Where Top Affiliate Challenge Went Wrong

When Joel Comm took the leap to make the first “affiliate marketing” internet reality show, he had a ton of skeptics, but in the end it went well. Joel was the first to pave the way for an affiliate marketing reality show over the internet. With the release of Top Affiliate Challenge, by creator Thor Schrock… expectations of the show were anything but consistent. While Thor was able to pull together some well known marketers in the affiliate marketing space, without these guys, the show would probably have no viewers or media at all. Unfortunately, as much as some of us would like the show to succeed… many viewers (and even some contestants), are just surprised at how poorly the show is being run.

Here are just a few of the reasons why Top Affiliate Challenge is lacking. Should there be a season 2 for Top Affiliate Challenge, or any new affiliate marketing reality shows in the works… please make sure you cover yourself from failing again at the following.

Horrible Video Editing, Taping & Hosting:
With the amount of companies and affiliate networks pulled together to sponsor Top Affiliate Challenge, I am continually surprised at how poorly the show is taped. At times the show ranks at the level of quality of being recorded on a $150 Flip Video camera. There is no reason for the lack in video quality, when you have this much sponsorship money and exposure on the line. On an ending note, how often is the video chopping, the host is cut off during mid sentence, looking at queue cards and notes on the floor.

As for hosting… once the first episode was released, it took nearly an hour and a half of constant buffering for me to view the whole 30 minute episode. (also noted by John Chow) Top Affiliate Challenge finally decided to move their videos over to Google Video. A better decision would have been to team up with a higher quality and brand able video host in exchange for exposure on the show. As of right now, you can view all past episodes on TAC… though episode 5 doesn’t seem to be working at the moment?

Location: Why Nebraska?
One thing that internet marketing and a reality show have in common, is that you can run both of them anywhere. Drop any of us off in the middle of a desert, and as long as we have a laptop and an internet connection, we can start making money. Likewise, reality shows take place all around the world… whether it be “The Apprentice” in New York, or “Survivor” on a tropical island. The point is… why Nebraska, I’m hoping it wasn’t purely for the convenience factor. To make the most of this affiliate reality show, this should have taken place at Florida, New York and California… three well known internet hot spots in the US.

Non-Relevant Awards & Prizes:
Once again… the show is called “Top Affiliate Challenge“…. not random sponsor games. Why are non-relevant prizes being awarded to affiliate marketers. For instance, in episode 4, why are Power Tools and Drill Bits being awarded as prizes. I know these prizes are from the sponsored networks, but this should be a learning experience. Give away search marketing tools, ebooks, coupons, vouchers or anything relevant to affiliate marketing!

Unknowledgeable & Untrained Host:
No offense to the host, Monica Durezo, but I think they should have a more experienced and well trained host in the affiliate marketing space. I can only imagine how hard it is to host a reality show, especially when the staff, gurus and contestants don’t have an idea about what’s going on. When is the last time you watched a reality show on TV and the host wasn’t a well known celebrity. It would have made more sense for one of the “gurus” to host the show, as they are a more prominent figure in the affiliate marketing space.

Bad Affiliate Marketing Intelligence:
In addition to the host, which may or may not have an deep background in affiliate marketing… it seems the show itself does not have the necessary knowledge as well. Just off my head, from the past couple of episodes I can think of two instances where the incorrectness of this show is just silly. First off, when one of the contestants is talking about CPM, they say it’s “cost per thousand visits“… when the standard in affiliate marketing is “cost per thousand impressions“… and this is a HUGE difference. Also, I’m would not want to be a sponsor of the show, paying thousands of dollars to unhappy viewers… then to see my affiliate network being misspelled in the ending credits. It’s a little mistakes, but shows lack of detail and professionalism. (Copeak???… I thought it was Copeac..)

This is Really The PepperJam Show
Before the show event started, John Chow and ShoeMoney were the well known gurus listed on the show. They already had the exposure and branding in the affiliate space, while many had no idea who Ken McArthur were. Luckily for PepperJam Network, Ken McArthur is the Guru for their team and he is just destroying the competition… so much so, that during episode 6, Kris Jones, of PepperJam even provides money for his team’s competition. Either way, it’s good to see PepperJam getting their sponsorship money’s worth out of the show.

Unhappy Contestants and Gurus:
To top things off… during episode 3 and 4 we start to see disgruntled affiliates/contestant ready to leave the show and start voting for themselves to leave the show. Not only does this put themselves in a bad position, but it makes the show look bad too. Ian Fernando wants off the shoe, as he also made clear on his blog. ShoeMoney has left the show due to the birth of his new baby girl. Contestants are apparently having to spend their own money to make revenue for the team challenges… In the end… I’m not sure who is happy with the show.

Unfortunately for Top Affiliate Challenge, this seems to just be the tip of the iceberg of problems and complaints around the show. While the show was in audition phrase, I had a lot of people asking if I was going to apply for the show. After seeing the results from the show so far, I can say I’m much happier on the other side as a viewer and critic. With the loss of my friend Ian Fernando (though they never seem to send anyone eliminated actually home) and co-Guru ShoeMoney from the show… I can only imagine other viewers will also continue to lose interest fast.

