At Affiliate Summit West I noticed that the proliferation of new CPA networks seems to have been replaced by new businesses selling mobile traffic.

These companies are clearly attempting to capitalize on the mobile shopping boom. But like all emerging technologies (think back to the early days of Twitter and Facebook) buying traffic, much less buying mobile traffic, is not always the right path.

It may seem like a good idea in the beginning- just like buying Facebook likes – but I’m guessing that in the end you will end up paying for bad traffic. That means, traffic that not qualified and users that never make a purchase because that traffic is not relevant to your business. That simply results in a big list with little to no conversions.

My advice – beware!

Yes, we all know that mobile is hot. Establishing a mobile foothold in your space is paramount to continuing success as consumers shift their buying habits from their desktop to mobile devices. But doing it the old fashioned way by leveraging your existing base of customers, engaging consumers with creative campaigns, promoting a simple and easy to use experience on your mobile site (through responsive design) are far more solid strategies in the long run. Investing in these best practices will have a much higher ROI.

I understand that mobile when done right can be a big opportunity and buying traffic seems like and easier, faster fix. But it is not.

Even with the rapid strides mobile has made in the last two years, most merchants and affiliates have still not fully optimized their sites. They need better and more responsive design. Conversions are not as high as they could be, The numbers during the 2014 holiday shopping season prove that mobile is quickly becoming a preferred method for research, in-store product comparisons, looking for best pricing and receiving alerts on best deals. But there is a still a lag in actual purchasing compared to those using desktops.

The bottom line is that any effort to maximize a new channel or source of revenue requires thoughtful planning, dedicated implementation, some creativity and hard work. Shortcuts don’t equal success.

I wish the mobile network well. I’m just afraid they will have the same volatility of “staying viable” as the CPA network industry has experienced. But the idea mobile networks has to get past the “shiny new toy” phase to be relevant, at least it was presented at ASW.