Getting Started with Pay Per Call How Pay Per Call Networks Function


Staff member
Learn how a Pay Per Call Network operates, what they offer and how to work with them as an affiliate or advertiser.

Lesson Transcript

All right Pay Per Callers, let's talk about How Pay Per Call Networks actually Function.

How Pay Per Call Networks Function

Now, the purpose of a Pay Per Call Network is to take the business development burden off of the affiliate and call buyers while reducing everybody's risk. In theory, anyways. And so this means that they spend a lot of their time finding multiple buyers and sellers of calls to gain as much coverage and capacity as possible. They then use technology and manpower to manage that entire business and manage all the capacity on both ends of the value chain.

So you can see in the diagram here that the networks in the middle and they're managing multiple buyers and multiple publishers on the front and back ends of every Pay Per Call campaign. And so the publishers or affiliates are generating all the calls and the buyers are buying all the calls and paying the network, and the network is reconciling the funds between both parties making sure that everyone gets their proper cut.

Potential Team Members

Now, when you work with a Pay Per Call Network, depending on their size and scale, they are going to have a bunch of different people that work there that have different job requirements, and so on the publishing team, you're going to have affiliate managers or publisher managers and these people are responsible for working with publishers, getting them to drive calls, working with them to see how many calls they can send. What their capacity is. All those good things that come with managing publishers.

Some publishers may be really easy to work with. Some may be not so easy to work with and that's why you need managers in between to keep track of all these people and to keep track of all their calls, and also to get them to drive more calls to the specific network.

So networks are in competition with each other and other media companies and agencies for these publishers phone calls and so the affiliate managers are also there to build relationships with the publishers and make sure that they keep the call flow moving.

And so if you are a publisher, an affiliate, it's super important that you have a good relationship with your affiliate manager at your networks so that they can give you information, tips, tricks, whatever you need to help grow your business. They are also usually the front lines in negotiation. So when you are working with a Pay Per Call Network, the affiliate managers usually have wiggle room on pricing so that they can give you a pay out bump if you're selling them calls. You should always ask for that pay out bump no matter what the circumstances are. You wanna continuously ask affiliate managers or your account managers for more money on a campaign.

Now they also may have people that are titled business development. These people are usually going to be a little bit more senior. They are going to focus on relationships with other networks, because networks broker business back and forth or other really big agencies, larger type clients, that need more senior person to negotiate with and manage the day to day operations.

Publishing team at a bigger network is also going to have quality assurance people and compliance people. And these people maybe they are outsourced, maybe they are virtual. Maybe they are in-house but effectively, they are listening to phone calls. They are making sure that traffic sources and landing pages follow all the rules of a campaign. They are making sure publishers aren't doing things they're not supposed to. So they can preserve the integrity of a campaign. They're just doing a lot of oversight. Now at smaller networks, you're typically not going to see dedicated QA or compliance people. You are going to see affiliate managers trying to manage doing compliance and manage affiliates and that may be okay for a period of time when they are in a growth stage but if you are working with a network and that network hasn't really gotten dedicated QA or compliance people, they are going to have an issue.

Because an affiliate manager cannot effectively manage publishers and affiliates, grow the business and do compliance. And so that's an issue because they are probably going to be working with lower quality buyers that are not going to be as concerned about QA and quality and compliance. So when you're working with a lower quality buyer, you're going to get paid less money. And have a lower conversion rate or maybe those buyers are playing games, and taking advantage of the network. And so while in some circumstances it may be okay if an affiliate manager is also doing compliance if you're working with a smaller network and they don't have dedicated compliance people, it could be a warning sign and it's something that you should be aware of.

Now in Pay Per Call, there are not enough affiliates driving calls to fill all the capacity of the buyers, because this is a growing space and it's one that needs more people in it so that it can grow. And so, what a lot of Pay Per Call Networks have done which is not typical if you call from the affiliate space is built their own media buying teams. And so a lot of Pay Per Call Networks also call themselves agencies and they have their own media buyers, graphic designers, website designers and developers and they are actually running their own campaigns and driving calls into their buyers because they simply cannot find enough affiliates to do it for them. And that is a really big indicator of opportunity size in the space. It's like the Pay Per Call Networks set up their buyer networks, they create it. All these offers, and then there aren't even enough affiliates to go out there and buy the media so then they have to buy the media themselves. So, for me that's a big indicator of opportunity. Only the bigger networks really do this but a lot of the smaller ones we've seen have started to do it because more people are needed in the space.

Now on the other side of this, you're going to have the advertiser team. The advertiser team works with the call buyers and looks for more call buyers. They do business development on the call buyer side. So an advertiser manager is going to work with call centers, call centers teams, other brokers, other networks, to help them fill capacity for campaigns where they need more phone calls. They are basically going to be managing the back end relationships of the network and they are not typically going to work directly with publishers. And again, another risk factor when working with a network, is if they are advertising manager team is also their publisher manager or it's just one or two people. Those people are going to be really spread thin, and so again, it may and it may not, but it may be an indicator that their buyers could be of lower quality or you're getting brokered multiple times in the value chain because if an advertiser manager is also a publisher manager and also does quality assurance, they can't spend a lot of time on direct relationships and so they are most likely just brokering other Pay Per Call Networks offers.

