Q&A with Denis Kharlamov, XLeads Team Owner


Denis Kharlamov is the leader of the XLeads team. We interviewed him about his experience and insecurities, arbitrage market tricks, tips on building a productive nutra team, and more.

Team Origins & Current Expertise

Hi! Over the past two years, you’ve rushed into the arbitrage community and the majority of marketers know your name but this is your first big interview presented in the text. So tell us a few things about yourself: how did you end up in traffic arbitrage?

Hello there. To some extent, I’ve rushed in 2017) Back then I was serving contract in the military police and, during my night duties, I’ve studied training courses leaked on the Internet and the media platforms and started to get my first leads in Kazakhstan with an ROI of 200)

In 2018, I’ve completed my military service, returned to Voronezh, and tried to get a job in Adcombo, but was rejected by a security department) So I left feedback on the HH, attended some job interviews, and was hired as a junior buyer to the internal media buying department in the Leadreaktor.

You said your journey in traffic arbitrage started with military service. Were you allowed to use computers? Or did you sneak your laptop to the distribution? Did your superiors demand a share of the income?

I think you have the wrong idea about it. I served a contract for two years, it was a job and I stayed in a dorm with three other men. I was left to my own devices among tough male policemen) Sometimes I had a lot of spare time, but only at night)

You didn’t get the job in Adcombo because of your military background, did you? Did they think you were a spy working for the IRS?) Do you think they regret missing out on a talent?

I can’t read people’s minds, but their answer was malevolent, like “Not with the past you have”, so to speak) I recall Kravchenko actively promoted his brand back then and every Tom, Dick, and Harry knew his name.

I even tried to get there through, but he said it didn’t work) As to “Do you think they regret missing out on a talent?” – I told Lenya this story recently and we had a great laugh about it.

I probably would have achieved more as a professional, but, since the Leadreaktor is a small company, I was getting more attention from owners which allowed me to level up my managerial and human hard skills big time. All in all, I have no regrets. What I’ve become is the result of the journey I had)

How did you get your first job in traffic arbitrage? Did they point out your military background at the interview?)

I searched for a job opening on the Headhunter. I searched all the keys associated with digital marketing and traffic arbitrage. I was mostly rejected due to a lack of experience. The Adcombo team distinguished themselves by the “military background” reason. In Leadreaktor, they didn’t have any questions regarding this matter, so I was hired for an internship, and one thing led to another)

Why did the Leadreaktor team fall apart?

There was a FB situation in the fall of 2019: cloaks weren’t working with all ads we were launching. Since we had no experience in “surviving the FB crisis”, we had a very rough time. The communication vector with the owners changed at some point, and things went in the wrong direction.

But the main reason for me was that I couldn’t come up with a move with lack of traffic) I am as proud as Punch, at least I was like that back then. I couldn’t take criticism or abuse.

I knew everything would be okay, I was confident as a leader. Therefore, something inside told me to let it all hang out. That’s when the team fell apart, and I gathered the guys as an independent team on terms of 50% of the profit.

What impact does the Leadreaktor job experience have on you?

I had a very interesting time at Leadreaktor. Just imagine the mediocre path I had: school, university, and military service. I was 25 and never have I ever had big money on hand with people around me having the same situation.

And then I moved from Voronezh to Moscow. I found myself among open-minded people. I discovered the money and what they are spent on. I evolved dramatically.

In a single sentence, I’d say I developed the following skills:

  • Social engineering (I like this term. I see it as the skill to get what you need from people, as well as making communications);
  • Self-confidence (it’s considered a skill too, as it turns out);
  • HR management, of course;
  • I improved my copywriting and creative thinking by extension;
  • Traffic arbitrage in FB, of course. I did quite well solo.

Tell us a little bit about how you mustered a team.

The team core was formed by people fired from the Leadreaktor. It is worth mentioning that there were four of us. Two of my friends, whom I introduced into traffic arbitrage, are among them. With this lineup, we worked the whole of 2020. It all went so smooth and gooey that it almost made us sick at times, fancy wishing for more, for something interesting to happen.

So, in February 2021, I’ve set a goal to start a public page where I could share my thoughts and cases. I always was sour on conference reports and written case studies. They were boring and meager.

Why XLeads?

I came up with a company name and logo (created it with Canva Service in five minutes), which would represent our activities. And as to the “X” prefix – it seems cool, it’s simple and catchy, it looks nice in any font and it is readable)

As you might know, all companies opt for the “timeless” minimalistic design today. So you might as well say that I get with the times.)

What are your current volumes? How many people are on the team?

We have 11 people on the team, with an office space capacity of 15 workplaces. I do not plan to exceed this number for now. In 2022, we’re planning to scale up by starting franchise teams. We also plan to work with outsourced webmasters with our tracker, rates, and schemes. We don’t have time to process half of the traffic volume we have.

