We’re very excited to present our 18th interview with Brendan Smith of Motive Interactive.
Brendan Smith is the Founder and CEO of Motive Interactive; a leading technology based CPA network based in San Diego. An early stage Internet entrepreneurs and marketer Smith has built numerous web based businesses and participated in online marketing at many levels, as an advertiser, affiliate, search marketer, list builder, email marketer, media buyer, and website owner.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How old are you?
Born and raised in the New York metropolitan area, I’m 36 years old, and since 2003 I have been living on the West Coast in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and San Diego, California.
2. How long have you been in affiliate marketing and how did you get involved?
I have been involved in online marketing since 1996. My brother, an affiliate manager at Motive, got me into it. He was buying up domains, building websites, messing around with technology, and getting into e-commerce very early on. He showed me the ropes. What really turned me on initially about Affiliate Marketing was the idea that I could do it from anywhere, So I hit the road working from different ski and surf towns throughout the US, Central America and even Scandinavia.
3. How long was it before you realized you could live off your affiliate income?
During the first year I realized I could make a living, however, it was not until a few years later that I started to develop sustainable long term business plans that would generate substantial revenues, financial security, and opportunities for employees.
4. What has been your biggest success to date?
Motive – a long term, quality business with an amazing team. In 2010 alone we were named in the Inc 500/5000, Deloitte Technology Fast 500, San Diego Business Journal Fastest 100, mThink’s Top 20 Affiliate Networks, we won a Stevie Award from the The American Business Awards and numerous technology awards. We are all really proud of what Motive has become and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to lead such an amazing team.
5. What was the biggest mistake you made while building your business?
To grow any business you need to take risks, try different methods, and get out of your comfort zone. If you are doing that, you will naturally have a few mistakes, and I certainly had my share. In hindsight, my biggest mistake was building a CPM network with a focus on automotive. We built this right around the same time, the auto industry tanked. It was a reality check and a lesson in humility; we quickly got back on our feet and focused 100% on what we know and love: performance based marketing.
6. Tell us a little bit about Motive Interactive and what you do over there?
We are a performance-based advertising network that provides lead generation for Internet advertisers through an exclusive invite-only network of Internet marketers. So basically we are a CPA network with a very strong Lead Generation component supported by proprietary technology. As CEO, I manage all aspects of the operations of the company while focusing on strategic partnerships, business development, technology, and marketing. I also mop the floors and make a mean cup of coffee.
7. There are already so many CPA affiliate networks out there. What makes Motive Interactive different?
Motive has been around since 2004 so we are competing at a different level than some of the newer networks. A few major elements that set us apart: Technology; Motive has spent many years and millions of dollars developing our award winning technology to support the affiliate marketing business. Experience; All of senior management has extensive experience with affiliate marketing. We understand the online marketing business and the strategies that work. Strategy and Support; unlike many networks, we take a hands on or an agency style approach to our support. Being a selective invite-only network gives us the opportunity to work extremely close with advertisers and affiliates to customize strategies to fit specific needs and goals. In this approach we call upon both our vast experience and our scalable technology to offer a completely unique marketing strategy.
8. Do you think it is still possible and lucrative to introduce a new CPA Affiliate Network to the market?
The massive saturation of the industry makes it difficult, but certainly not impossible. The biggest challenge is going to be cash flow a new network will need to have a significant bank roll to compete these days. As a new network it’s almost impossible to get clients to pre-pay and floating cash is a requirement of the business, and sometime float does not come back. Assuming the network is going to do more than just broker other network offers, they will also need to be very sales savvy as advertisers are expecting more from networks from that perspective as well. Bleak as that sounds as an Entrepreneur, I would never discourage anyone from entering into a market no matter how saturated it seems, just keep in mind there is no easy money it’s going to require serious sweat equity, creativity, bank roll and a strong stomach.
9. Do you offer biweekly or weekly payment?
We do offer custom payment schedules to meet the needs of individual affiliates based on both volume and quality.
10. Do you have any exclusive offers that other networks don’t have?
We have many exclusives in numerous verticals.
11. Which traffic sources prove to be the most effective for your top earning affiliates – E-mail, PPC, PPV, Facebook, Media Buying or any others?
Well, it differs depending on the vertical and offer, but overall I would say social media and media buy sources done right are highly effective.
12. Do you offer online training for new affiliates?
We don’t make a point to do this. We prefer to work with seasoned marketers who require very little direction if any.
