Traffic Exchanges Need To Die

It’s time to come clean…

The past few weeks have been really rough on an industry I have made a living from since the last 1990’s.

Crazy right?

Traffic exchanges are almost 20 years old and have been a mainstay for many work from home professionals and home based businesses that didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get traffic to their website.

We provided services for the ‘little guy’ that dreamed of being a big guy! We gave everyone a shot to compete to get traffic to their websites, but also their landing pages, squeeze pages and blogs.

When the entire world went to Facebook ads, Promoted Tweets, Google AdWords and multiple new forms of online advertising…Traffic exchanges essentially stayed the same.

I look at your website, you look at mine.

It was all so simple!

Fast forward to the drama of the past few weeks. PayPal has pulled the plug on an entire industry because we got lumped into the same category as certain programs that used a traffic exchange front for their online ‘opportunity’.

Let me be crystal clear, especially if anyone from PayPal ever reads this…Traffic exchanges, real traffic exchanges, have never been about multi-level payments, matrices, payout structures, get rich quick schemes or whatever label we have had thrown upon us.

It was an advertising service. Only. Ever.

Now we have NO ONE to blame but ourselves for the current state of affairs. We saw the writing on the wall, we saw the horrible websites that were being promoted within our communities. And we did nothing…

We encouraged penny clicking, get rich quick scams to use and advertise within our walls. We sat back because…Hey, we couldn’t control what people promoted. Everyone is an adult, we don’t need to police our members.

Hindsight is 20/20…

Maybe that’s it! Time to call it quits, it was a good run, let traffic exchanges ride off into the sunset…

Not so fast….

Here’s the thing…They can be and should be resurrected. The current model needs to die. Our community right now isn’t filled with the type of advertisers, customers and owners we need to grow this business….

We need to figure out why sites like StumbleUpon can be ok in the eyes of the world, but something like TezakTrafficPower is not.

To me, it’s the content. We are filled with crap. Literally. It’s really bad in 2016…If you surf any traffic exchange today you can almost understand why people think we are a joke.
We refused to stop the garbage from coming into our businesses and did nothing to stop it.

We have ourselves to blame, and we’ll own it. We’ve been at this long enough to know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….Still…There is great opportunity.

The DNA of these programs can stay the same (you look at mine, I look at yours…) but the culture needs to change. We need to cater to businesses that see real value in spending their time advertising within our programs. We need serious owners that are willing to spend thousands on development and advertising to CREATIVELY attract those customers.

We need leaders.

Will it be easy?

Absolutely not, PayPal giving the traffic exchanges a slap…Hurt. It’s hurt a lot of people who have dedicated their lives to this industry, myself included, but there is HUGE opportunity here.

I encourage us all, to put aside any distractions and arguments that we’ve had in the past and work together to build something truly remarkable.

Traffic exchanges as we know them today, may be dying…But that could be the biggest blessing traffic exchanges have ever had. It could mean the start and creation of something new, exciting and vibrant…It could be just what we needed!

Jon Olson

I'm Jon Olson, I've been publishing Hit Exchange News since 2003 and been involved in the traffic exchange industry since...Well, the beginning :) I'd love to network with you as you browse the pulse of the traffic exchange industry! I am also a HUGE fan of reading your comments. I will respond to every single one! Poke around and enjoy the 'News! And thanks for hanging out...

48 thoughts on “Traffic Exchanges Need To Die

  1. Couldn’t’ agree more. It’s hard to convince a biz or person to use our services when the first thing thrown at them is crap. We saw it coming, but did not act.

    I really think in the coming months we will look back on this as a good thing. Nothing wrong with a little shake up, and to make people improve their biz. And maybe will help thin the herd of those that aren’t serious about building a quality biz.

    1. Thanks man, yeah we saw it years in the making…But we didn’t act. No one to blame but ourselves and I’m raising my hand first to say I’m to blame. But the opportunity is there. It’s right there for anyone that wants to grab it!

  2. You are right the DNA of traffic exchanges as we know them need to be changed. Personally I do still there is a place for traffic exchanges but there are lot of things that need to be corrected. All these changes will NOT happen overnite and most will not like the changes that need to be done BUT as with change – the final outcome is usually bettter.

    As a TE owner, I admit that like others got lazy and did not police what was getting added and there has been many more mistakes that we all made and actually Paypal has given us all a BIG wake up call. Still not sure what the answers are and the direction to go but I feel if people can work together – we all will turn things around.