I’ve also reconsidered my attitude towards public statements about team turnover. I’m going to disclose the numbers for specific cases only.

Did any outsiders invade the team?

I’m close with owners of large public teams and we share information about employees who were hired, from where they came from, and how they left the previous team. So far, there have been no such cases. There was only one guy who couldn’t attract any traffic and left.

Do you have an NDA practice? Do you use the lie detector with your employees from time to time?)

Huh, no) so far I’m the only person who went through the procedure. We have no secrets or super tricks and it’s impossible to steal the tech means. “Unseemly” leaving a public team can affect the buyer’s reputation, I think everyone understands that. But I do reject suspicious candidates in the first place.

In the past, buyers on your team received 50% of the profit without KPIs. What are their terms today?

It’s 20-40% at this point. I have all the consumables on me. The KPI varies depending on the current situation with FB.

You said you can’t buy yourself a Porsche until your buyers won’t afford a BMW. Have you bought a Porsche yet?

No, I haven’t. I’m thinking of breaking the rules and trends and getting myself a Genesis.

I try to keep my foot on the ground, investing all the spare cash I have. The guys on the team aren’t after fancy cars yet either.

Are you staying in a hostel now?)

That’s a good one. But these were wonderful times at maximum efficiency. I got up and went to bed with traffic in my mind.

Nutra, Traffic Arbitrage & Competition

Did you choose nutra as your niche of focus because you worked with it in the Leadreaktor?

Yes, I did. I became a publisher this way and so it goes. But, for what it is, I am indisposed towards gambling, betting, or finance.

The lie detector showed that you are not 100% confident that your conscience is clear when working with nutra offers. Are you embarrassed that most of the merchandise you promote is a travesty? Or is it also true for all arbitrage niches?

No, I don’t have a guilty conscience about it. We don’t make the world a better place, but we don’t make it worse either. I use the money for good causes, at least I think so)

What kind of good causes are you talking about?)

At least not about all sorts of banned stuff) I help some people. I have also enabled a transactions roundoff in Yandex in favor of charity funds a long time ago.

Was it fun taking a lie detector test? Why did you agree to take it in the first place? Was it edited in any way?

No! It sure was intriguing. The man who asked questions was very convincing and serious. I wondered what questions they would prepare, what would be my answers, and what would the machine say. I am not ashamed of anything, I did not do bad things to people, so I refused to edit it and did not discuss any “stop topics”.

What traffic sources do you use?

Only FB can provide volumes. In November, we kicked adult native ads on TT, and it went swimmingly, but as soon as FB became easier on us – we were back with it.

How do you cope when FB has “bad moons”?

We try to make as many pre-landing pages as we can and generate new ideas for creos. We do more networking than traffic arbitrage. Naturally, we feel sad like everyone else does.)

What affiliate programs do you work with?

Major volumes of traffic go to direct advertisers, where the work is going on at full speed. We just sign a contract on the volumes and on we go. In Europe, we sometimes work with Lucky, and in the spring we had effective cooperation with the Dr.Cash Affiliate Program.

How do you collaborate with direct advertisers? Do you have an existing database or are you testing new ones as well?

It’s half a year already that we have had very little traffic with APs. We test new ones only if our partners experience some problems, or they can’t supply the goods we are looking for. We mostly cooperate under the contract stating the volume of leads dynamic rates when reaching the KPI on the approved leads. But we’re going to end this practice in 2022, preparing an ambitious project.

What models do you prefer: COD, trials, or SS?

It’s COD. We tested trials in tier1 and the outcome was doubtful, so we decided to give it up. As to the SS, we never had a chance to properly test it.

What is your average ROI and revenue per month?

It’s an average of 120 ROI in six months. I’m not going to disclose my revenue since I decided to walk softly. But a good buyer makes a revenue of 50,000 a month.

Nutra 2021 vs nutra 2018: what has changed?

Um, everything?) Advertising policies, policy violation triggers, and other interesting stuff) In general, approaches have slightly changed with additional funnels, but the good old celebrity approach still works, and it will till the end)

You’ve spent $200,000 in gambling and never tried it again, haven’t you? There is information that you are now working with cryptocurrency. Any success in this vertical?

We tried gambling in TT) In the CIS, we’ve spent about 20,000, but did not scale it up. We don’t plan to work with it on FB yet. As for cryptocurrency, we do not drive traffic as there are other white tweaks, but I can’t disclose it or we will lose it quickly.

You mentioned “spark plug” teams in the niche that you wish to outcompete. Is it related to the nutra or the CPA market as a whole? Can you give out some names?

