Shaving in affiliate programs by adult sponsors is one of the most debated topics on the adult boards, and one which effects, directly or not, every single person working in the online adult industry. Why does it happen, how does it happen and what can be done to stop it?
Shaving is an art which not everyone has in their god given gifts. A year back, I put in close on 4 hours everyday for 3 months working to build an AVS site before it dawned on me that I was getting signups only when I didn't update the site. Finally I figured out that a signup was meant as motivation to continue working like an ass for the rest of the month.
Most affiliate management programs today have plugins where it's possible to adjust or reduce signups credited to individual webmasters by a percentage. You might be getting 100 conversions from your traffic, but if the shave is set to 25%, your stats will show only 75 signups.
Like Bill Clinton, while speaking about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, just said - "I did it because I had the chance to do so." Considered that there's no way to cross check signup stats, webmasters have to depend on a sponsors' integrity to credit them with due signups. Second, and more important, most of them do it because they have to. Huh? Think about it - With affiliates demanding more and more goodies - hosted galleries, free content, bonuses, free booze and parties and even hookers - how do you expect a sponsor to make money? Add to that the rising affiliate commissions, billing problems, fradulent signups, Ashcroft and top it off with content theft. Why would you even want to open a paysite with an affiliate program? All they are doing is passing the cost on to you.
Face up to it. Like a runaway deficit, there has to be a day of reckoning. The sooner it is, the better. Sponsors have got to come forward and say - "Look, this is my total cost per signup and I'll give you XX percentage of net profit per signup. You can't expect a sponsor to run on a loss, and neither do we want them to close shop. Take what money there is and split it fairly. The basic reason this is happening is that inexperienced people are becoming sponsors. If you don't have an idea of what your costs are going to be, don't start. One way to tackle this problem is better co-ordination and transparency between the triangle of affilites, sponsors and billing processors.
In conclusion, a business cannot be run on someone's word. There have to be hard facts on paper to back it up. Unless sponsors find a way to convince affiliates that they are not shaving, they are all going to be painted with the same black brush.