Spotting Bad Traffic Exchanges Part 1: What does it look like?

The first way to spot a bad traffic exchange is dead simple! What does it look like? Some will argue that the looks don’t matter. I’ll argue against that! If the person running an exchange cares about it, they’ll make it the best they can! There is a big difference between looking for perfection and looking for effort.

Bad Example:

In this example you see a traffic exchange with the default template. Now if you were to go to this exchange you’d see that it’s the demo for the Walker Traffic Exchange Script. But did you know there are many out there who buy scripts without changing the default template? That is a red flag right there!

You’ll also come across traffic exchanges that have very minor modifications. I would suggest staying away from those as well. The owner either needs to be able to do it, or needs to be able to find someone to do it for them. If they can’t do that, what makes you think they can deliver on what they are promising?

Good Example: Blue-Surf

The next example is Blue-Surf. Here you can see the exchange doesn’t look like any other in existence! It’s unique and has a custom look! What does that tell you? Either they know what they are doing or they hired someone who does!

Why looks matter!

You wouldn’t bring your car to a mechanic who didn’t know how to fix it, so why would you use a service that is supposed to advertise their website, when it doesn’t even look good? A key element to advertising something is looks. If they can’t properly advertise their own website, they won’t be doing a good job of advertising your website.

You’re calling my exchange BAD, but I’m a GOOD Owner!

Well that’s great then! It should motivate you to take looks seriously! If you want to succeed at running a traffic exchange, you need to put for the effort. If you don’t know how to make a design, pay someone to do it for you! Blue-Surf used Shark Studio, StartXchange (my exchange) used Design Rampage and you can too!

23 thoughts on “Spotting Bad Traffic Exchanges Part 1: What does it look like?

  1. Hi Tim
    I certainly am glad to see you start this series. I wish more owners would step up to the plate to educate their members. Excellent points here and I will be pointing to your blog as I discuss similar issues at my blog. Keep up the good work.
    Tony Tezak

  2. Hello Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this with me. I am a member of maybe 40 TE’s. One thing I do notice that,
    If a Traffic Exchange give me 1000 credits then I assign it… I notice that the credits are not
    rotating. Then I know it is a bad TE. Is that a good measurable??

    Template one, ummm… Never thought of it..

    I will keep close attention to it.

    Will you or anyone list the good one and the bad one??
    Will that be unethical??

    Moose76 (Keith Mousley)

  3. I will be the first to admit that looks DO matter.

    It is so easy to overlook that fact and think that the exchange will carry itself. While it’s true for the most part on the internet that content is king, it is different in the traffic exchange market.

    With so many exchanges looking identical right out of the box, the owner has to identify their presence with a solid distinguishable design. Most people choose themes.. but I don’t really see why it has to be themed.

    When I first opened Blue-Surf, one of the first things told to me by Jon Olson was to get a designer to do the design. I can program — but I can’t design for crap. I initially dismissed this suggestion. Later on, I thought about it again and did something about it. I guess that Jon Olson guy knows what he’s talking about. ;)

    If anything, get a design to make your traffic exchange distinguishable and rememberable. Sort of a form of branding, eh?

  4. Ya hit the nail on the head, Tim. It never cease to amaze the amount of traffic exchanges that still use the stock template. And I’m glad you use the Walker stock template as an example because there are literally thousands of them out there.

    Savvy uses the same script as your “bad” example and I’m proud to say that that is as far as the similarity goes.

    Harry Nguyen

  5. I found here Very Needed for me information about good designers.

    About Blue Surf – I like this site and upgrade there.

    As a fact – from SE I found lot of knowlidges and usefull information.

  6. Hi Tim,

    Great start to your series. This is my biggest Pet peeve and the one argument that I get into most often. Design makes 100% difference and each exchange needs to stand out from another. When I come across a site that has a bad design I often ask the owner why they don’t care enough about their exchange to have a quality design done and they all tell me it doesn’t matter what their traffic exchange looks like. But a few months later the exchange will disappear. Owners get it through your head. Your custom design will make or break your exchange. Your lack of not putting a unique design will kill your exchange!

    Can’t wait to see the rest of the series. I’ll be sending this to a bunch of exchange owners I know that like to tell me how wrong I am! Keep up the great work!

    Rich Morris

  7. Hello. I’m the owner of PrizeHunters. When you say that TX owners should change the from the default template do you mean the template layout? I liked the way the template was layed out.

