How I Lost $15,000 in a Week

Now losses are part of them game and I understand that as much as any seasoned vet in this game. However, there are losses and then there’s getting straight up misled and burnt which is what happened to me after I decided to run a managed media buy with a traffic source that you guys have all probably heard of after I talked to them at ad:tech London. I won’t mention their name and I don’t have anything personal against these guys – I just don’t like the way my business interaction happened with them. Now if it was just me that got burnt by these guys, I would move on and not post about it as this happened back in September, but after going to ASW and speaking to guys online, it’s pretty clear in my view that I’m not the only one that got burnt and hence I’m making this post to prevent any others from getting into the same situation.

These guys weren’t just some random company I decided to run traffic with. I’ve known these guys for a couple of years now and even had a close friend who regularly bought traffic from them. They (up until recently) always threw a huge party as ASW / ASE / ad:tech. I figured since I’ve known this guys for a while and they have a good rep in the industry, I was working with guys that I could trust.

In fact when I spoke with my future rep at the show in London, he told me that they would “hook me up”.  He also said that at worst I would break even and that they would take care of me. They told me they had some awesome placements that were already converting and it would just be plug and play. I should have known better.

I wired over 20k as my initial agreed upon deposit. Slowly things got together and traffic started coming in (there were no live stats, and I had to wait til the end of the day to see how things were performing). Everyday traffic was being run to a single ad instead of impressions being delivered to a variety of them in order to split test which was doing the best.

For days, traffic kept being sent to placements that had a $350 and greater CPA. Money was being spent and fast. I told them to test out different placements and creatives, but all I kept being told was that they’re working on it and that it needs time to optimize. You would think they would turn off a placement that had a $350 acquisition cost when you’re promoting something that garners you way less per sale. Not sure why they didn’t. They told me I was running exactly the same lander and offer that they knew to work (in fact, the offer I ran was through their recommendation, something I should have been wary of for sure).

Finally after my 20k had run out and I had only recovered about 8k of that, they told me sorry it didn’t work out for some reason. I couldn’t believe it, but at this point I really wanted something to work and I kept being promised things by them. They told me they had a Canadian advertiser that just pulled out and was killing it there. Stupidly, I forked over another 5k only to have that campaign completely go down the drain as well. Every time I was ready to pull the plug the campaign would start performing for a bit, and then the next day it would tank. Overall, I lost more than $15,000 with this company after being misled. I should have done more due diligence and been smart to retreat earlier, but the thought of doing my first managed media buy and the potential for a high volume campaign combined with their promises and the fact that I had known these guys for a while really got me. I admit it is my fault for being naive on that front and I am over it, but this is just a cautionary tale for anyone who’s looking to do a managed media buy.

Lesson: Don’t trust anyone else to manage your campaigns no matter what they say they can do for you.

Update: After several commenters saying I should out the company in the interest of the greater good and this post by Shoemoney, I’ve decided to share the name of the company I worked with because I don’t want this happening to anybody else. In hindsight, I should have done this from the get go, but I hesitated because I don’t like getting blood in the water and these guys were people I knew for a while. The company I worked with was Engage:BDR. To their avail, they did recently offer me a $5,000 advertising credit, which I respectfully declined. This was not meant to be an Engage BDR review, but I guess now it is.

Update #2: Engage:BDR is doing the right thing and giving me a $15,000 advertising credit with them to run and test a new campaign. This is something that I think they should definitely be praised for. Most ad networks would not do this and they are going the extra mile in an effort to make things right. I appreciate them for following through and for trying to find a way that we can still work together and for the long-term. They explicitly said that this credit is not just to put them in a better light – they are determined to show me that they are a company worth working with and I believe they will succeed in doing that. I look forward to working with them again seeing what can be done with this credit and act of good faith. Will let everyone know how it goes.

Legal Disclaimer: Anything said in this post about this company is based on my experience and is a statement of my opinion, and is not being depicted as a statement of absolute fact.

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25 Responses to “How I Lost $15,000 in a Week”

  1. Wow says:

    I can’t believe companies would engage in such practices. Shameful.

  2. Rohail says:

    I see what you did there 😉

  3. I’m so sorry, thanks for sharing. Seems like the standard daily frequency cap & 24 hour out clause request in the agreement would not have stopped the shadiness in this media buy situation.