Of course, it’s about nutra teams. It makes no sense to outcompete turnovers of gambling teams. All things considered, it is very stupid to be competitive in turnover volumes. The only important thing is the output profit. All teams have different economies and various owners)

But all in all, I have a couple of teams in mind that we want to catch up with (although the 2022 goal is one-million turnover at least for a month)

I don’t want to give out names as the guys might misunderstand it. But I only do it for good reasons.)

A lot depends on the call center in the commodity market. Is it true that you track newsworthy events and then write scripts to CC operators? How does this approach affect the ROI growth?

Yes, generally speaking, you can work following the same scheme with several AP and get different results, but the form factor of goods may not have an impact, it just provides more calls)

As to newsworthy events – it’s true. It’s one of the key strategies for pre-landing pages creation. There are several advertisers, whom we trust and let proofread pre-landing pages we create, which CC specialists then sell based on the pre-landing page’s story. The effect on the ROI growth is questionable. The CR happens to be very volatile sometimes, but it is a win concerning redeem and approval rate long-term.

Media & Mentorship

Tell us a little about mentoring: why do you educate competitors? Don’t you consider it an opponents’ facilitation?

Oooooh, I can’t put everything on the table just yet! But the 2022 strategy is to complete my products chain, namely training and mentoring courses. I don’t think in terms of “educating competitors for a fixed price”. It’s more likely to be about getting to know myself and how it makes me complete. I do it enthusiastically.

By the way, I started a franchise team a month ago. Guys kick-started since good buyers joined the team. It even makes me a little jealous)

Is there anything on other franchise teams at the moment? What are your terms of the franchise? 

The first team will pay off quickly since we managed to hire very good specialists. I’m going to lead them until the end of January, and then I’ll think about it. We’ll be preoccupied with training courses and meetups and won’t have time to deal with the franchise, but there are a few applications under consideration at the moment.

We will start the second franchise team faster since it takes about ten days to assemble the team and consider technical matters. I can’t speak about the figures, but the percentage of the profit will always stay at 10%, and the fixed price will continue to increase.

What are mentoring terms for your students? I take it that even if you get paid a million instead of the standard price of 500,000, it won’t affect your decision, will it?

I must be sure that the application is fully shaped and I can cover at least 90% of it. I was offered a million for “priority mentorship” but I refused. You can’t buy me, because I don’t do it for money. Otherwise, the price would be much higher.

Tell us a little bit about the threats you’ve got related to the mentorship. How often does it happen? Aren’t you afraid that words can transform into abusive actions? AFFSTAR’s Marina Chernova recently had her fancy car set on fire. Publicity in the CPA market tends to be dangerous. Don’t you consider hiring security or installing armored windows in your apartment?)

These were no threats, just a funny moment. One person wrote me a long message from his account saying that I’m a fool who discloses 200,000-worthy schemes and I have crossed many serious non-public teams.

(No arguments followed, so we stopped the conversation, which I mentioned in my Stories later. Some media platforms picked it up making people think that “it’s getting way too serious”).

I’ll buy an armored Genesis right away. As to Marina, I think there’s obviously a reason to burn a car, but it’s just my speculation) I do not disclose numbers, don’t say any wrong things from the stage, I pay taxes, and stay cool 😀

What is your greatest mentoring outcome so far? How many times did the teams increase their profits?

I’ll attach screenshots, but I still can’t get my hands on reviews. The team from Novosibirsk showed the best results. I conducted their mentoring for 100,000. They increased their revenue from 10,000 per month to 100,000, screenshots are attached below)

Here’s a review by the team:

it all came down to either nothing would launch, or it launched but went into the red, even ads that should have worked. We had many theories and hypotheses, but in the end, it all became a tangled skein and our eyes were swimming as is usually the case. As a result, we had neither spending nor profits.

We decided to invite Denis and find a solution together. We weren’t expecting a miracle, nor were we skeptical about inviting an online marketing fraudster. We would know about it by word of mouth or de facto as it’s said.

We worked together for two days and Presto! It all felt in place (in our minds too, respectively).

We found answers to painful questions, which we could not find by testing due to lack of time/resources.

For the most part, it was an issue with spendings.

Besides, Denis generously shared his methods and disclosed some topics, so to speak. More importantly, he didn’t have an attitude like “it’s rubbish, you do not get it, this is different, buy autoregs for nine rubles each, use first billing and you’ll live happily ever after, do as I say or it won’t work and I am not to blame if you’ll arrive where the sun don’t shine”. Plus, he provided post-training support, if you can call it that, and didn’t change his number after he left 😂

To summarize:

  1. A solution to the Spends Problem
  2. Useful networking
  3. Revival of team’s spirits

Before:

After:

The screenshots illustrate the binom as of 1 January before Denis’s arrival and the binom after through present.