    This is the time for not only site owners to brainstorm but also time for members of TE’s to put their ideas out there – there is going to be change – make sure that your suggestions are heard – good or bad – now is the time to speak up – don’t be shy

    1. Yup, agreed. This is a huge wake up call and it’s going to be a rough time for a while but there is still so much potential. We just need to re-evaluate our entire structure and business. Create the right customer profile and go after those advertisers!

  3. Hey Jon, after the conversations today on skype I logged into my Stumbleupon account for the first time in 3 years. Funnily enough, the first page I stumbled upon was a game that took me about 3-4 minutes to play! Then I found lots of great information, beautiful blogs, photography, infographics. I shared stuff on FB and liked a bunch of stuff. It is a really cool site and if we could find a way to bring that sort of content to our world of TEs rather than the same splash pages over and over, it would be a wonderful thing.

    BTW, if there are no longer TE’s…what do we call you?

    1. LOL I’m just Jon Olson now. I think the ‘TE Guy’ brand is something I will out grow. No regrets, nothing but fun memories and awesome experiences…But this entire industry, myself included, needs to think bigger and become bigger 🙂

  4. I agree, Jon. TEs are the preferred choice of freebie seekers. Even when you use a good landing page to collect email addresses, you get a list of freebie seekers. Now, I only use paid resources to build my list of buyers. It’s expensive, but it works. I’ll spend a dollar or more per lead to earn $2 or more for each one any day. I use the best Solo Ad seller and I get very, very high opt-in rates; and a high rated of sales. You have to change the industry to eliminate the great majority of freebie seekers. Furthermore, you need to be able to track and correlate your members. Is it all the same people who join all the TEs. Certainly, there is a lot of overlap. So, what is the true size of your users, excluding owners? Who are the ones who spend money and who don’t? What is the ratio of freebie seekers to buyers? What is the average earnings of members, again excluding owners who get the majority of benefits from JVs?

    1. I mean, TE’s use the freemium model and have for years. So there will always be more free members than paid. However that’s fine and dandy but I agree with you…We need to find the people that spend money to get results. Not to surf more.

      And ‘surfing’ is the wrong way of describing what we want…We want people to ‘discover’ sites while using our programs…Simple changes of wording, but huge impact on culture.

  5. well said Jon, very well said imho

    moving TE’s forward, I actually think the two most relevant concepts brought to the market in recent years were both TimTech creations.

    Sitizens has been mentioned a few times in the skype debates lately, and rightly so.

    But I’ve not seen others mention where the sweeva concept could go. Viewers sharing site views simultaneously and commenting/debating together is an amazing concept.

    These are just my instant thoughts but maybe adding site categories, ripping out the make money aspects of the site itself (but keeping the category to retain some current customer activity, or not lol), simplifying it (lose credits/bids?) and promoting in the right places could take sweeva, or a very similar concept, to places old-style TE’s never boldly went.

    there’s 2 of my cents anyway – there are so many possibilities for the future and I’m truly excited by that. Sad for our lost opportunites obviously but, hopefully, a lot of us have learned the right lessons from all of our mistakes and I for one am genuinely excited.

  6. Jon, Great point… it has been a concern of mine for sometime… If you can not invest in yourself how can your expect others to invest in themselves. There are some forward thinking owners… don’t get me wrong. One example is the number of websites that are not mobile friendly. This is a change in websites that has ben around for several years. I work with a gentlemen here locally and that is exactly what we resolve. Another point is knowing your target market… if your target market is penny seekers then that is what you will be finding… this sort of goes along with the get rich thought… if you invest pennies you will get pennies… if you invest in dollars you will get dollars! If you want get rich… invest in the Lottery… it is the wrong mindset but can give the same results!
    I have been pondering this for several years… how to move people from this mindset to a abundance mindset? Now I know / understand it is not me making the change… it is the person that has to make a change!

    1. Target market! This is huge and I’m glad you brought it up Paul. We spend absolutely zero budget on finding out what the demographics are of our ideal customer. It’s crazy. We’re the only ‘marketing’ industry that does zero marketing lol

  7. Hi Jon I am afraid so but I was reading Richard Taylors blog and he had some suggestions. You and we will need to will legally need to become….Need to find his post. Sorry can’t find it at the moment but they need to become legal with rule, laws, etc. and be enforced. It’s pretty much what you said above. I sure hope this can be done. You keep working on it. I am afraid you have to so you can stay in business. I know it’s a pain and no fun but necessary.