What are your comments on the show and is it any more or less than you initially expected?

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  1. Uhh…we pretty much knew the show was a failure when shoemoney and john chow were listed as "gurus". John chow knows next to nothing about affiliate marketing and shoemoney is hardly a "guru" himself.

    I stopped watching after minute #2 when john chow was introduced as the "blackhat of blackhats".

    Not that it really matters since nobody really cares much about "tv" shows broadcast on the internet anyway.

    1. Nickycakes said: 'I stopped watching after minute #2 when john chow was introduced as the “blackhat of blackhats”.'

      I cringed when I heard this.

      I must confess that I never had high hopes for the show but I honestly did not expect it to be this bad.

    2. Dude, neither one of those guys has ever even spoken about aff marketing (chow made his dough off TTZ and Shoe off adsense) – so why were they chosen, just due to their 'guru' status in the blog world?

      Strange choice of people.

      Zac, why not start your own aff show?

  2. My thoughts is that it is just boring. It's self service to a number of egos, both individual and corporate, and fails by not teaching us anything, nor provides entertainment (for me, anyway).

    Why would I want to see other people make money when I can do it myself? If any of the programme makers, sponsors or contestants would buy me say an Xbox 360 for watching their programme, then I may be interested. I think rather than be served with a number of ads for sponsors for 30 minutes, I could do something more productive, like supervise the drying of paint upon a wall.

    Sorry, I meant 60 minutes. Forgot to include the buffering time 😉

  3. I was thinking it would turn out similar to TNIM. At least quality-wise and organized-wise. I feel like they are just throwing in twists and turns and coming up with things 5 minutes before. You pointed out what I've noticed- especially with the horrible video editing, unprofessional host, and just random prizes. I've learned next to nothing from the show and I'm not really sure what the purpose of the show is serving.

    IMO, I think the should come out with a second one, fix these problems, make it a ton more informative, and I'd call it a success.

  4. I didn't think the camera work and editing were that bad. Not super professional, but not that bad either. Frankly, they should have just got like ten people and given them Flip cameras and had them take constant footage and then just spliced it all together in a show. But that would have been hard.

    I do give them credit for trying this as I said on the Geekcast today.

    Good thoughts on this. Especially the Nebraska part.

    1. I think it was just compressed like crazy. I downloaded some of the episodes to my iPod and they weren't much more than 100 MB for ~30 minutes of video.

  5. In my opinion, the main problem with the show (aside from the

    childish graphics and editing) is the Gurus.

    They put a true marketing shark (Ken McArthur) to compete

    against two blogosphere darlings who have little or no idea how

    to really market stuff on the web. The result is, of course, very

    predictable… the real-world marketer will kick everyone's ass.

    I love it how Ken (even when he knows that two bloggers are

    no match for him) keeps his cool and acts as if he's really

    working hard on this. 😉


    Miguel Alvarez

      1. That is all part of the master plan. Why should we waste our money building up the show pot when the other team can do it?

        1. And then you all split it in the end. The problem is, although it is fun for you and it makes you money, it doesn't do anything for the viewers… kind of like your blog.

        2. @John Chow.

          Now *THAT* is something that I do agree with you 100%. The

          show should not expect any of the contestants or the gurus

          to spend their own money.

          I think that a fixed budget for each contestant and a prohibition

          of pulling in outside resources would have made the show a

          bit better. Hard thing to enforce though…


          Miguel Alvarez

        3. Well at least the producers should have let us see whether the master plan would have suceeded.

          Since John Chow is off the show there is no drama, no excitement.

          I disagree with those who claim that John chow has no affililate marketing experience, true he might not have PPC experience but he hides his affiliate sales.

  6. I agree. I was pretty hyped about The Top Affiliate Challenge before it started, but started losing interest after the first episode. I blogged about my disappointment, and what I see wrong with the show

  7. Yes you are right, and it's normal, because it's the first time and maybe these people had no experience about reality show stuff, they are Internet Marketers.

  8. Seriously what's with the douche in the furry hat? Didn't he have that Pick Up Artist show on VH1? I think a majority of the contestants are too wet behind the ears to make any sort of impact on the show. BFD you made $1k in 60 days from some MLM site. I think the lady that sells Amway door to door would make a better contestant.

  9. Went from ian fernando and both of you seem to agree about this one.

    I totally agree with the Nebraska part. I thought it was going to be in California without even giving it much thought. I "wanted" to watch the show but the buffer time is darn slow.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this one. 😉

  10. Just came from IanFernando, the video really disturbed me regarding how poorly operated this contest is. I can't believe they are making the contestants spend their own money, that's a bit ridiculous. Well said, the best put argument I've seen thus far.

  11. It just sux to see how such a big event can suck like this… I agree the video hosting was a dumb choice. Perhaps Zac you can be the next host to start something like this 😛

  12. Well I watched episode 7 just now and I think they are taking the critiques and trying to improve. I actually learned a lot regarding PPC marketing in this episode, I found it helpful for a newbie like me just getting into it.

