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LeapFish Affiliate Program. Can Giveaways Keep It Afloat?

Disclaimer: This post is entirely my personal opinion.

UPDATE May13, 2010: Things pertaining to LeapFish.com, their founders and management, along with related startups are no longer of interest to me, therefore no further comments are allowed on this post. There are also more reliable sources out there (such as Better Business Bureau) to help you make an informed decision about LeapFish.

Not so long ago LeapFish.com lunched their own affiliate program. LeapFish is a search aggregator that displays the results from Google, Yahoo, MSN and some other websites. They strip down the sponsored ads from the search results provided to them via APIs by Google, Yahoo and MSN while inserting their own ads instead. Ad can be purchased on LeapFish.com for a set price with 5% yearly renewal fee. According to LeapFish the average price per keyword is $1,499:
leapfishcosts

Is LeapFish Affiliate Program Promoting The Wrong Product?
It appears the LeapFish affiliate program is aimed at gaining traffic to their website and the sale of keywords is left to often overly aggressive sales executives- which in my opinion is a mistake. It sends the wrong signal, in my opinion, that LeapFish.com is really in desperate need of traffic and exposure (see my take on their linking payola below). According to their FQA an affiliate will make $0.05 for each search performed through a search widget provided by LeapFish. As I pointed out in my comment at 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Forums to LeapFish affiliate manager, I believe LeapFish should have linked their affiliate program to the sales of keywords instead, it would have helped them on the following levels:

  • eliminate partially or completely the need of sales executives
  • saving money spend on hiring and reimbursing the sales executives.
  • finally at 5%-10% commission, it will automatically make LeapFish one of the most competitive affiliate programs out there, if they had a product worth buying that is.

LeapFish Affiliate Program Will Suffer From Bad Reviews
In my opinion, LeapFish.com did not go far enough nor were they sincere in apologizing for overly aggressive sales person who committed click fraud trying to “scare” potential client into advertising with LeapFish. While LeapFish reacted by firing the employee, the LeapFish blamed TechCrunch for misrepresenting the entire event and treating LeapFish unjustly. The problem with a such bad publicity is that many affiliates will pass the opportunity to make money with LeapFish once they learn about the above described click fraud fiasco. Many affiliate marketers use extensively the pay per click advertising across major search engines themselves and the click fraud episode will serve as a huge turn off for many of them.

The true irony about this is that, according to Spyfu, LeapFish started to run pay per click campaigns in June. It contradicts their sales pitch that “the prices on PPC have skyrocketed therefore you need to advertise with LeapFish”.

LeapFish Affiliate Program is Nothing More Than a “Linking Payola” scheme
leapfishwidgetTheir affiliate program seams to be focused on “linking payola” as their search widget code contains a SEO friendly link back to their search engine. Since I am not an affiliate with LeapFish, I do not now if removing the link or at least adding a “nofollow” attribute to it is against their TOS. It is my opinion that the best way to gain incoming links is to provide services that your clients and/or users will rave about.

LapFish Search Widgets Might Be Misleading To Visitors
The search widget may confuse some of the visitors, . Many websites integrate search box for the purposes of searching their own website- one of the reason I have implemented Lijit on my blog. The LeapFish widget issues no warning before taking away the visitors to LeapFish.com search results page. If you have two search widgets one to search your own website and another is to search LeapFish it may get even more confusing.

LeapFish Affiliate Program’s Payout is To Small To Attract Affiliates. Will Mac Air Giveaways Do The Trick?
Considering the pay out of $0.05 (five cents) per search performed, I am skeptical that any average blogger will be able to make $500 or more per month. LeapFish is trying to get new affiliates by holding a contest at the end of each a winner will receive a Mac Air (note the amount of astroturfing done on Twitter by LeapFish management and employees). While this incentive may attract some affiliates, in my opinion LeapFish’s plan is rather shortsighted- I see many bloggers and website owners taking the search widget down after the contest is over. Unless of course giveaways become regular.

Leaders in “Make Money Online” Niche Will Never Endorse LeapFish Affiliate Program.
Not sue if I would ever get involved with an affiliate program offered by a meta search engine. But to be honest I have never heard of one before. Personally I am always excited to learn that a company’s marketing plan includes affiliate program. LeapFish, in my opinion, introduced their affiliate program too little too late and had been scarred beyond hope by the feedback resulting from high pressure sales methods- some of those contacted by LeapFish sales associates compared conversations to the episodes from the movie “Boiler Room”. I seriously doubt that Shoemoney, Problogger, Zac Johnson, Ian Fernando, John Chow, Jason Katzenback or any serious affiliate or internet marketer will start promoting LeapFish any time soon. The giveaways can generate some temporary interest, but much more is needed to keep their affiliate program afloat- a product worth investing into.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lord Matt July 12, 2009, 1:40 am

    Two pence? I'd need 1142 clicks an hour to equal UK basic minimum wage or about 228,400 unique visits per hour given the market average of 0.5% click through. That's just shy of 5.5 Million daily visitors. At that traffic level I'd be able to charge a lot more upfront for a lot less exposure in direct sales for CPM adverts.

