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Affiliates Talks: Maksim Kulich

Today, Webvork has a really cool guy and a serious expert in TikTok affiliate marketing, the owner of a lively group chat of TikTok experts and a TikTok Ads account store called “Kulibin Accs” – meet Maksim Kulich. We talked about the most profitable GEOs for such verticals as adult and sweepstakes, what one needs to do in order for their adult creative to not be checked through manual moderation on TikTok, which Uzbek bank’s account Maksim successfully uses himself, and also, why it’s not cool if a seller works for over a year.

1. Maksim, hello! Let’s start, perhaps, with a simple everyday question of how you got to affiliate marketing. How long have you been working here, where did you start?

Hello! I first learned about affiliate marketing in 2017-2018, having entered into Ladesov’s Private Club (note – Dmitriy Ladesov is a Russian millionaire) – it was then relevant to promote Vkontakte groups and, in addition to selling advertising placements, place your affiliate marketing posts too. That’s what I did, I was promoting public pages, selling advertising posts on those pages, and simultaneously trying to work in affiliate marketing. The profit from affiliate marketing was only medium, most of my profit was brought by selling ad posts on public pages. A few months later, Artyom Smol’s case was released in the same private club. In the case, he laid out a live working link, describing in detail where, what, and how to drive traffic. The offer was an EMS Trainer in the CIS countries, traffic source – Facebook. On the same day, I did everything according to his “manual”, dug out my Facebook account, launched a campaign for the night, and went to bed. I woke up in the morning and went nuts from the fact that my 120 rubles were spent and  I already had 130 rubles in my affiliate network account! And that’s how I started 🙂

2. How many people are currently involved in your team and what are their positions?

We have a relatively small team at the moment: 13 media buyers, 1 techie, 1 store support manager (he is also responsible for signing up new accounts), and I am both a team leader and the owner, so far 🙂 We are currently selecting a few people for the account farming department, for assembling setups of anti-detect browsers, etc., but they are not yet our state employees.

3. Maksim, you have a small but active group chat that also has foreigners that drive TikTok traffic from time to time. You also have a Kulibin Accs account store.

Are there any new professional plans now that you can share with us?

Yes, I maintain the group chat myself, I try to maintain a cozy atmosphere in it, help others, and exclude any spam and inappropriate users. I think this is the case when it is not the number of participants that matters, but the quality, because the goal was and is to gather actual practitioners with whom you can consult and quickly find solutions in specific situations. From time to time, I upload manuals, tools, and solutions to actual problems that we use in my team. The plans are to continue in the same rhythm.

4. As far as we understood from our live stream on February 22, your team is now driving TikTok traffic only in such niches as adult and sweepstakes. Why did you choose them exactly? Do you sometimes dilute with other verticals, or did you come to the choice of these two consciously and are not going to change anything?

We stopped at these verticals not by chance. I like sweepstakes because of the relative stability and large spendings, although not very high ROIs. Plus, their potential is very high: a lot of GEOs, a big audience, a lot of money 🙂

Now, the adult vertical. Adult offers are, as you know, a kind of nutra offers, and TikTok is very reluctant to allow people to drive nutra traffic, and if you compare it with Facebook activity, for example, it is easier on there to advertise classic nutra offers than than adult. Here, I would say, it’s the opposite. We’ve tried to drive traffic to weight loss offers in TikTok, and they were getting banned all the time with minimum profits. Creatives are easier to make up for adult offers (fewer elements), which equals more automated approvals and more traffic. Spendings are smaller, but ROI is higher. To sum up, adult offers are easier and more profitable to work with on TikTok, the process is way clearer.

5. Maksim, since you said that you started focusing on TikTok no more than a year ago, and before that you worked well on Facebook, we will ask a question about it too 🙂 Facebook doesn’t interest you at all now or do you plan to work with it together with TikTok too? And why did you decide to move to TikTok a year ago?

We probably left Facebook just out of fatigue, they invent new types of bans every day, CPMs grow, competition grows, GEOs burn out, it becomes less profitable to drive any traffic on there, so I wanted to change my picture. Of course, now, TikTok is acting out the same scenario as Facebook did in 2018 and will undoubtedly come to the same advertising indicators eventually, but so far, the audience here is fresher, more active, CPM is many times lower, which is the nicest bonus, I’d say. As for diversification, of course, I consider having a Facebook department, the other day I even launched ads on a few accounts. I saw my CPM rates be 5-6 times higher than on TikTok and a very low approval rate.  So, I concluded that for a Facebook department, I’d only need media buyers with actual experience, who do not need to be taught how to launch ads, pass advertising restrictions, and test a lot. Facebook work now means testing campaign approaches a lot, analyzing results, and working fast. If there are solo affiliates who work on Facebook among the readers of this interview who would like to try themselves in a team, I will be glad to have such employees.

6. Do you agree that Bigo is 90-95% similar to TikTok, but more free, unsaturated, and understandable in relation to ads? Would you like to start driving traffic on there as well?

We haven’t tried this source yet. As far as I know, the audience there is still quite young. I personally do not have the competence to advertise offers for age categories up to 25 years old, but we definitely need to test it.

