial sector as a whole and apply those same tenants to other financial products when we see a rising rate environment and revised not as in vogue at the present time.
Amazing. That’s so helpful. And now you know, we’ve we’ve been laser focused on health stuff, right? The health stuff I it’s not as as you said, it’s when I think about health, it’s not as much neutral like it’s not as much weight loss or CBD for us as its Health offers that usually baby boomers would die, right, like joint pain, nerve and vision. And that has been great. But as always, it’s so important to know what’s working, what other friends are doing in the space. What about traffic sources? I’ve noticed that a lot of affiliates that used to do Facebook are crushing it on YouTube, for example, or millions that only did email now are trying other sources like GDN or native. Have you seen like a lot of affiliates switching some of their traffic sources or trying new traffic sources?
Sonny Palta 19:31
We made a push into somewhere like the second bucket social networks, trying to make Reddit probably tiktoks not even second bucket anymore, but the two year old demographic can be tough. We’ve always taken a very wide approach so I wouldn’t say the concentration is anywhere on Facebook still top dog. I think from a macro climate. You’re gonna see them fire 10% And probably another 10% and you’ll see how profitable that company can actually be, when you triple your headcount over a four year window, you’ve got some bloat. And as a platform that I think the rumors of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. I agree. I agree, especially something you said there about the Health offers. That kind of ties in when I was talking about the pharmaceutical stuff like, I found a good result talking to affiliates who run those VSLs for nerve pain for diabetic products. And then we’ve got these lead generation offers that are. Here’s a free diabetes testing machine. If you qualify under Medicare Part B, and things of that nature, where you can take the same data set that’s converting on product A, and cross monetize that user to product B on a lead generation offer, if product A was a sale offer, and the people who are doing that are extracting a lot more revenue per user.
And when I look at the future of the industry like that cross monetization and cohorting of customer is really the thing that lets your ROI jump in a significant way. And looking at it analytically finding a paired offer: home warranty, and that data set and that pixel has got some good learning or you built a squeeze page that captures the user data, are you cross monetizing that user to an auto offer because if you own a home, you probably own a car, or solar home improvement, bathroom remodel, etc. And even on the elderly offers stuff as simple as like walk-in tubs regenerates into any product catering to the 60 plus market. It doesn’t have to be a direct diabetic to diabetic, looking at that pattern recognition is something that I expect to see more of and I welcome that opportunity.
Incredible. I love it. All right. So going back to, I know we have a lot of operators that love to listen to the podcast, so I would like to spend a few questions for them. And for me, selfishly. So big, huge problem in our space. In any industry. One of my all industries is people. And when I say people is hiring the right people, motivating them making sure they, you know, they do a wonderful job, how do you guys go about finding talent? And is it difficult, because I’m going to be honest, I find it very difficult,
Sonny Palta 22:35
It’s incredibly difficult. It’s the greatest challenge, after you get out of the first growth phase of a company, you know, there’s that zero to 15, then there’s the 15 to 35, And then beyond and maintaining. And when you’re zero to 15, it’s everybody does a little bit of everything. And you can find those people who are willing to take that bet on the outcome. But from there, it’s you’re recruiting for people who want some more stability, maybe they’re still willing to take that bet in some capacity. But you have to maintain that culture that got you there of the willingness to do anything, put in the long hours, etc. And and it’s really the greatest challenge. We recruit on LinkedIn are certain roles, we’ll use a recruiter and pay the blood money to have a recruiter go sourcing. And no it’s not cheap. But for the right for the very important roles. You got to make sure you get those right, because how destructive is it to get the wrong person in the seat? Puts you back months. When it comes to what we look for, it’s it’s less about the experience or specific skills, like those matter. But I look a lot at what types of jobs has this person held in the past.