  4. Dario says:

    Thank you for reporting your experience and for highlighting Wow’s “truth lies somewhere in the middle” statement.

  5. Mike says:

    I was about to engage in a campaign with a traffic source after looking at their quantcast ranking, but realized something about it seemed too good to be true.

  6. George Kim says:

    Great to see you at ASW!

    Sorry to hear this man. You know this by now, not to trust too many people in this industry. Lesson learned here, have tighter out clause written down next time.

    You’ll bounce back in no time! Keep moving forward :)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Consult a lawyer and see if you’ve a case.

  8. Smiley says:

    Why not just mention the company? It sounds like they knew what they were doing since when you want to pull the plug then you see some new changes…bad practices!

    Too bad it happened to you sorry man!

  9. Nick says:

    At first impression it may seem like he should share their name, but it’s fine if he doesn’t want to engage in such practices. Anyone who knows their shit knows who he’s talking about.

  10. LIKE OMG WAFFLES says:

    engage bdr

    there i said it

  11. Rohail says:

    @Brian @Dario No problem, I hope this helps other guys avoid getting caught up in some ad network’s promises.

    @Mike It’s probably a good thing you didn’t engage with them then. Too good to be true is right.

    @George Great seeing you at ASW too man! Yeah it’s shady and I definitely know by now. It’s always important to remember to do your due diligence and listen to your gut when things like this happen. Lesson learned. Thanks for the encouragement bro.

    @Anonymous We’ll see what options I have regarding this.

    @Smiley Thanks for the comment man, I appreciate it. I don’t think they’re bad guys, it’s just the way business was done here that I didn’t like. Misleading expectations and the push to continue are what really irked me and hearing that I wasn’t the only one. Nonetheless, no need for me to call them out personally.

    @ I lol’d irl

    @LIKE OMG WAFFLES no comment :)

  12. Uncle says:

    I feel like your lying since you keep avoiding pointing the finger on this company.

  13. Yunoname says:


  14. Rohail, there’s no shame in telling people your experience with a company good, bad or in the middle. I think you need to share what company you had worked with that gave you this bad experience.

    People can learn from this stuff man. That’s the whole idea behind the customer feedback on Amazon. Feedback from real live people.

    I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate the whole story.

  15. Anonymous says:

    With that network you’re competing with them anyway – they own their own diet offers and their ads are all over [the presumably profitable] placements they offer.

  16. Rohail says:

    @Uncle That makes no sense.

    @Corey There’s no shame here in outting them, and honestly it could have been any company. It’s just a lesson for anyone reading to do their due diligence and not get sucked into the starry eyed promises of becoming a media buyer. It’s hard work, takes a ton of testing, and losing lots of money when done from scratch and without any insight (something I knew). However, it’s more about the way this company did business. And anyone that really knows their stuff, knows who that company is by now. I don’t have to say anything.

    @Anonymous Agreed.

  17. JMoney says:

    Wow, sorry to hear about your bad experience. I was gonna sign a contract with them a year ago but heard all the bad things. Talked to several friends who did and lost good amount of money as well. They basically use your money to test and once they find something they will out their offers on. Shady!

  18. Ali says:

    Salam Rohail,

    It was a rookie mistake on your part. You got to trust your judgement instead of others. Anyways, lesson learned. I am sure you are gonna be super careful next time.

  19. Brian says:

    Thanks for posting.

  20. MediaBuyer says:

    I also lost a shit ton of money with them. And their interface is garbage too.

  21. C says:

    No one cares about your money as much a you… Learned that the first time I got burnt.

  22. […] recently made a post titled How I lost 15,000 in a week.   Its a post about how he got conned into working with this shitty company who managed […]

  23. Rohail says:

    Now that even Shoemoney as well as other commenters have griped about me not calling out the company’s name (and with good reason), I will just come out and say it (if it wasn’t at all clear already). I don’t want the same thing happening to somebody else. The company I worked with was Engage:BDR.

  24. Scott says:

    I’m happy to see you shared the name – This is what it’s going to take to police the industry – Lmore people shaming companies into doing their jobs correctly…

  25. Nick says:

    I was also rinsed for $15k by Engage and had a similar (bad) experience with them. They pay for their parties by rinsing advertisers. Stay away!

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Hi, I'm Rohail, affiliate marketer and serial entrepreneur. Follow my trials and triumphs in affiliate marketing as I give you an inside look at the industry and what it takes to be successful.

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