Co-Founder Of RunCPA About Main Problems Of Creating Affiliate Network In Crypto Sphere
Interview with co-founder and executive director of RunCPA, Evan Maslennikov, who discussed the development of affiliate networks in the crypto space and explained why it is important to take part in crypto and blockchain conferences.
Tell us about your project. How did you start it?
We came up with the idea to create an affiliate network for crypto economics in 2014. In early 2015, we managed to implement it. It was quite tough at the beginning. Together with the small crypto community we wanted to advocate the message that the crypto economy owns the future. It was an absolutely amazing time! On the one hand, we helped young projects reach their audience and get new customers to develop their business. On the other hand, we gave crypto enthusiasts an opportunity to earn money by telling the world about cryptocurrencies and blockchain, making reports and reviews of various products (such as wallets, mining pools, etc.) Basically, the affiliate network is an intermediary between an advertiser and traffic owners. We work with bloggers, media, reviewers and media buyers, who are professionally involved in traffic acquisition. Affiliate marketing is a well-established multi-billion dollar industry that has been existing for 15-20 years by now. Our goal was to use its strengths to develop the crypto economics and support early adopters. The boom of 2017 proved the fact that we did everything right.
How did you personally get into the world of blockchain?
About four years ago, I worked as a product manager in one of the largest crypto exchange, which was one of the top 10 at that time. After Mt.Gox’s failure, the whole industry realized that we needed a large variability of platforms that could compete for traders attention. We decided to investigate the ways to attract new users and found out that the niche of affiliate programs was not yet occupied. In about five months, we released the first version of RunCPA and decided to focus on the development of this business.
Was this idea successful?
By now we have a portfolio of more than one hundred successful projects. Many of them are well-known. At first, we worked with exchanges, mining pools and casinos, but now we cover almost all verticals. We work with different wallets, credit cards, lotteries, poker, cloud mining, games and much more. We pay special attention to ICO-projects. Recently, we had a client who sells a merchandise with cryptocurrency logos, quotes of famous people, memes, and so on. I can say that the idea of the network is workable. Let's see what happens next.
What tools do you use to help companies monetize their activities?
Traffic is what companies want from us. It is important for them to catch attention of those people who come across an advertising, then click the link and go to a website to purchase the product. To reach them, we run all possible types of advertising and use all possible traffic sources. Some of our partners know how to work with Adwords and social networks to comply with the rules. Others prefer to write about their services or shoot video-reviews. We have a large pool of thematic platforms, including media, that host banner advertising. There are also people who like to tell the audience their life-stories. Some time ago, one of our publishers monetized his blog. He got a bitcoin-wallet, some number of coins and traveled half the world without a single dollar in his pocket. He just used crypto to pay for everything! They know what their audience needs, and it helps them to attract clients.
What regions do you cover?
From the very beginning, we've been ready to work with all countries across the globe. After all, cryptocurrencies have no borders. Working with different cultures is a great experience. Two years ago I was lucky to work with an early adopter from Spain. Almost on his own, he showed the spanish community all benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He also explained how to advocate this message further and make good money on it. At the same time, we have several top Asian partners who could probably surpass the Spanish and Portuguese communities. They are not so open and communicative, but they have a strong focus on business expansion, and that’s their key to success. We use this international experience to develop our own network and help affiliates.
ICOs are quite popular now. However, many people say that this way to promote projects might involve many problems, such as lack of trust, failure to fulfill obligations after the investments are collected and so on. How do you work with such startups?
Our goal is to help companies reach as many people as they can and tell about their products. We’re mostly using the CPA (cost per action) model to attract real customers. When we take a new offer, we always make sure that the businesses promote products and services that they actually provide. According to statistics, a person needs to catch a brand’s message up to 7-8 times to pay attention to its product. That is why we support all kinds of advertising: banners, articles, news, reviews and so on. And here our mission is completed. We don't have a goal of convincing people on the Internet to buy some kind of products or services, as this is what advertisers have to do. There are a lot of ICO projects now, and it's very difficult to choose a worthy one among them. But even so, no one can guarantee that the product will be released on time and corner the market. We introduce the variety of available offers to people, and it’s up to them if they choose to make a purchase. Nowadays, I feel like it’s the most acceptable strategy of all.