I’m a firm believer in customer/client service. So anyone who’s held any prior roles that speak to their ability to communicate effectively, especially in our industry, very important to me. And just, it’s how do you find people who have the willingness to solve the problem that will apply the critical thought and I’ve said this word so many times this past month and in the past 20 days, almost sick of saying the words “critical thought”, but that application of like, why would you not do your best if you’re working on something? It’s disrespectful of your own time for you to come into any activity and not put out your best effort. So, finding the people who exude a willingness to put in their best effort really matters to me. I’m a big effort person. I don’t care if you get it wrong. But if you didn’t try, I’m just, I’m like offended. Like gives me an ulcer, it makes me so mad.
wonder person. What about like internal culture tips, you just don’t have to share all of them. But sure, for example, one of the big things that have worked beautifully for our team is the idea meritocracy. And what I mean by that not, just because someone is in charge should get to decide how we’re going to do things. So we love to involve in everyone, you know, and the best idea should win. Right. So that has helped beautifully, you know, as we as we grow, but I would love to hear about any good cultural themes that have worked for your team.
Sonny Palta 25:41
Yeah, we we do like the monthly all hands kind of open format call, which is important with a team, spread out. For you can’t get everybody together, sometimes we’ll do an activity one month, we planted a garden, one month, we made cocktails. So just having space where you’re like, turn off Skype, turn off Telegram, turn off anything else, and just be with your people for a minute. We’ve done a good job. And we’re starting to have more in person summits. So whenever we can’t be together, and I’m not talking about at a conference, because the conferences get crazy and their purpose. But getting the team together so that you have that human interaction with the people that you work with, I think is at least a couple times a year, to the best of your ability. It’s important. One of my favorite ones that we started doing, we’ve only done one, but I’ve started carving out an hour, once every six weeks or so. And it’s just asked me anything. Why is the sky blue? But what’s your favorite thing to do with your kids and just make myself available to them? Because what I find that that does as an operator is it humanizes you. And especially as you grow, your ability to interact with every person on the team starts to get diminished. And that’s where those fun origin stories will come out. Early times when you closed a big deal, or you did something awesome at a at a conference, one of the company favorite stories is I got up on stage in Vegas at affiliate summit with some casino lobby bar band and sang karaoke with them. Right after a client dinner.I do have video that we will put it in the show notes. Okay,
I want to see it. We all want to see it. That’s beautiful. I love that. And I love. I love though putting yourself out there for everyone on the team. I struggle with that because I hate it. I hate that not everyone gets to get a lot of time with me. But my job is to make sure we’re financially okay, that we you know, we solve the big problems. And you know, it would be so much fun to have like an hour every week with all the team members. But that would literally leave no time for anything else. But every six weeks or so I can see how that is doable and very valuable.
Sonny Palta 28:03
Yeah, a little “ask me anything”. It’s fun. It’s fun.
Well, I’m you, you should extend that to other operators in the space, ask something, anything. And then I already have a list. So that’s perfect. Amazing. All right. So what about? Awesome, I see you guys have a few questions. I promise we’ll take a few questions too. But I really like to keep the podcast to under an hour, which is really hard sometimes especially. It’s been 30 minutes and I feel like we just played the live.
Sonny Palta 28:36
It’s easy when the conversation is good, right? I know. I know.
But one I just had another live podcast today. And one of the things we were discussing was trends for next year. Right. So I would love to see what you think. What are some of especially since you guys also do several verticals that we don’t. I’m so curious to see what you think about upcoming trends.