And that's how you can kind of think about it and if you find networks that are in that position, you probably are getting brokered and that's not necessarily a bad thing especially when you get started, but it's a way of understanding, is the network you're working with providing actual value? If they are just brokering campaigns from other network, in my personal opinion, that is not actual value. That's just taking a cut. Lowering the quality of the campaign. And so, these are just some things to be aware of and by no means, is what I'm saying right now, a general rule of thumb. It's just how I would personally assess some of the situations if I were working in the call space, not on the technology side.

Now, the bigger networks are also going to have their own QA people who are keeping track of the buyer QA. So in a well run network that's larger, the publisher team of QA is looking at the publishers marketing methods, the quality of the publishers calls and the advertiser QA team is looking at the operations and the compliance and the QA of the buyers. And so, are there agents taking calls? Are those agents committing any problems or breaking any of the rules? Are they committing call back fraud which we'll talk about later. Are the agents well trained? Or are they burning phone calls because they don't know what they are doing? Are they cherry picking phone calls and hanging up on a perfectly good phone call so they don't have to pay for with duration based billing? That kind of thing.

So essentially the quality assurance team on the advertiser side is keeping the buyers and the call centers honest and the quality assurance team on the publisher side is keeping the affiliates and publishers honest. So one of the benefits of having your own media buying team internally as a Pay Per Call Network or as an agency is you don't necessarily need the publisher QA team if you are the one generating all the phone calls. Because if you're generating all the phone calls, your team should just be following the rules and you're not going to have any front end compliance issues.

Now on the operations side, you're going to have the controller, accounts receivable and payable because if you're working with 30, 40, 50 buyers and you are paying 50, 100 affiliates you're going to have lots of pay outs that are going out regularly and then lots of invoices you're going to have to collect on. So at a network, one of the biggest departments can be their finance department if they are a big network because they just have to deal with all of that. You're also going to have the network manager. This person is going to be responsible for running both the advertiser team, the publisher team and probably works with the operations team in the finance department on a regular basis.

And so you probably won't work with the network manager regularly, but if you go to trade shows and I highly recommend you do, the network managers usually come. You should find out who those people are and then create a relationship with them so that if you have any ideas or you need access to a higher level person the future, you can reach out to the network manager to try and make things happen. They are going to have a lot more control over the network. They are going to have a lot more wiggle room to do things.

On operations, you're also going to have a director of business development. Your vice president of business development. These people are the ones that are going to be responsible for running the business development teams and they are the ones that are making deals and looking for the bigger opportunities. You may also have depending on the scale and size of the network and the operations if they have their own media buying team. They may their own software developers. Social media teams. Content managers. People who are running different portions of the network. I have not seen Pay Per Call Networks do a whole lot of marketing. I haven't seen a lot of them do a whole lot of branding either which is surprising to me and that also means that Pay Per Call Networks that want to grow or even start in this space and build a new company have a lot of opportunity to do branding and marketing around their brand to recruit affiliates. So I think that's a really big opportunity for Pay Per Call Networks that are up and coming to actually invest and actually marketing themselves as a Pay Per Call Network or as a media company, because not a lot of them are doing it very well right now.

Now on the management side, you're going to have a CEO, chief executive officer. You may have a CFO that runs the finance department. You may have a CMO at the bigger Pay Per Call companies. You may have a chief operating officer ,once they reach a certain number of people. They are going to have to keep operations going. A chief revenue officer. That person is traditionally responsible for running everything that brings money into the company. So sales, that type of thing. And then a CTO. Chief technical officer. So, if Pay Per Call Network has their own proprietary technology and they are not using something like Ringba or there are a lot of Pay Per Call Networks that use Ringba, but have their own integrations with that or they are building their own applications to help streamline the process, they may have a CTO.

How Pay Per Call Networks Operate

And so, here are some of the responsibilities and daily concerns of a Pay Per Call Network.

On the call selling side, so affiliates and publishers they are going to be communicating with traffic sources. They are going to be looking for more affiliates and publishers to fill capacity. They are going to be looking at the traffic sources of the actual affiliates and publishers to make sure they are compliant with campaigns. They are going to make sure that the marketing methods of affiliates and publishers are compliant with campaign rules. And, that's the thing. I wanna touch on that for a second. So if you're an affiliate or a publisher and you don't like the rules, well you have to understand that a network is working with lots of publishers and affiliates and buyers may be harder to come by for certain types of campaigns. And so, they are going to be really concerned about compliance because if a buyer catches one of their affiliates doing something wrong, it can make the relationship bumpy and they don't want to risk a really big high quality buyer over one affiliate's dislike of the rules. And so, you need to be aware as an affiliate, if you're going to be one, that the rules are really important.

This isn't like an affiliate campaign for eCommerce or lead gen or something like that, okay? Humans are on the phone. So the moment a phone call happens and a buyer finds out that something was done or a rule was violated, they are going to know immediately because they are actually talking to a human. And so the games don't work. You have to deliver high quality and you have to follow the rules in Pay Per Call and if that's something you don't wanna do, you shouldn't get involved in the space. Because this business requires that you have a really good communication with networks and your buyers and that you follow the rules. Otherwise, a human is going to answer the phone and they're going to know something is wrong immediately and that feedback loop is minutes or hours. It's not days, weeks, months like it is on a lot of other campaigns. So you just need to be aware of that. Know the rules. Follow the rules. Communicate really, really well, and you'll have no problems in the space.

