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The Weekly Digest: What’s Hot in Affiliate Marketing [NordVPN Affiliate Program]

This week, we’re hacking dopamine loops with top-secret Chinese research to help you master your mind, body, and TikTok’s algorithm. We’re also covering some news that’s got Donald Trump pulling 180s, Edward Snowden smiling, and a bunch of kids triggered like its 2020 all over again. Oh, and to help you monetize this, make sure you check out our NordVPN affiliate program review along the way.


on Weekly Digest

Before we get started, here’s a little message from our sponsor. Affiliate Program of the Week — NordVPN

Alright, so NordVPN isn’t actually our sponsor. But they are our affiliate program of the week.

Let me tell you why.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

NordVPN for people who live under rocks…

Between the NordVPN name and the oversaturation of YouTube sponsorships, I theoretically shouldn’t have to tell you about what NordVPN actually sells.

But I also know some of our readers live under rocks. So in the interests of keeping them happy without boring you, I’ll make this section quick.

If you take the Nord out of NordVPN, what you’re left with is VPN. And that’s precisely what NordVPN sells.

In fact, NordVPN sells access to one of the best VPNs going around. So good, that the only VPNs with higher customer satisfaction ratings are no names who’ve got almost zero customers.

Take this trust pilot rating, for example.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

And now compare it to the top-5 highest rated VPNs:

NordVPN Affiliate Program

Do you see the difference?

Yah, that’s right. NordVPN literally has tens of thousands of positive reviews.

All the immitators have… tens of review.

I’ll let you pass your own judgement on which companies are delivering real customer satisfaction, and which ones just bought a handful of fake reviews.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

NordVPN for people who care about commissions

Alright, so NordVPN is our affiliate program of the week. So you must be wondering whether they good commissions, right?

Turns out, they do.

Now, in full disclosure, NordVPN doesn’t have the simplest commission plan. But, with that said, it’s not a hard one to get your head around either.

Basically, the important bits to take away here are as follows:

  • NordVPN pays rev share.
  • NordVPN rev share is for life.
  • NordVPN rev share percentages depend on plan duration for the first billing period.
  • After that, the NordVPN rev share percentage is fixed.

Or, to put that into a table, here’s how that looks:

Plan DurationNew Sign-upRenewal
1-month offer100%30%
1-year offer40%30%
2-year offer40%30%

Now that wans’t too bad, was it?

NordVPN for people who want to make money

Look, when it comes to affiliate programs with actual brand recognition (brand recognition == easier conversions), NordVPN is hard to beat.

And when it comes to affiliate programs with brand recognition and great commissions, NordVPN is basically impossible to beat.

So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll head here to signup as an affiliate with NordVPN.

But, if you really must find out more first, then head over to for our full NordVPN affiliate program review.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

Affiliate News Takeaways

Here’s Why the Latest TikTok Drama’s Got the Kids Triggered, Snowden Smiling, and Trump Pulling Sick 180°s

Cast your mind back to 2020, and you might remember there was a certain orange-hued president who had a habit of triggering the kids at the time.

Now, for the most part, he conducted his triggering via Twitter.

But if you’ve got a good memory, you might also remember that the biggest incident was via more official channels.

It came in the form of a certain executive order.

And yes, I’m talking about the attempt to ban TikTok, of course.

Literal tears.

Lucky for the kids, not much ever came of it.

Trump extended the initial timeframe for divestiture from 45 days to 90 days.

TikTok filed a lawsuit.

And then China updated its export control rules to ban the export of “technology based on data analysis for personalized information recommendation services.”

And that was about it.


Or so we thought.

Recently, however, a new movement to trigger the kids has taken hold. And it’s now manifesting itself in the form of a house bill with the obnoxiously long name: “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act”. (Come on guys. If you’re gonna make the name that long, you might as well just call it the “Bipartisan Action for Neutralizing Threats Involving Known Technologies of Koncern” (BANTIKTOK) bill… but I digress.)

Now, as for whether this bill brings anything new to the table, the answer is yes and no.

As for the “no”, that’s on the “here’s what it says” front. The bill basically sets out the same terms that Trump’s executive order did — divest or die.

As for the “yes”, that has two parts.

The first is the weirdly bipartisan support. I mean, when was the last time anything passed any House Committee 50-0? And when was the last time Biden’s administration worked hand in hand in unanimous harmony with the GOP on anything?

And as for the second “what’s new”, that would be Trump’s 180°.

Not that a politician doing a 180° is anything surprising — whatever gets the votes right?

But, with that said, for all his “Chwyna” rhetoric, his latest “Truth” does seem a little out of character.

In any case, he’s not alone in his opinion. More than a few kids over on TikTok seem to think this is a giant conspiracy to stop them from being able to “talk and communicate so freely with each other.” And they do seem to like calling out Facebook/Insta/etc. (Not that I wanna accuse Trump of being a demagogue, but maybe this explains his backflip…)


You probably got this notification from TikTok that #congress is trying to ban it again. #tiktokshutdown2024 #tiktokban #keeptiktok #greenscreen

♬ original sound – 🧀🍟(They/Them)

And, while this might sound a little conspiratorial, let’s not forget Jordan Peterson’s latest performance at yesterday’s congressional hearing. It would seem there’s a certain zeitgeist right now — a zeitgeist that would make a certain ex-NSA contractor who’s hiding out in Russia right now smile.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, things are still very much up in the air.