Sonny Palta 29:00
Upcoming trends is the New Year’s prediction show. Right? We’ll see how many I can get right. Upcoming trends for the new year. I and maybe this is the perpetual optimist in me, I think it will be a short lived recession. I know that’s antithetical to what the experts in the pros are saying, but that is that is my belief. So I think that we see a macro economic rebound. And with that, somewhat of a reversion to the mean, there will be some pain probably until the middle or third quarter of the year. But my prediction is it’s a shorter recession. And I hope everyone’s rooting for that one and what does that mean? Hopefully that means you know, we see the consumer spending habits start to rebound, less of the push into what I’m seeing right now is subprime, but in the first half of the year. If I were to make a bet I’d be running a lot of the subprime offers, I think the pain comes before it evacuates, it’s outside of that. Predictions for the new year, you’re gonna see, especially in the financial market, just a deeper evaluation of the lead quality. You’ll see some major players really lower the spend, we’re already seeing it from some of like the auto insurance buyers. And they’re going to press pause, evaluate everything and come back with a new model. So I think you see adjustments to the bidding and pricing model for some of the financial sector products, most notably on auto insurance. One of my favorite people in the industry. Stefan, Georgie, he has been writing a lot. If anybody’s not on his newsletter, you should be subscribing to it.
He was a guest on our podcast as well.
Sonny Palta 30:59
Yeah. And his copywriting just that you can take from his newsletter, very good tips. But he’s been writing a lot about leveraging chat GPT and the proliferation of AI. Subscribe to his newsletter, you’ll pick up what I’m about to say, but learning how to speak to artificial intelligence platforms to influence how you create your content and copy will be materially important. And it’s not going to do your job for you. But it is going to influence angle creation or ideation, that you can then go forth as a marketer, and polish and spin and, and deploy. And I think that’ll increase the fluidity with which you can test.
I agree, we have spent a lot of time last week with the team talking about the AI writing tools. We actually implemented for even for personal use, because a lot of the team members are brilliant, high IQ individuals, but introverts, so they have a hard time being bubbly. So we tried to ask the AI to help and make the messages more bubbly. And guess what, it’s brilliant. I mean, I’m such a fan. And obviously, it’s paramount and very important on how you word the questions, the software, but I personally think it can help tremendously. And for us to have access to that right, not just Grammarly or, you know, any other tools that used to help us write better in college. I mean, this is a next level it can really, really help all our day to day operations.
Sonny Palta 32:44
So are you using that to help your team better engage with advertiser and affiliate clients and revise messaging from like a chat interaction perspective?
Exactly. Because I love to hire high IQ individuals that are very good at problem solving. Critical thinking is not a problem. But those individuals are usually not bubbly. And you know, it’s okay, because we all have different superpowers, right? So many times I find myself having to write elaborate messages to just make something sound better. That could be probably said in two sentences. But some partners, they expect the bubbliness from us. So it’s been just brilliant and I’m so happy to share that because it really helped several team members to feel more comfortable knowing that they will be able to write bubbly messages with truth is in our space, it is important.
Sonny Palta 33:37
Absolutely. It’s how do you get your persona, across written rapid fire messages, it’s very important. Ingestion of our humor is deserved or bringing it back to the the main point when necessary.
Exactly. And I mean, I think about all our team members, not everyone was hired as an AM, AM’s naturally are, you know, great communicators, they can make jokes, but the DEV team or the accounting team, it shouldn’t be their superpower to you know, to know how to communicate in that manner. So it just helps domain in a few cases where they do need to interact with partners.
Sonny Palta 34:14
As I always say, like, each person within an organization has a touch point with whoever your respective clients is. And so if accounting is reaching out to a brand or advertiser for payment collection, that is an opportunity to continue to foster the relationship and looking at it under that lens and providing them the tool to help pull that out of them or leverage AI to get that bubbliness I think that’s really fascinating. And I love hearing that you’re doing that. I might borrow that one.
I oh my gosh, I’m just so happy we could, that was my first thought because again, I have had this conversation with key members of my team who are like, like sometimes I’m just not able to say what I mean because I want to be direct, you know, I feel like because we’re writing, it’s 99% of the time written communication. And so it was, it was a big one. And I think the other big trend that I have noticed, even for, like, native ads is this shift even for emails too, the shift for personalized ads. So, you know, we have all those videos for YouTube or tick tock and of course, they are more personalized, because it’s video, it’s an interactive, right? With native ads in the past was enough to just have a good presale, maybe a nice image, and you would get a lot of clicks. But because users are on social media now, like even when they get their news, people used to go to CNN to, you know, Wall Street journal.com to get their news. Now, they’ll just get on Insta, they’ll go to NPRs or CNN’s page and tried to gather information from there. So I think we need to adjust better. And next year is going to be this trend towards personalized ads across all channels like as you know, personalized as we can be in interactive.