On the publisher team, they also are going to be worried about consistency of volume. And so call centers live and die by consistency. They have to pre-schedule labor. They have to pre-schedule people to come in to actually answer the phone calls. And so if you are fluctuating your call flow constantly, networks aren't going to like that because it's hard for them to predict and work with their buyers so that they can get the capacity correct.

They also are going to be communicating with publishers and affiliates. Communication is extremely important. I cannot stress this enough. Just starting a campaign and sending traffic without talking to a publisher manager first is a recipe for disaster. And so they are big on communication and you should be too. They are also going to be responsible for payouts, all right? So if you want more money, you need to have a good relationship with your publisher manager and the easiest way to do that when you're getting started, to get a pay out bump is to communicate really well. It's to ask lots of questions. It's to talk to them. It's to double check that things are okay. And when you communicate well, they are going to take you seriously, and they are going to be more willing to give you a payout bump from the get go so that you have more competitive advantage, all right?

They also are going to be worried about your quality assurance. The quality of calls and they also are going to be worried about and focused on making sure that the publishers and affiliates get paid on time. So nothing pisses of a publisher and affiliate more than not getting paid or not getting paid on time. And so it's really important that a network makes sure that people are paid on time. If you violate that trust, they're going to go talk about it on the Internet and it's really hard to get that trust back. And so, if a network is not paying you on time, you should be concerned. You should be concerned about everything operationally with that network if they don't pay on time. Because it says that they probably have all sorts of issues around the network and the operations and the people there.

Now, things happen. I'm not going to say that things don't happen, but if something happens and a network doesn't proactively communicate to you that there may be an issue with a payment before you find out you didn't get paid, that's a big warning sign and you should pay attention to it. Do your research people. On the internal publishing team, that's their internal team that's generating phone calls. If they are big enough or they do that, they are going to be focused on asset creation, media buying, running campaigns, figuring out how to get people working on calls. Now some networks do this and they keep all the information to themselves and then there are some awesome networks like my friends over at [A for D 00:17:43]. They actually have an internal media buying team and then they just go out and teach all their affiliates how to do things that they've become successful at. And I really respect how they do that. I wish more networks would do that.

So if any Pay Per Call Networks are watching, you should follow their lead and have your internal team share all of that information with publishers and affiliates so that you can grow a better publisher and affiliate base, right? Sharing is caring.

Now on the other side of this, you have your call buyers. They are your advertisers and the call buying team is worried about a lot of things, okay? So the daily concerns and responsibilities of them are going to be what are the hours of operation of their call buyers? When are they available to take those calls? Tapping and volume limitations. Concurrency. And so these all sort of fit into their own section. The call buying management team or the advertiser management team is going to be communicating with call centers and buyers and advertisers to see if there are any changes in their operation. What their current concurrency is. Did that change? Did they update any of their policies? Did their caps change?

And then also, if those buyers paid their bills on time. If the buyers aren't paying their bills on time, they'll shut down selling calls to those buyers until they pay. Obviously. They're also, on the buying team, going to be responsible for negotiating payouts from call buyers. Looking at the quality of those calls and if the quality is really good and the buyer is happy with it, renegotiating on an ongoing basis. To be clear, whether you are an affiliate, you're a network, you're an advertise, an advertiser manager, whatever, you should be negotiating the financials in this type of space every chance you get. Every change. Quality goes up, get more money. Quality goes down, ask for more money! Like, you should just be negotiating everything at all times, and if you are watching this and you have a team of people or you're going to build a team of people, it's very important to teach them especially in the affiliate or Pay Per Call space, to negotiate. Everything, repeatedly, at all times. All right?

Now the buyers side, they're also going to be worried about campaign conversion requirements. And these are the rules of campaigns. They are going to negotiate those rules. They are going to make sure the rules are followed by the buyers on the side and that's the duration of the call, when it converts, and the geographic locations they accept. They are going to build all the routing plans out to make sure that their buyers are only getting the geographic areas that they want or can even handle for their calls. The acceptable demographics. They are also going to manage the IVR responses. All the qualifications of the specific campaign and then, again, they should have quality assurance people that are on top of all the call buyers to make sure their agents are trained properly. They are not committing any fraud. Just keeping everyone in the value chain honest. And then of course, accounts receivable. They need to be really on top of their accounts receivable, because if you are running a Pay Per Call Network and you are accelerating the payment terms to your affiliates, you essentially become a factoring company and then there's a lot of risk in exposure with your accounts receivables.

And so if you're not on top of the finances as a Pay Per Call Network, you got a big problem. So if you're an affiliate and like I said, you don't get paid on time and no one reached out to you, that's a warning sign and it could mean that maybe the network isn't good with their finances or it can mean that maybe the buyers aren't paying them on time, but it's a sticky situation and you should judge networks by how they pay you, how they communicate and if they pay on time and if there's anything wrong with any of those things, that's smoke and you should start looking for the fire.

Pros and Cons of Working with a Pay Per Call Network

And so, the pros and cons of working with a Pay Per Call Network. The pros, they typically are going to issue faster payments or be willing to issue faster payments to publishers and affiliates than direct buyers, okay?