13. I see you are using your own affiliate network software. What made you build yourself, instead of choosing HasOffers, LinkTrust, DirectTrack and HitPath, etc.?
Motive Interactive has a very experienced technology staff. We have built numerous systems and applications throughout the years. It was difficult for us to foresee a company based around 3rd party technology. Scalable, effective proprietary technology gives a company a host of advantages over those using 3rd party systems. Adaptability to industry trends, customizable tools, security, fraud protection, and accountability (good or bad) are a few big ones. Moreover, our agency type services transcend those of a basic CPA network and for those non-traditional offerings; a custom built solution was the best option for Motive.
14. For those who are interested in working with you and your affiliate network – What’s the best way/time to reach you?
I’m always interested in connecting with advertisers, affiliates, network owners or Internet entrepreneurs. My email is Brendan (at) motiveinteractive dot com, my IM is motivebrendan and my office line is 858-677-0792 x 115. I can also be tracked down on facebook http://www.facebook.com/brendanjevonsmith
15. What’s the difference between a Super Affiliate and an Average Affiliate?
The “Super Affiliate” title is a great way for an affiliate to promote a blog and sell some e-books. Unfortunately, there are too many self-proclaimed “Super Affiliates” out there these days, so from a network prospective we don’t put much thought into the term anymore. We look at our affiliates simply as good and great affiliates. Great affiliates are able to consistently do large volume and produce substantial revenue while proving quality leads with little direction. Good affiliates can become great at any moment and it does not require a cape.
16. What are the keys to building successful relationships between Affiliates and Affiliate Networks?
Communication. If you can communicate open and honestly there is a greater chance for a successful relationship.
17. If you could change one thing about the affiliate industry, what would it be?
Although this is naturally, but slowly happening on its own, I would hasten the process and purge the industry of the super shady advertisers and fraud publishers –these people just waste time, resources, and money and that sets the industry back.
18. What do you think about where the industry is going? Where Motive Interactive may be going? What advice would you give to affiliates to keep up the pace.
I’m excited about the industry and where it’s going. The past few years have been very interesting! A bit of a shake up and wake up time. We will continue to see consolidation in the market caused by an increase in M&A activity, economic pressures, and legislation designed to crack down on what they consider unethical, and aggressive sales tactics. This will benefit all of the legitimate marketers and businesses in the long run, and new lucrative opportunities will emerge. Affiliates need to follow the trends in the market, explore new traffic and marketing strategies, and improve on what is already effective. Motive will continue to be a respected and popular CPA network, with expanding technology and tools. Basically, we want to keep doing what we have done since 2004 and hopefully it leads to even greater opportunities for Motive and our partners.
19. What are your hobbies/interests/passions? What’s your favorite movie and why?
I have always been into classic cars and motorcycles, so I spend a lot of time polishing chrome. I’m into music and play a little blues/folk guitar and harmonica. I would consider myself an outdoor sports enthusiast. I love fishing, camping, and have been surfing and snowboarding for over 20 years now; it’s a pretty big part of who I am. As for my favorite movie, I would have to say Caddyshack. So damn funny!
20. What’s on your Ipod?
My taste is eclectic and varies depending on mood and atmosphere. The collection is heavy in Blues: Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Albert King. However, it’s a melting pot of music for sure, country, rap, punk, rockabilly, jazz, folk, classical you name it. If I’m driving I’m listing to something that rocks: The Black Keys, The White Stripes or maybe some Zeppelin. For the gym it’s something that gets my blood pumping: Clutch, Rage Against The Machine, Helmet. If I’m running it’s usually some kind of hip hop like Jedi Mind Tricks or The Roots. If I’m sitting on the beach it’s Bob Marley, and around the campfire it’s Hank Williams. So I’m pretty much all over the place.
21. Give us a little glimpse into what a typical day in your life looks like.
My workday looks a little like this: 6:00am check emails and get a little early work done. 7:30 Surf and or Gym, 9:00-6:00 Office for non-stop all out affiliate marketing war- no time for coffee breaks or lunch, 6:45pm Surf or Cross-training, 8:00 Cook / Eat, 9:00-11:00 Downtime, 11:00-1:00 check emails and work with international clients and vendors. That’s pretty much a typical day for me.
Many thanks to Brendan for sharing your time with us and for sharing some great insight tips here! If you have any experience with Motive Interactive Affiliate Network, please write a review for them on the Motive Interactive review page.
Ps. If you are an affiliate marketer, AM or Network owner and are interested in answering a few questions about you, your network and affiliate marketing, please drop us a message.