Steven Holmes took the time to chat with us about OfferCentricís free Xbox360 distribution, future plans, favorite proof picture and much more.
A4F Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do within OfferCentric?
Iím 35, from southern CA and was a web designer by trade before becoming part of OC where Iíve become the primary handler customer service and ad network related duties for OC such as finding new offers, negotiating payouts, etc.
A4F OfferCentric sites have been live for almost a year now. How has this business experience been for you?
Yes, itís quickly coming up on 1 year which will be on Oct 16. It was a bit of a roller coaster at the start with unexpected growth and issues. Itís kept us all on our toes and weíve learnt a lot. For the most part itís been fun and satisfying to be a part of a successful business.
A4F A little after your first 3 sites launched, you did an interview with Andru from GearLive where he asked you about the growth you expected compared to reality. Now that you are deeper into the business, how has your growth and profits been compared to what was expected?
At first the growth actually grew quite fast, almost too fast. There was a period where we grew so fast we were actually broke because our expenses for the next month where more than our income from the previous month. Things hit a peak and eventually settled down. Once we worked out issues and got things automated it became less hectic and our overall performance at running things improved quite a bit.
A4F How many free gifts has OfferCentric sent out?
Weíve shipped out over 4000 items in the past 10 months.
A4F What is your favorite and least favorite thing about running an incentive company?
I think that for me at least, my favorite part is the challenge of building a company where for the most part, you have to make it up as you go and see what works and what doesnít. This industry is very young and there arenít many others running successful incentive sites like ours to watch and learn from.
As for the worst part, Iíd say itís dealing with the dishonest people that incentive sites unfortunately attract. But itís something weíve gotten used to, every business has itís downsides.
A4F There are many proof pictures of people getting their gifts. (Many of which pack our proof gallery) Is there one that you have seen that stands out as your favorite?
What we have on the sites is actually only around a third of the pictures weíve received from users, weíve just been slow on getting the newer ones up. The gallery will be updated soon once our new layout is completed.
As for my personal favorite, thereís one thatís actually not up yet of an iPod box that has the userís pet gerbil (I think thatís what it is) sitting on top eating some lunch.
A4F Sometimes people try to cheat your sites and end up disqualified. There have been people that say they get disqualified without reason. Can you explain some of the top reasons people get disqualified for so users will know not to break these rules?
First, Iíd like to say that we never disqualify people for no reason and we always let people know why they were disqualified when they ask. Iíve seen many people on various forums saying they donít know what they did and we wouldnít tell them which is not true. Typically people saying things like this have been told over and over what the reason was but they just donít like what we are saying. Weíve had people who go back and forth with us a dozen times, report us to the BBB, pretend to be their own lawyer in emails, sign petitions against us, make various threats and in the end, admit that they broke the rules and ask us to forgive them and give them their gift! It gets insane. Weíve thought about putting up a list of some of the more funny (and disturbing) reasons why people say they broke our terms.
Basically our rules are in our terms. We hold ourselves to those terms just like we hold our users to them and we only disqualify someone if they violate them.
The most frequent rule thatís broken, by far, is creating duplicate accounts. But many others will do the same offer multiple times, some as many as 8 times. We also get emails from advertisers on a regular basis telling us that particular users were doing the same offers over and over or using fraudulent information such as stolen credit card numbers.
A4F What do you think about the ďhit the mailbox, get an iPodĒ type of ads swarming the Internet right now?
Iím actually surprised that they are still around. I think that they have played themselves out for the most part and seem to have died down a bit. They did appear to be quite good at attracting users when they first came out.
We looked at doing some ourselves but didnít want to be associated with TheUseful which ran the bulk of those ads at their peak. We did have some interactive flash ads which I thought were quite unique made for us. They never saw the light of day though, the few sites they were to run on thought they were too ďadultĒ even thought they were perfectly harmless.
A4F What are your plans for distribution of the free Xbox 360s from Xbox360s4Free when Microsoft launches?
Virtually all of the PSPs that weíve sent out did not come from eCost, rather than wait for them to get their first shipment, we went out and got them wherever we could and shipped them ourselves which is why we got ours out right after they launched. Same plan for the 360ís. Weíll have some on order with eCost but if they donít meet the launch, weíve got smaller retailers who will and weíll get them out no matter where we have to get them from.
A4F Are there any new sites in the works that you can let us in on?
We do have some that are being worked on but they are not just copies of our existing sites with a different set of products, they each have a different business model which are twists on existing types of incentive sites. I canít say much more except that theyíre not point sites. Weíre also giving all of our existing sites a face lift.
A4F Your sites are currently open to American and Canadian users right now. Will you be expanding to any other countries?
Weíve looked into going into the UK and Australia but decided to hold off until our new sites are rolled out. Weíd really like to ship gifts other than money to Canada but with the hassle of customs forms and fees, most vendors, including eCost wonít do it.
A4F Where do you see OfferCentric in the next year? How about 5 years?
I know that the incentive affiliate site industry has come down quite a bit from itís peak of around a year ago but I think the changes weíve put in place will allow us to stay healthy and keep the advertisers sticking with us. In a year I see us with several other types of incentive sites which will hopefully be successful and accommodate different types of users. Within five years, I see incentive sites as they are now being obsolete. I think that there will always be a place for incentive programs but I think something else will come along that will get everyone talking again, just like the referral based sites did. As for OC in the next five years, I see it becoming more than just a collection of incentive sites. I think it will become part of a bigger business in the internet marketing industry.
A4F Is there anything else your would like to say to our users and participants of your sites?
We are all grateful for the success that youíve given us and despite the fact that we were forced to make some unpopular changes to our business model to keep our advertisers, many of you have stuck by us and stood up for us and to you we are especially grateful.
A4F We at Anything4Free appreciate Steven Holmes and OfferCentric for taking the time answer these questions.
A4F On a personal note, I wish nothing but success to you and OfferCentric. I have received many gifts from your sites and appreciate the help that they have had in getting moved out into my house and still having cool gadgets and money to pay for fixes.
Thank you. Iím glad you enjoy the gifts and we wish you continuing success with Anything4Free. Youíve quickly become a hub for free site members, keep up the good work!
COUGH COUGH karma
[quote846f039a90="gratisrocks"]COUGH COUGH karma[/quote846f039a90]
- Karma it is wink
We already knew about this.
Wish someone would ask them about refusing to credit completed offers. I sent emails (including headers) proving I had completed an offer, and all I get from them is "We have no indication you've completed an offer."
lol, we can all go to A4F and see this.