Sonny Palta 36:14
I do like that interactive piece, I saw a very interesting pre-sell that employed a pre-program chatbot as part of the pre sell. And I thought that that was pretty fascinating. It was an interesting angle just saw it yesterday, so I plan on spending a little bit of time dissecting that and reverse engineering, what the actual use cases can be there.
You need to share that with me. Right? Well. All right, brilliant. Let’s stick to questions. Thank you guys for being patient here. I’m gonna put it on the screen. But I’m also gonna read it out loud for people that are just listening to us on Spotify. So what are the most useful and current tools you would recommend to active affiliates in this space? I think you can include any tools. For example, I always talk about spy tools,
Sonny Palta 37:04
Right? For me, we use Similar Web a ton. It’s not a cheap license. So I know that that one might preclude a cohort of the of the listeners umm but that one, just the depth and breadth of that tool has always been very powerful for us. If you haven’t checked out, we touched on AI. And again, I want to be really abundantly clear like it’s not going to do your job for you as a copywriter, or for your ads, but the ideation that you can get out of something like Jasper, which is just what I look at it as chat GPT built on a model that’s specific, it’s a specific use case with a little friendlier UI. That type of stuff is very powerful. When it comes to other spy tools, you know, there’s, there’s so many and they’re all kind of dependent on which platform you’re using, is going to be the best one. We’ve used ANSTRX is the URL, for quite some time but I always come back to Similar Web is kind of my, my gold star in that case.
I love that. I pulled it up here too. We use it Aplexity at a lot, but you never know. It’s brilliant. Oh, there we go. The team already included the URLs for you guys on the Facebook page. So thank you guys. Alright, one more. Let’s see. Oh, that’s a good one. What is Sonny most looking forward to in 2023?
Sonny Palta 38:33
What am I most looking forward to? I’ll go with two things. First and foremost, I’ve got a good friend. He’s a sitar player. And he went to school in Brooklyn, he invited us to come to his 50th birthday party in Jamaica with a bunch of his fellow musicians. Like I’m not a musician, but I always aspired to be one. Work in the industry, all that stuff. I’ve got a big music festival background. So this is kind of like a lifelong dream to go get to be around a bunch of musicians for a full week in early April. So that’s something I’m really looking forward to. I think I would just say for everyone, like, take a vacation at some point. I think about it. But that’s that’s my, it’s always easier to tell other people some advice than to do it yourself. If I get to shoot my shot, that’s my one there. And what else am I looking most forward to? It? We’re in an acquisitive mode. Over here at affiliate it we’re trying to find the right acquisition to layer into the company. And there’s one that we’re looking at in the content creation space. So I think a big part of me is very hopeful that we can find a way to pull that deal off and integrate them because I think it would be a paradigm shift to the traditional performance marketing network model to layer in that type of service and, and reach in what we do every day. So that potential acquisition would be the other thing other than that, growing the team and of course, spending time with my beautiful wife and lovely children and just like enjoying life, you know, finding those little spaces to be happy, no matter what noise is going on around me.
I’d love that brilliant. Alright, hey, Sonny, what type of niches you see as working best in Nutra weight loss, vision, blood sugar?