You said it was difficult to choose among various ICO-projects. It is a serious question, isn’t it?
Previously, we had the venture market. It was almost impossible for non-institutional investors to get into it, only very big players had access. Today, a huge number of people have the opportunity to support a project that seems promising and significant. Right now we’re at the stage when many people enter the market only for a private financial gain. Nevertheless, any industry has difficulties on the various development stages, and some filters and rules will eventually be established.
Does your company develop its own blockchain-based products?
Yes, we do work on several products that we want to implement in our network. Thanks to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, we instantly pay bonuses to our partners, while normally it would take up to 30 days. Now we want to increase the transparency of our platform even more. As I mentioned before, the affiliate network is an intermediary between an advertiser and a traffic provider. In theory, a network can hide some of the advertiser’s insights and pay less to its partners. It’s a well-known issue and oftentimes technical problems are treated as an attempt to defraud. We are lucky to have our old partners who always stand out for us in these situations. Once our new protocol is released, there will simply be no space for suspicion. Afterwards, we plan to distribute our product to other affiliate networks. Transparency and trust are cool!
Did you face any troubles when creating your product?
It turned out to be extremely difficult. First of all, we have a lot of data which requires high capacity. Another problem is the ability to change information about transactions that were made by mistake on an advertiser's side. Advertisers do this quite often. Therefore, we want to make it possible to add information about changes to a particular block, but at the same time completely protect participants from unfair changes.
Nowadays, it's trendy to conduct various blockchain conferences and expos. The whole crypto community can simply go there, establish contacts and plan some joint projects. How do you personally feel about such events?
I am very positive about such activities. All you need is to choose the right company. My favorite part is to meet absolutely extraordinary people and listen to their stories about the projects they are working on. You can't find these stories on the net. As for the business part, each time I get new advertisers and traffic owners who are interested to cooperate with us. It happens on its own. People here sincerely want to help each other. Oh, and I have also managed to talk to the President of Liberland, Vít Jedlička, and listen to his stories.
What are these stories about? Share with us!
Well, there are a lot of them. My favorite one is about the Liberland project itself. There is a tiny uninhabited parcel of disputed land located between Croatia and Serbia. It doesn't actually belong to anyone. Vit and a group of like-minded people announced that this area would become the new country, Liberland. Of course, Liberland hasn't been recognized yet. Last year, its government discussed the idea of one of the largest ICOs. Once a year, on a Liberlands’ Birthday, they plan to attract funds to open new city with decentralized governance in any part of the world. To do this, they need to find a country that would allow them to buy a part of their area, then to find an investor ready to build the city, and the proceeds will be distributed among the token-holders. I don't know details, but the idea is something like this.
There is a new layer of journalism, which is devoted to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. But how does it correlate with the traditional media?
There is a huge problem: all media are already heavily centralized. There are about thousand content resources about cryptocurrencies, and among them there are let’s say top-20. However, only the first five of them hold up to 90% of all traffic. Unfortunately, you can hardly find useful materials there. Personally, I like reading blogs by tech guys. For example, Vitalik Buterin. He writes rarely, but each time his article is something fascinating. We have to pick up the pieces of cool content and filter a lot of useless stuff out to get an interesting feed in the end.
What does the phrase "cool content" mean to you?
It's a good question because cool content is the key now. For me personally, it is new information that could stuck in my head for weeks and inspire me for further development. Anyway, the content should contain the value. This simple rule was invented long before us.
Is your team large?
We used to be a very small team − just four people. But as the number of business processes and customers increased, it became clear that we need to move on. Now we have more than 20 employees. As it often happens in the crypto industry, our people are scattered all over the world. Some of them work in Russia, others work in the Czech Republic, Portugal, the US, and other countries.
Thank you for such an interesting conversation! Though, I have one more question to ask. Do you happen to know who Satoshi Nakamoto is?
If I'm not mistaken, last year someone published the details of one version. It said that Satoshi was actually two Australian developers, and one of them had already passed away. We also wanted to conduct our investigation and arrange an expedition to Baikal to talk with local shamans, who could have some information about this mysterious person. But it turned out that Baikal is too far away! (Laughs). Thank you too!