For starters, the bill’s still yet to hit the House or the Senate. (FYI: the House votes on the bill next week.)

And even if it does pass with flying colors, who knows what comes next? Even if TikTok doesn’t file a legal challenge, there’s still that export ban to deal with.

Things could get messy.


Will TikTok be banned? Or will this all go down like its 2020 all over again?

For now, I don’t know.

Nor do I care.

But here’s something I do know that I also care about.

Among all this, there’s a narrative bubbling under the surface headlines that we can make money on right now. That narrative basically boils down to “government overreach bad, Big Tech bad, privacy good, etc., etc.”

You see, whether it’s this bill itself, the kids on TikTok, Trump on Truth Social, or Peterson in Congress, there’s a common theme that’s uniting everyone.

Nobody trusts tech anymore. Whether it’s because of the Chinese government, or their own government, everyone assumes the worst.

And that makes it a perfect climate to push some censorship-evading, privacy-focussed stuff.

And yes, NordVPN would be a good place to start.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

Let’s All Assume TikTok Doesn’t Die… Here’s What’s Next

While we’re on the topic of TikTok, we might as drop a quick update here about the next big shakeup coming to TikTok.

TikTok has now set a hard focus on long(er)-form content.

That announcement came a few days ago in this press release about its Creator Rewards Program that announces a couple of key things:

  • Qualifying for the new Creator Rewards Program now requires creators to upload content “over a minute long.”
  • TikTok’s new “optimized rewards formula” for creators will focus on 4 key areas: originality, search value, audience engagement, and… play duration.

So basically, between this hard focus on long-form content and the new horizontal format, it seems like TikTok wants to slowly transition towards becoming YouTube.

Why would it want to do that? I mean, isn’t YouTube supposed to be the one trying to copy TikTok?

Well, I have a theory here.

TikTok, more than any other app, relies heavily on rapid-fire dopamine hits to keep the kids in a trance. That way, they never quit the app.

And while this is all well and good while focussing on platform growth, it’s a problematic formula when it comes time to optimize for revenue growth.

You see, the problem here is this. If you’re anything like me, there aren’t many ads capable of giving you a dopamine hit.

Personally, my weakness is “Here in my garage”.

Anyway, personal oversharing out of the way, there’s something I can assure you of here.

In this respect, most kids are just like me — apart from a few favorites, most ads are a major downer.

And this is a problem.

You see, for every ad you insert into a TikTok feed, you risk derailing the non-stop dopamine train.

And that means you risk breaking the trance that’s got the kids spending way longer in your app than they wanted to.

So how do you get them to stick around whilst you jam ads into their eyeballs?

That’s right, you run your ads in the middle of some longer form content. Basically, you let the first x seconds run. You let the “here comes the dopamine” tension build.

And then, right before the dopamine-inducing climax hits… mid-roll ad break.

And just like that, TikTok just guaranteed they’ll probably stick around for what comes after the ad instead of rage quitting the app.

Oh, and by the way. Here’s a fun fact.

Back in 2022, a bunch of Chinese researchers at ShanghaiTech University released this paper. They found “that neurons that release the neurotransmitter dopamine in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain become increasingly active while mice waited for a water reward.”

Or, to put that in plain English, delayed gratification (mid-roll ads) could boost dopamine release.

Mo’ money, mo’ dopamine.

Talk about a win-win for TikTok, right?


There are two things to take away here.

First, that Chinese paper about dopamine is pretty interesting if you’re in the dopamine-dealing game.

Second, if you’re looking to make TikTok’s algorithm happy, you might wanna start testing some longer videos — that seems like the direction things are going.

Oh, and if you’re gonna experiment with long-form videos, you might as well try and monetize your account with a sweet affiliate offer first. NordVPN might be a good place to start.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

Social Media Engagement vs. Consumer Interest

This week, a PR platform called Memo published some mildly interesting research.

They set out to find out to answer the question “What’s the real correlation between social media engagement and actual consumer interest?”

And what they found was that social engagement is increasingly becoming decoupled from actual consumer interest.

So much so, in fact, that across all topics, they measured a correlation of just 0.17. For reference, the scale runs from 0 (no correlation), to 1 (perfect correlation).

Now, to be fair, there are a couple of caveats here.

And there is also a kinda compelling takeaway.

But we’ll get to the takeaway later. Let’s start with the caveats.

Caveat #1

The first caveat is that this research was published by a PR firm.

That means it’s mostly concerned with measuring stuff that impacts “brand equity”, and less with measuring “how hard does this affiliate link convert right now”.

Now, from where we’re coming from (affiliate marketers), this is important. We’re in a privileged position that the average PR/IR/CMO  type isn’t in —  that is, we can jump ship at the drop of a hat.

I mean, if a brand’s in a PR crisis, we can just pick another brand to promote the same day.