  13. Not to kick a dead horse, but my hopes of learning something from this show have nearly died. I think there is a ton of potential here, but the lack of planning and professionalism is killing it.

  14. It sounded like shit and it smelled like shit before it even began. Just another spotlight blogger giving some reassurance to the peeps who might feel the urge to even check it out. A very well written post Zac and totally agree with all points.

  15. Talk about being hypocritical!

    Zac, your blog and the way you write with soooo many mispellings and incorrect grammar is on par with the professionalism of TAC.

  16. This whole experience just goes to show you – you cannot make a product/show/ or whatever if you are not an EXPERT in the field. What has Thor done with PPC marketing? What has John Chow done with PPC marketing?

    Once again, it's not fair to the contestants or the viewers to play these "gurus" off as gurus of PPC marketing.

  17. What's sad is Thor only made like $100 last year from Azoogle. He even blogged about how CPA Empire's service was way better than Azoogle's, as if he was some kind of super affiliate. He's no expert, he's just a former politician/used car salesman who is good enough at selling to keep his computer shop alive. As far as I can tell he's only doing this because he's seen how the "gurus" like Joel Comm and friends position themselves, and he hoped he could pull the wool over our eyes long enough to become a "guru" himself. This time, fake it till you make it didn't work.

    Don't be surprised if he leverages the keywords/accounts/etc. that the contestants built to be the basis for his own affiliate marketing efforts. After all, as it stands they're taking all of the money earned and not giving it back to the contestants, except for the winner who gets like 50%. Talk about a shady way to build a PPC affiliate biz.

    The contestants would be better off doing as little as possible and just spamming digg, blogspot, whatever and not using their real tools, campaigns, and money. Otherwise, they're giving up their own money and resources for nothing in return. What a joke.

  18. Monica Durezo should have been replaced after the first episode. She appears to have zero confidence in what she's doing.

    Get Julie Chen in there. :p

    1. The only Reason Monica Seems to look bad is because of the way the show is edited..

      All presenter's / hosts have a script, and read it before the show on other reality tv shows, but the editors on Top Affiliate Challenge just did a bad job and included stuff that shouldnt have been on camera…

      Also because there is no 'real' official Director on the show, there is no one to say 'put your script down'…

      But, Monica is a Pro presenter , its just the way the show is edited that they include the bad parts etc..

  19. Its sad that such a good idea go so wrong. Bad Hosts that don't know what they are doing is even worst. Contestants wanting to leave makes the show look more like the 1987 The Running Man movie than an affiliate marketing reality show which is quite funny by the way.

  20. Thanks for taking the time to watch some of the show and share your thoughts. I think we can all agree that there were some things that could have been done differently with the show.

    One of this biggest problems we faced is how do you PREVENT contestants from kicking in their own resources to win. Lots of people are saying we should have provided a $10,000 budget per contestant to make a level playing field, but how is that level?

    People come to the table with different levels of resources and desire. After episode 2 everyone (viewers and contestants) were completely convinced that Van Clute was just pumping thousands of dollars into net loss affiliate campaigns to post numbers for the Pepperjam team.

    We hint that this is not the case in a number of episodes, but as you will soon see that is DEFINITELY not the case.

    even with all of the criticism I am happy with here the show is at at the moment and where it is headed in its final episodes of this season. i would encourage you to take a second look when you have time.

    As far as the Nebraska connection, why not Nebraska? Ian said some things on his blog that made it aound like we were feeding these guys White Castle and taking them to redneck bars.

    The truth is they are eating sandwiches, steak, chicken, and gourmet cooking from a local chef. In addition, any time we try to take these guys out on the town, they would rather stay and work because this show is important to them and they want to win.

    We had a very negative cancer in the first six episodes that really damaged the show for the viewers. That problem has been solved and I can't begin to tell you the improvement in the mood on the set, the work ethic of the contestants, and the direction of the overall show.

    Want a spoiler? You guys were right about John Chow 🙂

  21. i think your blog is different from other blog that i found.Nice blog.See you again.

  22. How could a great event move from it's aim. Hope they learn something to prepare the next event.

  23. So they are going to blame it all on John Chow? How do you like that?

    It is like boxing, these cats would have run into the ring and said that Mohammed Ali was gaming it when he fought George Foreman. Why bill John Chow as a black hat and the penalised him when he pulls a number of tricks?

    I cannot believe that they have been such bad sports.

  24. Well,

    The same happened in cricket when Mandira Bedi entered as an Anchor for WorldCup.

    . 🙂

  25. That's hilarious! I have ignored the show from the beginning, but now I wish I had seen just how bad it was with my own eyes!

  26. Personally, I've only heard bad things about the Top Affiliate Challenge. I think you made the right decision in not joining in on this.


  27. No posts in a week? what is going on?

    Either you hit the jackpot? went sick or went on a long vacation, i visit everyday but I am not sure I will anymore if thier are no posts?

    I hope you are OK.

  28. Way to stay positive. I couldn't actually watch it for the low quality and lack of scripting (needed better goals/games).

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