  8. Definitely agree with the changing model, what form that takes and when it appears is yet to be determined, in the mean time I for one , as an owner make sure that all sites added to my site, especially the one that Paypal did not target, yes, they have not targeted everything yet, are manually approved, No more crap only genuine business opportunities,
    One of the things that is acceptable in Paypals terms of service and acceptable user policy is an individual posting their individual business. Many in the industry have spoken about it, sheesh, even I have spoken about it for years, but List building, LIst Building, List Building,
    Use TE’s and Mailers to promote you and what you have to offer, build your list and then use your captive, signed up audience to promote whatever genuine or dodgy business opportunity you have, your list will decide and your list will support.
    Stop promoting other TE;s Stop promoting other Mailers, Stop promoting your MLM or PTC or Matrix program, Start promoting you and your list, use your list and continue to build your list

    1. That’s exactly it….We need to bring back the focus on getting results from what you promote INSIDE the TE’s rather than making money directly from the TE’s. The affiliate commission etc, has attracted great affiliate marketers and that’s fine, but it’s also attracted the penny surfer when we give things away just for being there and using our programs.

  9. Lots of excellent comments here! Yes, it is time for TE owners to change and change quickly. We been kind of lazy honestly. We are making changes at Tezak Traffic Power. We have changed our TOS and Privacy statements. We are cleaning out some sites that we feel do not meet our TOS. We have re-written our sales page to take out anything that might be ‘spammy’ On the inside we are re-writing or I should say Paul Kinder is :), to make it less ‘spammy’. It is not all done yet. 🙂 We are redoing our daily emails to emphasize advertising ones squeeze, or business and much , much less on Prizes and surfing. We want surfers who really do want to advertise. We need to retrain surfers into being advertisers and not just looking for the next prize or whatever. We will survive!

  10. While some people think PayPal did this because of traffic monsoon that’s not true. I also hope to clear traffic monsoon of accusations because in truth it simply was a traffic exchange which rewarded commissions from sales to the person who referred the customer, and gave customers a chance to click actively through the traffic exchange and qualify for commissions from sales. Most traffic exchanges offer rewards for active clicking .. And this was a way I created to keep the audience active, and keep eyes on member websites. It worked well until PayPal pulled the plug and held the funds for 6 months which people had already earned by working for their commissions .. PayPal told people they weren’t holding onto money when they actually were… And PayPal suggested callers to report tm as a fraud even though it wasn’t. I hope through all this to be cleared of false accusations and continue to bring traffic exchanges in general to a greater audience and educate people on what the services actually do

    1. PayPal is not the enemy, they were protecting their interests. We need to build back the trust with them now.

      That’s all I’m going to say in response.

  11. I get it. Tm delivered millions of visitors in a day using many of your services to do so and I recognize some people hate simply due to jealousy .. The services in tm are just as real as any te obviously because not only did tm have its own internal te which delivered way more visitors to clicktrackprofit than any other site and provided ctp with more signups than any other te.. But it also used many of your services to deliver the services.. So if you bash tm you bash your own sites plain and simple .. I’m defending the whole te concept in court because the sec believes the services in the te industry hold no actual value. I’m standing up for tes in general and getting no support .. only hate. Thank you.

    1. As I’ve stated above and in many talks, we are all guilty of letting traffic exchanges get to this. We turned blind eyes and did not police our own sites. We allowed the negatives to outweigh the positives and we are all to blame for that.

      And they are right, the TE industry has no value as it currently sits. We have to reinvent ourselves to build the trust back across the internet.

    2. Not sure why you keep associating TM with TEs, Every time I went to look into it, every 2nd page in rotation was TM itself. mostly several pages in a row. So, for me it definitely wasnt a TE. Maybe ptc with rev share.. but obviously not a TE.

  12. I saw a comment from the owner of Traffic Monsoon. I have to say what everybody is thinking. You didn’t explain your revenue share program in your answer. A 10% return on the fifty dollars. You could have attached a 10% return strategy to absolutely anything. It’s just that paypal looks at what happened (60 million dollars) and thinks this is how a traffic exchange operates. I’ve never seen a traffic exchange before with revenue sharing.

  13. Well said, Jon and, agreeing with some of the coments here, just to reinforce why OR2 is working precisely on this matter for more than one year already. After all, our ‘vision’ in relation to how TEs must work is rather different than what is considered a standard to follow, not being respected the related ‘ Original Thought’ (of course, in our specialized opinion). Evidently, as stated so well by Jon, there’s no problem at all on our TE scripts and related functioning but on the way that they are being misused or even ‘manipulated’ by not so well instructed users.
    Know that OR2 didn’t received any paypal notification and our accounts were not limited. Revealing no reason to stop using Paypal on our 21 systems.
    Motive to justify, as Jon suggested, to radically adapt our systems to a better online universe where people should promote their own websites (as a business) rather than dubious opportunities.
    As of OR2, will simply continue to develop, implement and promote better examples of how to, most of them unfortunetly disrespected or forgotten along the 20 years path of the TE Industry.

