Lead Scrubbing — What It Really Means & Our Take On It!

Lead Scrubbing — What It Really Means & Our Take On It!

Affiliate Marketing

Written by

Papa Whale


October 9, 2019


Affiliate Marketing

(Posts originally published on August 17, 2016. Updated October 9, 2019.)

There's always countless reasons for why a campaign might fail, but that's never stopped one common accusation in the affiliate marketing world from being thrown around like wildfire...

Lead Scrubbing … it almost sounds inherently evil, doesn’t it?

Don’t be fooled by its sound; it’s a term easily confused for another. Scrubbing actually serves a pretty important purpose, and it may not mean entirely what you think it does.

Here are the 2 biggest misconceptions behind the term and the things you can do to actually help lower your scrub rate!

But first, here’s “Lead Scrubbing” defined:

Lead scrubbing is the term attributed to the process of removing non-legitimate leads.

Advertisers, affiliate networks, lead buyers — heck — ANY industry that deals with lead generation or prospective leads and potential consumer interest all set forth criteria to define what constitutes a legitimate lead from a non-legitimate one.

So, what generally constitutes a non-legitimate lead?

  • “bogus” entries (e.g., fake email submissions, "asdf@asdf.com", etc.)
  • inaccurate or falsified info
  • duplicate submissions (based on IP address)
  • fraudulent activity
  • leads generated through Spam and other Terms of Service infringing techniques

Another way of looking at leads is qualified vs unqualified.

What’s a general process for processing leads anyway?

This really depends.

Some companies employ a three step process...


A marketing team out there might begin nurturing leads; inside sales (the sale of products through Internet or email) then qualifies these prospects and converts them into business opportunities, while sales work the prospect at hand.

While others process them in just 2 steps: 

Marketing converts leads to sales opportunities where they meet agreed-upon criteria and a  sales team then works the opportunity.

Before screaming “shave!”, what do your traffic numbers look like?

We deal with affiliates all the time that think they've fallen victim to network-foul play after only sending something like 10 hits.  A few remarks on this:

  • CrakRevenue only scrubs leads if they are fraudulent
  • It’s counterproductive to long term business if you make a habit of screwing affiliates
  • And finally, odds are... no one (not even an Advertiser) noticed your 10 clicks.

Below are the two biggest misconceptions when it comes to the term.

Misconception #1 - “Lead Scrubbing is a network shaving.

Lead scrubbing is most definitely NOT a network stealing.  

It’s not a network shaving, either; in fact, it’s not even a shady or secret practice...

The term may have negative connotations — or might be improperly used interchangeably by some — but that doesn’t mean it’s being used correctly when it is (and in our defense, we didn’t invent the term!).

The fact of the matter is, shaving is shaving (a highly unethical practice) and lead scrubbing isn’t that.

Lead scrubbing is not only extremely ethical and universally adopted — it’s quite imperative to a company’s longevity and survival (but we’ll get to that in a minute!).

Misconception #2 - “Lead scrubbing isn't necessary.

The removal of non-legitimate leads is a way for companies to ensure that all leads are VALID.

The removal of a lead in a traditional lead scrubbing scenario would only happen if that lead were unqualified and didn’t meet the criteria set forth by the advertiser paying for said lead.

Considering the only leads that should be scrubbed to begin with are falsified in nature, fraudulent, or ones that fail to meet a specific set of guidelines by the paying entity—these leads have no business being paid for, ever!  By anyone!

To our point above about a company’s survival — if a company or advertiser isn't making money - or more frighteningly - is LOSING money paying for worthless unqualified leads — their company or service would soon cease to exist.

They would have no reason to continue with the offer. 

They would likely terminate it, and when that happens, everybody loses

How to reduce your scrub rate as an adult affiliate…

1- Pre-qualify your adult traffic with a well-built landing page and funnel.

If you need help in this area, be sure to check out our 3-part series on Landing Pages:

2- Don't go wild with international traffic or tier-3 traffic buying.

Focus on English speaking, Tier-1, Tier-2 traffic geographics & have a plan.  

Find a compatible offer to send this traffic to. Make sure you’re sending traffic from the Accepted and eligible countries.

3- Don’t mislead or make false promises when promoting an offer.

This is a recipe for disaster (and a recipe for a higher scrub rate).

4- Memorize a network’s Terms of Service… rinse and repeat.

5- And last but not least — make sure you really read and comply with ALL offer details/offer restrictions.  The fine print.

Some offers have a specific set of rules specific to that one particular offer in terms of allowed promotional methods or accepted traffic source(s) / eligible countries.

Goodbye misconceptions!

After all is said and done, you now know the difference between lead scrubbing and lead shaving (and how they totally aren’t the same thing at all…yes, we just needed to repeat that).

Lead scrubbing is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to maintain the integrity of a provider’s offer and to ensure that all the standards of a lead generation campaign are being met.

So, here’s to a low scrub rate everybody.  Thanks for reading!

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