    It’s okay to point out what you think should be changed at PrizeHunters. I’m trying to improve the site and would appreciate the feedback. (I have to do it all myself so it takes time to get things accomplished.)

  8. This is getting quite interesting. Keep more coming. I like the fact that you teach us on many subjects. Keep up the good work

  9. I don’t disagree with what Tim is saying.

    However, some scripts, e.g., TrafficDX, are pretty much impossible to to template in a manner that makes them look different than every other TrafficDX site, primarily because these are IonCube encoded and some of the html is in the encoded PHP files.

    So, no matter what a DX owner does, the site will never look as good as some. Doesn’t mean it isn’t a good owner or they don’t care.

    The obvious solution is of course to go to another script. However, coding and feature wise, the DX script beats the LJ script used by many TEs hands down, so the owners have a bit of a problem, not to mention the difficulty of trying to move everything to a differently structured database.

    There will be good exchanges that look ugly, just as there are bad, owner-wise, exchanges that look pretty. Has nothing in some cases to do with the owner’s attitude or service towards members.

    But, there should be no excuse for stock templates. If you don’t know enough to make basic changes to a template or have the money to buy something decent, you probably should hold off starting a TE. I certainly wouldn’t join it.

  10. Great series Tim. I’m going to be following and promoting this blog quite a bit because it’s time we stood up and demanded responsible ownership. Just like Rich said, design is everything and if an owner cannot invest a few hundred dollars into the look and feel of his / her program, how am I as an advertiser supposed to feel confident in the future of that traffic exchange?

    These things do not take millions of dollars to build, but they do require minimal investment. Look at the good examples that Tim will share to give you a good idea of what we should be aiming for.

    Great topic!

  11. I think this will be a very informative series especially for the newbies that may not know what to look for in a te to avoid one that don’t move credits because to someone that has not thought it through 500 credits at signup may sound attractive but it will only hurt the member’s advertising efforts. I think graphics are important because it needs to attract people and to do this it needs to stand out. We had Derek of splash-builders design surf4theearth.

  12. Moving from one script (AMCS) to another (WALKER) was a very difficult task but a much needed one. The design was a big issue and now looks more professional. The time and money spent was well worth it! It is a big issue when you look at your own TE and say “I wouldn’t join that!…lol! I just wish more TE owners would see this more as a “profession” than just “something to do”. It really takes away from those of us that work diligently to keep the TE industry, as some would say “legit”.


  13. Whoah, cool. This TE-devoted weblog of the good Mr Linden’s I stumbled upon while surfing Nexus Exchange for the first time in quite a while, and here I find all you TE heroes of mine discussing cutting edge TE stuff. And a few clicks earlier, maybe on Nexus but possibly on another exchange, I found Mr Tezak’s comments, favorably, about the newer GladiatorHits, which I am also at the moment surfing on as well. Tony, I also, just a few days ago, joined your newsletter — good stuff.

    There are some many TEs out there (or, in here, as the case may be, since this is all online and not off, which more accurately is “out there” I guess, but I digress . . . .), and having peeps like Tim and Mr Olson providing good counsel, pressing responsibility on the TE industry, I totally love it. Cheers for all this.

  14. This series should have been written long time ago as sooo many newbies have been victimized with these nasty traffic exchange programs. Oh well better late than never I guess.

    Several years back, alot of the new people exploring traffic exchange were saying ‘traffic exchange programs are useless’, you know why? because they keep joining these worthless traffic exchange programs.

    Next series maybe we all could explore what makes a traffic exchange a good exchange.

    Good job Tim.

    Paul Penafiel

  15. Ms Leroux, Shelley, I just joined PrizeHunters, surfing it now, and it looks okay to me. Good luck to both of us, yeah?

  16. I glad to see a blog that covers the subject of traffic exchanges! greaat job! I am a quuestion non realated to the topic. What are the advantages of a site rotator?

  17. It’s a very good point for every member or a future member in any TE, and also for the owners.

    But i think this problem is also for everyone who has a website and want to promote it.

    So thanks for the point.

    It’s a very good lesson for me.

    Erzsebet Kovacs

  18. Great blog series! Was interested in knowing what details were necessary for owning and/or starting a TE. Have seen one company offer a program with one year free hosting with payment plans. Curious as to the quality.



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