  14. I disagree. First of all TE owners shouldn’t be letting paypal tell them how to run their own businesses. Secondly TE’s have always been a way for anyone to enter an even playing field and have access to the same traffic. If traffic exchanges start shutting some people out because of the kind of webstites they are promoting the industry will be no better than any other.

      1. No Jon that’s not what I’m saying. I don’t want to see scams promoted but at the same time if there is censorship on TE’s I guarantee some good sites will be shut out along with the scam sites. Always happens with censorship. And who decides which sites are good and bad? Paypal or the owners?

  15. Agreeing with Jon, iIn OR2 specialized approach, there is no Censorship in question but rather the right of admission… As naturally happens on any kind of pub / bar (for instance).
    After all, TEs were allways based on a membership basis (allowing access to a restricted secure members area).
    No big difference than having better control in behalf of all members.

  16. Well if TE’s are going to develop an elitist club mentality that shuts out any website that they or their paypal masters want to label a “scam” then i’m done. Time to move on.

    1. That’s the exact same attitude I had. I did not want to tell people what they could and could not promote inside of traffic exchanges. I put it in my terms that every member should do their own due diligence and even stay away from things that sounded too good to be true.

      I also did about 6 years of daily shows live on camera, teaching people that get rich quick scams and schemes would hurt our businesses.

      But alas….The powers that be, have decided for us.

      So we can stick our heads in the sand and continue to allow these crap programs to be promoted inside our memberships, or we can start be banning the obvious cash grabs.

      Or we can do nothing…What do you think we should do?

  17. Aaron, I’ve tried to explain it as simple as possible… Like the functioning of any Bar/Pub/Club…
    We should not follow any Paypal demand, except if we agree to do so and restrict any publisher.
    As Jon said so well, TE’s were developed as Affiliation Systems not as MLM business kind. So, there is no issue here than improving the quality of the related contents.
    Therefore, should be up to each TE Owner to decide what should be published.
    There’s nothing to do with any Elitist activity, Aaron… It’s as similar as any Affiliate Publisher Network, where there is the right of admission… That’s all. (sorry Jon for using your Blog)

  18. Not sure what the answer is, however the one thing that needs to be done away with which has attracted poor viewers for the real advertisers are the badge, zubee, sticker, coin hunts prevalent in the traffic exchange arena. Those outside rewards for collecting whatever it is being offered has taken away from the purpose of traffic exchanges. Members are surfing away to grab those things that end up worth pennies and costing the owners big bucks. The ones making the money are the ones providing owners with the prizes. It has done nothing to increase viewers of interest. Sure, it may increase the number of sites viewed on exchanges who offer them, but I seriously doubt that it provides good traffic for the advertisers. On top of that the money being exchanged in traffic exchanges seems to be kept at the top of the food chain. Meaning popular owners grab more members for their own downlines and end up earning the most. Seems money just circles back around the top crowd and then everyone wonders why paypal has decided to severe ties with traffic exchanges.

    1. 1000% agree. We’re as much to blame as anyone else. We thought by giving people ‘carrots’ such as badges and rewards we would keep them using our programs and it would be fun for them…Problem was we ignored the advertisers.

      We forgot about who paid the bills, the advertisers. We stopped catering to our main source of income and started catering to people after a penny.

      That was our greatest fault.

      But we’ve learned. We have to move forward. We have to find new ways to not only attract surfers who want to get great traffic to their sites, but also advertisers who get great results from advertising within our walls.

      Problem with the ‘top of the food chain’ argument is…It’s a free market. Want to be on the top of the food chain…Build a better carrot than your competition.

  19. Not to oversimplify. And this has been touched on in the current conversation. But I think the basics of a te have been lost over the years. I mean I see why the gamification and increased users are tempting for a te owner. It brings “more” users to those site and thus as a te owner can claim that any potential advertisers could be told we have a big user base that grows all the time. So advertise with us and get your offering in front of many people.