To sum up, it’s all cool, haters gonna hate, respect to Denis)

Is it true that at the beginning of your career you tried to get a job in Smol’s team, and after 18 months you became his mentor? How did he take that?

It’s true. I wanted to learn from the best, but he didn’t just throw me out if that’s what you’re asking) It’s just that our conversation ended at the terms stated. Mentorship sounds very narcissistic, I would prefer it to be called friendly advice)

Look, Smol is at the top because he takes it easy rather than “humiliating, insulting, and unpresentable”. I came across guys who didn’t want me to go public about my mentorship.

Do you mentor only in the Russian Federation or do you travel abroad as well?

There are a lot of inquiries from Russia and Ukraine, but I’m not allowed in Ukraine yet because of my military background. I once did mentorship in Istanbul, because the guys from Kyiv could not enter Moscow, and I couldn’t enter Ukraine, so we found a neutral ground)

You once said that lifestyle bloggers occupy the CPA niche mostly and you are the only expert sharing inside information. What makes you say that?)

I probably overacted that I’m the only one. Many guys share their work, but I may give out a lot of information on the backend processes and cover everything in detail during the mentoring. I love traffic arbitrage very much, I’m really into it. I don’t know whether there’s anyone involved with the processes as much as I do.

Let’s say, Ibrahim gives out a lot of inside information, but he conducts training courses every two months. I haven’t been into monetizing for a year. There was a guy who told me that I am the “Max Korzh” in traffic arbitrage and I agree with that) Although I’m being compared to Markul mostly😀

You often give out $50,000-100,000 cases. What’s it for? You want to demonstrate your expertise, don’t you?

I’ll tell you what, all our cases are being published while ads are still running, rather than they’re all dried up already. The power is in truth. I faked not a single screenshot, although I often encounter cases with fake stats. Someone states that the price per lead is 5, but screenshots from AP and tracker say that it’s 10 if you know how to count. Why would someone do that?

I do it to demonstrate the expertise of some specialists who can work solo without any help from a farming department staff, or coders, or super automation. I hope my message will get through to people)

Investments & Escapeway

Do you keep your money in BTC or altcoins?

I’m a beginner here with the main portfolio including coins with blockchain. I try to stay away from altcoins since I don’t have time to worry about them.

How many cryptocurrencies do you have?

I won’t tell) But it’s not much and it’s all invested in real estate.

Are you going to sell it or keep it just in case?)

I am a Holder personality, I do not want to open or monitor anything, I believe in the bitcoin and will just withdraw all in case anything happens)

Your team is focused on Facebook. What will you do if you can’t run Facebook ads anymore? Will you switch to another source? 

Yes, FB is our sole provider. If FB will RIP, I won’t even turn a hair as long as guys won’t sit around with no money in their pockets. I am convinced that with the involvement we have we are more than capable to enter, say, teasers vertical in TT.

I’m even looking forward to FB collapsing and for us to rise from the ashes like the phoenix and then laugh over this crap😀

Future Plans

Do you have someone on your team to be in charge while you’re absent? Don’t you want to eventually delegate all day-to-day operations and just collect money and chill?

I already have one of the buyers whom I know since the Leadreaktor times. He has adopted a team lead role and so far things are going well. I want to withdraw from day-to-day operations and start developing the team and the brand globally. But collecting money and just chilling is not for me, I’m sure it ruins me in six months.

Do you plan to establish your AP? Will it be related to the nutra vertical?

I’d like to, yes. Since there was such a question during the lie detector test and my sincere answer was “Yes”, I’m now looking into it. It will certainly be nutra-related.

How will your nutra AP be different from others?) Give us at least a rough idea, if you don’t wish to give away details. 

I’m not going to disclose it now because I don’t want to offend my partners, but I can say that I have a bit different concept in mind. There won’t be any media staff of affiliate specialists.

I suggested my friendly teams work and stay with us. We will provide a satisfying rate and honest feedback, at least at the start. It will also be a private program.

Here’s a “Yury Dud-style” question: how much do you make per month? Is it less than $1,000,000?)

Of course, it is) We haven’t even made such a monthly turnover yet. But I like this figure, I’ll look into it in 2022.

Would you tell us why you observe the target public in the subway? How many gambling and nutra creatives have you made?

You keep close track of me, don’t you? That’s nice) I notice a lot of things, but people profiles are the most interesting since we can’t observe our TA online)

Can one say that you have the No. 1 nutra team in the CIS?

No, of course not. We’re focused on net profits rather than traffic volumes. We have a very good average monthly ROI, and that’s the main thing since it’s the net cash at the output. I’d rather say we have a top work approach.

What is your team’s formula for success in a nutshell? Is it “all cool because we’re cool”?

Success is inevitable; it lies in our power to achieve it asap.


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