Sonny Palta 40:40
Well it’s December 20, so by my calculations, the New Year’s resolutions have probably started and you know, grandma’s probably at the house and called somebody fat and made them upset. You know, it’s a funny thing. That’s a little bit of humor there. But to start the year, I mean, that’s kind of a no brainer. But I, I always encourage, like, look at any art, there’s not necessarily a specific niche, because everybody’s always looking for something, find your cohort, find your demographic, find a news article that talks about a specific ailment or condition, understand that ailment and condition by truly looking at what’s the breadth or prevalence of diabetes within the United States, if that’s where you’re targeting or in your respective country, the article came out 75% of North America qualifies, I think is overweight right now is a recent article I saw. So obviously, weight loss is like a perpetual one. But there’s anxiety. There’s so many different ones. And it’s really, I don’t point anyone to any specific thing as much as I say, there’s a market, how are you going to tap into that market from an appropriate angle, and gain enough mastery of it to speak to what those users are looking for?
Brilliant, I love it.
Sonny Palta 42:02
I’m sorry that’s not a direct answer to the question.
No, it’s great. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s how you guys know, we haven’t pre written all the all the answers, just some of them. Just some of them. Alright, so I am very curious, because I have heard so much talk and controversy around the topic this year. As to what do you think about courses like affiliate courses? Because we have, you know, both directions, I think some people are like totally against them, then you have some affiliate that go through them and they find them so successful and helpful. What is your opinion in general about courses, because in our space, there are so many courses every new month on all channels.
Sonny Palta 42:48
I’ve honestly never used a course or really been too involved in that community. So from an outsider’s perspective, who’s admittedly very naive about what a lot of the content is, I’ll just use my personal experience is, I learned by doing, the content that you can consume, might teach or give you a little bit of information. But ultimately, it’s about what we talked about at the top of the hour, which is showing up and putting in the work. And I think that that’s really true. Like, if you look at an affiliate course, or you look at a college degree, it might teach you information, but you ultimately have to go do the work every day, and be consistent. And so whatever you use to get the information, whether it’s a course, or whether it’s stack that money or forums or whatever it may be to start to understand how the industry works, if that’s what the purpose of the course is. You got to get your information and knowledge base from somewhere. But then you have to do the work. The types of courses, I think are probably more valuable than others are skills specific. If it’s, if it’s broad based, you’re going to get that high level overview, and that’s helpful for the initial one on one. But as you’re honing your craft I look at, is copywriting you really something you really need for the avenues you’ve chosen within this industry? If yes, you should find something that speaks to that for your continuing education. But you should always be learning. And it doesn’t have to be a course, there are books on copywriting. Like, I listen to Audible all the time. And that’s how I get all my books stuff because I just have lost my ability to sit down and read a book after staring at a computer screen and reading the chats and emails all day. But there are books on all those topics. And so hopefully that’s a useful answer. I don’t know, necessarily the right person for that question.
Now it’s and that’s why you know, it’s not a not a curve in any sense. But sometimes when I hear a lot of talk on specific topics, I’d love to, I’d love to bring it up. Okay, so you spoke about books. I’m a huge nerd, I love to read, I do love to have a, like a real book in my hands. I do use audible too, especially if we’re, you know, driving or whatnot, is, are there any books that you read recently, and I know you gave me three titles earlier, but anything that you read recently, or listened to recently that operators would find useful.
Sonny Palta 45:37
There’s one called the happy Samurai, especially for operators. And it takes like the old philosophy of the Samurai, and also applies like a lot of modern parallels. But for an operator, I think that one’s really powerful from a making sure that you stay happy. Because like, pardon my French here, you might have to put the explicit tag on here. But holy shit, it’s easy to just get stuck in like the anxiety as an operator of what’s next, are, you know, are we going to survive? And yeah, there’s that little Mark Twain quote, I’ll probably butcher it. “But I’ve known a great many problems, and most of them have never come true.” Right? There’s something to that effect. And, like losing anxiety, and finding a way to be happy, A, it’s kind of important, if you want to live a long time, B what’s the point of living an unhappy life. And see it makes you a better operator. It just makes you better at your work. And so that’s been a big thing for me is just like letting go of the anxiety because this is an industry it ebbs and flows. There’s an algorithm change. And internally, you’re not ever going to really say it out loud. But you see the numbers go from here to here. Okay, good. Run everybody big game, let’s pack and then it rebounds. Because that’s the nature of the beast. Things change and being able to withstand those and maintain that happy attitude or, or lack of anxiety and roll with the punches. It’s important. So I really loved happy samurai. That one helped me a lot with that. And for fun, I’m listening to the Lord of the Rings, narrated by Andy Serkis. He was the actor who played Gollum in the original trilogy. Crafting is very powerful, and the way that he conveys the story. So I’ve been really enjoying that one as well.