7. Which countries have shown themselves to be the most profitable in terms of adult and sweepstake offers?

We advertise adult offers exclusively in Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.). In Europe, it somehow never worked out for us, moderation there is more complicated. But sweepstakes we only advertise in Europe: Germany, France, Spain – only these GEOs are currently in operation.

8. Even on the live stream mentioned above, you said that you only use self-registered accounts, so have you never even touched agency ad accounts? Why? Was it someone’s recommendation, insider information from affiliate marketing group chats, or some other reason?

I’m used to only relying on my own strengths. Agency ad accounts are an additional link in the work, which, in my opinion, brings more problems than benefits. As a rule, agency ad accounts don’t allow driving traffic to gray, semi-questionable offers and they take a considerable commission from replenishing the account balance. They often get banned and thus stop the team’s work until a new agency ad account is found. Not to mention the possible scam on their part – there have been so many of such cases. While I can drive traffic from accounts that I and my team sign up, I do not see the need for intermediaries and additional expenses.

9. What is your list of what needs to be done so that your adult offer’s creative does not get checked by manual moderation? And is there any chance to pass manual moderation in the adult vertical, at least initially? If yes, then when is it possible?

Automated approvals on TikTok are a set of factors that exclude a trigger. It’s not just creatives. These are your supplies, starting with the account signup (email, IP, VAT, etc.). If everything is fine with the account, then we make sure that our white page is unique, the domain has not been flooded and banned today. The payment order also matters: if the BIN of the card is already blocked, then there will hardly be an automated approval process, even with other non-trigger variables. As for your creatives, it depends on the approach and vertical. But in general, you need as few elements as possible, do not use standard graphic arrows, do not add complex phrases, and if you use voice acting, cover trigger words with noise. And, of course, try not to repeat elements in different creatives. If an explicit adult creative did not pass the automated approval process, it is better to re-upload it, removing any trigger element in your opinion. It’s not worth waiting for manual moderation to be approved – we haven’t noticed such cases in the last month or two. There have been such cases only if the visual part of the creative wasn’t visibly explicit, but the voice acting was – such creatives can go through manual moderation in 1-2 hours.

10. Again, on the live stream on February 22, you said that in terms of payments, you use an Altyn Bank account, but since they went through some checks, you switched to a certain Uzbek option. What kind of Uzbekistan bank is it, if it’s not a secret, and have you had any problems with it?

So far, everything is good with Uzbek banks, they connect all my payment information nicely. The only problem there is the limitation of issuing cards – up to 10 cards per 1 account without the possibility of re-issuing. We’ve tried several banks out there and have not yet found an option as good as Altyn 🙂 One of the more or less stable ones – Ravnak Bank.

11. What payment services do you currently work with? In your Telegram chat, you talked about how, for example, Pst.net links payment information well, but is expensive. Tell us more about your experience with the Pst.net service and maybe with a couple of others with which you worked and with which and why are you working now?

We rarely work with payment services now, those problems with cards have passed, personal accounts in banks work just fine. The payment services that work well right now are Pst, Pyypl, some Brocard bins.

12. Is it true that in the last two weeks (the end of February-beginning of March), TikTok began to be stricter with its advertising? If so, has this happened before or is it something out of the ordinary now?

Yes, there were storms. Right now, it seems to be quieter, or maybe we just found its triggers 🙂 There was a similar storm last May, when everyone was getting automated bans and no one was able to launch campaigns. But as in that case, the solution turned out to be tritely simple. The scheme of your campaign launch is still the decisive factor.

13. In your Telegram chat, you said about account sellers that if the seller was over a year old and the bins were not updated in it, then they couldn’t be considered cool. So, you think that in fact the maximum age of a seller’s effective work is 1 year?

I was talking about payment services. I said that any service at the beginning of its activity has a new unique BIN of their cards, which is unused for any traffic source, which means it is triggerless. As a rule, 99% of services do not update BINs during operation, but these services are used by a large number of affiliates, thereby “killing off” BINs. Therefore, using all kinds of card services, when they are more than a year old, is not a very good practice.

14. It was cool to read about the TikTok Ads pixel activator, invented in your Kulibin Accs account store. Tell us, what was the trigger for you personally, what was the “last straw” that led you to the decision to create an activator? And how popular is it among TikTok affiliates now?

In verticals with an advertiser-side landing page, there is a need to send an event via the API. On TikTok, without activating such a pixel, it is impossible to advertise. Therefore, in any team that drives traffic in such verticals (sweepstakes, crypto, gambling, etc.), there inevitably arises a need for such a tool. Initially, it was made for the team, but we decided to share it with other colleagues, we don’t mind 🙂

15. What would you wish to those who read the interview to the end?

Thank you for taking advantage of the most important resource – your time to read! I hope I was at least a little helpful. I will be happy to answer questions in the comments or privately – I will help in any way I can.

Taking this opportunity, I will make a small announcement: we are always looking for responsible media buyers, TikTok and Facebook account farmers (Facebook – experience required), we offer remote work.

And of course, thank you Webwork for offering to take part in your events, your attention to us is very much valued!