As an affiliate, there is less financial risk, sometimes, right? In theory, a network is supposed to guarantee you the payment where they get paid or not. In practice, that doesn't always happen but theoretically, there should be less financial risk. If you are working with the bigger companies and the bigger networks in Pay Per Call there should be less financial risk. They are going to have better teams. They are going to be run better. It's just going to be better for you in general. You get business development support. You don't have to go build your own Pay Per Call buyer network. You don't have to deal with buyers. You don't have to deal with anything really. You're dealing with one network and you get greater geographic coverage in some case because of that, because if you are an army of one and they have 25 employees that are working on creating campaigns and buyer networks, they are going to do that work for you.

They also are going to have a wider offer selection, right? Than just a single call center or single buyer. A lot of times, call centers only work on one campaign and so you can only sell them insurance calls or mortgage calls or whatever they do. And some networks that do a really nice job and aren't just brokering everything have exclusive campaigns. So they've built their own exclusive offer. Their own direct buyers and you can't work with those direct buyers unless you work with the network and that's what I consider actual value and so you really should look for the networks that have exclusive campaigns. Work directly with their direct buyers and you'll be able to see that in your call phone flow based on conversion rate. We'll talk about that in a minute.

And so the cons of a Pay Per Call Network, it's harder to work with if you are new in this space. And it should be frankly. This isn't like affiliate. We're talking about humans that have to be there to answer the phone. And so it's a different model. It's more exclusionary. So you have to be on top of your game if you're new. And that means you're going to have to communicate really well. You're going to have to put the extra effort in to put your best foot forward. These networks aren't going to work extra hard to bring on a bunch of new people that know nothing about this space, okay? And so you really are going to have to be on top of your game to work with the networks because they have a lot to lose by fraudulent affiliates or foreign affiliates coming in that are trying to burn them, okay? And again, we're also going to talk a lot about that later in the course on how to work with a Pay Per Call Network.

Also, it's going to be lower margin than working with direct buyers. Direct buyers are going to pay you a lot more money. On average, networks are going to be taking 35 to 100% margin. On average. Okay? If they have direct buyers, it may be higher. I've seen some of these margins [inaudible 00:24:45] 100, 200, 300, 400% okay? And so the networks are definitely getting paid for what they are doing in the Pay Per Call space and they need to have a little bit higher margin than the affiliate space because phone calls have a cost associated with them. They have to pay fees, telecommunication platform. All that stuff. And so the margins need to be a little bit higher, but they are way higher than affiliate on average and so that means when you're working with a network, they maybe making more money than you as an affiliate. And so getting your own direct buyers in the mix is important, and that's why you need call tracking. That's why you need a platform like Ringba so that you can augment your call flow by selling to a network and then starting to get your own direct buyers in the mix so you can get your margins up.

Also, you're going to get a complete lack of visibility. You don't know who the buyers are. You don't know what their concurrency is. You don't know if the network is telling you the truth about any of the details about the buyers or the capacity that they can handle. You just have no visibility whatsoever. You have no control over the buyers when working with a network. You can't work with them to train their agents better. If the network isn't doing a good job, you have no control over that. You have no control over the quality assurance process. You don't know if the network's really paying attention to the buyer to make sure that you get paid for every phone call. They may say they are but you don't actually know and that's part of the lack of visibility.

There's also going to be favoritism in there. Your calls may be higher quality but if an affiliate manager likes someone else more than you, they may not give you the capacity. And so there's going to be favoritism any time you're dealing with humans. So it happens. You're also going to have little recourse over disputes, especially if you do not use your own call tracking. If you don't use your own call tracking, you have no recourse over disputes. They don't have to give you the call recordings. They can just say to you, "Hey, that call was fraud. Tough shit." Okay? That's why you need your own call recordings, your own call tracking, so you have recourse.

Now if they say that call was fraud and you have a recording and you listen to it and it's not fraud, then you can be like, "Here, dude. Here's the call recording. It's not fraud. You're going to pay me." Okay? And so that's why you need your own call tracking to keep them honest. It is not in the network's best interest for you to have your own call tracking platform and so they are probably not going to tell you to go get one. We don't get a ton of referrals from Pay Per Call Networks. Mostly because they don't want their affiliates to have call tracking, because it gives affiliates power. If they don't have call tracking, they are stuck with the network. They are using the network's number. They have no oversight over the network. Why do they want that? So, you need to get your own so you have that.

Now, there's also potential mismanagement of funds in there. You don't know how the financial system at the Pay Per Call Network operates. You don't know if buyers are delinquent. You don't know the current cash standing of a network, and if those networks pay weekly, or if a network pays in an accelerated fashion, and what I mean by that is if they pay their affiliates sooner than they get paid from the buyers, then they may not be in a healthy financial situation. Okay? In the smaller networks, may run into mismanagement of funds much easier than the larger networks, but larger networks can fall over too. There is no real way to gauge this except are they paying people on time? Did they pay you on time? And how well do they communicate? And so those two things are integral to the success of working with a network.

And I just wanna be clear here. A lot of what I said is a bit of negative. There are a lot of benefits to working with a Pay Per Call Network. There are a lot of great Pay Per Call Networks in this space. I am not saying don't work with them. In fact, I'm saying the opposite. You probably should work with them and I'm going to explain why later in the program and in a lot of lessons in this course, all right? They are very helpful. They are useful. And they can do a lot for you. The only thing that I am saying is make sure you pay attention to who you are doing business with and how they do business so that you can protect yourself if you're going to get into this space. And so that's what I'm saying. Is just make sure you cover your ass whenever you can and that should be how you do business in general. Right? It's not just about Pay Per Call Networks. It's about every company you do business with. Are they accessible? Do they communicate well? Do they publicly interact with the community? Those are the type of companies you want to do business with because with communicate and publicly working with a community, the company is held accountable.