I love it fantastic. Oh my gosh, I read I relax when I read. So I read a lot of fiction. I don’t know the last month I read “book lovers”, fantastic witty, funny. “Lessons in chemistry”, “eek black cake”, it’s a lot of like historical data, and “made” those were the four I read a lot, because that’s how I relaxed so instead of like a good Netflix show, if I have a more, my son is six now. So I just had time the last year to start reading. So I’m really into it. That’s how I relax but those four are like, I really recommend them because they’re easy to read and relaxing. So
Sonny Palta 48:19
One other good one. I love Ben Horowitz is “the hard thing about hard things”. He started his first company went through the .com crash, it’s a lot of life and death of the company being on death’s doorstep and pulling through. And he’s obviously wildly successful being a partner over Andreessen Horowitz, which is Silicon Valley.
Such a good one. And I mean, for operators, I the audience have, have heard me say this before, but Cal Newports “deep work”. I’m such a huge believer in and that deep work aspect like helps you to understand why it is so much value into not just working but setting time aside for deep work. And as operators we need to do that there’s no way around. It’s like kind of like skipping class, right? You can’t take out deep work from your date, you need to be like focused and in the trenches doing certain things. And that has helped me tremendously. I’ve read it several times through my career, and I always learn something new from it.
Sonny Palta 49:27
That’s a good one, well I’llcheck that one out. Bring up a good point in there that it’s so easy to get caught up in the pings and the rapid fire and lose the deep work because someone needs something from you and having that space and just blocking off the calendar. Sometimes my wife, my team is gonna probably watch this and they’ll figure out my secret but a tip that I use is I make fake meetings on my calendar so that it shows me as busy so to all the fellow operators out there if you’re finding it Hard to block out create a fake meeting occurring, everyone will see you as blocked and busy.
I know I taught it’s common sense that all operators have to do that and just fake meeting so you have time to do work.
Sonny Palta 50:15
One of them I did, this one’s probably back at the beginning of the years called “the man who solved the market” by Gregory Zuckerman and some of the first, the first firm to really employ algorithmic trading in the stock market. What I love about that was the parallel that you can pull from those lessons to finding ways to solve your market, whatever your market may be. And looking at it from the work smarter part of work smart, hard, of course.
Both you have to have both if you really do. All right, a few more, a couple more questions, brilliant. And I still want to hear from Hamid, which is the best native ads website? You can go first, if you want Sony, I love native everyone knows we have a native team in house. And honestly, Mohamed, it really depends on the offer. Some offers are going to do better on rough content, others are going to do better on our brain. It’s also how much money you want to spend, and what’s your compliance like risk appetite, because if you want to be on Taboola, it’s going to be really hard because their compliance bar is very hard. So you should start with like a smaller network like mga D. But overall, if I had to pick one, just because from our experience, it was easier to get stuff approved, is probably Outbreak.
Sonny Palta 51:51
And I liked that I liked that answer. Because with those questions, what’s the best one? It’s use case specific? I’ve never found like the silver bullet. It’s where do you have the best relationship and rep who’s going to help you be successful? I think that’s a big piece of it. And everything that you just said really ties into the second piece of what my answer would be.
