|Affiliates Reveal the Tricks to Picking Ad Networks|
|Wednesday, 21 April 2010 20:16|
Top affiliates share their tricks for picking the right ad network. For affiliates trying to make a living in the increasingly competitive world of performance marketing, picking the right one is critical to survival. Choosing poorly spells disaster for everyone.
The choices of networks can seem daunting. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be.
For affiliate marketers, it nearly automates the actions, clicks or leads they need to make their living.
So, how do you choose? The experts are the ones out there with the proven track records, so we asked top affiliates and leading-edge agencies to erect the signposts for us. They have the experience; they know what to look for.
What Top Affiliates Seek
Sometimes, however, advertisers may be saddled with awful landing pages, poor tracking systems, ad creative that looks cheap or maybe a technologically antiquated checkout process. Since these are out of the affiliate’s control and can lead to a no-sale, the network comes in handy for standardized processes and quality control.
To choose the right ad network or networks requires a gut instinct. At least that’s what many affiliates seem to say. However, there is a checklist that top performers agree must be ticked off before anyone should join a network.
The major ones, in brief, are:
Affiliates agree that a network is only as good as its tracking. While programs like AdSense give them pretty much real-time reports on traffic, some networks only post reports once per day or once per week. Some affiliates have said they need to decide to pull a site down if it isn’t performing hour by hour. And with some publishing 100 sites at a time, that decision needs to be made on a single site in pretty much a split second so you can go on to evaluate your other 99.
Wendy Piersall, who runs eMoms at Home, says there are many things to look for when shopping around for a network, not least of which is to be clear on what a network requires from you as to exclusivity. Some, for example, want exclusive rights to all of your ad space. Some just want exclusivity only above the fold, while some want the highest ad spot on your page. Some only want banner ads, leaving the affiliate to sell text ads. “Be very clear about what they require, because the network could drop you if you don’t comply with the agreement on ad placement,” she says.
Since affiliates are always looking to maximize their payout, a major concern is the exact money terms. Zac Johnson, author of the “Super Affiliate’s Guide to Riches,” says, “It no longer takes investment money and a custom back end to build a network, but instead the ability to run a trusted network that makes money for affiliates and builds up a reputation to fly above the competition.”
For payment specifics, affiliates suggest you read a network’s contract before signing and make sure they spell out the minimums, methods and frequency of payment. First, be aware of the revenue share with CPM programs, Piersall suggests. Splits can run from a very equitable 50/50 to 70/30 with the affiliate taking the short end. Then ask for the payout schedule. Monthly is a reasonable frequency although some do pay quarterly. Ask how long it takes to pay from the end of a cycle, because 15 days from the end of the month to get your check is much better than 60 days. Ask if they send paper checks the old-fashioned way or if they can deposit directly into a PayPal account. And will the network pay you even if the actual advertiser hasn’t paid the network’s invoice yet?
Prussakov says affiliates need to do their homework. “Search the Internet, as well as forums and blogs for reviews about the network, and only when you are 100 percent sure that they are reliable, join. When in doubt, or when no information can be found anywhere, it is always good to ask, and affiliate marketing forums are good places for that.”
For the most successful affiliates, going with one single network is tantamount to leaving cash in the street. John Chow, owner of TheTechZone.com, says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That’s why it’s so important to have a good mix of different advertising models on your website. If all you do is rely on Google AdSense, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.” He adds that it will take time to experiment with different ad networks and different types of ads to find out exactly which combination garners the most money.
And in searching for that magic combination, are you going to be working with a first-tier or second-tier network? Chow says that in terms of traffic quality, with second tier you never know where the clicks will be coming from. “A lot of the clicks are from content-based pages and expired domains, so the conversion rates can be lower than straight search traffic,” he says.
Some affiliates use networks to cherry-pick placements if they don’t work much with CPA, for example. Kim Rowley, who runs Key Internet Marketing and its more than 30 sites, says, “If I do want to run an ad on a specific topic such as Britney Spears or lava lamps, I use OfferVault.com to search to see what network has an ad for that.”
If you are new to the affiliate space and wonder whether you should even join, veterans such as Elise Bauer, who owns Simply Recipes, says you should be getting more than 1,000 page views on your blog or website before you consider joining a network. “That means at 1,000 page views a day, you’ll make $3 per day from those ads, or $90 a month,” she says. “So, if you have 100 page views a day, that translates into only $9 a month. Hardly worth the effort in my opinion, but hey, it’ll buy you a movie.”
|Articles You May Like|