What I learned From The Top Affiliate Challenge

Now that the Top Affiliate Challenge is over and the NDA has expired, I can give my views and thoughts on the two week competition that pitted affiliate marketers against each other. In no particular order, these are the observations I came up with.

TAC Is Not About Affiliate Marketing

The Top Affiliate Challenge is more about who can call in the most favors than it is about affiliate marketing. The show format pretty much prevent you from doing any true affiliate marketing. Instead of doing affiliate marketing from start to finish (testing out offers, making adjustments, etc), the winning teams merely transfer offers from their personal accounts to the team accounts. This created another problem.

You Can Buy The Win

The Top Affiliate Challenge is not a leveled playing field. The show heavily favors the contestant with experience and money to throw around. A contestant like Jon Ryan, who has no affiliate marketing experience or money to throw at the game, didn’t stand a chance. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the winner of the game was also the person who spent the most money.

When I signed up as a TAC Guru, I was under the impression that each team would be given a budget and list of offers to work with. The team that made the most money with their budget would win. That was not the case. Instead, the rule was simply to make as much money possible using whatever means possible. That included using your own money to fund your offers. That to me was just plain stupid.

If TAC wishes to have a season 2, they will need to find a way to prevent the buying of a win. I wonder how many contestants would have audition for the show if they had known that they would need to put their own money into the show in order to have a chance at winning it?

The Show Was a Money Grab

From the first day, TAC seem like a money grab for the producers. The winner of the show got half the money generated from total affiliate commissions. The other half went to the producers. Team rankings were based on gross income only. Sure, it sounded great that Jonathan Van Clute was posting as much as $3,000 of affiliate income in a single day. However, he had to spend $2,000 to do that. Half the $3,000 went to the prize pool so Van Clute only got $1,500 back if he wins. Net result, he lost money. I was told Van Clute spent $26,000 of his own money to win the TAC. For that victory, he took home $19K, which was half the cash pool (he also got a two year car lease and a ring). The big winners were the owners of the show.

During the single two-day challenge where each of the remaining 8 contestants work by themselves, they were also asked to continue making income for the team. The six contestants with the highest earnings moved on. The last two were eliminated. Team results had no effect on who stays or who goes. Yet, the contestants were asked to continue to make money as a team. That made no sense to me. Why make money as a team when elimination was based on individual performance? Collin LaHay, who was on my team, won the two-day challenge with over $1,600 in earnings. As a team, we produced zero. Team Pepperjam Network brought in over $5,000, which did nothing but added $2,500 to the producers’ pocket.

The Editing Team Sucks

If you’ve watched any of the episodes, you’ll no doubt notice the really bad editing. Things did improved as the show went on but there were still many mistakes being made. No doubt, many of the errors were caused by trying to produce a show on a 24 hour turnaround. That’s a really short time frame when you are using out dated tapes, instead of hard drive based videos, to do your show.

The Show Made Up The Rules As They Went Along

In the first episode, Monica stated that Gurus could not be eliminated from the show. However, by episode nine, I was eliminated for “losing too much.” In the confessional, the producer told me they kept a tally sheet on Guru wins and losses and that a Guru that lost too much would be eliminated. I don’t believe that for one second. I was told a week before the show started that the finals would be three contestants with the three Gurus. The show wrote me off because I was gaming their rules (or lack of rules) and basically making life a living hell for them.

Jonathan Van Clute Is a Really Nice Guy

The winner of the TAC, Jonathan Van Clute, is a super nice guy. I had a master plan in place to destroy him in the finals. You see, the winner of the Top Affiliate Challenge is not the person or team that produce the most income over the two week period. The winner is the person who produced the most income in the final challenge.

I devised an evil plan to take Collin LeHay to the final challenge against who we assume would be Jonathan Van Clute. We would coast through the competition and let the other team build up the prize pool without adding to it ourselves. Then we would win it all in the final challenge with the help of Paul from UberAffiliate.com. We knew the most Van Clute can produce is maybe $4,000 per day. That’s a lot of money but it’s not at the same level as the Uber one. Paul was ready to transfer up to $10,000 of campaigns over to our account. That would be more than enough to win. After paying Paul back his $10K, we would still make a nice profit thanks to Team Pepperjam’s building of the prize pool.

At the end of the day, Collin and I just didn’t have the heart to pull the trigger on the master plan. Jonathan Van Clute is one of the most amazing person I have ever met. He is completely open and willing to share his knowledge. He showed me how he got his traffic, how he runs his offers and a bunch of other secret stuff. After being so open with me and sharing so much, I would have felt really bad to blind side him in the finals.

Jonathan Van Clute invested the most in the Top Affiliate Challenge. He deserves the win.