How did Darren get into the affiliate industry?
Quite accidentally. By around ’97, he had a very successful alarm company. One of his clients had a company and offered him a position to do marketing. So, he left his alarm center company and joined forces with them. He called each client on their top list individually, and he learned tons of information (tips & tricks on how someone gets traffic) that he passed on to other clients.
He soon started his own company, marketingfirm.com, and branded himself as D-Money. He also used this alias to threw his first event series “D-Money presents: The Players Ball”.
Back in college, he already worked in concert clubs in Cleveland, then Ohio, so switching back to music was a logical move. The Players Ball was his idea of bringing the biggest names to an event, the ultimate goal being Snoop Dogg. The first Players Ball had Long Beach Dub Allstars (formerly Sublime) performing, then bigger and bigger artists came, until finally, they managed to have Snoop Dogg perform in 2001 for $100,000. If it wasn’t for the adult internet, we wouldn’t have affiliate marketing today.
Back in the ’90s, with no Facebook existing yet, there were only message boards and sites like GFY where people shared tricks and tips. If only we had the “Affiliates Ask Anything” Facebook group back then, right…? The way people got traffic was with top lists – the best ones got 100,000-300,000 units a day.
One such example was Adult Buffet, and Darren got buddies with them. He got the top 10 posts every day, and Darren built thumbnail galleries day by day, getting their traffic. He also figured out there were misspells, in an effort to focus on traffic.
He got together with a person he wishes not to name and taught him how to start an affiliate program. Darren became his consultant, they grew together, and he got paid handsomely for his marketing efforts.
Can you talk about the sex.com scandal with Stephen Cohen and Gary Kremen?
Gary Kremen owned the sex.com and match.com, along with other big domains in many fields. Gary was a true innovator, in an ingenious way he analyzed major keywords and registered domains for them to own them. Autos, cars, anything. Remember, domain registration was free, so he went berserk with it. He has owned sex.com for a while as a placeholder – empty site that he considered a future investment like property.
Laws at the time did not consider domains as property, so it was common to steal (and steal back) domains left and right without punishment. Stephen Cohen did just that, stole and built up sex.com and became a millionaire with it. Eventually, Cohen was sued and jailed, Gary got his site back and compensation, but not nearly as much wealth as Cohen had made with the site all along. All this paved the way for the rest of the internet to declare domains as property.
During all of this, David Kushner – an investigative journalist – contacted Darren to dive deep into the topic. Darren took him to the Players Ball events, introduced him to the biggest players: Kremen, Ron Levy, etc.
David wrote a book called “The Players Ball” that became a New York Times bestseller, and now a TV show is also being made on TBS based on the book.
What’s the next event where people can see you?
January 28, LIGHT Nightclub in Vegas, Affiliate Summit. Make sure you register on time! Darren throws about 2 big parties every year. What separates these parties from any other is two-fold: First, entertainment-wise, there is always a big name performing. T-Pain, Method Man, Ludicrous, you name it. Each year is different. Second, the event is more than just informative: everything is geared towards the attendees getting the best ROI possible: getting exposure and promotion. For the incredible value these events provide, the entry-level tickets cost as little as $1,000. If you want to spend more, it really benefits you.
During the party, your logo is on huge screens along with other sponsors in rotation. There is also a Party Perk with VIP pre-party passes and a roped area with reserve tables. A sponsorship package like this is a proper way to entertain your clients. If you think about it, the traditional way of taking out 5-10 clients for some lavish dinner can also cost $2,000 – and that’s just an ordinary, unremarkable, uneventful dinner. The better choice is obvious. Tons of like-minded people under one roof treated the best way possible, with all the exposure as a bonus. People will remember that party forever.
As Optimize to Convert will also be a sponsor at the event, Darren said these warm words:
“Thank YOU, guys, for getting sponsorship, and I’m proud to be a part of your group. I think what you guys are doing is super cool. I was impressed with your interview yesterday and your monologue, as you really get what makes a successful affiliate. It’s nice to see the younger generation of affiliates. You guys have really taken the torch!”