  • Vlad Zablotskyy July 12, 2009, 6:41 am

    Matt,
    They would be so much better off implementing the affiliate program linked to their “keywords”- maybe with “intext” ads as Kontera and Infolink does. It would give their advertisers more exposure.

  • Mark July 12, 2009, 2:09 pm

    Dear Vlad,

    Here are official responses to your questions regarding the affiliate program.

    Is The Affiliate Program Promoting The Wrong Product?

    The affiliate program is a progressively evolving program that will include new widgets and payouts, including Keyword Registrations and others, in future releases.

    Is the Affiliate Program Nothing More Than a “Linking Payola” scheme?

    This is inaccurate. The affiliate program is designed to offer affiliates an added avenue of earning additional income while allowing them to offer a growing list of new features to their users. We do not require affiliates to have additional links to the program.

    Is the Affiliate Program’s Payout Too Small To Attract Affiliates?

    At current payouts and growing, the affiliate program offers a very competitive program to the market. However, as with anything else, we understand the affiliate program may not be for everyone. Payouts will increase over time as will the variety of widgets and programs made available.

    Mark Kithcart

  • Vlad Zablotskyy July 12, 2009, 2:26 pm

    Mark,

    The code that you do offer consist of a javascript than is used, I presume, to serve the widget itself. The link “Powered by LeapFish” (the links is not served via javascript, it is SEO friendly link – indexable and the one that passes what we know as Google juice) is the one I referred to.

    As far as being accurate about it or not- I think I am neither- it is my opinion that forcing your affiliates to link to you (via widgets or otherwise) is not the best way to gain incoming links.

  • Vlad Zablotskyy July 12, 2009, 2:27 pm

    Mark,

    The code that you do offer consist of a javascript than is used, I presume, to serve the widget itself. The link “Powered by LeapFish” (the links is not served via javascript, it is SEO friendly link – indexable and the one that passes what we know as Google juice) is the one I referred to.

    As far as being accurate about it or not- I think I am neither- it is my opinion that forcing your affiliates to link to you (via widgets or otherwise) is not the best way to gain incoming links.

  • Average Blogger July 17, 2009, 9:24 am

    It is quiet evident that this blogger has a hidden agenda towards LeapFish.

    It is inaccurate statement to make that an average blogger will never earn any money with LeapFish. Can you actually provide us with any statistics about this?

    I personally like the idea of how LeapFish is pioneering the Search 2.0- I made it my default search engine.

  • Vlad Zablotskyy July 17, 2009, 12:35 pm

    That is not what I wrote in my post. I wrote the following: “I am skeptical that any average blogger will be able to make $500 or more per month”.

  • Vlad Zablotskyy July 24, 2009, 11:30 am

    Mr. Cook,

    I have just noticed another rather misleading thing about LeapFish. The widgets that are used by your affiliates have Twitter logos on them. There is no sign however that LeapFish aggregates from Twitter.

  • S.L.O.P.O.K.E. August 30, 2009, 3:00 pm

    i think it is a competitive program i have it on my site http://www.hiphopheroin.com
    we'll see how it works out

  • Vlad Zablotskyy August 30, 2009, 6:19 pm

    You can do much better with AdSense

  • adam September 2, 2009, 11:45 am

    i've been called by an overly aggressive leapfish salemen before. he was downright rude when i express my concerns on spending over $1000 for one keyword with a search engine (?) i've never heard of before. he said leapfish is the next big thing and i'd be missing out. I have heard that before. I asked about a month trial….”no”.

    I think one of your repliers, Mark, is the same guy that has been spamming twitter on behalf of LF.

    My advice to anyone that spends money on LeapFish is too think twice, and don't do it. Use that $1000 to either invest in SEO or at least Google ads. You'll see much more returns. The more I think about it….$1000+ for one keyword…are you crazy?

  • Vlad Zablotskyy September 2, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Adam, actually that Mark is their “Marketing Director”. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your experience.

  • Chicago Real Estate October 23, 2009, 1:38 pm

    i think this is a solid program and i hope it stays alive, it really has some great perks.

  • Lord Matt October 24, 2009, 5:23 pm

    I was doing some math recently and I worked out that between bloggers like Vlad and the activity generated by sales call almost all significant traffic to leapfish.com is already accounted for.