And that's all you're really looking for here, is accountability to make sure you are working with a good company.

Getting Started with Pay Per Call Networks

Now, getting started with Pay Per Call Networks, all right? So, just because a network has multiple buyers, large geographic coverage and says they have plenty of capacity, does not mean they are going to have 100% coverage. Okay? It just doesn't. Just because they say it, doesn't mean it's true. And that's why you need to pay attention to your call flow, conversation rates, metrics, statistics and do quality assurance on your calls. Because of course they are going to say, "We have 100% coverage and we're the best." Right? They want your business. They want the calls.

And most affiliates aren't paying attention. So they just say these things, all right? And so it doesn't apply to all of them. I'm generalizing here. But if you think about how you should look at the situation, you should assume that it's not accurate. Trust, but verify, right? Trust, but verify. And so globally, 25% of all calls anywhere in the world are abandoned due to lack of capacity. And so if globally, in every single call center on Earth on average, 25% of calls go abandoned, you would assume then that a network isn't going to have 100% coverage at every given moment throughout the day. In fact, the way you manage call flow is to try and get it as close to 100% as possible. So, 100% is typically just not possible. Based on capacity of different call centers and buyers at any given time. And so, it's not really fair to say that they have 100% coverage. Now they may say, yeah we have 100% coverage and they mean they have nationwide coverage, but again, this is why you need to pay attention.

If you see that a network is buying calls from you and you look at the report of geographic locations and you see that well, in South Carolina, they drop 80% of the phone calls, well 20% of the time they have coverage in South Carolina. So technically they have nationwide coverage, but you need to pay attention to these pockets and zones especially when a campaign has geographic restrictions to make sure that your buyers have the available capacity, whether they are direct or a network, to actually take the call. And, this is an unfair situation with everyone involved in Pay Per Call or call centers in general, okay? And that's because call flow is entirely unpredictable and there isn't an easy way to solve this problem. So you just simply need to be aware of it and build your business process appropriately.

And so like I said, it may sound like I'm being a little hard on networks now, but I'm not. This applies to everybody. Networks, independent buyers, buyer networks, aggregators, brokers, everybody. Call flow is a pain in the butt to manage, guys. And so everyone has issues with it and that's why there's a lot of opportunity in this space. If there were no issues and everything ran perfectly, and it was this beautiful construction of an industry I wouldn't be giving a master class on it. Because there'd be no way to get involved in it. There'd be no competitive advantage to have. And so these problems that we're discussing here are actually one of the reasons why there's a lot of opportunity in this space and that's why I'm focusing on the problems not the upside.

Upside is easy. Oh, we win. Everybody made money. Whoo! Great. Okay. Like upside is easy. Downside is what you need to be focused on if you're going to be in business because you want to prevent things from happening and you need to know where the problems are so that you can solve them and create a profit. All right? And so networks fundamentally need to try and keep all their buyers at maximum capacity at all times to preserve access to that capacity and maintain their relationships. And let me just break that down for a second. If you are a Pay Per Call Network, and you have a bunch of buyers and those buyers aren't getting phone calls, they want those phone calls. They need it. They're paying for the agents. And so if you're not delivering phone calls as a network to your buyers. They are going to look elsewhere.

And so it is in the network's best interest to try and keep their buyers at maximum capacity at all times to preserve access to that capacity. That means rarely do they have a large amount of overflow capacity to handle spikes in call flow, okay? Maybe they do, but if they do, it's going to be lower performing buyers that they prefer not to send the volume to. Thus, affecting your conversion rate. Because if they had all high performing buyers, the lower performing ones wouldn't even be in the mix, okay? But you always keep some lower performing buyers on standby so that if one of your high performing buyers has an issue, you can reroute the call flow and it's not a total loss. Okay? And so if you think about that for a minute, in practical terms, that means the networks need to keep all their best buyers at maximum capacity at all times to preserve the access and that means that they are going to try and get affiliates and publishers to send as much capacity to fill those people as possible and even some overflow capacity.

Because, the network does not have to pay for a call that doesn't get answered. That's how the model works. So, it's in their best interest to actually have a few calls dropped. And that's why it's important to you to be able to load balance your calls appropriately, all right? Otherwise, their buyers would have agents sitting around idle, creating significant overhead and lowering agent productivity, okay? Call centers and buyers also, they always want to have as little idle time as possible in all circumstances and for two reasons. One, they are paying for those people and two, call centers, when they have a lot of action, when most people or all people on the phone, it is jamming in there. Morale goes up. People get excited. It's like a team sport.

And so when the floor is banging, and everybody's on the phone, literally at call centers, they are going to be like ringing bells and shit. High fiving. Having a good time. The whole floor's productivity goes up when it's maximized and so the owners of those call centers gotta keep it maximized. It's like bonus morale when everyone is missing. You win even more, and that's the crazy thing about call centers and why it's in everybody's best interest especially the network and the buyer, to keep them at maximum capacity, okay? And so for instance, if you're sending calls to a network and another affiliate ramps up their flow, you may start dropping calls because the buyer don't have enough capacity to handle the spike. And that's the ideal situation for a network, okay? That means they're going to make the most amount of money and keep all their back end buyers who are frankly, more valuable than the affiliates, okay?