I love it. Thank you. All right. So we we talked about, you know, the team and the culture aspect. What about affiliates? Right? Do you have any advice for affiliates that are starting in the space, because every day we see, you know, new courses that are bringing new affiliates to the market. So they’re not always equipped to understand exactly the dynamics of our space. So what would be your advice for brand new affiliates in the space
Sonny Palta 52:45
Focus. My same advice for people who have been in the space for a long time is pick a lane, shiny object syndrome, I think, feels like it’s bigger in this industry than in other industries. But that may just be personal bias. But pick a lane and stay focused and see something through. Particularly for new affiliates. If you try to ping pong, and do a little bit of everything early on, you may gain some experience, but you’re not going to get any mastery. And you may, you’re not going to necessarily find the success that you need to then snow ball into the next win. So I think that focus seeing things through, understanding that if you test an offer in a specific vertical and it doesn’t work, you haven’t failed, you gain some experience about that vertical, how can you find something else in that space in that demographic, that can turn it into a win or use that data point to help you learn and don’t just test the offer? Do some research on that demographic. Like you can get free market research very quickly on Google to help hone in targeting angles, the value proposition that you want to convey to the consumer. And so just asking, Hey, what’s hot to your account manager and then not doing any market research, you’re doing yourself a disservice take the extra deep work analytical mind to, to hone in and understand what the pain points are that you’re trying to solve. It’s really important.
That’s beautiful. Thank you. And now to the other side of our industry, product owners. We have so many product owners that come to us and they want a lot of traffic, lots of sales every day. How do we advise them on how to create the offers what type of creatives to give us? What’s your advice to product owners that want to get lots of sales? Do they want to have, you know, great traffic all the time, right?
Sonny Palta 54:56
So I’ve got kind of two different tracks I’ll use So this question with. the first one is this concept of best practices, it’s very common for product owners to look at only the best practices of what’s currently converting and just employ the same things. And if you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get the same results that everyone else gets. Now, that’s not to say that’s a bad strategy, but it should not be your only strategy. So applying again, critical thought to say, here’s version A, and here’s version B, version A is built on best practices, where’s your creativity? And how are you deploying it in version B? Because you may build a better mousetrap and give someone something fresh. So don’t just copy landing pages, I think is what I’m trying to say succinctly. Yeah, that’s a piece of it. Invest in the copywriting. And the design on the landing page. Very important. merchant processing, merchant processing, merchant processing, you’re only as good as your portfolio. And that’s on the sales side. Yeah, the one thing, and I was talking to some of my fellow operators, but none of them work in the performance marketing sector. Just about like, some people, a lot of people don’t understand what we do. So I gave them a crash course. And they said, so how do I use this to be successful, and the number one thing I challenged all of them with, it’ll challenge everybody else with this.
Affiliate traffic can drive a tremendous amount of sales. And you can make some margin, but you should be paying most of that margin to the affiliates. Because they’re the ones incurring the ad cost. And if you’re paying too low, they’re not going to be able to turn a profit and you’re gonna get zero traffic, your juice, your squeeze has to come from your internal capabilities, to drip market, retarget, and monetize all that beautiful, beautiful data and free impressions. It’s providing you. And if you’re trying to build a product, just on being profitable from affiliate traffic, you’re gonna have a really hard time. But the second you integrate that second piece of the puzzle, and really focus on your internal processes, that’s where your juice comes from. Because your your CAC, your customer acquisition cost on that second cohort is going to be materially lower if you’re employing the right strategies there. And so then you can look at your holistic customer acquisition costs, expensive in the affiliate channel, very low on your search, your retargeting, your drip marketing, your follow ups, your SMS auto responder. And when you look at that holistically, that’s where you get a viable business model.
So good, so good. And I strongly agree with everything you said. And I’m so glad that we you said it in a kind way, right. Because many times when we advise product owners, we want to we want to make sure they understand right, and especially giving high payouts to us or the affiliates, we’re not trying to squeeze more money from them is just very hard when you buy traffic to make things profitable. And it really is paramount that they are very good at squeezing money from the upsells retargeting email. So I’m so glad that you said that, because I think a lot of people need to hear that and understand how important it is if they do want affiliates and networks to want to run their offers, right?