    The problem is other than those trying to build a business, the majority of te users these days are penny clickers. And what’s funny those that gripe most about the penny clickers ie owners and others are the one’s that created the issue. If I’m selling a product or promoting a service why would I want to advertise to people who are poorer than myself?? 🙂

    As the majority of users being penny clickers, it has become the best thing to promote in te’s and well even ptc’s, ptr’s, and so on are other similar sites. It’s probably why they joined te’s in the first place. And why so many people have banged there heads on the wall trying to motivate and teach these penny clickers to build a name for themselves, build a list, and than a business. It just is a lesson in futility, and a self replicating one. It explains the sheer deluge of te’s these days.

    It’s a broken model locked in a loop that only increases monthly with every new te launch. There basicly doomed to mediocrity.

    Numbers don’t matter. If you had a site with a 1000 penny clickers as users or a site with 100 people who would be sincerely interested in my “product” I know which I would choose. The problem is under the current model I’m not going to find those 100 users at a te.

    As a person looking to advertise I’m going to spend my advertising money to a company that gets my product in front of the “targeted” audience I wish to reach. Now if I’m a ptc site looking to build my userbase with a bunch of penny clickers te’s are a very affordable and effective tool. Beyond that the only other thing that might get good results would say selling scripts for cheap so a penny clicker can build there own ptc site. Same thing with te’s back in the day. The best place to sell a te script is on another te with disgruntled te users who are thinking you know I could run this te better than this po dunk one.And thus the self replicating continues.

    So as a te owner you have two choices. One realize your current model of biz is not a “te” at all. It’s a glorified ptc. And if your fine with that, than go forward with eyes wide open and make the best damn ptc on the planet.

    Or two with this realization completely remove the ptc stigmata from your site from the top down. This includes gamification, penny click bait, and so forth and so on. Once that is done the penny clickers will go away on there own. If there not active than remove them, or stop stating to potential advertisers you have a responsive userbase. Yes there responsive in a few fields, but for most advertisers these people are useless.

    As it stands now it like someone selling car accesories advertising at a go green and ditch your car bike event. It’s pure luncacy. I’m really am flabergasted as to why it’s taken this whole paypal thing for people to start realizing this.

    But even now I think alot of people are missing the boat. Yes the penny clickers suck and have hurt the industry!! Or have they?? Maybe it’s the misguided owners. And no I’m not talking about catering to penny clickers. There easy to get rid of. Stop pandering, and they go away by themselves. That however does not solve the “real” problem with this industry. The group any te owner who believes there site to be “advertising platform” needs to focus on proving to me as a potential advertiser that your going to get my product in front of a responsive audience. As it stands right now the majority of “te’s” fail this test, penny clickers or no penny clippers.

    So let’s first decide what the kind of advertisers your trying to attract are than start working on ways to bring those type of users into your site that would be responsive to the type of advertisements your customers will be putting in front of the users of your site. Now again if you want your advertisers to be ptc’s and so on don’t change a thing.

    Lol I probably should of made this my own blog post now, but I think this responsive forum post is the best place.

    Now I’m not preaching. I’ve known this myself for quite sometime myself. And I’m finally doing one of the hardest things and following my own advice. I’ve targeted two distinct advertisers and groups of users I wish to utilize, and I have my site to thank for this “clarity”

    Hopefully in the near future I’ll be taking the Socialites and my current formula to a more appropiate domain and than will enhance and improve on the current theme of the site. And most exciting to me will be using the current domain in the most appropiate fashion that the name entails. Basicly what everyone think the site is when I say the name of “my” site when people ask what it is. Now generally after I say the name of the site I have to go into this long description of why I used that name and how it came about. Perhaps I got too “creative’ in this regard, but ultimately it has given me my current vision. So nothing is wrong with the trip as long as it eventual takes you to where your going, even if you make some unplanned deviations. I’m so excited about this I’ve begun to seek out potential investors/partners that are passionate about this as I am.

    I would highly recommend everyone take a step back and ask yourself what do you want to be your primary focus. What advertisers are you hoping to cater to, and than how do you plan on getting users that will attract these advertisers into seeing your site/company as a viable place to spend their money for a great return on their investment. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, or the fate of the industry unless you wish to continue in the current industry which is catering to penny clickers. Create your own industry.

  20. Well, not that I am a real member of the TE community. But if I were to be part of a project one of my goals would be to have an advertising platform that Ford Motor Company would consider advertising on. To me, getting every TE on earth to advertise on your TE is self defeating. We need a wider (much wider) market. I think that Sitizens was on the track of it. And of all people, I understand what happened there.

    Do I know what the answer (s) is? Absolutely not. But I may have an idea or two to test…

    Thanks for the forum, Jon. It’s a big help.

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