Because without the buyers, none of it exists. And so it's in their best interesting to do this. Networks will not reimburse you for advertising costs if they don't have the capacity to handle your calls. Why would they do that? The whole thing is performance based, all right? They win. All right? And most of the time, they are not going to notify you that they are overflowing, because it's not in their best interest for you to be out looking for more buyers. Especially if they know you are not using your own call tracking, why would they even tell you? Okay? One of the big companies in the network space that provides call tracking technology does a really poor job of illuminating issues in the call flow to not only the affiliates but the network, because it's not in the best interest to their business to do so, okay? And so if you're working with a company that's not using Ringba to track their calls, you're not going to get most of the information about your call flow. And if you're not a paid customer of Ringba, frankly, you're not going to get all the availability of information on your call flow as well.

And so that means everyone else that you are working with has a one up on you. And under no circumstances will you ever be in a power position with them if you don't have your own call tracking, okay? That's just how this works. That's why it is worth it for you to pay for it. And it is seriously not in their best interest for you to be out looking for more buyers. So like I said, they're just not going to tell you. Luckily for them, most affiliates don't even realize this is happening. So they don't implement their own tracking because they are too cheap to watch out on their network's activities. Or to see what's really going on, all right? And as you are watching this, hopefully you're starting to realize why I am so passionate about this. I just want people to win, all right?

If you are going to win in the Pay Per Call space, you need control over your flow and there's only one way to get that and that's to use Ringba or one of my competitors. Honestly, I don't care. If you're not going to use my platform, that's fine. But at least use something, otherwise you're just not in a good position. Now, a campaign inside of a network may have one buyer, five buyers, or 50 buyers depending on the type of campaign and the geographic restrictions. Rarely will a network transparently tell you how many buyers they have, how much capacity they have, or what their other publishers are sending. Because it's not in their best interest to do so. If you send too many calls, they can't handle capacity, guess what? The network 100% maximized its yield, and maximized its buyer capacity. Got as many phone calls as they could into their buyers. Everyone was on the phone. The buyers maxed out. They win. The networks maxed out. They made the most money they could possibly make and the affiliate loses because their calls got dropped and they don't even know it if they have their own tracking.

And so, best case scenario for a network is their buyers are maxed out because they did a good job which means they're maxed out which means they need more than 100% of their available capacity in call flow. And when the network has more than 100% of their availability in cash ... excuse me, capacity, guess who eats shit? The affiliate. Because they are the ones who are spending the money to drive the calls into the network. And again, why you need your own call tracking.

Network Routing Plan Example

So, let's look at what a network routing plan, a very simple one, may look like from the inside. Okay? And so regardless of the campaign, most routing plans have similar properties, all right? In essence, you're going to have all of the automated routing properties that I talked about in the call flow lessons, and they are all similar and they are going to use multiple sets of these rules inside of their routing plans, all right? And so, in the below example, we'll assume that the network is paying you, the affiliate, $8.00 per call. As long as it has a two minute minimum duration. Now this means that you will only be paid if the call center is on the phone for two minutes. And that's not two minutes from when the caller, the customer, dialed the number. That's two minutes from when the call got connected to the buyer. Now, if your network is using antiquated technology, that's not ours, I guarantee you those call connection times are longer.

And so you need to pay attention to that. And if you use Ringba, we give you the statistics to pay attention to that. So you can see how long it's taking for your calls to actually connect through all these networks and other buyers so that you can see what the actual duration requirements are of the call. What I mean by that is if it takes 20 seconds to connect to the buyer, your duration isn't two minutes. It's two minutes and 20 seconds and you need to be aware of that so that you can optimize your call flow to the campaigns that have the actual duration lower, because then you're conversion rate is going to be higher and that means you're going to make more money per call.

So let's look at this for a second. In this routing plan, we have five buyers. We got SuperCalls, Calls Market, Call Center X, Blue Calls, some guy named Jim. Okay? And this is reality, all right? In a network, on some campaigns, they are going to have a couple of call centers, a couple of aggregators, a direct buyer. They are going to broker to another network and then they are going to want to build their own direct buyer network because the margins are higher and so they find Jim to take some calls. Now Jim can only take one call at a time because it's just him, but he's willing to pay $25.00 for a call. He's licensed nationwide and Jim is a direct buyer so he's less sophisticated. He doesn't really understand how this works.

So he's going to prepay and he pays per raw call. All right? So Jim is your best case scenario. Whenever you can build your own network of direct buyers, they are going to pay significantly more money. They are going to be less sophisticated so there will be less rules, and they're probably going to have shorter durations because they are in a weaker negotiating position. They're just excited to get the phone call because an inbound call is so valuable to them. So Jim's like, "Yeah. Whatever. I'll pay $25.00 per call, no matter what happens." All right? Then they'll learn, and they'll renegotiate at times, but they're really your best option.

