What is shaving and how to do it right

What is shaving and how to do it right

Xoxo, fellas. Reznik here and today we are going to sensible places, while talking about shaving.

Shaving is quite a sensible issue in affiliate networks indeed. Everybody shaves, that’s a fact. And you can find it very difficult to argue. Shaving is a natural part of our lives, we enjoy it. And it’s not a problem for our partners if they don’t know about it. But gentlemen don’t usually discuss such things in public.

After reading the text above, an unprepared person would think we’re talking about yanking. And we are. Actually, the only common thing between these two things is public feeling. All affiliate networks do that when they are young, somebody – even in their adulthood, but nobody really talks about it.

What is shaving?

Shaving is a term, defining a process, when a client’s approved lead gets cancelled in the affiliate network. So, the affiliate sees that his lead was cancelled by a just cause. The company sees that the lead had been approved, hence went to further processing. The affiliate continues to pour traffic and the merchant sends the order with no concerns.

The affiliate always sees shaving the same. The lead is not approved and he gets no money for it. It can either be cancelled at once or freeze in the processing status for a long while.

But from where companies see it, shaving can be of two types:

  • Classic open. It’s an uncovered plain insolence. In this case, the company doesn’t pay for the lead and just leaves affiliates broke.
  • Company hidden. In this case, merchant’s call-center doesn’t even know that their approved lead has been cancelled. The company pays for the lead as if nothing happened.

The first option is usually a choice for not honest merchants. It allows to save money in both paying for affiliate network and affiliates’ services. The whole process of working with shaved leads is on the company itself now.

The second option is extremely useful for affiliate networks and helps to increase the rate in a very peculiar way. It is realized through some automatic mechanisms, working inside affiliate network’s program set, hidden from outside observers.

Why do we shave?

First, it feels good. Second, it’s useful. Even though, it’s only useful for those who shave.

Shaving allows merchants to save on direct traffic expenses. Sometimes some offers can only be profitable through shaving and approve undervaluation.

The affiliate network has it’s own advantages against shaving. It allows to give higher rates, comparing to other competitors, through approve undervaluation. For example, you can receive $20 from you merchant, pay your affiliate the same $20, but only for 9 out of 10 orders. Thus you can gain profit even if you pay affiliates even more, than merchants pay to you.

What kinds of shaving is there?

There are several approaches to organizing shaving procedures:

  1. Probabilistic shave. With this approach each lead can be shaved with a certain possibility. Like, we can shave 10% of approved leads. This is the most stable and stealthy way. It’s perfect for all tasks, especially increasing the rate by the approve cost.
  2. Approve anti-assurance. This is the opposite to that naughty and nasty occurrence, known as approve assurance. The idea is that after a certain rate of approvals, all other approved leads are cancelled. So it’s high enough for an affiliate not to run away with fear.
  3. Primecost shave. This approach can be used by a merchant. If you see that some a lead looks absolutely unprofitable if done through a classic payment workflow, but it will be profitable if you don’t pay the affiliate, then it goes to shaving. It is applicable for an expensive delivery, which customer doesn’t want to pay for.

And no, not any lead is suitable for the last option! I’m aware of the fact that merchants would gladly not pay for traffic at all and mark all incoming leads as ‘Cancelled’. Or at least half of them. But thou shall not do that. Both affiliates and affiliate networks can upload traffic for one and the same offer from different merchants and compare results. If it turns out that your approve is below the results, compared to other merchants, you will get no traffic at all.

How to shave right?

Elementary, my dear Watson! You shave the stealthy way. 

Nobody says you can’t invent your own approach. But no matter how you select leads to shave, you always have to obey a chain of rules:

  1. Hide comments. If a lead got into a shave, the comment from a call-center can easily set you up. There can be info about redirected calls and other peculiarities. The less information affiliates have, the better.
  2. Hide the call recordings. Do you show your call recordings to affiliates? Congrats, you are a retard! 99% of these cases are violation of privacy. Aside from that, you are digging your own grave, preventing yourself from shaving.
  3. Don’t cancel everything. Even if you have reached a certain level of approval, don’t cancel leads to shave at once. Delay them for a couple of hours, give a few approvals in between.
  4. Describe a realistic reason for refusal. If your network uses reasons to cancel leads or simply differentiates cancels and trash, don’t put all your shave-leads into one category. Always stick to average correlation of such leads on the offer. If real traffic shows that you’ve got 2 ‘Changed my mind’ and 3 ‘Too expensive’ on every 10 cancels, the same picture should be in shaving.
  5. Cancel orders with incorrect number. Does the affiliate send leads with improper numbers, so you have to order psychics to understand them? Simply cancel them all with a reason ‘Incorrect number’. Nobody can even argue with that.
  6. Be careful with API-traffic. If the affiliate is pouring the API-traffic, don’t cancel leads for their incorrect numbers, if it’s not true. Maybe the affiliate has saved leads somewhere on his side and can re-check them.

How do you recognize shaving?

While working as an affiliate, you may have been wondering: how do I know if a merchant or an affiliate network is shaving? You don’t. They do. For sure. End of story. Just deal with it.

Anyway, there are a few advices which will help you recognize specific shavings. They come right out of the previous chapter. So, what do you look at?

  1. Comments are hidden. That’s suspicious. It would be best to download comment history on own leads and keep it to yourself. If you have noticed that all of a sudden, a comment had disappeared from a certain lead, then it’s a shave.
  2. Call recordings have been hidden. If you stumble across a retard honest merchant, who decided to show his loyalty, make you trust him more, by presenting you call recordings, you should definitely use it. And if any lead has suddenly shortened their list, or there is none of them at all, it’s most likely a shave.
  3. Cancels come in a row. When you work with a tracker, always watch for the feed of statuses of your leads. If you see a sudden change of correlation between cancels and approvals, then it’s a shave.
  4. Cancel reason doesn’t make sense. You are positive you didn’t put number input masks in your lends, but leads are still being cancelled because of ‘Incorrect number’, right? You use a good cloak, but leads are still being cancelled with incorrect geo, right? It’s a shave. Definitely.
  5. Check your merchant. Leave an order with your own partner link on your own phone number and approve a lead with an operator call. Was it cancelled on the network’s side? It’s not just a shave, it’s pure insolence!
  6. Save your leads. If you work via API, save both leads and their processing history. It will allow to educe anomalies in traffic.

Besides, you can simply take AlterCPA and work with affiliate networks. So you will protect your traffic from gratuitous analysis and all leads will be goldfish bowl.


After reading all this, some of you probably exclaimed:

I got it! Cancels don’t exist! This is all just a shave from affiliate networks’ side, coming to a merchant and the merchant himself!

Congrats on being, basically, right! You’ve just unveiled the conspiration of all affiliate networks. Now go and write, that you know everything to your favourite CPA support services!

Thanks y’all, Reznik out!

Image was stolen from here, mostly ’cause it looks cool.