Then, if that brand then somehow manages to get a bunch of buzz-worthy earned-press, we can jump ship again.

So who cares, right?

That kinda sorta maybe means this research isn’t that important to us.

However, with that said, it does add to a growing body of evidence that’s been increasingly pointing towards the huge disconnect that exists between “here’s what get’s engagement on social media” and “here’s what actually impacts our brand/business/etc. in a meaningful way.”

Caveat #2

And now for our second, and more problematic caveat.

The methodology used in this research was kinda simplistic.

In fact, it was so simplistic that the metric used to measure “consumer interest” was the readership of news articles on the topic.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, this seems like a pretty flawed methodology.

And if you don’t see why this methodology might be flawed, consider the whole Stanley Cup thing that was buzzing last month.

Now, in case you’re not caught up on the whole thing, Stanley Cups became kinda a big thing thanks to TikTok. And when I say big, I mean people camping out in front of stores big.

But then people discovered there was lead in the cups.

And yes, that’s lead as in lead poisoning.

Now take this quote from the earliest NYT article on it that I could find on the subject.

“But social media giveth and social media taketh away. In recent weeks, several widely shared posts on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and X have amplified concerns Stanley cups may contain lead, with one X user calling it “The Leadening.”

See the problem?

I’m sure most of you do.

But just in case it’s not obvious, the problem here is that a lot of “consumer interest” stories tend to break on social media first.

And that makes you wonder — if the kids had already discovered the Stanley Cup lead scare via social media, their attention window for this exact “consumer interest” news story is probably closed by the time news outlets like the NYT pick it up.

Hence, we already have one explanation for the low correlation between “social engagement” and “consumer interest” when “consumer interest” is measured by readership on news sites.

But, there’s still something interesting here

Despite the major methodological flaw, there’s still some interesting data here. 

When broken down by categories, the highest correlation between consumer interest and social media engagement was measured on anything that was related to what brands call a “crisis”.

That measured 0.49 on the correlation scale.

In other words, negativity generates consumer interest.

Now, this probably isn’t that surprising. After all, if you’ve been in the clickbait game, you know FUD sells.

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the following list of words:

  • Warning
  • Shocking
  • Scandalous
  • Controversial
  • Horrifying
  • Outrageous
  • Disturbing
  • Dangerous
  • Desperate
  • Failure
  • Exposed
  • Betrayal
  • Etc…

Now go and see how many headlines contain these words in the next Taboola feed you see.


The interesting bit about this research isn’t the weak correlation between “social media engagement” and “consumer interest” that Memo’s research found.

What is interesting is the strong correlation between negativity and consumer interest.

Especially when you consider that Memo’s methodology for measuring consumer interest was article readership.

In other words, negativity on social media seems to have the power to drive traffic.

And that means, if you need someone to click on a link/go to your website, or just basically engage with something outside of a social media feed, negativity might just be the best way to get them to do it.

Now, clearly, you don’t want to be trying to sell Stanley Cups with lead scares.

That’s not gonna work.

But, cast your mind back to our first news story and the general zeitgeist emerging here. If you ask me, leveraging distrust in tech companies and the government is the perfect parlay negativity into a nice NordVPN pitch.

NordVPN Affiliate Program

Closing Thought

I don’t know about you, but I found that Chinese paper on dopamine pretty interesting. (It’s mentioned in the news section if you missed it.)

So interesting, in fact, that it got me thinking about how to use it for my own personal benefit.

You know — like for achieving goals and stuff.

Now, I know what you’re thinking here.

Optimizing for dopamine isn’t always the best idea when it comes to achieving healthy goals.

And trust me, I hear ya.

I mean, if you’re trying to beat anorexia and your battle plan is to optimize for dopamine from your meals, then you will beat anorexia.

But you’ll also end up looking like this.

But what’s interesting about the Chinese paper is that it specifically called out delayed gratification as a factor that enhanced dopamine release.

In other words, maybe optimizing for dopamine could also be a way to kick addictive behaviors.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you wake up one day and realize you’re feeling a bit down about your addiction to burgers and pr0n.

Maybe the best way to kick your habit is to realize the secret lies in delayed gratification.

In other words, cold turkey always fails.

Instead, hold off for a little bit and delay gratification instead.

That way, when you finally do gratify yourself, the dopamine hit is even stronger.

Do this enough, and slowly, you’ll condition your brain to realize that the longer you wait, the better it is.

And eventually, you will have hacked dopamine to get your addict-level consumption habits down to healthy levels.

Makes perfect sense, right?

That’s what I thought.

The only bit I didn’t know how to answer was what to do with all that extra time you’ll have between “gratifying” events.

And then it hit me — you should probably just try and make some money. And if you’re gonna do that, then NordVPN could help.

NordVPN Affiliate Program


(Featured image by SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS via Pexels)

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Since a young age, Dylan has had three great loves: sports, money, and the internet. Naturally, it was only a matter of time until he found ways to bring the three together, and by the age of 17, he'd already created his first four-figure online sports portal. These days that passion burns just as bright, and he continues to enjoy writing about sports and the internet marketing opportunities that go hand in hand with them.