Now, call center x is going to be a nationwide call center. They'll take calls from anywhere, and they are on a two minute duration and they know the game pretty well. You can see that they are paying $16.00. It's the lowest amount on this example. They're probably working with four or five other affiliate networks and Pay Per Call Networks and have a bunch of direct buyers. Maybe they have their own media buying team as well, and they know that they don't need to overpay for that phone call, and they can fill their capacity because they are working with a whole bunch of other networks and direct buyers.

And we have a lot of clients like this on Ringba that are actual call centers and then they are like, "Well, we can just use Ringba and run our own Pay Per Call program. We don't need to overpay for this stuff. We can manage all the capacity ourselves." And so we see a lot of this and they are the smarter ones. Now, you probably can assume that maybe Call Market and SuperCalls, maybe they are direct buyers, maybe there are other networks. Blue Calls. Maybe there are other networks, maybe there are other buyers. They all have different capacity, so this is the concurrency. How many live calls they can handle at any given time [inaudible 00:43:56]. And then we also have their geography and their duration requirements when the call converts. And so SuperCalls is only going to take a call from california, Texas and New York and they are only going to pay if that call is a minute 30 long. Okay? And so, this is what a standard grouping of buyers looks like in a simplistic way.

Optimizing Your Call Flow

Now, when you're optimizing your call flow as an affiliate or even a network, you wanna create your own buyers to load balance that call flow across whatever criteria makes you the most money. So in this previous example, Jim is your guy. You want to send as many calls as possible to Jim because he's paying the most money. So in the best scenario, Jim's phone rings off the hook and he loves it because all day, every day people are just like, "Hey. I wanna buy your service. Hey I wanna buy your service." Okay? And so the direct buyers that are lower concurrency, if you can keep them on the phone, are really your best outlook because you're going to get paid the most. Least restrictions. All that good stuff.

And so using your own call tracking gives you complete control and full visibility from your call flow from end to end, right? You can see where all the source data is, all your marketing works, then you can see all the buyers and then of course, all the analytics and systems in the middle that allow you to really maximize your yield across the entire swath of publishers and buyers that you can have in this business. Now, the most practical set up for a new Pay Per Call affiliate is typically to pick a niche and find a new networks that have already built campaigns and buyer networks in the space, and then that way, you have optionality for where your calls go. Ability to instantly divert calls as bargaining power.

And so, as an affiliate if you're just an affiliate, your routing plan should look exactly the same as this network routing plan example we have here. Except, first you start with one network. Then you go get three networks. Then you find a direct buyer. Then you find Jim. Find a couple other guys like that and you start building out your call flow exactly the same as a network would with your own technology, and then if the network doesn't wanna pay you more money or doesn't want to negotiate with you, at the click of a mouse you can redirect your entire call flow to a bunch of other buyers, take it away from them and now you're in the power position, okay? So no call tracking. You're in a really bad position. You have no negotiating angle. You have no dispute resolution. You got nada. But if you have your own call tracking, you're in the power position.Now you can move your calls around. Send them wherever you want and no one can do anything about it. All right?

Multi-Network Routing Plan Example

And so, let's take a look at what that's like as an affiliate. Let's say you're just getting started in here, and you're going to work with two networks, okay? In this example, network A is claiming they can handle unlimited call capacity 24/7, all right? If anyone tells you that, complete bullshit. It's not humanly possible. There is no way that they have a ton of humans sitting around getting paid to do nothing, waiting for you to figure out how to run a Pay Per Call campaign, all right? That's a fallacy. It happens a lot. They are going to say it a lot, but it is bullshit.

And, this is entirely not possible and you should definitely take it as a warning sign. Anyone that claims to take unlimited amounts of calls isn't giving you the full story and I know I've said this a lot. I'm going to repeat it again. Humans have to be available to take every call, or the callers will hang up. They ain't gonna sit on hold for 26 minutes to get a new insurance policy. You're going to be lucky if they are going to sit on hold for 26 seconds. Okay? And so you want those calls answered as soon as humanly possible. Now, network B on the other hand has given you a cap of 100 calls per day to fill without providing any concurrency limits. This is also a problem because they are not telling you how many simultaneous calls they can handle into their buyers. That's a big problem, okay? And so you want to ... Maybe that's because you didn't ask. Maybe they don't care. It doesn't matter to them, but it should matter to you. And so you are like, "Okay. I'll send you 100 calls today. But what's the hourly concurrency? How many concurrency slots can you guarantee are going to get answered?"

You should ask them if they'll guarantee specific concurrency slots for you. Now they are not going to do that if you can't fill them, so you're going to get one shot. But if they'll guarantee the concurrency slots for you, what they can do is cap the campaign so that you have four guaranteed concurrency slots. No other publishers can have that concurrency, so hopefully your calls will get answered. But realistically speaking, network A here is unlimited capacity which is nonsense. Network B at least, gave you a cap but they didn't give you a call flow cap. They didn't tell you how many calls you can run concurrently, so you need to dig that information out of them so that you can properly balance your calls, otherwise they are going to get overflow and you're not going to get paid for it and they win, and you don't. Right?