Sonny Palta 58:34
Right, because the traffic cost is really the most in any industry, customer acquisition cost is typically the highest line item. It’s the most expensive part. One other thing that I didn’t touch on is advertisers can look at their data and figure out how they can monetize that data on those other cohorts and become affiliates themselves. And that just adds to the profitability of their overall enterprises. And so the best advertisers that we’ve worked with over our 12, 13 years in existence here have been the ones who look at that full picture, not just the front end.
Same. All right, we have one more minute.
Sonny Palta 59:21
I have a question for you. What are you asking for from the holidays? Or did you get yourself like a particular gift that you’re you’re very excited about?
I did I got myself an aura ring. It’s a lot of industry friends had it. And I never spent money on myself. Like, I’ve always get stuff from a family and you know, the community and my son obviously. And I was like, that sounds really cool. And I’m like I really want as a goal to take better care of myself next year. And that’s like a good start. Maybe it’s going to tell me about sleeping patterns. Definitely is going to tell me I need to stand up more and walk not be sitting all day. So I’m really excited to see like what insights we get from the ring because apparently is pretty accurate with like your cardiac rhythms and if you get anxious or stressed or stuff, so I let you know when I get it.
Sonny Palta 1:00:14
My second one is, what’s something like a great memory from this past year that you just reflect on as it doesn’t have to be your favorite, just something that you look back on the past 12 months and say, That was that was a great part of the year.
Oh my gosh, well, obviously lots around my son because we had a lot of milestone this year. And it was a recent one when we were doing the list for Santa Claus. And he said, Well, I you know, I don’t want Santa to spend too much money on me because we want all the poor kids to get lots of gifts. So as a parent, I mean dropped the mic. How can you not like, pat yourself on the back? Thank goodness. Well, I know, I know. So that was, you know, huge important moment. Because we try so hard, we give our kids everything. And we talk with our operators in the space about this all the time. We want to spoil them on want to love them. But we also want to create beautiful humans who are going to give back to their communities. So that was a huge highlight for me. And, and the other one was seeing my entire team in Dubai, we did a team building and everyone flew to Dubai. And we like filmed a fancy like About Us video. That was really special. Thank you for asking. Thank you. Alright, so one more thing, a lot of people just like scroll to the end of the podcast. I know you guys, I know you sometimes do that. So let’s pretend someone is going to just scroll to the end on their Spotify app to listen to the end of the podcast. So what is the one thing or it can be a few things that you want the audience to take away from Sonny from our talk today.
Sonny Palta 1:02:02
Remember to breathe. Tune out the noise. So much of like the negativity we’re getting right now is manufactured. And you are the content you consume the say, We’re marketers, remember that you’re also being marketed to, and the content you consume is absolutely going to affect your mindset. Availability is the best ability. I think this is what we talked about at the beginning of the podcast, be consistent get 1% Better per day, and 100 days from now you’ll be twice as good as you are. And whether that’s on earnings, if you make whatever it is, whatever your target metric is. Exercise. Keeps the brain sharp. And I can’t say enough about how much of a mindset change that that made for me and the world as a whole is actually better than it’s ever been. If you look at all the key metrics, the media would have us all believe otherwise. Tune out shut out. Stay positive and 2023 is going to be just a fantastic year.
Exactly you guys 2023 is going to be the best year and again, if you’re listening to us on Apple, Google, Spotify, whatever you know, platform usually listen to please tune in on YouTube or Facebook. We have a bunch of comments. And again you get to see Sonny which is so fantastic. So fantastic. Son,y, thank you again for taking the time. I appreciate you so much. And I look forward to seeing you at ASW
Sonny Palta 1:03:46
Yeah, we’ll wait to see you at Affiliate Summit West and everybody else that the industry I’m on Thank you for having me on the podcast. It’s been a real pleasure.
So much fun. Thank you and thank you everyone for tuning in. We really appreciate you.
Sonny Palta 1:04:00
Happy New Year everybody.