And so, both networks claim to have nationwide coverage and will pay out after the call length has reached one minute and 30 seconds. And so I want to talk about the coverage again. Just because they claim to have nationwide coverage, doesn't mean that that nationwide coverage is even. But it doesn't necessarily mean that their buyers can all take nationwide calls. What they may have is nationwide coverage with 35 buyers in different areas that can take calls from different geographic regions. And if one of those areas like Florida gets maxed out, or is always on the phone, your Florida calls may bounce at a higher rate than your other phones calls. So this is another reason why you need sophisticated call tracking that can geographically load balance your calls for you so you can make sure like, all right, this network's good. They pay me quick. I wanna work with them, but on this campaign they suck in Florida for whatever reason. Their buyer drops 80% of the calls. I wanna reroute my Florida calls somewhere else so that I can maximize the yield on that campaign.

And so you need the statistics and analytics into your call flow so that you could just properly route your calls. A good way to think about this is a puzzle. You can't put a puzzle piece into the wrong spot. It just doesn't fit. Same thing with a call. If humans are on the phone, you can't park it at that buyer. So you gotta fill in your puzzle and make sure all the pieces work to get the most money out of your call flow. And I'll be real with you. Most affiliates and maybe even a lot of networks, I don't know, but definitely on the affiliate side aren't the best at this. And so, you need to make sure that one, on the tracking company side, you're working with a company that'll give you an account manager, that will help you optimize your call flow. We will absolutely do that for you and our people are experts, okay? I don't think any of my competitors do that. I know that some of them take three days to respond to a ticket, which is ridiculous. In call flow, you have like 30 seconds to figure out a problem.

Three days? That's just again nonsense. All right? And then on the other side of it, you need to communicate with your networks to get as much information as you can so that you can optimize your call flow, all right? So let's assume you were able to generate 100 calls and use your call tracking platform to load balance the calls evenly to both networks. So you were like, all right, I'll give both of these guys a try. I'm going to send 50/50 and see what happen. Now, the great thing about calls versus clicks is you only really need a few of them to understand the productivity of a network's back end buyers. You don't even need 100. We just used 100 for example's sake. But the following results turned out to be drastically different, and in most circumstances, the results do end up being drastically different. Why? There's a ton of circumstances. We've talked about them.

But let's take a look in detail. So you're an affiliate, you're using Ringba, you got two networks. Network A and network B. You sent 50 calls to each but for some reason, network A only paid you for eight of those calls, where network B paid you for 19 of them. That's really odd. Okay? And there's a reason for that. The reason for that is they didn't have the capacity available to take those calls, all right? And even though they told you they did, it's clear they didn't. Now if you were using a phone number from an affiliate network or a Pay Per Call Network, and you do not have your own call tracking, you would not know this that 16% of the phone calls didn't connect. Why didn't they connect? We don't know why they didn't connect. We would have to review the call recordings for that. But in most circumstances, there's usually some technology issues call center doesn't know about. Or maybe they are sending busy signals when they don't have capacity available because it's in the best interest to the call center to ... in Pay Per Call to take more calls than they can actually answer so that their floor is at 100% at all times.

Okay? And maybe they were defrauding you. So we'll talk about call back fraud. There's a minute and 30 second duration on this, and check out the example we gave you after the lesson. You can actually listen to a call recording of callback fraud. But basically what happens is the call center knows they don't have to pay for it if they hang up the phone within a minute and 30 seconds. And so what they're going to do is be like, "Oh, hey John. Oh, sorry, sorry. Can't really hear you. I'm going to call you back in a second. Okay?" And the guy's like, "Oh, okay. Yeah. No problem." Hangs up the phone, calls the guy back, doesn't pay for the call. Gets the guy on the phone. Sells him anyways. And so this is call back fraud. This is why you have to absolutely QA your calls and you have to keep the networks honest too, because if they don't have the resources available to QA all their short duration calls, you're going to run into issues, okay?

And it's not necessarily the network's fault. They are not defrauding you. It's their buyer. If the buyer knows they can get away with it, they're probably going to do it. And most call centers that are small are highly incentived to continue to doing call back fraud or to engage in this activity. If they only have 10 or 15 people in their call center, the managers can just tell them how to do this and if there is no oversight, they can do a lot of it. Now, in larger call centers, we typically see less call back fraud. Because the larger call centers understand that they are building a sustainable business and they don't wanna burn the bridges so they don't make people do this, all right? The agents don't care either way. And so the agents, they get their commission structure. It doesn't matter whether they are call back frauding or not. The agents get paid the same regardless, and so in a bigger call center operation usually won't see this. You gotta look out for the smaller ones.

So if you look at this scenario, 50 phone calls can have a huge difference in actual end user value for you, even if its the same campaign and type of call when working with the different networks based on how their buyers are behaving, what their actual coverage is, the technology that's involved underneath and a whole lot of other statistics and things. So it's very important for you to track your own calls and to be aware of this. Now if you had your own tracking and you were a Ringba customer for instance, and you sent five calls to network A and five calls to network B, you'd know immediately that there was a problem in there and then you would reroute your calls without question. And so that's why you need call tracking but that's why technology is important in this business and the difference between success and failure can be as simple as just taking the time to understand what's going on in your call flow and then working it so you get the maximum amount of money.

And most affiliates are not doing this but let me tell you, as a former media buyer, someone who has bought billions of clicks, the difference between winning and losing in advertising is usually how much you can pay for the clicks or the calls or whatever the case is. And if one party is paying you more than double for the same amount of phone calls, that gives you a huge amount of advantage to go raise your bids and compete better with your traffic sources.


Previous Lesson | Next Lesson: The Psychology of Ads
Last edited: