Grow Traffic Blog

How to Properly Optimize Your Google Display Ads

Google’s ad network is one of the largest in the world, and it’s been a popular choice for advertisers for over a decade. Google ads are great, but it’s also very easy to spend a lot of money for very little in return. How can you level up from mediocre ads to Google Display Ad Pro? Here are my top tips. First, Learn the Basics I’m writing the majority of this post with a particular kind of audience in mind. If you’re already a PPC pro, you will know most of what’s in this post, though I won’t tell you not to read it; there may be a tip or two you can try out. On the other side of the coin, if you’re still a novice, the first thing you need to do is learn your way around the Google Ads system. Luckily for you, Hubspot has an incredible guide to get you rolling. This post, meanwhile, is aimed at the intermediate users. Remember that the purpose of the display network is different from the purpose of the search network. Google display ads typically have a lower CPC, but also lower click rates and lower conversion rates. Display ads work best for awareness and remarketing campaigns, while search ads are better for when you’re capturing active audience intent. Get Familiar with Targeting Options Google’s display ads have a variety of different ways you can target them. It’s not the same sort of targeting options Facebook has; rather, they’re more systematic. Keyword targeting is your basic targeting based on words and phrases. This is the most typical and allows your ads to display on pages that are contextually similar to the content of your ads. Topic targeting is like keyword targeting, but more broad-focus. You choose a broad topic such as your industry and run ads that display on sites in that industry. This allows you to reach a wider audience more easily. Remarketing allows you to target specific custom audiences made up of people who have entered your sphere of influence, such as via visiting your website or from watching your YouTube videos. Demographic targeting allows you to create groups of interests and demographics to target, similar to how Facebook ads work, on a more limited basis due to Google’s lack of similar levels of personal data. Audience targeting allows you to specify groups of people, such as “in-market” audiences made up of people who are ready to purchase in your market, and “affinity” audiences who are interested but not quite ready to buy. Automatic targeting is more of a hands-off option for novices and people who just want data without worrying about the costs. Learning the right kinds of targeting to use and when to use them is crucial. You go into it with an ad in mind, and you know what that ad is supposed to accomplish – like getting new website visitors, getting new conversions, getting new subscribers, or what have you – so you need to pick the right targeting format to reach the people most likely to perform that action. Make Heavy Use of Remarketing Remarketing is one of the most incredible and most useful kinds of advertising to come about in our modern era. No longer are you limited to reaching out blindly in the dark, trying to find people who might care about your brand. Remarketing allows you to reach out specifically to the groups of people who have already entered your sphere of influence and draw them yet further in. The core of remarketing is simple. When someone visits your website, they are added to the list of people who have visited your website. Now you have this new list of people who are already interested enough in you to have visited your site. You can run new ads targeting these people with the “next step” in the sales funnel process. You can draw them in further with ads that take advantage of this new level of familiarity. If you think of a sales funnel, the top is getting people aware of you in the first place. You can’t do this with remarketing ads; by default they are already people who know of you. The second layer is remarketing to draw people into the third layer, which is converting. A good analogy would be trying to get a job. If you just walk into a company and try to talk to the hiring manager, they’re as likely to throw you out for trespassing as they are to listen to your application. But if you have sent them a resume and application, followed up with a phone call, and are now showing up to chat, they know who you are and are a lot more likely to give you that second glance. Use the Similar Audience Target One of the innovations Facebook brought to the world of PPC marketing – or at least popularized – is the idea of the lookalike audience. Facebook has so much data about people that it can compare people on a broad scale. You can take a list of people – like, say, the list of people who visited your website, or the list of people who bought your products – and tell Facebook to create another audience that looks like that audience. Facebook will then create a new, lookalike audience. This new audience is people who have not bought your product, but who share many of the same demographics and interests as the people who do. In other words, they’re more likely than average to become customers. Google has something similar in their targeting options, called the Similar Audience feature. With Google display network ads, you can enable this targeting option and it will use your existing remarketing audiences to produce lookalike audiences for display ads to reach. Learn the Negatives There are two kinds of negatives you need to learn how to use to be a true pro at any kind of PPC advertising, but Google in particular. The first kind of negative is the negative keyword. Negative keywords are keywords that are commonly associated with your search queries or topics, but which disqualify the traffic. For example, maybe you’re advertising video games, but all of your games are family-friendly. You might put “adult” as a negative keyword, so if your ads are going to run on a site with “adult video games” as a theme, they will not. If you sell shoes, but you don’t sell athletic shoes, you can add keywords like “athletic” and “sports” and “tennis” as negative keywords to prevent those kinds of topics from draining money from your ads. You can read our more in-depth guide on negative keywords here. The other kind of negative to use is site exclusions. These are like negative keywords, except they exclude sites as destinations for your display ads. There are two ways to use this: proactively and reactively. Proactive use of site exclusions means knowing sites that are in your topic but are not going to be a good fit for your ads. Your competitor’s sites are good options. Maybe you have a site about camping, but you focus on family outings; you can exclude sites that focus on more extreme outdoor adventures. For a more modern and political take, you can exclude sites that express political opinions you don’t share, to avoid associating your brand with their site. Reactive use means looking at your ad analytics after your ads have run for a while. Google will tell you the sites where your ads have been running, and give you performance for those ads. You can find sites that are getting a lot of impressions but no clicks, and exclude them from ads that require clicks to be effective. Structure Your Optimization There are a ton of different kinds of optimizations you can make to ads, but you shouldn’t just slap at them blindly until something works. You can break down optimizations by category and treat them as priorities. Priority One is your functional optimizations. Are your ads displaying properly? Are they animating properly if they animate? Does your landing page work, do your forms work, does your phone number work? Fix these kinds of errors before even looking at other optimization paths. Priority Two is accessibility. Google has been pushing for accessibility over the last few years, so make sure your ads work in a variety of forms. Do they work for responsive sites? Are they readable at different sizes? Can you make them more accessible to a wider audience? Priority Three is your user experience. This is where you’re optimizing elements like the ad relevance, the intrusiveness and disruptiveness of your ads, and how legible your ads are to the widest audience possible. Optimize your ads for user experience before you move on to the next. Priority Four is intuitiveness in your ads. Particularly, this is how well your ads jive with the user’s expectations. This tends to go hand in hand with ad quality scores, among other metrics, and requires you to know both your audience intent and their place in the funnel. Priority Five is persuasiveness. This is where you start to optimize things like your value proposition, your ad images, and your copy itself. Reduce friction and encourage your users to click at this stage. You can read more about these priority levels here. Make Sure to Use Your Unique Advantages Does your brand have any unique advantages you can use to get ahead in the ad market? I don’t just mean the ability to under-cut your competitors. I mean things like: If your business has a local presence, running ads locally or hyper-locally can make sure you’re gaining and advantage in your local market. This is how small businesses can out-sell Amazon, you know. If your business primarily focuses on mobile or is able to uniquely take advantage of mobile traffic, advertising with a focus – or exclusively on mobile – can capture more of an audience for lower prices. If you’re a widely recognized brand, you can skip a lot of the basic awareness ads and run ads that take advantage of that recognition. Thinking about where you stand – realistically – with your audience can give you some great insight into how you can run your ads. Always Be Testing If you’ve ever decided that an ad is good enough and just let it go, you’re doing it wrong. Always, always, 100% of the time always be testing. If you don’t think you have the budget to test ad variations, then split your initial budget. If you don’t have any idea of where to start with testing, just flip a coin and change something randomly. Anything can change, from the tint of an image to the whole of the image, from a single keyword to the entire copy, from a single site exclusion to an entirely different topic. There are literally infinite variations for your ads, and you should be trying to test them all. The true secret to success with advertising is simply having the experience to test and iterate on those tests without drawing yourself into a corner. It’s all too easy to test ads in increasingly small circles, testing more and more minor details in hopes of an increase in growth that is probably statistically insignificant. Knowing when to dial back and change something major is crucial. The post How to Properly Optimize Your Google Display Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

The Pros and Cons of Using Shortened URLs in Your Ads

Using a shorter URL with your ads can seem like a good idea, but is it really? Sure, the link might look better, but that might not be a huge concern. Also, depending on the method you’re using for shorter URLs, you might run afoul of some pretty nasty implications. Let’s talk about the pros and cons. The Types of Short URL Before we dig in, I want to discuss the different kinds of short URLs you can use. There are three kinds, though the boundaries between them are a little blurred. First up, you have the naturally short URL. For example, if I were to link to the pricing page for this very blog, I’d be linking you to That’s a pretty short URL on its own! It’s not the shortest possible URL out there, but it’s still short. It doesn’t have a ton of extra baggage, like UTM tracking or a blog-format set of date parameters. The second type of short URL is the custom shortlink. You can see this on many major sites today. For example, if you visit Forbes, you might see a page that has a URL looking like this: However, if you check their Twitter account, the link they post to lead to that URL is much smaller: This kind of custom shortlink is branded, which means it has Forbes in the domain and is owned by Forbes. In this case it uses a subdomain of the full, but that’s because is already pretty short. Some other companies use even shorter versions, like the New York Times using as their shortlink domain. Obviously, this second type has a bit of overlap with the first type, because it’s still a branded link on your domain – or a domain you own – and can have a similar appearance to a naturally short link. The third kind of shortlink is using a third party service for a shortlink. Services like Bitly allow you to turn a link into a shortlink that looks like In this case, it’s a shortlink for their own URL, which is shorter, so that’s a little ironic. This has some overlap with custom shortlinks, because you can often use a third party service coupled with a domain you own to create a custom shortlink. So now that you know the three main types of shortlinks, let’s talk about the pros and cons of using them, both in general and specifically for PPC ads. Pro: Short Links Aren’t Truncated If you’ve ever tried to run an ad, or even post a longer link on social media, you’ll often find that the longer link is chopped down to fit. Many services do this. Your longer link, like the Forbes link above, might instead look like “…” instead. It still links to the proper place, it’s just chopped down to a specific character limit for display purposes. Short links of any of the three varieties don’t get truncated down like this, because they’re naturally under the character limit. In fact, this is why shortlinks were invented; because sites like Twitter, and old-school pre-smart mobile phones with SMS messaging, had strict character limits on the messages you could send. Con: Some Ad Systems Already Allow Display URLs Many PPC ad systems don’t require you to use a shortlink, because they already handle short display URLs for you. For example, if you go to Google and type in Nike, you’ll see an ad for Nike, because they’re paying to advertise their own domain. The display URL for that ad is However, if you actually click it, the real URL is That, obviously, looks a lot worse. It has tracking information and URL parameters included in it, but it’s really just Nike’s homepage. Remember that every kind of short link except naturally short links is going to end up looking like this in the URL bar, since URL shorteners redirect to the full URL. Since the only purpose of a shortlink for PPC ads is generally just making the display URL look cleaner, you don’t need a shortlink service, since the PPC service does it for you. Pro: Short Links Hide Tracking Code This one has already come up a time or two, but in fact, I even hid it from you up above. Remember that Forbes link? The full URL from Twitter is actually, complete with UTM parameters that tell Forbes where the source of the link click came from. All of that tracking code refers data, but the shortlink hides it. The user will only even see it if they look at their URL bar once the domain has resolved, and chances are, they’re much more concerned with the content of the article they wanted to read instead. Con: Short Links Can Muddle Tracking If you want to track your URLs, you need different tracking code for every URL you post in each place you post it. One landing page can track traffic from five different ads, but you need a different set of UTM parameters for each. That means you need five different shortlinks; you can’t just use the same link for each of them. Taking shortcuts here, or mis-configuring your shortlinks, can mean your analytics gets a little muddy. Pro: Short Links Don’t Look Suspicious When you’re presented with two links, and one of them is that long Forbes link with a ton of = and # and ? and stuff in it, the average user is probably going to shy away from it. Longer links can look suspicious, and tracking code makes it look doubly suspicious. Remember that we live in a world where phishing attacks and URL-based security are very important, and widely varied from institution to institution. Some companies train their employees to be suspicious of pretty much every long URL, while some teach why a URL might have all of that code in it. There are also browser plugins that strip all of that from URLs anyway. Short links look a lot less suspicious, though modern users often recognize that a shortlink hides a lot of extra code behind it. Naturally short links are the best option here if that’s your concern. Con: Short Links Can Look Suspicious Now, I say that short links don’t look suspicious, but in some cases, they actually can. Naturally short links won’t, and branded shortlinks like the and the domain don’t look that suspicious. On the other hand, things like TinyURL,, and other third party shortlink services can look extremely suspicious. You don’t get to see what the linked-to domain is unless you click the link or use a service to unshorten a URL. Combine this with how frequently these third party services have been used to route URLs through to malicious pages and you have a decent amount of inherent distrust in specific third party URL shorteners. This is why services like Bitly even offer paid accounts that let you customize the domain, to do away with that suspicion. Pro: A Custom Short Link Includes Branding Short links can make your branding clearer, which makes it more trustworthy and encourages clicks. You can read about that in this post from Rebrandly. Additionally, some URL shortening services, like Sniply, can add something like a top header banner to your destination page, as an additional call to action above and beyond what the user normally sees. This can be great for further conversions, though you have to use it properly. Con: A URL Shortener can Shut Down at Any Time If you’re relying on a third party service to shorten your links, you have to be aware that the service can shut down at any time. That doesn’t just mean services like Sniply, even a major service like Google can shut down. In fact, Google closed theirs down in March. The links can still redirect, but you’re best off changing them, because that won’t hold true forever. Con: A Shortener May Exist by Default You don’t always need a URL shortener. Did you know that Twitter automatically runs every non-shortlink on their site, both in ads and in organic posts, through their own shortener? That’s why you can link to a site with a 150-character-long domain name and only add a dozen or so characters to your character limit. Those links are being run through, Twitter’s shortener. You don’t need your own shortener on top of theirs unless you want your display URL to look different. Pro: Short Links Can Include Analytics Many URL shortening services add their own analytics on top of whatever analytics you’re using by default. So your UTM parameters track data about the link in your Google Analytics, but in addition to that, you might have a dashboard with click-based and volume analytics for the shortlink, provided by the shortlink provider. Obviously this doesn’t work if you’re just using naturally short links, and it won’t work if you’ve set up your own URL redirects, only if you’re using a third party service. Con: Often Link Analytics are Public Third party systems give you analytics, yes, but you’re not the only one. Take a Bitly URL, for example. Any Bitly URL at all, if you add a + to the end of it, will not bring you to the page at the other end. Instead, it will bring you to a page that looks like this. What is it? Well, it’s the link analytics for that URL. Public, for everyone to see. This can be a pretty big information leak to your competitors; if you’re using Bitly, anyone else can see how well your links are performing. If you have a paid account you can access more detail, even. Con: Some Ad Systems Ban Short Links You’re not always going to be able to use shortlinks with your ads. Some ad systems make you verify that you’re the owner of the domain you’re advertising, for example. Since you don’t own the shortlink system, you don’t get to direct users to a shortlink for your ad landing page. This goes doubly true for ad networks that don’t let you redirect from your landing page. The fact is, a lot of the benefits of shortlinks come from ad systems as well. A display URL allows your links to look cleaner. The ad network can hook directly into your tracking so you don’t need tracking of your own. It’s all there, so why double up with a shortener? Con: Short Links Usually Require a Redirect In fact, all short links require a redirect outside of naturally short URLs. This means your users have to pass through a redirect, which is a possible point of failure, and delays loading your destination page. It’s not a great thing to have to implement if you can avoid it. Should You Use Shortlinks in Ads? So what do you think? Do you find the benefits of a shortlink outweigh the drawbacks? Personally, I find that using built-in systems plus a naturally short URL is good enough for me. For major sites like Forbes that want uniform branding on social profiles like Twitter, a shortlink can make sense. Otherwise, it’s just overkill. People care more about clarity of domain these days than they do about the length of the URL. The post The Pros and Cons of Using Shortened URLs in Your Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Guide: How to Get Approved on AdSense for Video

AdSense is the publisher half of Google Ads, where you implement the code on your website, in your apps, or elsewhere to allow Google to run ads on your content. You can make money with it – decent money, in some cases – but there’s more to it than just display ads. AdSense for Video, also known as AFV, is an AdSense product that allows you as a publisher to monetize web video content, app-based native video content, and other video formats. You know how you can just run AdSense on YouTube videos, and Google will place ads within the video itself? AFV lets you do the same with videos you host in other formats you control. Now, before you can start using AdSense for Video, you need to make sure you’re eligible and that you qualify for it, and then you need to apply for it. This can be a lengthy process, though it helps if you already know some technical details. Let’s start at the beginning. AdSense for Video Requirements Before you can begin, you have to make sure you meet all of the requirements to use AdSense for Video. I’ve gone over each of the requirements below, but if you want to make sure they’re still the same, or want to read alone, Google keeps their reference documentation up to date. Make sure you’re compliant with general AdSense policies. The general AdSense program policies can be found here. You probably know what most of these are, since they’re fairly standard rules. You know, don’t refer invalid clicks, don’t monetize offensive content, don’t publish stolen copyrighted material, and so on. We’ve covered them before in posts like this one. You also need to make sure you’re compliant with Google’s video-specific policies. Since you’re going to be a video publisher and you’re not hosting video content on YouTube, Google can’t simply process your video with their algorithms the same way. You have to make sure you’re following these requirements. In-stream ads have to use Google’s SDKs or an official Google Beta program. You cannot embed a YouTube video and then run AdSense for Video ads next to that video. Out-stream ads must use official Google SDKs as well. Meta data for your video content must be high quality and accurate. Videos must be either audible by default, or declared properly as a muted placement. You cannot run video ads in placements where video content is not present. You have to accurately declare the video size in referred data, and videos must be a standard aspect ratio. You cannot obscure, hide, or otherwise disrupt ad content rendering or ad control buttons. You cannot run more ads in duration than you have video content in duration. Ads cannot auto-play below the fold or on hover. Only one ad can play at a time. These are also pretty standard. Make sure you’re not trying to use non-standard ad units, make sure you’re not misrepresenting your ad inventory, make sure you respect your users and the advertisers, and so on. There are more specific rules than what I listed above, and there’s a lot more detail about them. Read through these and make sure you comply. Your video content cannot be hosted on YouTube. Monetizing YouTube videos simply uses AdSense, you don’t need to use AdSense for Video. YouTube has all kinds of rules of its own to content with, so keep those in mind. Your video content must be family safe. As with all internet content, you cannot target users under the age of 13 due to legal reasons as well. No adult content allowed in AdSense for Video. You must have a sufficient volume of content. More specifically, you must have a volume of content with a certain level of views. Google’s exact quote is “Have a high volume of video content, i.e., greater than 40% video content with over 2 million video impressions monthly.” This is a roadblock for a lot of smaller sites and app owners. AdSense for video, as it turns out, is largely aimed at wide-spectrum ad agencies monetizing a lot of different apps, or sites that offer a lot of video content with a lot of impressions. A small blog with a few videos each month, each of which gets 10,000 views or so, is not going to be sufficient volume to apply. Then you have the technical specifications. You must use a video player integrated with the Google IMA SDK, or be compliant with VAST 3.0 and VPAID 2 JS. If you don’t know what those are, talk to whoever is in charge of implementing your video content. You can read more about this entire system here. Additionally, your video player must be HTML5, Android, or iOS-based. No Flash-based web video players or other custom solutions are allowed here. This helps Google ensure that there’s a certain minimum level of technology compatibility and security involved in their ads. Out of all of this, the video content volume restriction is the one most likely to disqualify you. If not that, then it’s probably an issue with following AdSense policies. Most third party video players already integrate the technologies necessary to run AdSense for Video ads, or already have AdSense compatibility built in. Applying for AdSense for Video The actual process for applying for AdSense for Video is pretty easy. I’ll walk you through the steps here. First, go to AdSense and sign into your account. You should be taken to your core AdSense dashboard. Next, find the “Ads” section in the left menu, and click on Other Products. One of the options under Other Products is video. There will be a button labeled Apply for AdSense for Video. Click this. Google will present you with an interactive set of instructions to complete, asking you to fill out information about the property you plan to monetize with AFV. Essentially, what they’re going to do is give you a piece of code that you plug into your video implementation. This is a “control” code and does not start running ads on your content right away. Instead, it harvests information about your audience and their behaviors. Remember how Google has all those policies about fraudulent traffic and about the volume necessary to run AdSense for Video ads? Well, this is how they check to see if you’re eligible. You run this code on your site for a while, and they measure to see if you have a sufficient volume of non-fraudulent traffic to be worth adding to their program. Unlike base AdSense, this actually has rather strict requirements, so if you don’t make it in, you’re going to need to build up a larger, legitimate audience. Once Google has monitored your video for a while, they will send you a determination. They will either accept you into the program or reject your application. If you are rejected, they may or may not tell you why, but chances are it’s probably related to either volume of traffic, fraudulent traffic, or some technical issue with placement. Sometimes, Google will also decide that the content of your content – you know, what your videos are actually about – is not something they want in their program. This usually won’t happen, unless you’re trying to make the next LiveLeak or something. Still, if you’re hosting adult content, violent content, hateful content, or something else in violation with the general AdSense content terms, that’s a reason for rejection as well. If you’re approved for the program, Google will send you a new snippet of code. This is your unique publisher ID. You will have to follow the implementation instructions in the quick-start guide to use it. You use your ID to request ads, and it allows Google to monitor your performance for analytics purposes. Without it, they wouldn’t know who is who in their network, and thus wouldn’t know who to give money to when you earn a payment. You know how it goes. Once you’ve implemented the Google SDK into your video player, or provided your publisher ID to the third party system you’re using for video, you’re ready to start running ads and making money. AdSense for Video Frequently Asked Questions Now let’s cover some of the more frequently asked questions regarding AFV. Some of these are pulled from Google’s FAQ, but they also cover more, so once you’re done here I recommend checking if their guide has any answers I didn’t provide. 1. What ad formats are available? You have a fairly standard selection of ad formats for your AFV implementation. Video gives you instream non-skippable video ads, TrueView ads, and bumper ads. You can also use Fullslot ads – more about them in a moment – and overlay ads. 2. Fullslot? What’s that? A Fullslot ad is a skippable, linear image or text ad that appears in one of the usual before, after, or in-stream content positions. If you’ve ever used a mobile app and had an ad break that is timed, but only shows a display ad rather than a video, that’s what a fullslot ad is. You can see an example of one on this page, figure 4. 3. What sizes are supported for AFV ads? Different kinds of ads have different size requirements. Video ads are variable sizes, but must be in one of the standard aspect ratios, such as 4:3, 1:1, or 16:9. Text fullslots also have variable sizes, because text can be wrapped. Image fullslots come in 200×200, 250×250, 300×250, 336×280, 450×50, 468×60, 480×70, and 728×90 sizes. Overlay ads can be 728×90, 480×70, 468×60, 450×50, or 320×60. 4. My revenue peaked and is dropping, what’s happening? When you first implement AdSense for Video, users will have to get used to your ads. Initially, engagement rates might be high as users experience these ads for the first time, or they click accidentally, or otherwise have to figure out what’s going on. Eventually, they will get used to it, and your revenue will drop. These fluctuations will smooth out eventually. Just be aware that the performance of your initial few days or weeks is not indicative of your overall future performance. 5. My ad coverage is poor, what’s going on? If you’re coping with a poor level of ad coverage, there’s generally two main causes. The first is related to your own geographic location. Google may be a global company, but a huge portion of their networks for both advertisers and publishers tend to choose either strictly USA or broad “first world” countries as options. If you’re outside one of these areas, there may simply not be enough advertisers in the ad formats you’ve chosen. You can solve this in part by using other ad formats as backfill to show something rather than nothing at all. The other possible cause is that you’re using blocking to prevent certain kinds of advertisers from running ads on your content. This is a common and very good idea as a publisher; you don’t want competitors or companies you find antithetical to your attitude being shown to your audience. However, too-broad blocking may mean you don’t have enough advertisers to fill your ad slots. You have to find the right balance. 6. Am I allowed to let others embed my monetized videos? This is a valid practice that Google allows. If you’re a company providing video and you want to monetize it, that’s fine. If you want to allow other people to embed your videos on their sites, you can allow that, and ads will run properly on those videos as well. Keep in mind, however, that there are a few rules, restrictions, and guidelines for this. You are still responsible for the sites your video is embedded on. If you give embed code to a site that also hosts adult content, you may be penalized for it. It’s generally a good idea to make sure your embed code is a JavaScript call rather than static HTML, in case you need to edit it later without breaking older embeds. You are not allowed to create a revenue share channel for people embedding your videos. Splitting AdSense earnings is a prohibited practice. It’s also a good idea to monitor what your embeds are doing so you can cut off sites that are, for example, referring a lot of fraudulent traffic. For other questions relating to the AdSense for Video platform, refer to Google’s documentation or check on the Google product forums for direct assistance. The post Guide: How to Get Approved on AdSense for Video appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Review of Adsterra: How Much Can You Earn With Their Ads?

Adsterra is an advertising network that can be quite valuable for both publishers and advertisers. I’m going to look at it primarily from the publisher point of view today, but keep in mind that a lot of what I mention will be relevant to both sides of the coin. After all, advertisers only get value if the publisher network is good, and publishers only get value if the advertisers are effective. We’ve mentioned Adsterra before in posts like this list of ad networks with no minimum traffic requirements, and this post about ad networks ranked by cost per conversion. If you want to read a brief blurb about the network, those are two good sources. About Adsterra You can visit the Adsterra site here if you would like to explore for yourself, sign up for either side of the platform, or simply follow along as I discuss them. Adsterra was founded in 2013 in Scotland and has been expanding globally ever since. They serve tens of billions of impressions every month, with geo-targeted advertising. They have well over 8,000 publishers in their network spread throughout the globe, and they’ve been expanding each year. The network offers cost per action, cost per click, and cost per view advertising options, so publishers can get paid in pretty much any way they want. This is valuable, because it means you can decide which type of ads to use based on your traffic and your typical use patterns. If you have a highly engaged audience that frequently clicks links and ads, CPC or CPA ads can be much better. If your audience is larger but less engaged, you can still monetize them well with CPM ads. They offer a variety of different ad formats in varying sizes. Leaderboard display banners in 468×60, 728×90, and 320×50. Rectangle display ads in 300×250 and 800×440. Skyscraper vertical display banners in 160×300 or 160×600. Pop-under ads that open in new tabs or new windows without stealing focus. Direct link ads that show up in text and act like normal links. Pre-roll video ads to display before embedded videos on a publisher site. Push notification ads, available for both desktop and mobile platforms. Interstitial ads that pop over the screen, similar to timed pop-over lightbox ads. All ad formats are available for both desktop and mobile. Many people seem to like their pop-under ads, since they are minimally intrusive, and their network demands a certain level of quality, so those ads tend to be valuable rather than spam. I also recommend trying out the push notification ads, the interstitial ads, and the video ads. Video ads tend to have high engagement, push notification ads can work very well for certain segments of users, and interstitials are highly visible. Adsterra pop-under ads are highly recommended because they are the first and primary offering from the network. It’s what they specialize in, it’s what they’ve spent the most time optimizing, and it’s what their account managers are best at. Adsterra has two types of accounts you can run. You can engage in their managed platform, where their experienced account managers take over and control your advertising to gain maximal value out of your ads. This applies primarily to the advertiser end of the board; publishers don’t typically need hand-holding and won’t want to give out site editing control to someone who isn’t part of their organization. At the same time, Adsterra operates a self-service platform where advertisers can browse and buy advertising directly, managing it all themselves. This accesses the same network and has all of the same options as the managed platform, it simply doesn’t have the experienced managers on hand to handle tricky situations or apply their knowledge of the network directly. One thing I can’t do for you is tell you what your ad rates will be. Adsterra does not maintain a list of public rates; rather, their rates depend on the niche, quality, and location of your site, your type of traffic, and the advertisers interested in your positions. Now, what about those requirements? Here’s what Adsterra has: Publishers must have at least 5,000 impressions per month to be able to use pop-unders. Publishers must have at least 50,000 impressions per month to be able to use display banners. Publishers cannot be in an adult or illegal content niche. Of course, referring fake traffic, fraudulent traffic, or traffic from exchanges will get your account suspended and your domain and/or personal information blacklisted from using their network. I don’t know what their process is for appealing this ban, but I would assume it’s difficult. The Benefits of Adsterra Adsterra has a lot going for it. It’s a good, solid network that has worked to minimize a lot of the low quality advertisers and publishers that plague many other networks. As such, it’s generally a great option for people who meet their requirements. Adsterra’s focus on pop-under advertising is by far their biggest strength. My recommendation is to use them as a secondary advertising network. They may offer a bunch of different ad formats, but they’ve put the most work into their pop-under tech, and it’s what most advertisers are going to look for. It’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy; they have a reputation for one type of ad, thus the people who sign up are looking for that type of ad, and their other offerings fall by the wayside. So, my advice is to use Adsterra for their pop-unders, while using other specialized ad networks for your other ad formats. Using two networks who each have specialties works better than using one that does each format in a half-assed way. Not that I’m accusing Adsterra of half-assing anything; they’re quite good across the board. Really, it’s up to you to test which formats work best for your site. The second biggest benefit Adsterra has going for it is their account managers. Publishers get a personal manager, and advertisers can opt for the self-service platform or to use an account manager. When an account manager is involved, the quality level of ad implementation goes up, because of their knowledge of the network and everything involved. Adsterra boasts a 100% fill rate with competitive CPM on their ads. I don’t know that they can guarantee 100% fill or if they cherry-picked the data they used to back it up, but their fill rates are high regardless. Their FAQ boasts 100% fill rate for all ad formats, which is impressive if true. The network also puts a heavy emphasis on security. Since pop-unders are traditionally a bit of a spammy venture, Adsterra wants to separate themselves from that pox-riddled past. They offer a ton of security and filtering to make sure that malicious ads, bad ads, and malware ads are all blocked before they appear on your site. They have both an in-house fraud detection system and a third-party system in place for double the security. If, by some loophole or fluke, a bad ad makes it through, or if an ad is running on your site that you don’t want – such as for a competitor – you can contact your personal manager to have that ad or advertiser blocked. They’re reasonably responsive to such requests, so long as you’re not abusing the feature. Adsterra geo-targeting is excellent for advertisers, and a huge part of that is their publisher end. As a publisher, you can choose to display different ads to different segments of your traffic based on geo-targeted information. You don’t have to declare yourself to be primarily located in one country, and can accommodate an audience of diverse geographic origin. Adsterra also pays in a variety of forms. You can get payments from e-payments, WebMoney, wire transfers, Paxum, and PayPal. For those of you into cryptocurrencies, they have also started to offer payments in the form of Bitcoin as well. Payments are on a NET15 basis. Additionally, if you’re a marketer who likes to work in the affiliate marketing space, Adsterra has a referral program you can use to make a bit more money along the way. Note that I’m not using it for this post, so none of my links pointing at Adsterra are monetized. Consider that you could write your own review and use a referral link for your own benefit. I believe their referral program offers 5% cuts. Potential Downsides of Adsterra Now, I don’t have a huge number of grievances with Adsterra, so much of what I’ve listed here is either potential issues some people may encounter, problems other people have encountered, or simply less-than-ideal pieces of information I’ve found on their network. First and foremost, the minimum payout for publishers is somewhat high for the industry. You have to earn $100 to get a payout for any payment method other than wire transfers. Wire transfers require a minimum of $1,000 in payout. This means that small sites might take a while to reach a payout, and that wire transfers aren’t effective for most sites at all. Wires also have a $50 fee. Bitcoin payments also have a minimal commission of .1%. Other payout methods may have small commissions as well, such as $1 per transaction for Paxum. Payments are made automatically upon hitting the payment threshold, or every 15 days, whichever is later. This means unless you’re regularly able to hit the payment threshold every two weeks, you won’t be paid on a regular schedule. It can be a little inconsistent if you’re relying on that money for future investment. Essentially, the traffic requirements, payout threshold, and other factors combine to make Adsterra less than ideal for low volume publishers. They aren’t as restrictive as some of the high-end ad networks that require millions of hits per month, but they’re not freely open to absolutely everyone, which means they can be tricky to use when you’re still working on site growth. Publishers, unfortunately, have to go through their personal manager for most major changes to their ad implementation. You can, of course, add and remove their ad code as you see fit. You can also manage basic information from the publisher dashboard. However, if you want to do things like adjust the default frequency cap, blacklist certain advertisers, or make larger tweaks to your account, you have to go through your personal manager. Support with Adsterra is generally quite good and responsive, but they lack a web chat support channel. You can Skype with them, though, and that typically serves the same purpose, so this isn’t a huge drawback. Overall Thoughts I consider Adsterra to be a good middle to high end ad network. It’s not the best option for brand new publishers or small publishers due to their traffic requirements and payment thresholds. Conversely, their performance tends to drop off once you reach a certain level of site size where your audience is turned off my pop-unders. I recommend using Adsterra in conjunction with at least one other network that focuses on display ads. Use Adsterra for their pop-unders, and once you reach a point where those pop-unders are no longer effective, drop them. Eventually, your site will be able to sell advertising directly at premium rates and you can drop other ad networks entirely, but until then, Adsterra is a pretty good option. Have you used Adsterra? If so, what are your thoughts? I’m always open to reading other opinions. The post Review of Adsterra: How Much Can You Earn With Their Ads? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

20 of The Best Video Ad Networks for Advertisers

Advertisers looking to expand into new channels can do a lot worse than investing in video. The cost and buy-in for video production is a thousand times lower now than it was a decade ago, with commonplace HD cameras in every smartphone, quick and easy video editing apps on every platform, and the skill necessary to use them just a few tutorials away. Once you’ve decided to embark on a quest of video advertising, though, you need to figure out where to advertise. Sure, you can just dump your videos on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, but those aren’t video advertising networks. They work, but they aren’t specialized. What you should actually do is invest in a couple of specific ad networks to test different audiences. What I’ve done is compiled 20 different video ad networks that have floated to the top as the leaders in the industry. All of them will work, so it’s up to you to pick a few and invest. Run a small, simple budget with your ads and see how the audiences respond. Ideally, you’ll find great groups of people and get more than your money’s worth in return. What to Look For in an Advertising Network When you’re vetting a video ad network, you should look at a few different factors to determine if it’s worth your time. Display options. A good network does more than just display advertising; they have mobile placements, desktop placements, and other resources at their disposal. Since users often use different kinds of devices throughout the day, connecting with them on all of them is extremely important. Notable clients. Good networks work with brands both large and small, and many of them will promote their list of big-name clients as a way to attract other businesses who want to be in good company. Useful data. Every ad network has analytics available, but you want more than just the basic ad performance metrics. A good data set will give you audience information, targeting optimization, and a whole lot more. Broad targeting. Speaking of targeting options, you want your ad network to give you as many options as possible. Part of the reason Facebook ads are so successful is the wide range of possible targeting options. Any good video advertising network will have their own selection of data to pick through and use for this exact purpose. Of course, nothing beats an experiment. Set up a basic budget and run some ads to see how they do. Limit your investment until you’ve proven your success. 1. Social Networks Rather than take up a third of this list with various social networks, I’ll just put them here under one banner. Pretty much every social network today offers some video advertising, and many of them have a good selection of targeting options and a broad audience to work with. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all do video ads quite well. YouTube, of course, works directly with Google Ads. Pinterest and Snapchat are also good options to consider. 2. App Lovin This ad network is focused primarily on mobile games. The mobile game industry is huge, with everything from industry giants like King’s games, Hearthstone, and Fortnite to the massive swaths of Chinese shovelware. Mobile game ads tend to fall into two categories; videos and interactive ads. Videos showcasing games can be extremely compelling, and this ad network has a huge audience ready to go for your mobile app ads. 3. Ad Colony This is one of the largest mobile ad networks in the world, with an audience of over 1.4 billion users worldwide. They have a variety of different ad formats, including instant play video, end cards, display videos, and rich media. They’ve also worked with a huge array of different brands, from FX and UFC to Jack in the Box and Hilton. You can see galleries and examples of their ads before you even register. 4. Vungle Vungle is one of the fastest growing mobile video ad companies out there. Right now they’re in a great place to invest, and it’s quite possible that there will be some beneficial changes coming down the pipe in the next couple years. Vungle is, as of this writing, being purchased for somewhere north of $750 million by the private equity firm Blackstone. With this kind of backing, the sky is the limit for a network like Vungle. 5. Verizon Advertising Verizon, being one of the world’s largest telecom giants, has fingers in pretty much every pie they can reach. It should come as no surprise that you can run video advertising with them as well. Verizon’s advertising arm is Oath, a brand which you might recognize if you’ve paid attention to online advertising over the last few years. Oath is a company Verizon uses to head up their media wing, and includes AOL’s advertising network, Yahoo’s advertising platform, and all that entails. This includes advertising on Tumblr, the network formerly known as Brightroll, and several others. 6. Rhythm One This video advertising network isn’t entirely focused on mobile, but rather takes a cross-platform unified approach. Through them, you can run a singular ad campaign that stretches across devices and media types, including display advertising, mobile advertising, and even TV commercial spots. They have both self-service and managed campaigns, and their audience is top-notch. Definitely worth giving them a look. 7. Hulu Hulu is a household name by now, rivaling Netflix and Amazon’s video service. They have 65 million viewers watching ads with their videos, so their audience is pretty significant and engaged. With an average age of 32, you’re reaching primarily millennials with the variety of different ad formats and buying methods. Overall, you can do a lot worse than something like Hulu with your advertising money. 8. Tube Mogul All the big-name video advertising platforms have been bought up by major brands looking to acquire a foot in the door. Tube Mogul was one such network, and their platform was pretty great. Don’t let the past tense fool you; they’re still around, they’re just operating under the banner of the Adobe Advertising Cloud. Their ads operate across channels and with excellent, detailed analytics and targeting. Adobe’s cloud services are quite solid, so I’d recommend anyone giving this platform a look. 9. Tremor Video It almost feels like cheating adding this network to the list, because they acquired Rhythm One not too long ago, giving them an even broader reach than they already had. Still, the two remain mostly separate, so you can use Tremor at the same time if you want. They have a lot of tech backing up their network, with contextual advertising, social reach, television, and placements all over the world. They also have very detailed targeting options, including unique geo-behavioral options. 10. Undertone Undertone is a large premium ad network that works with clients ranging from Audi and Disney to smaller brands the world over. They have a wide range of ad units, including unique digital canvases. They’re constantly pushing the cutting edge of digital advertising, with unique technology and broad targeting options to play with. Their goal is synchronization; making sure all elements of your ad campaigns are on the same page. They’re definitely one of the largest networks on this list, but if you can meet their requirements, they’re an excellent choice. 11. SpotX SpotX is another great ad network, though they’re a managed services provider, which means they require you to apply and meet their standards before you can run ads on their network. They have custom targeting, strategic planning, and programmatic buying and management that can bring in incredible returns on investment. The application process is simple, but they’re pretty strict about what they accept, so don’t be too disappointed if they don’t let you in right away. 12. Chocolate Chocolate is another one of those “new” ad networks that is made up of the remnants of other networks they bought up. Vdopia, for example, is part of the new Chocolate network. They have a marketplace made up of both publishers and advertisers, where you can manually or programmatically purchase your advertising. They’re designed to scale with your business as you grow, and work with a range of different mobile video ad formats. 13. Conversant You may recognize the name Conversant from discussions of affiliate marketing, where CJ Affiliate is on of the top names. Conversant is the company behind CJ Affiliate ever since they bought Commission Junction. Currently, Conversant has been purchased by Publicis Groupe, so much like Vungle, this is a network to watch moving forward. Given that they already work with big name brands like Cabela’s, Urban Outfitters, and GoDaddy, there’s a ton of potential here. 14. Say Media Say specializes in “making ads people want to see”. Now, I’m always skeptical of claims like that, since the ads are only as good as the people creating them, but it can’t be denied that Say Media is a pretty great platform. They have full page ads, an alternative to banners, branded content, and a whole lot more. Since their focus is on content rather than on the call to action, you often find excellent stories and a great placement for video ads. 15. Exponential Exponential is a relatively old at network and hasn’t been acquired by another firm, which is always a good sign; they have the legs to stand on their own. Much like other modern networks, they specialize in cross-platform unified ads that sync up campaigns between mobile, desktop, and tablet advertising. Their audience is significant and their engagement rates are pretty good, so it’s a good network to dig into. 16. Amobee Amobee is another ad network made up of the devoured scraps of other ad networks, mashed together to make something new and, more importantly, larger. They cover TV, digital marketing, and social media all in one platform, making it great for pretty much every device and audience you could want. As for their constituent parts, Amobee is made up of Adconion, Kontera, and some other components. 17. AppNexus AppNexus is an advertising platform with a huge, open and transparent marketplace. You can advertise on a wide variety of platforms and devices, with different styles of content and media, including video. Their video inventory in particular is excellent, with unique video options, programmatic targeting, and a flexible path for purchasing your inventory. 18. Rubicon Project Rubicon Project is a global ad network with video and other advertising options. You can purchase ads in pretty much any region with thousands of publishers. They have a three-step process to verify your advertising, which ensures a minimum of low quality or spammy, disingenuous, or dangerous ads. Additionally, they have a bunch of different tools and automation options to help enhance and manage your advertising. 19. Aerserv In operation since 2013, Aerserv has partnered or joined with InMobi to form a huge video and app-based advertising network. They have robust ad inventory management, great mobile targeting and implementation, programmatic buying, and optimization through varying means with real time data. They also provide a dedicated support team to answer questions and help with advertising at any time. 20. Unruly Unruly is an interesting ad network in that they’re driven not just by engagement, but by sentiment. Their ad optimization is powered by emotional data in addition to other standard factors. Their network has a global audience of 1.2 billion people, with brand-safe premium sites at the forefront of the network. If you’re interested in something a little outside the box, Unruly is an incredible experiment. The post 20 of The Best Video Ad Networks for Advertisers appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Get a Custom Video Made for YouTube Ads

If you’re interested in YouTube ads, you need video. The little YouTube banner ads that pop up over videos are negligible; the real value comes from the pre-roll, mid-roll, and unskippable video ads. Videos are what people come to engage with, and videos are what they’re prepared to see. What happens if you want to advertise on YouTube but you don’t have videos on hand? You have to come up with some solution to the problem, and “not using YouTube ads” isn’t a valid solution. Thankfully, there are a few options you can pursue. Do It Yourself The first option is to make your own video for your YouTube ads. I know, I know, if you don’t know how to make nicely edited videos, you’re going to have a bit of a hard time with this. It’s completely understandable. In order to pull it off, you need to dedicate yourself to learning the craft, at least on a superficial level. First of all, I recommend that you do some reading. Check these out: YouTube’s Creator Academy. This page specifically is about ads on YouTube, teaching you about different ad formats, factors that impact advertising, and other basic knowledge you should know. As long as you can pass their quiz, you have a baseline knowledge to know what to do next. YouTube Ads For Beginners. This is an article about how to launch and optimize a YouTube video ads campaign, published by HubSpot, one of the top marketing agencies in the world. This gives you a pretty advanced level of knowledge about running campaigns. The Complete Guide to YouTube Ads for Marketers. This is a Hootsuite post that covers a lot of great information about YouTube ads. It has some overlap with the HubSpot article, but it’s not entirely the same, so it’s worth reading them both. Disruptive Advertising’s How to Write a Video Ad People Actually Want to Watch. The title here is pretty self-explanatory. Your script and storyboard are important, so knowing how to produce them is crucial. Additionally, you might want to look up a video editor and some tutorials for it. There are dozens of video editors out there, ranging from simple camera apps to full-on movie studio suites, so there’s something for everyone. A lot of it comes down to preference which you choose. The video ad DIY option is serviceable if you have some video equipment, only want to make very simple ads, or otherwise don’t want to invest much into your videos. It’s unfortunately not a great option if you’re looking to invest heavily into YouTube ads, because your videos will hold you back until you’re much more experienced. As such, I’d recommend moving on to the next option unless you have an absolutely shoestring budget. Hire a Cheap Freelancer The second option you have is to hire a cheap freelancer to make something for you. In this case, a “cheap” freelancer could be anywhere from a $5 Fiverr hire to someone asking for $30 an hour to make a simple project. Obviously, skilled freelancers can charge much more. Fiverr. Normally, I wouldn’t recommend Fiverr for much of anything. However, you can get a full short video ad for very cheap, and it’s very unlikely to be plagiarized from another source. Some sellers have a series of customizable templates they use, and others will simply put their video editing skills to use for something simple at a relatively short price. As of this writing, there are over 1,300 people selling “short video ads” as a service, as low as $35 for a basic project. Prices range all over the place; some are around $50, some $100, and there are even a few selling for as much as $3,000 for a custom animated project. Upwork. Upwork is the combination of several former freelancer hubs, and as such has one of the largest audiences of freelancers out there. You can get video production for anywhere from $30/hr to $100/hr or more. Now, that’s not per hour of video, that’s per hour of freelancer time. You’ll have to talk to the freelancer specifically to see if they’re willing to work on your pitch and how many hours it will take. This is another freelancer hub, except rather than browsing and hiring freelancers directly, you develop a pitch and post it to the project board. Freelancers can bid on the project, and you can pick the one that has the right mixture of skills and price for your needs. You might get a good deal, or you might struggle to find someone who works with your brand, and prices can vary wildly. Additionally, you can use freelancers to perform different aspects of video production. You don’t need one do-it-all freelancer. You can hire one to do the script writing, another to do the voice-over and sound effects, and another to do the actual video. This allows you to hire cheaper, faster products from more experienced freelancers and essentially have the individual parts “assembled” by another. Whether or not that’s better or a savings depends on all of the different people involved. Obviously, freelancers can scale as high as your budget allows. Enterprise-level professional freelancers basically run as agencies and charge incredible prices for incredible work. It’s up to you to find the right balance. Use a Template Video Service The third option you can pursue is using a relatively cheap template-based video creation service. There are a lot of these services, and the variety of templates and amount of customization they allow differs between them. If you’re not sure what I mean, consider something like Canva. Canva is a template-based web graphics editor that allows you to create anything from a flyer to a social media post to an infographic with ease. You can use their free assets, upload your own assets, or pay for stock assets, in any combination. You build what you want, racking up charges for assets you use along the way, and pay when you’ve finalized a design to export. These video editors work in much the same way, except instead of static images, they provide a combination of graphics, video clips, and audio in both sound effects and music that won’t earn you a copyright violation. Here are some options you can look at. Animoto. This is a simple video template editor. You choose a template – or start from scratch – and upload resources you want to use. You can bring your own video clips and images, or you can pay for stock assets. Customize everything and publish it for a well-formatted video perfect for YouTube ads. Pricing starts at $33 per month for white-label videos, or only $5 per month if you don’t mind their logo in your video. Biteable. Another simple template editor. You choose a template, upload assets or use stock assets, and render a finished video. Sound familiar? Pretty much all of these services are going to work the same way. You can use Biteable for free, but to get non-watermarked videos and access to their asset library, plans start at $20 per month. Filmora. Unlike the above two, this is an app you download to use. This means it has a higher learning curve, and it requires you to have more of your own assets. You can find templates online from other agencies, or build something of your own from scratch. AdLaunch. Another template-based maker, this platform works best with Chrome and lets you start creating a video ad immediately. You can use it on a per-video basis for $10 per video, or you can buy a membership that starts around $20 per month with a limit of 10 videos per month. There are all sorts of other video editing apps out there as well. You can almost certainly find something to interest you. Use a YouTube Partner Advertising Agency YouTube, of course, knows full well that in order to run advertising on their platform, you need to be able to upload videos, and not everyone has a video production skill in-house. That’s why they have kept a list of partner companies for a wide variety of different budgets and skill levels. You can see whatever their most up to date list is here. A couple of the entries on the list are partners listed above, and a few are not. For the most part, these partner agencies are video production companies that offer a variety of different services, from DIY apps to full-service video production. You can go to them with an idea and hire them to produce a video, and that’s that. The pricing depends on the length of video, the depth of work required for the idea, and whatever other assets may be required. Since you’re looking at a somewhat higher budget here if you hire a company to do the work for you, it’s tricky to necessarily recommend this option. If you have the budget for it, you’re pretty well guaranteed to get a great video out of it. On the other hand, many small businesses are operating on thin advertising budgets, so you might not be able to contract some of the higher end companies. Contract a Full Scale Video Production Company Speaking of high end companies, the sky really is the limit when it comes to video production. You don’t think a company like Coke or McDonalds is going to hire some $20 a month company to handle their video ads, are they? Of course not. At the high end, you have companies charging tens of thousands of dollars an hour, or millions of dollars per project. There are a lot of such agencies out there. This directory lists over 8,500 firms with some element of video production in their specialty list. Prices for services with these companies range from $1,000 to over $250,000. If you’re interested in hiring one of these companies, go right ahead. However, since the budgets are so high, the stakes are incredible. You want to do your best to vet these companies before you sign a contract. Here are some questions you might consider asking them before you hire them. Does the company sub-contract freelancers, or do they have their own team? Some mid-level companies are just fronts for a middleman arbitrage scheme that gives you mediocre results for an inflated price. Is the company familiar with the YouTube ad formats? Some of these companies don’t use YouTube for advertising and instead specialize in videos for television commercial ad spots. You want to hire a company that is familiar with the destination of your ads. Does the company have past clients you can talk to? You won’t always be able to contact high end clients, but you may want to see if you can talk directly to some clients instead of just watching a hand-selected demo reel of successful ads. Even a great demo reel will fail to disclose if a company is hellish to work with. With your ideas in mind, what kind of budget would you need to spend?  For high-end video production, a sub-15-second YouTube ad spot shouldn’t be at the high end of their service price range. You also want to make sure you aren’t going to have to compromise your vision to stay in a budget. Does the company have a history of working in your industry? Video is video, but different companies have different specialties. You want to make sure the company truly understands your business and your niche. Once you’ve properly vetted a company, only then should you consider signing a contract. Make sure to shop around! The post How to Get a Custom Video Made for YouTube Ads appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Which Ad Network is Most Effective for B2C Businesses?

Businesses need to advertise to survive. Without advertising, no one will ever know you exist, let alone what products you sell or who you’re trying to sell them to. Getting word out, getting exposure, and bringing in an audience is the single largest challenge for any business. It’s no surprise that there are dozens of ad networks out there aimed at facilitating this process. Everyone seems to want to get in on the game, from Google and Facebook to small channels aimed at niche audiences. The question is, which of them is best for you? In order to determine the best ad network, you need to look at a bunch of factors. An ad network is only as good as its publishers, right? With Facebook, Facebook itself is the publisher, and they have one of the largest audiences in the world. Google is similar, combining their own site and their entire display network. Other ad networks have smaller networks of publishers. The question then becomes: are those publishers high quality? If they have ten million websites in their network, but all of them are spam sites and PBN sites with zero traffic, your ads don’t do anything. If you’re not reaching actual people – and if you’re not reaching people on relevant content – you’re paying for nothing. You also have to consider whether the ad network caters to B2B or B2C companies. Most ad networks do both, but some lean heavily one way or the other. A B2B network is generally going to focus on audiences with a business emphasis; on sites that write for business owners or on sites that offer business services. A B2C network, by comparison, is targeted at “regular” people, regular consumers who are more likely to have an interest. Every network has average performance rates. These are determined by pressure from both the advertiser and the publisher. If publishers are low quality, advertisers don’t want to pay much or put much effort into ads. If advertising is low quality, publishers don’t want to run the ads. It’s hard to tell what kind of ads and performance a network has, though, so you may want to do some research. A Note on Effectiveness Before I get into any specific list of ad networks, remember that my advice is by necessity generic. I have a wide variety of different business owners and entrepreneurs reading my content, so I try to avoid writing specifically for one niche or another, outside of targeted blog posts. A post about ad networks like this one is going to be broad. What this means is that, when I recommend an ad network, I just mean it’s likely to be a good place to start. You need to do your own testing to make sure it’s actually a viable ad network for you to use. How can you perform that testing? Well, you’re going to need a budget. Register for any ad network that interests you, set up your account, and run some ads. Ideally, you will know the basic information necessary to appropriately target those ads. Specifically, you want some audience demographic and interest information. Facebook Insights helps a lot with this, assuming you have an engaged audience. Otherwise, you need to figure out your buyer personas. I recommend spending at least, say, $100 on these testing ads, and running them for a couple of weeks. The numbers may vary, however. You need to run them for however long it takes to get a statistically relevant amount of data. Then you can make a determination as to whether or not it’s worth investing more heavily into the ad network. Be sure to calculate your raw number of conversions as well as your conversion rate and the cost per conversion for your ads. You can optimize these later, but if the baseline isn’t good enough, the network might not be worth the effort. Alright, with all of that out of the way, let’s look at the top ad networks you can use as a B2C company. I’m going to give you a bunch of different networks to explore, in the hopes that you can find a few that work for you. Facebook Ads It should come as no surprise that the top two ad networks for pretty much anyone are going to be Facebook and Google. As such, I’m only going to cover them in brief. You’re familiar with Facebook ads, and if you’re not, well, you should be. Facebook ads are cheap, they’re effective, and they have best-in-class targeting options to use to optimize. There are so many different levers to pull that if you’re wasting money, it’s your own fault. Google Ads Again, Facebook and Google are the best in class. Google has an immense display network and almost as many targeting options as Facebook, though the operate in a different way. Even if Google isn’t right for you, you should at least be investing a minimal budget into them, to reserve your space, target your own brand name, and capture interest from one of the largest audiences in the world. You’re just leaving exposure and conversions on the table if you don’t. BuySellAds BSA is one of the largest third party ad networks out there, and they’re able to maintain that position because they’re largely hands-off with their network, outside of filtering the worst of the worst. It’s a self-service ad platform, where publishers can put up their site statistics and get bids from advertisers for their ad space. As an advertiser, you can pick and choose the sites you want your ads to show on, and you can be as discerning as you want. This is called media buying. Picking the right sites to target with BSA is a combination of art and timing. You need to find sites that have open space and reach them at the right time, and you need to develop a feeling for which sites are going to work and which are going to waste your time and money. I’m not going to lie here; it can take a while to develop this sense. For that reason, I would consider BSA to be either an intermediate or advanced-level advertising network. PopAds PopAds is a pop-under advertising network. I’m always a little wary of recommending these kinds of ads, because they tend to come across as spammy for many users, and it’s not necessarily something you want your brand to have as an association. On the other hand, they can be quite effective, especially if the ad network filters for actual spam and maintains a relatively high quality level for their network. PopAds is a CPM model network, meaning you pay for the display regardless of whether or not this results in a conversion. CPM ads have the potential to be extremely lucrative, but you need to have a compelling ad, which may take a lot of optimization. Rather than recommend more pop-under advertising networks, I’ll let this one speak for itself. If it’s a model you’re interested in pursuing, feel free to read this post with more recommendations for networks you can try. That post is aimed at the publisher side of things, but the advice holds true for both sides regardless. Oath Ads Oath is the company that owns Yahoo, AOL, Tumblr, and a whole host of other properties related to those brands today. Oath’s ad network, then, displays across a variety of different web properties and formats. In particular, they have a large mobile ad network. If you’re particularly targeting mobile users, or app users, you can get a lot of benefit out of using a network like Oath. Oath is another large network, but large networks are what you want. Smaller niche networks can be useful for small businesses, but generally the limited exposure means limited growth. With large networks, the sky is the limit. As long as you have money to spend, you can get more out of it. With smaller networks, there’s a maximum saturation point you can hit. Thankfully, Oath is not one where reaching saturation will ever be a concern for most businesses. Airpush Speaking of mobile advertising, have I mentioned that it’s really good? Mobile advertising is pretty much essential for modern business. Over half of all web traffic is on mobile today, and that number is only going to keep growing as mobile devices become more powerful and more prevalent. Meanwhile, companies like Google are pushing mobile-first narratives, apps are doing more and more of our business, and the benefits just keep growing. At the same time, mobile ad blocking is limited, and mobile offers new and novel formats for advertising, including push notification ads. There’s simply a ton of benefit to be had from mobile advertising, which makes mobile ad networks something to look into. Airpush is one such mobile network. They have ad formats ranging from push notifications and overlays to in-app banners and videos. They also have great targeting options, programmatic buying options, and a huge network of over 150,000 apps as publishers. What’s not to love? AdRecover AdRecover is an interesting network in that it bridges the gap between traditional display ads and intrusive advertising. Ad blocking apps are so prevalent today that it’s difficult to see returns with a lot of traditional display advertising. Anti-blocking technology exists, but is often intrusive enough that it drives users away from publishers entirely. Other cases of anti-blocking scripts are just blocked themselves. AdRecover finds a sweet spot in between these two extremes. When an ad is blocked, the space it leaves behind is, well, advertised. AdRecover works to recover this lost inventory and provides another channel for advertisers to try. It works best with minimally intrusive advertising, so it’s worth experimenting as a relatively new and novel format. A Note on Cryptocurrencies To round out the end of this post, I’d like to make a quick mention of cryptocurrencies and their role in advertising. While many people tout the benefits of crypto as a currency, it’s undeniable that it has a lot of issues. It’s a relatively new and untapped space, so there are a ton of companies popping up to make a quick buck and drop it when the going gets tough. Since crypto is riddled with scams and has very little regulation or recourse for those who lose money, it’s very much a “take your life into your own hands” niche. There exist a variety of ad networks that accept cryptocurrencies for payments or that pay out in crypto. Unfortunately, turnover is high, so anything I recommend to you now is likely to be gone a month from now. If you’re interested in crypto for the payment side of advertising, feel free to explore these options, but don’t bother if you’re not already invested. Finally, before I wrap things up and hand it all over to you, I’d like to draw your attention to this old post. It’s a list of over 100 different ad networks you might be interested in looking into. Some of them may be dead by now, since the post was published four years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s no longer relevant. There are plenty of options you can choose from, if you want to do a little digging. So, that’s the scoop! Now let’s hear from you. I know you all are playing around with different ad networks, so which ones have proven to be the best for you? Let me know in the comments. The post Which Ad Network is Most Effective for B2C Businesses? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

What to Do if Your Google Ad Was Not Approved

Google ads are just like any other ads system: in order to run ads, you need to have those ads approved. Google’s processes are largely automated, with some spot-checking where necessary, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to understand. Sometimes an ad you think is perfectly fine will be rejected, and you’re left to wonder how to get it through. Let’s dig in! What Google Says Google has a few help pages that might be of interest here. The first one is about the ad approval process. Here’s what it says: “After you create or edit an ad or extension, the review process begins automatically. All content in your ad is reviewed, including your headline, description, keywords, destination, and any images and video. During this process, the ad’s status will be “Under review.”If your ad passes the review, its status will change to “Approved,” and it will start to run. If the review indicates that your ad violates a policy, its status will change to “Disapproved,” which means it can’t show anywhere. You’ll be notified of the policy violation and told what you can do next.” So, if your ad is disapproved, step one is to check the email Google sends you and see what they have to say. Reviews typically take around 1 business day. What are the various causes for ad disapprovals? Reasons Why Google Ads are Not Approved There are as many reasons why Google would disapprove an ad as there are policies in the ads system. Since Google tells you in an email why your ad was disapproved, you don’t really need to do a ton of troubleshooting. Still, it’s worth reading about the common causes ahead of time so you know which mistakes to avoid. Here are the common reasons why Google might deny an ad. You’re trying to advertise a product that’s against their policies. This is primarily in terms of broad product categories. You cannot advertise counterfeit goods. You cannot advertise anything that is dangerous, which includes recreational drugs, psychoactives, drug equipment, explosives, fireworks, explosive instructions, tobacco, and other harmful products. This also includes weapons and ammunition for those weapons. You also cannot advertise products that are dishonest or enabling dishonesty. This is a pretty broad definition, so Google narrows it down. You can’t advertise products that are meant for hacking, services that artificially click on ads or inflate website traffic, document fakes, or academic cheating services. You’re trying to advertise inappropriate content. In this case, inappropriate content is primarily discrimination, but includes a variety of other disqualifications as well. Anything that focuses on bullying or hate of any group, or discrimination of any kind, is disallowed. The same goes for paraphernalia for a hate group. In images, you cannot include graphic crime scene images or accident images. No cruelty to animals, no murder, no self-harm, no blackmail, no sale of endangered species, and so on. And, to cap it all off, no profanity in your ad copy or keywords. You’re trying to run ads that misrepresent your destination. If your landing page doesn’t clearly present billing terms, that’s misrepresentation. If you’re hiding interest rates, fees, or penalties, if you’re failing to display tax numbers as necessary, if your contact information is false, if you aren’t showing a physical address when you need one, and on and on. Anything where you’re misleading about what you’re selling, or where you’re claiming to be an entity you aren’t, such as a phishing scam, will cause an ad to be disallowed. Indeed, such ads likely cause your ads account to be suspended entirely. You’re trying to advertise restricted content without meeting the restrictions. Google allows certain categories of content to be advertised to limited audiences or with restricted targeting. For example, you can advertise adult content through Google, but you have to restrict it to people of legal age and can only target certain kinds of publishers. Adult Content can be advertised if you meet the appropriate restrictions on search queries, user age, and any other local laws. Alcohol can be advertised if you meet local laws. For example, Champagne can only be labeled Champagne in certain situations. Alcohol in general can only be advertised to people above a certain age. Copyrighted content can only be advertised or included in advertising if you have the legal right to use the copyright. Copyright is a serious concern for Google at the moment, so they’ve been cracking down on this pretty hard. This goes for trademarks as well. Gambling content can be advertised if, again, you meet specific requirements for targeting. This includes everything from physical casinos to online poker to sports betting. Healthcare-related content can only be advertised if it meets the local laws and requirements. Political content is a hotbed and can only be advertised with appropriate local campaign and election laws, and that disclosure is included. Financial services must be legitimate, and not illegitimate services like payday loans. Cryptocurrencies are included under the banner of financial services. Again, your ads must meet local and regional laws. You included your phone number in your ad copy. Google wants to track the performance of their ads, and if you include a plaintext phone number, there’s no way to track that call.  You can include a number if you want to use a Google phone extension instead. Your ad text is too long. Believe it or not, Google will deny your ads if they’re too long. The ideal length of your ad copy is actually only around 25 characters for a headline and 35 for a URL. Your ads include all capital words. If you’re trying to advertise a “HUGE SALE”, you need to format it as a “Huge Sale”. The only exception to the all-caps rule is when you’re explicitly promoting a promo code users can use, like SALE20. You’re using the phrase “click here” in your copy. Yup, that simple call to action is banned. It will pretty much immediately get your ad denied, no matter how carefully you use it. You have a mismatch between your display URL domain and your destination domain. These two URLs must match, even if you have a gimmick with url redirection in place. You’re advertising a website that Google detects malware or malicious software on. Of course, Google sometimes has false positives, and sometimes will reject an ad because the website, say, hosts images on a different domain – like a CDN – that they don’t approve of. You can read more about this whole issue here. If you’re interested, you can do a deeper dive into all of the Google ad policies here. It’s a lot, so make sure you’re paying attention to any category that applies to your ads. Note that making sense of Google’s categories is not always easy. When they send you an email saying your ad was disapproved, it might be any number of different causes under one banner. What do I mean? Here’s an example. Sometimes, Google will deny your ad “for legal reasons.” If that happens, it could be any of a number of different causes, as outlined in this post. The legal reasons could be copyright issues, because someone filed a DMCA or Google detected copyright you don’t own. The legal reasons could be “anti” content, that is, any content advocating explicitly against another organization, group, person, or other category. The legal reasons could be Google detecting that the adult content you’re advertising may include underage-themed sexual content. Obviously, this is extremely illegal. The legal reasons could be the result of a third party court order. Of course, if you’re getting this, you probably know about the ongoing court case involving your company. So, when Google sends you a message saying your ads were disallowed, the first thing you need to do is figure out what cause is associated with the broad category of denial reasons. How to Cope with Ad Denial The process for dealing with denied ads is a relatively simple flowchart, so let’s go through it. First, determine whether it was a single ad or your whole account that was suspended. If it was a single ad, it might tank your quality score for a bit, but you can deal with it, resubmit it, and fix it fairly easily. If it’s your entire account, you likely have much bigger problems on your hands. You may be able to appeal an account suspension, but in general you’re going to have to find an alternative means of advertising. If you’ve determined that it’s just one ad, or just a small handful of ads, you can move on to the next step.  That step is to check your email, or whatever email is attached to the account making those ads, to see what Google’s emails have to say. As mentioned above, Google might not be entirely clear with the specifics of why your ads were denied. They don’t have time to write customized emails for everyone who has a rejected ad, after all. They have a handful of template emails with reasons, along with links to policies and instructions on how to fix it. Take a look at Google’s reasoning and see if you can identify why your ads were rejected. In some cases, it’s easy; they might object to your use of a capitalized word, which is easy enough to change. In other cases, like the “legal reasons” above, there might be a wide variety of different causes, and you need to figure out which one applies. Or, it might be like the “malicious content” link above, and needs more investigation on your part. I’ve seen people rejected for a bad CDN, I’ve seen people rejected for poor security, and I’ve seen people discover that their site was hacked when their ads are denied. Do your due diligence and make sure your site isn’t actually serving malicious content. Once you have determined the reason your ads were rejected, you can now decide between one of two options. If the ad is a fringe split test for other ads that weren’t rejected, or if it’s a low-performing ad, or if it otherwise isn’t worth taking the time and energy to troubleshoot, you can simply delete the ad. A rejected ad that you delete doesn’t hurt your account in any way, unless it was running for a while and then was taken down due to outside reasons like a DMCA takedown. On the other hand, if the ad was potentially a high earner, if it’s an important part of a split test, or if it’s otherwise important that you get it up and running as soon as possible, you can edit it and try again. Editing a disallowed ad is simple; just go into your ads system, find the disallowed ad, and edit it the same way you would edit any other ad. I generally recommend troubleshooting and fixing your ads whenever possible. Sure, those ads might not perform well, but the point is the experience. By troubleshooting your ads and fixing them, you learn hands-on what is and isn’t able to get past the Google filters. That experience alone can be very useful in the future. What are your experiences with ads being rejected? Did I miss the most common reason you’ve seen them denied? Talk about it below, I’m quite interested. The post What to Do if Your Google Ad Was Not Approved appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Bid on Your Competitors Brand Names for PPC

Imagine for a moment that you’re the advertising director for Burger King, and your goal today is to figure out how to take a chunk out of McDonalds’ market share in PPC advertising. You know the ad networks they’re using, you know the keywords they’re targeting, and you know what kind of budget you have to use. What would you do if I told you that you could target McDonalds itself, as a keyword, and get a share of the people who are searching for McDonalds on Google, Facebook, or another PPC network? What if you could simply poach their potential traffic? Would you do it? If you’re an older marketer, you might remember a time when this wasn’t a legal practice. Well, specifically, it wasn’t illegal, but it was against Google’s policies. They prohibited anyone but the brand to bid on brand names. These days, though, it’s perfectly acceptable, so long as you stay within certain guidelines. You can bid on your competition’s brand name, but you can’t mention their brand name in your ad copy. That can be a trademark violation. For those curious, Google lifted this restriction all the way back in 2008. This is the situation you’re in when you consider bidding on the brand names and primary branded keywords of your competitors in a PPC network. Is it a good strategy? Does it work? Let’s look deeper. The Pros of Bidding on Competitor Brand Names First, let’s talk about the pros of the situation. You know the brand name of your competitors, and you can bid on it at an ad auction, so why not do it? Here are some of the benefits you can get out of it. Brand name keywords are less competitive than generic keywords. If you’re bidding on “burgers”, you have to compete with every restaurant that sells burgers, every business that sells ground beef, and every grilling supply company looking to target people searching for cookout information, not to mention everyone looking for burger recipes. That’s a lot of competition! On the other hand, if you bid on “McDonalds”, you’re going to be competing with, well, McDonalds. You may also find yourself competing with a few other brands that are also bidding against McDonalds, but chances are the competition is quite slim. Lower competition generally means lower costs for your ads. You can gain brand awareness. Okay, so this is where the McDonalds and Burger King example falls apart; very few people in the world are unfamiliar with either brand. On a smaller scale, though, you can gain brand awareness by reaching the audience your competitors have built. Anyone searching for your competitors will see your name pop up in the ads, and may choose to investigate you further. This is doubly true if those customers have issues or problems with your competitors; they may be looking for a reason to jump ship, and you can present them the opportunity. You can promote what makes you unique. Let’s say Bissel is running ads targeting the keyword “Bissel Vacuums”. You’re Dyson, and you know you make a vacuum with a different mode of operation and a stronger suction. You can run advertising targeting Bissel Vacuums and use your ad copy to point out explicitly that your vacuums are stronger than theirs. Anyone searching for vacuums who hasn’t heard of your brand before will now see both your brand name and a reason why your vacuums are better than theirs. You open a new avenue for conversions. When you have a comparable or dominant market position, you can simply steal conversions from your competitors just by making yourself available. If you have benefits for switching from one service to another, like a lower introductory price, you can promote that to facilitate the switch. The Cons of Bidding on Competitor Brand Names Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you’re bidding on competitor brand names. In fact, there are some pretty potentially serious downsides when you try. You’re likely going to have a low click-through rate. Most of the time, when someone is searching for a specific brand name, it’s because they want that brand. They may not be aware of you, but they may have a good reason to be loyal to the brand they’re searching for. Conversely, they may be aware of you and have zero interest in you. In PPC terminology, you can consider a competitor’s brand name to be a middle to low relevance keyword, simply because you are not that brand. You’re going to start a war. This is a high-risk strategy for two reasons. For one thing, you’re spending extra money to bid on competitor keywords, which will drive up competition for those keywords and end up charging you and your competition more for the ads. More importantly, though, you’re telling your competitors that all bets are off. Absolutely nothing stops them from targeting your keywords. Is this a fight you can win? Think about it objectively. If public perception favors your competition, when they start bidding on your keywords, they poach more of your traffic than you poach of theirs. Plus, when they start bidding on your keywords, your own ad costs rise, and then you have to spend more just to maintain position. Are you getting more out of bidding on theirs than you lose from them bidding on yours? Common Mistakes When Bidding on Competitor Names If you’re considering the pros and cons of bidding on your competitor’s brand name, you need to be aware of the common mistakes marketers make. The first and most important mistake is thinking it’s universally a good strategy. In fact, while bidding on your competitor’s name is potentially valuable, it can also have no returns. If you have a limited budget, it’s better to spend that budget elsewhere. Even if the cost of ads on your competitor’s name are low, you’re going to end up paying a lot per action simply because of the extremely low click rates and conversion rates. It’s often much better to spend your money elsewhere, at least until you’ve established enough of a consistent budget that you can expand. The second mistake you might make is bidding on the wrong competitors. I’ve used the example of McDonalds and Burger King, but they aren’t the only players in the world of fast food burgers. They have to contend with the likes of everyone from Sonic to White Castle to Dairy Queen. Which ones do you try to bid on, and which ones do you ignore? Which ones are more likely to fight back? It can be tempting for a small-time burger joint to start running ads competing with McDonalds or Burger King, hoping to poach away the fast food audience with their gourmet offering. The thing is, while the food item is superficially the same, they aren’t actually competing. People who want a burger are going to go get a good burger. People who want fast food are going to go get a cheap burger from a fast food joint. You’re not likely going to sway people away from a $1 burger with your $9 offering. Finally, you have to understand mobile intent when bidding on advertising. If you only take away one point from this entire article, this should be it. Mobile has been an increasingly large and important aspect of search, and consequently, of PPC advertising. It makes sense that you would want to bid aggressively to capture mobile traffic. And yet, when bidding on competitor brand names, you’re going to find dramatically lower returns on mobile. Why is that? Mobile intent is actually quite a bit different than desktop intent. When I’m searching for a brand name on a desktop, I’m likely doing research. I might be looking up reviews, or reading pricing pages, or comparing services. I’m fairly open to looking at competitors, because I’m not necessarily immediately planning to purchase. When I’m searching on mobile, chances are I’m not at home, I’m out on a shopping trip. If I’m looking for burgers while I’m out, am I looking to compare different burger joints? Maybe, but more likely I’m just looking for the closest store for the brand I’m looking for. If I search for Burger King while I’m on a road trip, I want Burger King, not someone else. What this means is that mobile traffic is much less likely to click and convert when you’re bidding on competition names than desktop traffic. That means it’s even more expensive and even less effective. Frankly, bidding on your competitors’ names on mobile is a waste of money in almost every situation. How to Cope if it Happens to You Let’s flip the scenario on its head for a moment. What if you’re the one whose competitors are bidding on your brand name? What can you do? Alternatively, what might your competitors do if you’re bidding on their brand name? First up, coming to terms with this new reality is step one. Your competitors may be testing your keywords, and if they perform well enough, they may never stop. It’s simply a new form of competition you have to deal with. That’s not to say you should ignore it, though. Keep an eye on the ads they’re running, and specifically look for ad copy that includes your trademarks. Using your brand name in targeting is fine, but using it in ad copy is a violation. If they’re using brand names, product names, or anything that you have as a trademark, you can report it to Google. Trademark violations are actually vectors for legal repercussions, so Google will generally take action to remove the offending ads. You might also consider checking Bing and other major advertising networks. Google isn’t the only company that runs PPC, and you never know how much traffic you’re missing out on by not using some of these other networks. At the very least, if you find your competitors targeting you in a PPC network you don’t you, you should consider signing up and testing if it’s worth starting to use. There’s no sense in letting your competition run unopposed, right? If you’ve been running ads against them and they’re picking up the fight, or if you’re being targeted but you haven’t countered by targeting them yet, you might consider sending a (polite) email to whoever manages the company. Why not ask them to stop targeting your brand name, in the interest of fair play? A few things might happen. They might ignore you and keep on targeting your keywords, in which case, you’ve lost nothing. They might agree and withdraw, especially if you agree to stop or avoid targeting their brand as well. They might find out the advertising agency they hired is targeting you without their permission, and solve the issue internally. The worst that can happen, really, is that they say no. If they’re particularly spiteful they might double down, assuming you’re asking because it hurts your brand. Otherwise, well, you’re just back to square one. If you feel like you’re well positioned to continue the war by attacking their keywords as well, you can go for it. As long as you’re willing to spend the money for what few conversions you can get, there’s nothing wrong with it. And hey, if you’re particularly effective, maybe they’ll be the ones sending you the surrender email. If all else fails, just double down on your own advertising, primarily in the ads targeting your own brand name. If your competitors are trying to out-do you in your own space, focus on optimizing those ads to make sure you’re giving them as little room as possible. The less effective their ads are, the less incentive they have to keep running them. The post How to Bid on Your Competitors Brand Names for PPC appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Ultimate Guide to Using an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder

What is an Amazon Affiliate Site? Simply put, it’s a website you build and fill with content as a means to float your affiliate link, to get referrals, sales, and commission payments. What is an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder? Well, a site builder is a tool that helps you build a website, usually from stock templates or assets rather than having to code it from the ground up. Is there such a thing as an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder? Not really.  Any site builder can build a website capable of being an Amazon Affiliate site. There’s nothing really special about an affiliate site compared to other websites, except maybe the lack of a storefront and landing pages. That said, let’s look at the sort of site builders you might come across. Amazon Affiliate Site Builders There are a ton of different site builders out there. Some of them are simple and easy to use, and others are more complicated. Some of them are open to anyone, while others require that you have web hosting with a specific host to use their builder. In fact, pretty much every web host has their own site builder built in, since it’s an easy feature to add and it helps them get more customers. Squarespace. This is one of the more common and widely advertised site builders around. Since you don’t need a storefront, you can use the cheaper versions, which come with a handful of default features you may find useful, like analytics and a mobile website format. Weebly. This is a free site builder that is simple and easy to use, but lacks many of the top-end features that a high end site would want to use. It’s simple, and perhaps that works to its detriment. Format. This site builder is more suited to photography and art, and is aimed at being a portfolio rather than a blog or a storefront. Shopify. This site builder is aimed at e-commerce and includes a ton of features for running a storefront that you don’t need as an affiliate site. Wix. This is a free website builder with a ton of flexibility. It’s often one of the best entry-level website builders around, and while it lacks some advanced features, it’s very flexible and works as a good base for a new site owner. Not to be confused with the self-hosted WordPress system, the .com version is a hosted blog platform with a site builder attached. It’s not as robust as the .org version, but it works if you want to set something up for free. There are dozens more out there too. There are so many site builders available primarily because setting up a website based on some basic templates is not difficult to do. It can be a daunting task if you’re not otherwise experienced with web and code shenanigans, but it’s really a low bar to clear in terms of education. You can teach yourself to set up something like a site in a few days, at most. You’ll note that none of these are Amazon Affiliate site builders. That’s because there’s functionally no difference between an Amazon Affiliate site and a normal blog-based website. All you need is something that hosts content, possible with the support of a few advanced features like URL redirects and charts, but even those aren’t strictly necessary. Setting up an Amazon Affiliate site is simply a matter of knowing what you want to do with it. Things like choosing a domain name and producing content will rely on you knowing your niche ahead of time. Therefore, choosing your niche is the first major decision you have to make when it comes to setting up a site. Choosing an Affiliate Niche If you’re not already eyeing a deal and know exactly what you want to promote, you probably have to choose your niche. The right niche is the lifeblood of a site. The days of broad-spectrum “deals” sites are long over. Google likes focus in the content it indexes, and a site that tries to cover too many bases will cover none of them well. One potential mistake you might make in choosing a niche is choosing something you’re passionate about. I say this is a “potential” mistake, because it’s not always a mistake. Passion is good for marketing. Your readers will be able to sense when you know and care about what you’re talking about. It’s not always easy to portray passion for some topics, of course; the author of isn’t going to be a passionate purveyor of faucets, because very few people in this world are passionate about faucets. However, someone passionate with the idea of outdoor life, with expertise in hiking, camping, mountaineering, and other outdoor activities, will be able to convey their passion to their audience. There’s a certain level of authenticity and personality that comes through even in promotional writing that you can’t find elsewhere. That said, passion can be a mistake in two cases. The first is when you really love what you’re trying to promote, and you find your impression of the industry systematically decaying. They say that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, but that’s not quite right. If you do what you love, the corporate oppression of free thinking and inspiration will drive the passion out of you and will leave you with no love of what you formerly enjoyed. Turning a hobby into a job is often the end of your enjoyment of that hobby. The other reason following your passion might be a mistake is if you’re passionate about something that just isn’t a very deep niche. You might be very passionate about a hobby of yours, but if only 1,200 other people in the world share that hobby, your audience for your affiliate links is going to be very small. Affiliate programs only work when you send in volume. To pick a solid niche, you need to find something that has two things. First, it needs to have a level of traffic sufficient to promote your items. Second, it needs to have an array of high value products to sell. With Amazon Affiliates, you earn something like a 4% commission on sales at base, with scaling fees based on sales volume. If you’re selling a $4 can of spraypaint, you’re not going to be making a lot of money on that sale, so you have to sell hundreds of them to make any real profit. By contrast, if you’re selling a $2,000 television or other high value item, you might only need to sell one or two items a month to make a reasonable profit. At the extreme end, there are affiliate programs for things like yachts and private jets. You might only get one sale a year, but that sale bankrolls you for the year. Amazon doesn’t really sell those kinds of products though, so that’s for another post. Neil Patel published a pretty good guide on finding an affiliate niche a while back, which you can read here. If you’re not entirely sold on the niche you’ve been eyeing, or if you have no idea where to start, this is a great article to help you solidify your plan. What an Amazon Affiliate Site Needs So you have a niche, and now you want to set up a site. What does your site need to be a success? At the top level, you need a good domain name. I know a lot of the free website builders don’t let you use a custom domain name without a fee, but it’s a fee that’s well worth paying. People don’t trust the free or sites anymore. Moreover, they have a harder time ranking in Google search, and thus a harder time attracting an audience. Come up with a domain name that is both relevant to your niche and easily brandable. You can try using an exact match domain if you like, but I would caution you against it. EMDs are often expensive, they’re difficult to get ranking, and they’re subject to more scrutiny. Next, your site needs a strong architecture. Most website builders are fine with this. You can’t really screw up a site made with a website builder, they don’t let you. Just make something that has normal user navigation and doesn’t try to do anything screwy like scroll horizontally. Many site builders even have templates you can choose that do most of the work for you. Make sure any site builder you’re using makes a responsive site. You want your site to be mobile compatible. This is a search ranking factor, and it’s a usability factor. With over half of the modern day web traffic coming from mobile devices, if you can’t present your content and links to mobile users, you’re leaving half or more of your potential money on the table. If you want to go a little more advanced, you can purchase web hosting from a reputable seller – something like Bluehost, HostGator, or InMotion – and set up a site. That process is a little more involved, but you have a lot more room for customization than you do with a site builder. Once you build your site, you need a few structural pages that will hold important information. Primarily, you want an About page that contains information about who you are and why you’re into the niche you’re into. Feel free to lie, no one is going to fact check you here. I mean, unless you start breaking laws, anyways. You also want a disclosure page that mentions that your links can be affiliate links. Keep in mind that your links need to be disclosed in your blog posts as well, as per FTC guidelines. Creating Content for Your Affiliate Site Once everything is up and running, you need to start populating your site with content. I recommend creating somewhere around a dozen articles, preferably in-depth articles, which you can publish all at once. Create more on an ongoing basis, at least once per week, to keep your site fresh and alive. So what kind of content should you be creating – or paying to have written for you? The in-depth review. These are the bread and butter of affiliate marketers. You pick a specific product and you write a lengthy, detailed review of that product. Ideally you want personal experience with the product so you can point out specifics unique to that item, like a design flaw you encountered or a personal use you didn’t think of. You want something that provides information for the user to use when making the decision to buy. Avoid being all glowing praise; it comes across as insincere. The comparison post. These are staples for your site, but generally work best once you have enough other pieces of content up that you can use them as a sort of table of contents as well. Basically, you take 2-4 products that are similar to one another and write a post comparing each of them. How do they stack up in terms of price, features, durability, and so on? If you can link these to the deeper reviews of each individual product, all the better. The tutorial post. This is a post you write when you know the typical use case and pain point for a product. You know the problem, you know how the product solves it, so write a blog post giving a tutorial on how to use that product to solve that problem. Alternatively, create a tutorial on how to install one of the products you’re promoting. The clickbait post. No, we’re not going all-in on clickbait headlines. Those have mostly died out, and good riddance to them. No, I just mean the low-bar gimmick posts that serve as a shell for links to some of your products. For example, “the top 50 patio designs” could be a nice list to show 50 designs of patios where you identify and link to patio furniture you can sell through them. As you populate your site with content, you will see more and more traffic coming in and more and more sales going through. That’s pretty much it! Everything else is optimization. Not to say that optimization is trivial, of course, but the hard part is setting everything up. The post Ultimate Guide to Using an Amazon Affiliate Site Builder appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Are PPC Ads More Expensive During Certain Months?

It’s no secret that there are a lot of different factors that tweak the cost of your PPC ads. Everything from your target audience to your ad copy will impact how much you have to spend, and the only hard limitation is the amount of money you have available. Here’s a question: how much does time impact the cost of PPC advertising? Time definitely has an impact, in several different ways. Let’s look at those different ways. Time of Day Impacts Costs First up, we can consider the smallest amount of time that, in a discrete block, can show variations in ad pricing. For most ad systems, this is hour by hour. With PPC ads, many systems now offer something called Dayparting. Dayparting is the concept of parting out the day, or dividing it up and scheduling your ads hour by hour. You know your customers have jobs and lives, so you know there are times of day when they are likely to be browsing the web, and other times where they are less likely to be browsing. For example, if your target audience is a very traditional family, you might have qualities like these: Your audience is browsing your site around 8am on their commute to work. Your audience is not browsing your site between 9am and 11am while they work. Your audience is browsing your site around noon during their lunch break. Your audience is not browsing your site between 1pm and 5pm while they work. Your audience is browsing your site around 5pm on their commute home. Your audience is not browsing your site around 6pm while they eat dinner with their family. Your audience is browsing your site around 7pm during their post-dinner break. Now, this assumes your audience is the kind of people who have a family and a regular 9-5 job, which is not always the case. It’s just an example for educational purposes. With Dayparting, you can schedule your ads to show to your audience during the hours when they’re most likely to be browsing, and turn them off during hours when they’re not likely to be browsing. To reach users during the low volume times, you typically have to pay more. Dayparting saves you some money, then, because you’re only reaching your audience when they’re most available and cheapest to reach. Time of day isn’t the only chunk of time that can impact the cost of your ads, however. Day of the Week Impacts Costs In addition to the time of day, you also have to consider what day of the week you’re running your ads. Different businesses tend to have different audience performance cues, so you need to know when your audience is most active. Let’s say you’re a company selling recreational equipment for the water. Everything from kayaks to scuba gear to life jackets and swim suits. You may see some common trends for what days of the week people are searching for your content. Monday, people aren’t all that likely to be looking for your items, because they’re primarily just looking at the long work week ahead. Tuesday, likewise, people aren’t too likely to be looking for most of your items. Some users who like to swim for exercise may be looking for relevant items, but most of your inventory is not of interest. Wednesday, as the hump day in the middle of the week, tends to attract a bit above average attention because people are starting to fantasize about their upcoming weekends and what they might need. Thursday may be lower than Wednesday, but higher than Monday and Tuesday, because the weekend is almost here and some users are starting to actively plan weekend trips and getaways. Friday is when interest starts to spike. Some people are off early and are looking to buy equipment for their weekend. Some people are just looking to prepare for Saturday. Saturday is high volume, high traffic, high interest. The people who researched on Friday are making purchases, and the people who are embarking on last-minute excursions need to make their purchases as well. Sunday is lower volume, but still relatively high. People buy to prepare for the next weekend, some people still have day events to attend, but some are done for the weekend. As with Dayparting, the higher volume times often mean lower costs because there’s more of an audience to reach. On the other hand, if you have a lot of competition in your niche, the higher volume times can also mean increased costs. Your competition is bidding for that same traffic, and auctions are competitive. You need to spend more to reach people in a preferential position over your competition. Month of the Year Impacts Costs If the time of day and the day of the week both impact costs, why wouldn’t the month? Indeed, some months tend to be more expensive than others. The thing is, it’s not always the same months for every business. For example, a business that sells school supplies is going to be busiest in July and August, when schools are picking up, back to school sales are in full swing, summer break is ending, and parents need to pick up school supplies for their children. This is when office stores and the school departments for various online retailers do a lot of their business. Costs for those businesses rise during those months because there’s a lot of competition and a lot of demand for those items. Again, since advertising is almost always run by auction, the more competition you have, the higher you need to bid to get the volume you want to see. Conversely, a store that sells primarily gifts and Christmas ornaments year-round – and yes, they exist – will see a huge uptick in volume and demand in December. Christmas is generally a huge and expensive time for pretty much everyone, of course. Everyone is trying to sell their products as gifts, or sell incidental gift-related items. Competition is fierce in pretty much every niche as everyone struggles to reach their audiences as much as possible. A similar phenomenon occurs after Thanksgiving in late November, around Black Friday. Not every business is affected that heavily by seasonality, though. An industrial lab equipment production company might not see much impact from month to month at all. It’s not like industrial research has seasonal swings, really. Though, these same companies may not be doing quite so much PPC advertising either. Geographic Time Costs Geotargeting impacts the costs of your ads too. When you’re a relatively smaller local business and you’re targeting the geographic region near your business, you can reach more qualified people for lower costs. That’s not the only way that geographic targeting impacts costs, though. Time is also a factor. For example, if you’re targeting Boston-local audiences, the time surrounding the Boston Marathon is going to be a higher volume time, which means higher costs as more businesses – including a lot of transient businesses that don’t normally target a regional Boston audience – are targeting that region. Large events with national or global significance, even when they aren’t holidays, can have an impact on advertising costs. In our current capitalist society, everything is commercialized, and every event becomes an excuse to hold a specialized sale with specialized advertising. If you’re not doing it, someone is, and that someone may be your competitors. Non-Time Related Factors I may have made it sound like it’s fairly clear when your costs are rising and when they aren’t, but the reality is, it’s a muddy world out there. Costs rise and fall on a daily or hourly basis, and there may not be a rhyme or reason to it. The presence of competition is a big factor in how much your ads will cost, and it will rise and fall almost unpredictably. If your costs suddenly go up, who knows, maybe a new competitor hit the scene, or maybe an old competitor decided to invest more as a lead-up to a sale or product launch. This might not have anything to do with what month it is. Advertising costs can be dramatically impacted by political changes as well, and those don’t follow any pattern. Any time Trump decides to initiate or threaten a trade war with China, Mexico, Europe, or whoever else he happens to be mad at that week, stocks rise and fall, businesses suffer, and advertising costs have to adjust to compensate. You may not feel like your business is directly affected by tariffs from Mexican imports, but your customers may be, and if they suddenly have less potential disposable income, you’re going to have a harder time getting those clicks. Large weather systems and natural disasters can also impact advertising costs. A huge hurricane in the Gulf will make advertising to Gulf regions very difficult, particularly in the immediate aftermath when cell service and power are sporadic. Other disasters, like Tsunamis and earthquakes in foreign lands, can impact imports and have a similar effect to political jockeying. And, of course, there’s always the major factors that have nothing to do with time at all. The industry your business is in may have seasonal rises and falls, but that’s to be expected. Different industries have different costs. Additionally, your choice of keyword targeting for your ads will have a dramatic impact. Finding the right high-volume long tail keywords with minimal competition can give you very low costs for your ads. Conversely, trying to target high volume primary keywords means you’ll be spending a ton of money just to get a tiny slice of the pie. Why Costs Aren’t Important So here’s the thing: the specific cost of your PPC ads isn’t really that important. Sure, the cost of your ads does matter from a purely monetary standpoint, but it’s just a component of what makes a good ad. Look at these two situations and tell me which one is better: You have a budget of $100. You have a keyword that costs $1 per click. You have a 10% conversion rate. You earn 10 conversions out of 100 clicks, meaning your cost per conversion is $10. You have a budget of $100. You have a keyword that costs $2.50 per click. You have a 50% conversion rate. You earn 20 conversions out of 40 clicks, meaning your cost per conversion is $5. The more expensive ads in this scenario earn you fewer clicks within your budget, but more of those people convert, meaning your clicks are of higher quality. Going for the cheaper ads doesn’t get you more profits at all. I’ve talked about this before when discussing penny clicks, and I’m not alone in recommending looking at the more expensive ads. Neil Patel is here to remind you that the cost per click is irrelevant; what you really need to care about is cost per acquisition. So, to sum everything up: yes, the month of the year will have an impact on the cost of your ads. That’s simple human nature; there’s seasonal swings in culture, and those swings will be commercialized. The more businesses there are targeting your keywords and your audience, the more you’re going to have to pay to be part of the pack that’s doing the advertising. However, the raw cost of the ads isn’t what should concern you, so much as the cost to profit ratio. The post Are PPC Ads More Expensive During Certain Months? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

5 Case Studies of Successful Retargeting Ad Campaigns

If you’ve looked into PPC advertising any time over the past few years, you’ve probably seen mention of retargeting or remarketing, especially with Facebook and Google ads. You’ll see fantastic headlines like “250% increase in ROI!” and “More than double your conversion rate!” and other pie-in-the-sky promises. But are those promises really just dreams, or is this kind of benefit achievable from retargeting? All About Retargeting and Remarketing Retargeting and remarketing are very similar terms, and I have to admit I’m guilty of using them basically interchangeably. I’m not alone, either; even Google uses them interchangeably in their discussions in their ads system. If you’re going to be a pedant or if you care about historic, specific definitions, there’s a difference between retargeting and remarketing. Retargeting is focused on display advertising; reaching people through PPC advertising when those people have already taken some form of engagement with your brand. Meanwhile, remarketing is focused on email; reaching people via email when those people have engaged with your brand in some way. Remarketing involves messages like Amazon constantly sending you emails about products you clicked on but didn’t buy, or any web store that sends you a message about “items are still in your cart.” Both types of “Re:”-ing operate in a similar way using similar concepts. The “Re”, after all, means to repeat something. You are building a list of people who have engaged with your brand in some way, typically by clicking existing broad-target advertising, visiting your website through social channels, or otherwise visiting one of your properties. You are then using that list to market directly to those users, a repetition of marketing. Since those users have already visited your site, they have expressed interest in your brand. They are, by definition, already a more engaged audience than people who ignore your ads and don’t visit your site. This makes them a better target for future advertising. Now, of course, some of those people saw your site and decided there’s some factor that prevents them from buying. Maybe they don’t like your brand, maybe the price is too high, maybe you don’t offer what they hoped you did. That’s why a retargeting audience will never have a 100% conversion rate. Some people – we marketers in particular – also tend to click ads just to study landing pages with no intention of ever making a purchase. Others, though, will be more than willing to make a purchase. Many people who click ads are doing so because they’re interested, but are not in a position to buy. Maybe they need approval from a manager to make a purchase. Maybe they need to talk with their family. Maybe they need to wait until the next payday, or just check their budget. Maybe they just don’t want to make a purchase via their mobile device and would rather wait until they’re on a home computer. You never know. Through retargeting, you can remind those people of the purchase they were planning to make, and can catch them at a time they’re more likely to buy. Retargeting is often thought of in the context of Facebook ads and Google ads, but I’ve included case studies that showcase retargeting in other contexts as well. Instead of just targeting people through Facebook and Google search results, some companies have found retargeting success with ads in apps and ads through other advertising networks. There are plenty of other case studies out there as well; I’ve tried to choose a diverse selection rather than a broadly representative selection. If you want to read a bunch more case studies beyond the ones I’ve highlighted below, you have a lot of options. Here are a few other directories you can read: ConversionXL’s List of 7 Retargeting Case Studies KlientBoost’s Guide to 35 Different Retargeting Strategies with Case Studies for Each Bannerflow’s List of 11 Retargeting Ideas Our List of 15 Examples of Effective Retargeting The concept is sound, the core idea is solid. The question is, does it really work in practice? Everyone who writes about marketing says it does, but of course most of us are selling something. So instead of just assuring you it works, I’ve compiled a handful of case studies you can use to judge for yourself. Case Study #1: Watchfinder This case study focuses on the brand Watchfinder, which sells luxury pre-owned watches. Given their narrow audience and specific situation for purchasing, they discovered that fewer than 1% of their visitors made a purchase on their first visit. This is a great situation for retargeting to reach and remind those customers to step in and make a purchase on that watch they’ve been eyeballing. This case study focuses on Google Ads, using Google Analytics to gather data about their visitors to produce retargeting lists. They used this data to create 20 distinct lists of customers, based on their location, language, depth in the sales funnel, ISP, and other factors. Each of these 20 lists made up a distinct group of users in a specific situation. Watchfinder (and their agency Periscopix) was able to create specific targeted ads focusing on these lists based on their context. In addition to driving return visits to their website, they emphasizes stopping into the company’s then-new boutique outlet in London, for those geographically local. So what were the results? After six months of running these remarketing campaigns, with optimizations along the way, Watchfinder calculated a few benefits. The average order size on the site was 13% higher. CPAs were 34% lower. Return on investment was 1,300%. This case study is from 2014, though, so you have to wonder; are these kinds of results still possible? Case Study #2: Myfix Cycles Myfix Cycles is a bicycle retailer located in Toronto. They had been using Google AdWords to little effect, barely breaking even with the ads they were running. Rather than focus on purely Google retargeting, they decided to combine their efforts – via their agency, Webrunner Media Group – with Facebook advertising. This case study is from 2017. Facebook allows any company to install a tracking code called the Facebook Pixel on their website. This tracks visits and user data about the people who visit, even if those people have never seen the Facebook account for the business. Google ads brought people to their website, where the Facebook Pixel would track them. They could then run Facebook ads targeting users with specific criteria. Myfix chose three groups of people to target with these retargeting advertisements. The first group was people who had recently visited the website at all, within the previous 14 days. The second group was a subset of that group, people who had added a product to their cart within the past 14 days. The third group was a slightly different audience, people who had made any purchase from Myfix within the previous 180 days. The results? Myfix earned somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 for every $1 spent on these ads. That’s one hell of an increase over barely breaking even with ad spend, eh? Of course, the numbers are relatively small; only $3,000 in revenue from a shop that sells products averaging $300 in price, so it’s a relatively small case study. Still, you can’t argue with those kinds of numbers even at a small budget level. Case Study #3: Jesus Film Project This is another 2017 case study, this one from the Overthink Group on behalf of the Jesus Film Project. JFP is a Christian discipleship group looking to expand their email mailing list. While the mention of email might make you think this is remarketing rather than retargeting, this is actually using Facebook Ads in order to perform the retargeting to grow email. This is a bit of an interesting case study, because it admits that while retargeting is a powerful strategy, it’s not guaranteed to be the best strategy among many. For these Facebook ads, Overthink created five different custom audiences on Facebook. Among these, only one was retargeted. They were: A lookalike audience based on the existing mailing list. An audience of people who engaged with the page. An interest-based audience. The audience of “people who already like the page.” A retargeting audience. Among these, all of them received leads, as these were lead generation ads rather than ads with a purchase as the goal. The interesting part is that, while the retargeting list did successfully pull in new leads, those were the most expensive leads from the five audiences. Six cents per lead more than the second most expensive, and 22 cents per lead more than the cheapest. Overall, they pulled in 12,000 more email subscribers as of the time of the case study, though their ads were still ongoing then. Case Study #4: Manscaped “Manscaping” is a term used to promote male grooming, and Manscaped is a company producing specially designed and gendered grooming products with a whole list of buzzwords to promote them, like Active pH control. I’m not here to judge the product, though, just the results. This case study was performed by the agency Perfect Audience in 2018. In this case, rather than experimenting with retargeting to see what happens, Manscaped was looking to maintain very specific Return on Ad Spend goals. Their retargeting focused on both website and mobile in-app advertising. In the past, they had troubles reaching their ROAS goals with mobile apps, so they turned to Perfect Audience. Perfect Audience employed a customized lookback window, specific targeting for different mobile operating systems, and negative factors for audience exclusions. Additionally, they used dayparting to focus on the most effective parts of the day. Overall, this allowed them to achieve their ROAS goal of 3.5x return on investment. As they succeeded, they were able to allocate more and more money to their ads budget and maintain their goals, achieving 137% growth month over month. Case Study #5: Ouibus This case study published on Medium by the agency Adikteev focuses on the company Ouibus. Ouibus is one of the largest bus service providers in Europe, with a large audience centering around France but covering all of Europe. They also maintain a travel app, which faces many challenges in the global travel industry as detailed in the article. In this case, the company started out with a variety of static ads with a range of different creatives, mostly showcasing deals and event targeting. They included other ads with videos and rich media to make them more robust and allow them to target specific segments of their audience. In a particularly interesting experiment, they played with scratch card advertising, which is inherently engaging to the people who are most interested in the service already. From there, they used retargeting audiences and flash sales to further maximize the engagement of the people they reached. The case study primarily covers the benefits of their ad campaign in general, but it does highlight the specific benefits of retargeting over their purchases as a whole. Retargeting added on average about 10% more purchases month to month. Your Experiences I’m not the only one that can find case studies online, but what I’d like to do is hear from you. Many of you have used retargeting in your ad campaigns, and I’m curious how it turned out for you. Leave me your data in the comments if you’re willing to share, and maybe showcase your retargeting successes with the rest of the readers. Maybe your data can help convince someone to take the plunge with retargeting! The post 5 Case Studies of Successful Retargeting Ad Campaigns appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

What Are Guaranteed Signups and How Do They Work?

Web marketing is a constant struggle to get your product, offer, or advertisement in front of as many people as possible, with an emphasis on making that audience the right group of people who are willing to convert. If you’re selling a product but no one buys, you’re not making money. If you’re running advertisements and no one clicks, you’re not making money. If you’re promoting an affiliate offer and no one signs up, you’re not making money. With affiliate marketing, with CPA advertising, and with various forms of sales jobs, you need to get people to sign up for a service – or even just a mailing list – to get paid. You need those sign-ups, and you need them in volume. What if I told you that you could skip all of the tedious work of audience building, content marketing, analysis, and optimization? What if I told you that you could just pay a small fee – smaller than your commissions, most likely – and get guaranteed sign-ups? What would you say if I told you that? If you would say “That sounds like a scam to me” I’d tell you that you’re absolutely correct. Guaranteed sign-ups exist, but they aren’t real, if you catch my meaning. And if you don’t catch my meaning, well, I’m going to explain it in great detail. What Are Guaranteed Sign-Ups? The idea of a guaranteed sign-up is simple. You pay me a fee and I get 100 people to click your affiliate link and sign up for the offer. Let’s say you get paid $1 per sign-up; that’s $100. I charge you $50 for the service. What’s not to love? It’s basically free money for you. You give me a bit of money so I can profit from my own efforts, and you get money from the guaranteed sign-ups I offer you. This kind of guaranteed sign-up service is available all over the place these days. Sites like Fiverr and its spinoffs, the various SEO metric sellers, and other marketing middlemen all offer something. It’s an old service that died out for a while, but is making a comeback with a new generation of internet marketers trying to make their way in a new world. So if this service exists, why doesn’t everyone use is? Is there some secret at play? It certainly sounds too good to be true. What Are Guaranteed Sign-Ups, Really? While the idea of a guaranteed sign-up is simple, the actual implementation is not. After all, if it were really that easy to just pay a fee to double your money, everyone would be doing it. Since everyone is decidedly not doing it, it must not be a real technique. And, indeed, there are a lot of different ways for these sellers to screw you over. First off, many of them just take your money and run. They don’t need to worry about being banned from a platform, they’re filtering everything through six layers of services to protect themselves, fake names, and other baffles. You pay the seller and the seller sends you some kind of confirmation, and then they disappear. You never get your sign-ups, you never manage to contact them again, and the best you can do is get their now-abandoned profile banned from Fiverr or whatever. You can get your money back in these instances through a bank-issued charge-back, as long as you didn’t do something stupid like take it to Western Union, Bitcoin, or some other un-refundable and un-regulated payment method. This isn’t the most likely option, though. Many of these scammers don’t want to burn their bridges and disappear, because setting up a new “life” and a new profile every time they burn a customer is a time-consuming process. The second possible option is they’re using bot accounts. This may be slightly more sophisticated depending on whether or not your commission is a CPA or an affiliate service. In the event of a CPA sign-up, often times all you need to get paid is the sign-up. The user doesn’t need to pay, because all you’re trying to promote is the lead. It’s up to the company you’re giving the leads to, to do the vetting and sales. This is the easiest to scam, because it takes a while for the business at the other end to track down all these unqualified leads and trace them back to you. Of course, once they do trace them back to you, the business is going to have some uncomfortable questions for you. Questions like “why do your sign-ups have a 0% conversion rate?” and “why should we keep you as part of our program?” Generally, the answer is they shouldn’t. They’re going to drop you due to low quality referrals. Usually they track and blacklist your domain and/or IP for your accounts, emails, payment information, or whatever else they need to make sure you don’t try to toss on a beaglepuss and try to get back in. What if you don’t get paid until the user makes a purchase? Well, one of two things will happen here. Either you’ll get nothing and the seller will make excuses, or you’ll get purchases. Don’t get me wrong, though; when you get those purchases, they aren’t real purchases. It’s still fake accounts making those purchases, and it’s very likely that the financial information they’re using to do it is stolen. This is one common means of committing credit card fraud and identity theft. These fake accounts are powered by phishing scams or other stolen information. You’re paying a scammer to use stolen information to “buy” a service that they quickly cancel, or even that they don’t. They don’t care. The company, of course, won’t take kindly to the charge-back and the questions about why stolen information is being used to buy their services. They will, again, trace it back to you and decide to remove you from their program because all you’re doing is referring fraud to them. Even if you have some legitimate referrals in there, the fraud is too much to deal with. Then there’s the third possible option, which relies on your target service having tiers of service packages. What they do is send over free sign-ups, but never pay for a service. The problem here is that you, of course, don’t make money unless the user actually converts to a paid account. Starting up a free trial – and then cancelling it – or just signing up for a free package isn’t going to get you any commissions. This one isn’t even fraud; you’re getting what you’re paying for. That’s the trick. They put fine print somewhere on their website or in their package details, and they hope you don’t read the part where they say “we only offer free sign-ups; you’re not paying for us to pay for anything.” After all, they want to make money, and if they’re spending money on services that cost more than you’re paying them, they aren’t making money. The Other Side of the Business Model So what’s going on in the guaranteed sign-ups side of the coin? We’ve talked about the fraud, but that’s not always the business model. In fact, you’ve probably seen the business model in other locations, but didn’t connect the two. Have you ever seen a site that offers to pay you if you claim free offers? If you sign up for this shady service, they’ll give you $3. If you sign up for this Netflix free trial, you’ll get $5. If you sign up for this software, you get $1.50. In modern days, these businesses have evolved. You’ll find many apps that do the same thing now, and instead of offering money right out, they offer Google Play cash, or they even just offer in-game currency for various popular mobile games. What do you think is going on here? These companies can’t get paid for you signing up for a free service, so what good does it do them? Well, the answer is, you’re becoming part of their network of people signing up for services when the affiliate pays for it. The scammer maintains their app and their network of connections, as well as a site where they sell their sign-ups. Some hapless business comes along and pays for 100 sign-ups; they throw that offer into their network until they record 100 people have signed up – for the free accounts, of course – and cut it off when the number is up. There’s no targeting here, there’s no filtering, there’s no guarantee of quality. In fact, since the amounts they pay out are so low, it’s almost a guaranteed filter that keeps out any worthwhile or real potential customers. It’s almost exactly the opposite of the audience you really want for your affiliate links or product ads. On top of this, these apps and websites tend to have very high minimum payouts, and they often make it nearly impossible to actually successfully complete and verify an offer. I’ve played around with them in the past, and usually you end up being filtered through half a dozen or more redirects, all with tons of ads on each page, before you even get to the offer you’re supposed to sign up to. Sign up for the wrong offer, click the wrong ad, or fail to fill out the forms properly, and your sign-up won’t count. On top of that, they’ll disqualify you for blocking scripts, blocking ads, and in some cases even if the redirect takes too long. So the audience has an incredibly high turnover rate once people experience the fact that every offer they do only puts them one thousandth of the way towards getting a $10 gift certificate to Applebee’s or a handful of Google currency or something. Of course, these businesses are not above a little lying to get ahead.  If you’ve ever looked into buying guaranteed sign-ups, you’ve likely found a bunch of positive reviews for the service you’re looking into. And why wouldn’t you? If it’s a legitimate service, it would have great reviews! And if it’s a scammer, they would find it trivial to register a few dozen accounts, or even register their own side blogs, solely to promote their own business. A few good reviews on seemingly disconnected sites will dramatically increase the viability of their scam. Every single aspect of these businesses is shady and optimized to make the business itself as much money as possible from every angle. Some of them even charge to sign up to their money-making networks! They get paid from every angle, very rarely pay out anything, and utilize fine print to make sure everything they’re doing is disclosed and “legal” even if it’s a little immoral. No one on either end is likely to attempt to sue them, and even if they did, they might find the business is actually based in India or Pakistan or some other country where actually pursuing legal repercussions is nigh-impossible for a foreigner. Unfortunately for every marketer looking for a get rich quick plan, and willing to spend some money for it, it’s always going to be too good to be true. You just have to stick to what works; content marketing. Otherwise, you get to play the fool in the phrase “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The post What Are Guaranteed Signups and How Do They Work? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Buy Advertising to Promote Your eBay Listings

There are two ways you can buy advertising to promote eBay listings. One is to buy a promoted listing on eBay itself. The other is to buy third party advertising to point to your listing, in some form or another. However, there’s a little more to it than that. Paying for Promoted eBay Listings The first and the simplest option is to just pay for a promoted spot in the eBay search results. Whenever you search for a product, you’ll see a handful of promoted listings, all of which someone is paying eBay to put near the top of the list. You have to scroll down to see the organic listings. “Paying for an auction listing? What if my item doesn’t sell? Then I’m out money when I’m just trying to make money!” This is a valid complaint, and eBay understands the situation. That’s why their promoted listings only charge you when your item sells. Unlike traditional advertising, when you’re bidding on promoted listings, you’re choosing a percentage – called the Ad Rate – of your item’s sale price that you’re willing to spend. This means that the higher the price your item sells for, the more you pay for the ads that got it to sell. You aren’t setting a bid cap or a specific amount of money to pay to promote your item. In order to help you decide how much you should be willing to spend, eBay maintains a list of Trending Ad Rates. The trending Ad Rate is the average percentage people are bidding to promote their listings, within various categories. For example, as of the time of this writing, Antiques are trending at 10.49%, books are trending at 2.97%, and computer items are trending at 6.2%. These are figures within the USA; there are different figures for different geographic regions. You can see all of the current trending ad rates on this page. It’s generally a good idea to adjust your Ad Rate on a weekly basis to better fit the trends. If the trend is going up, you should adjust upwards to compete. If the trends are going down, you can adjust downwards to avoid over-spending. Of course, you need to calculate how much you can afford to take off the top. For people selling random household products they’re trying to get rid of, any profit is better than keeping the item, so it doesn’t matter. For a business trying to sell through eBay, you need to calculate your profit margins and determine how much you can cut into them. Are promoted listings a good choice for your products? That depends on what kinds of products you’re trying to sell. You can use promoted listings for just about any category, but there are some restrictions. Auctions, unfortunately, do not qualify. You also have to be a subscriber to eBay Stores, or you need to be a seller with either Top Rated or Above Standard feedback status. If your status drops too much, you’ll lose access to the system. Generally, eBay recommends using promoted listings for new product lines and new listing ideas, seasonal items you want to sell as quickly as possible, old product lines you’re trying to clear out, and products that are already selling well but which you can sell more of more quickly. Conversely, items that have a poor sales history aren’t going to benefit as much from promoted listings, and rare items, collectibles, and unique items aren’t great targets due to the smaller audience. It’s also worth noting that eBay’s promotion auction is not simply “whoever bids the most gets the top spot.” In fact, they consider elements like the relevance and the quality of the listing to the search, how well the item is selling in general when the ad rate is set, and some other factors. So in general, you should use promoted listings when: You have an item that has a high conversion rate but generally low traffic. You have a new item you want to establish a baseline level of traffic and sales history for. You have a best seller that you want to sell more of, even if you sacrifice some profit to do it. You have a seasonal product you want to get sold as quickly as possible. You have overstock of a product you want to liquidate. You have stock left over of an item you no longer want to sell, and you want to liquidate. Promoted listings are just normal eBay listings, so you don’t need to do anything special to create ads. All you need to do is choose which products to promote and what ad rate you want to set. There’s an art to choosing the right ad rate, which involves knowing your profit margins and knowing what percentages are good to sell. You’ll gain a feel for it after you promote for a while. What’s truly important, however, is the quality of the listing itself. Thankfully, I know exactly where you can visit to learn about optimizing eBay product listings. Paying to Advertising Listings Directly Unfortunately, paying for ads through platforms like Google Ads, pointing those ads directly at eBay listings or eBay stores, is notoriously ineffective. You can find thousands of people online talking about paying to promote their listings and getting nothing out of it. Unlike promoted listings, paying for PPC ads to point to eBay can waste a lot of money. You don’t have a “pay only when it sells” clause to protect you, and you can often end up paying far more than the value of the product in clicks that don’t convert. Google doesn’t really like people linking directly to eBay stores, so they don’t promote those ads quite as much, and it really doesn’t work out for anyone involved. On the other hand, eBay and Google had a deal with each other. Products listed on eBay will be funneled into Google’s marketplace, and Google can plug them into Google Shopping. You can use a Google Merchant Center account to promote your listings through that system instead of using Google Ads. Now, there’s nothing wrong with paying Google Ads to promote eBay listings. It’s not against the terms of service for either site. It’s just not the most effective solution. The trouble is, you’re paying to send people to eBay, and everyone knows eBay as a site where it’s easy to find the cheapest version of a product. People can click through your ads to your product, and then go to buy that same product from another seller instead of you. You also don’t get any benefit for referral traffic to products other than your own, like you might with something like an Amazon Affiliate link. There’s nothing really unique about advertising an eBay listing through Google Ads compared to advertising any other site. You still need to pay attention to the usual factors, like ad relevance, keyword selection, budgets, and click-through rates. Don’t be afraid that I just linked to, either; their guide is actually really good. An Alternative Strategy The best alternate strategy for dedicated eBay sellers is to create your own website. Creating a website gives you a larger degree of trust than a typical no-name eBay seller, and that trust allows you to leverage additional marketing channels. You can run a Facebook business Page for your website, even though all of your products are just eBay store listings. You can go as light or as hard into a marketing website as you want. I’ve seen people be perfectly successful on eBay with a microsite that is little more than an About page, a few testimonials, and links to product pages. I’ve also seen brands build up their entire business around their sites, using eBay as a convenient storefront up until they’ve stabilized enough to transition to their own store on a Shopify plan. These people have blogs and everything. The benefit of using your own site is that you can set up landing pages for individual products, and then you can direct advertising from Google Ads and other ad networks to those landing pages. Of course, managing your own site is a lot of work and a lot of additional expense. You need to pay for hosting and a domain, you need to set up a back-end framework – even if it’s just WordPress – and you need to maintain it with enough content that it doesn’t stagnate. Plus, paying for ads is an additional expense, as I’ve already mentioned. On the other hand, having a more total level of control over your web presence and your branding puts you ahead of most of the competition on eBay. One potential roadblock you may run into is that eBay’s links policy prohibits you from linking to your website within your eBay listings. Unless a user already knows your brand and that you have a website, they might not find you. You get the on-site benefits of the user seeing other products in your storefront or in your listings, but you can’t send them off-site for other benefits. You can get around this by including items with your URL on them in the products you ship. Thank you notes included in your packages, URLs on labels and on invoices, and URLs in your email communications are all good ideas. Utilizing Social Media With social media, you get both organic and paid means of promotion at your fingertips. For Facebook, you can set up a business Page for your business, and link directly to your eBay store and your individual eBay listings. You can also link to pages and posts on your website. You won’t necessarily have the best exposure doing this, since Facebook tends to demote overly promotional content, but if you get into content marketing, Facebook becomes an excellent channel. Facebook ads can point directly at eBay listings, so long as they’re relevant and aren’t dynamic URLs. You shouldn’t have any issues with multi-stock products, but you’ll have a hard time advertising single products for sale; if someone buys it, your ad will still be running, so you may pay for clicks to an invalid listing. This can hurt both your bottom line and your ad relevance score. Twitter can be used in a variety of different ways. You can post links to your listings and treat it basically as an RSS feed for when you add new products or items, or when items are back in stock. You can link to pages and content on your own site. You can pay for Twitter advertising, either to your website or to your eBay store. You can even just focus your time on becoming a Twitter joke account and whenever a tweet goes viral, do the “here’s my soundcloud” thing but for eBay listings. Pinterest can be a good site for eBay listings because of it’s highly visual nature. Instagram is similar, but since Instagram doesn’t allow links in their image captions, I wouldn’t recommend it. In general, social media becomes the top of your sales funnel, pointing people deeper in to your website, landing pages, or storefront. From there, you can point people specifically to products they’re interested in, and use paid advertising to reach them in other locations. A broad top leads to a greater stream at the bottom. The post How to Buy Advertising to Promote Your eBay Listings appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Can Increasing Your Google Ad Budget Lower Conversions?

When you’re running Google ads, you want to make the most of your budget. Every dollar needs to perform, either giving you information you can use to make other dollars perform better, or bringing you in a defined, positive return on your investment. This leads to the common adjustment of increasing bids when your budget increases, which in turn may have an astonishing effect on your ads. I’ve seen it a few times, and it’s not an unheard-of situation: a higher budget leads to lower conversions. Why does this happen, and what can you do to prevent it? Google’s Recommendations Part of the root cause of this issue is Google’s recommendations for ad success. Google is biased, of course. They want people to spend as much money as possible, so they can make as much money as possible. Google is smart, though. They know that if they just cranked up prices and left you with middling results, you would stop using their service. They strive for quality in their ad program so that no one walks away dissatisfied. One customer paying $10 a month for a year is worth more than another customer paying $50 once and leaving forever. Basically, Google has something called Recommendations. Recommendations are pieces of advice that good generates for you, based on the performance and situation of your account, and their wealth of historical data from other users in their ads system. Trust me, they’ve seen it all a thousand times. They can pick out your specific situation, identify potential improvements, and recommend actions for you to take that will lead to those improvements. Recommendations are not provided by an account manager or in any personalized manner. Rather, they are generated algorithmically based on your account performance and site-wide Google trends. Recommendations are taken from a list, which you can read here. Here are some examples, if you don’t want to click through: Add responsive search ads: Show more relevant ads to potential customers by creating responsive search ads. Create new versions of your ads: Try new versions of your ads and let the best ones show. Bid more efficiently with Enhanced CPC: Automatically optimize your bids at auction time for searches more likely to lead to conversions. Change your device bid adjustments: Optimize your spend on specific devices and increase your return on investment. Set audience bid adjustments: Optimize your audience bid adjustments based on how well they are converting. Add negative keywords: Reduce wasted spend by not showing on searches that are irrelevant to your business. Remove conflicting negative keywords: People didn’t see your ads because of conflicting negative keywords. Remove them so your ads can show. Add keywords to each ad group: Get your ads running by adding keywords to each ad group. Fix your audience source with no activity: Make sure you aren’t missing users on remarketing lists used by your campaigns. Fix the audience source so that users are added to your lists correctly. All of the above are taken straight from Google. They’re just a small selection of the dozens of recommendations Google provides, contextually, to accounts in their system. Some of these amount to “take advantage of advanced features in the ads system.” Some of them are “avoid conflicts that break ad visibility.” Still others work out to “spend more money in our system.” Since so many of their recommendations end up increasing your conversions, giving you more search visibility, or dropping your cost per conversion, it makes sense to follow them. Google isn’t going to steer you wrong if they can help it, because a disgruntled user is a user tying up their support system or a user that leaves their program entirely. How Increasing Budget Decreases Conversions Now, I’m not going to tell you that increasing your budget will always decrease conversions. In fact, it’s a pretty narrow set of circumstances that cause the problem. I can think of two reasons why it might happen, so I’ll detail them below. The first cause is when you simply run out of available traffic. This is by far the more common of the two causes, and it relates entirely to your chosen keywords. If your ads have a high quality score, you have a reasonable bid, and you have a budget sufficient to get plenty of conversions, increasing your budget will not increase your conversions. Imagine you have a keyword with a monthly search volume of 800. That’s roughly 800 queries per month for that keyword. Maybe 5% of them will click through and convert, so you have about 40 conversions available. At a price of $2 per conversion, that’s a monthly budget of $80. If you bump your budget up to $160, you’re doubling it. Your cost per conversion, if anything, goes up a bit as you have more money to spare and can be more flexible. However, there are still only 40 conversions available in that month, because there are only 800 people searching for your keyword. It doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars to throw into your ads; if your keywords simply have no more available search volume, you cannot get more conversions out of them. The second cause is when the math doesn’t work out in your favor, dividing up bids within your budget with a higher cost per click. Let’s say you have a budget of $10, and your ads are hitting an audience that has a cost per click ranging from $2 to $3. You set your bid cap to $2, ensuring that every conversion you get costs $2 or less. With a budget of $10, you get five conversions. Now you have a higher budget so you increase your bid to $3. Your $3 captures a new selection of your audience, those who are harder to reach and thus cost more. However, you can only fit three conversions in your $10. This is a gross simplification, of course. You wouldn’t keep your budget cap at $10 with a higher available budget. Still, the idea is that your conversions aren’t increasing to keep up with the increase in budget. You double your budget and you expect double the conversions, but because your cost per conversion goes up – since you’re willing and able to pay more – your number of conversions goes down. Basically, this is just a negative confluence of factors that can occur when you increase bids and budgets based on Google’s recommendations without actually playing with the numbers in the right way. You generally need to figure out what point you should cap your bids, despite what Google may want you to do. Other Things to Check If you’re having this issue – the lack of increased conversions, that is – there are a few other things you can check that might be causing it other than the two main causes I detailed above. The first is to check to see if you happen to have daily budget caps, ad set caps, or other budget restrictions in place. Google will always abide by the smallest budget cap to avoid springing unnecessary or unexpected charges on their customers. If you set your overall monthly budget to $1,000 but your daily budget is still $10, you’re only going to spend $300 per month. Make sure all of your budget numbers are chosen in a way that uses them appropriately, or make sure you’re choosing one of Google’s automatic allocation strategies. Another check you can perform requires a little manual finesse. Is position #1 in the search results actually the best position for your business? Sometimes it is, of course. The top of the line is the most visible and tends to get the most clicks. However, it’s also somewhat more expensive than #2 or #3. A higher position might get you a higher click through rate, but if your conversion rate doesn’t support it, it’s not going to do well for your budget. You may be paying too much for your position. One of the most common occurrences I encounter is a business striving to spend all of their budget to reach position #1, when it doesn’t have a tangible benefit to outweigh the increased costs and competition. Letting your ads “languish” at #2 or #3 will still get you a reasonable amount of conversions, without over-spending on advertising to get there. Another issue you can check on is if you have any keywords that are draining your budget without bringing in conversions. It’s easy for an ad with 80 broad match keywords to have one or two performing terribly, and you might never know until you look at your keyword-level analytics. You generally want to make sure that your keywords all meet a minimum level of performance. Any dramatically underperforming keywords should be removed or added to a negative keyword list. Other Considerations for Google Ad Conversions Ads grow stale, they grow old, they can wither and die. Increasing your budget isn’t going to revitalize them, it’s just going to show a stale ad to more people who aren’t interested. You need to change up your ads, and that means split testing. Incomplete split tests are a common problem with ads testing. I give an example in the article linked. Essentially, if you test different variations of different variables, only to come up with a result that points at a new confluence that you didn’t test, you don’t actually know if that confluence is better. It’s easy to catch all of the options when you’re testing one or two variables, but the more you add, the more you need to test, and that grows exponential very quickly. It’s why tests should be limited, and it’s why you need a proper budget to get the proper kind of data. Conversions are also susceptible to concerns outside of the ad ecosystem. I’ve talked to a few marketers in the past who have issues they dig deep trying to figure out, only to step back and realize their conversions dropped because they sell school supplies and school is out for the summer, or some other seasonal shift. When temporal concerns aren’t at issue, there’s also the possibility that some public perception has shifted. Maybe a competitor has hit the field and is trashing your business in their marketing. Maybe one of your customer service reps made a bad decision and their response has gone viral. Maybe you sell something that the public is slowly moving away from, and there’s not much you can do to claw back those sales. Another thing you should consider is ad keyword groups. All too many people throw all their keywords into one soup and hope it all works out on the other side, but that leads to a lot of ads with copy that doesn’t quite line up with the query, ads that don’t quite work. That means your conversions are going to be harder to come by, which in turn means their cost goes up. A higher budget will get you more high cost conversions, but you’re wasting a lot of opportunity. The fact is, the ads ecosystem has a thousand different factors at play, which is why so many of Google’s recommendations point at automatic adjustments they can perform algorithmically to get you the best results for the given money and copy you feed into the system. Any adjustments you make need to keep this in mind. The post Can Increasing Your Google Ad Budget Lower Conversions? appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Use Google AdSense and Other Ads Simultaneously

Before we begin, I find that there’s a lot of confusion as to whether an ad-related topic is focusing on the publisher perspective or the advertiser perspective. Some topics are easy to identify; if I’m talking about the cost of ads, I’m talking about the advertiser side. If I’m talking about your earnings, it’s probably about the publisher side of things. Google sort of helped with this by keeping a separation between AdSense and AdWords as the publisher and advertiser sides, respectively, but they’ve been rolling them into Google Ads for branding purposes. In any case, what I’m talking about today is AdSense, the publisher side of things, and the publisher side of other ad networks as well. Like all things with Google, ads can be pretty complex. The list of ad policies for AdSense is a mile long, and there are a whole lot of different restrictions, guidelines, and placement policies for different kinds of ads as well. Let’s talk about how AdSense combines with other ad networks, and see where we stand. Can You Use AdSense With Other Ads? This is a pretty common question. Can you use Google AdSense ads on your site alongside ads from other ad networks? The answer is yes. There are no restrictions in AdSense relating to the number of ad networks you can use on any given page. If you want to run ads from AdSense, ads from Adsterra or the other alternative networks, affiliate links, self-serve ads, or whatever else, you can. Google doesn’t care. What Does Google Care About? Google actually has a lot of different policies relating to ads that may be limiting your ability to use other ad networks. They don’t explicitly say “hey you can only have three ads on your page”, because they know there are different layouts for ads that can be reasonable. One site with three ads might be very unobtrusive, while another might have three large banner ads stacked on top of each other directly above the content, pushing it below the fold and making the site much less user-friendly. A lot of it comes down to your placement, so here are the guidelines for ad placement, in summary form: You are not permitted to place ads in a location that encourages accidental clicks. Accidental clicks can get your AdSense account banned, and there’s no way to recover from that ban. You are not permitted to use site design elements to draw undue attention to ads. None of those arrows that point to ads, blinking banners highlighting ads, or weird animations drawing attention to them. You are not allowed to label your ads in a way that is misleading, like “support us by clicking an ad” or “helpful links”. Anything that directly encourages users to click on ads is not allowed, and anything disguising the fact that they’re ads is bannable. You are not allowed to place images aligned to look like they’re associated with non-image ads. Using a text element and then using CSS to align some images to make them look like image ads is misrepresenting the content of the ads and usually makes advertisers very angry. You are not permitted to run ads in a layout that pushes content below the fold. If a user loads the page and all they see is ads and maybe your article headline – alongside your navigation – that’s a very poor user experience. Typically a responsive design will solve device issues that cause this, so if you have too many ads pushing content down, you need to move or remove some of them. You cannot offer any compensation for clicking ads. Absolutely nothing. Remember that bit about encouraging clicks? Incentives are very much in that category and can get your account removed. You cannot put ads in an element that refreshes itself automatically. Infinite scrolling pages can load new ads, but they can’t then refresh the other ads on the page; this would cause additional views for those ads, which throws off all the numbers and can be considered view fraud. You cannot place ads on exit-intent windows, log-in windows, or error pages. Anything that isn’t visible when the user loads the page cannot have an ad in it. You cannot place ads in dynamic content, like chat windows or within software. If you want ads in an app, Google has ads that can do that, through AdMob. You cannot put AdSense ads in emails. You can’t slip one by Google either, unless you just refuse to send emails to the entire Gmail domain. You are not permitted to put AdSense ads in pop-ups, pop-unders, in software, or in new windows. Additionally, while you can put ads on a site that uses pop-ups or pop-unders, the site cannot have more than three such additional windows spawning. Google knows that such techniques are effective enough that they can’t ban them completely, but they can ban excessive use of such techniques. None of that directly mentions the number of ads that can go on a single page, so we have to dig a little deeper for that information. Types of Ad Unit AdSense has a bunch of different styles of ad unit, depending on how you look at it. I’ve seen some people divide them into three categories: display units, link units, and native units. I’ve seen others include search units. Given that Google themselves divide them into five categories when giving examples, that’s what I’ll be using for the moment. If you want a deep dive into the variety of different ad sizes you can use with Google AdSense advertising, you can check out this page, which shows you all of the most common sizes with images so you know precisely what you’re looking at. The type of unit you use doesn’t actually matter to Google in terms of ad density restrictions. They don’t say “oh you can only have three display ads but you can have up to five text ads.” Ad density is controlled entirely by their Valuable Inventory Policy. The Valuable Inventory Policy If you’re wondering why you remember there being a fixed number of ads you can run on a page, and why I’m not mentioning those numbers now, it’s because they changed a few years ago. Google changed their policies in 2016, to move away from fixed numbers, because as always, webmasters ruin everything. Basically, if Google says “you can only have up to five ad units on your page”, webmasters read that as “you can pack five ad units into your page” and disregard any other considerations. The letter of the law is more important to them than the spirit of the law. They’ll happily make pages virtually unusable as long as they comply with the rules just right. So, in 2016, Google decided they had enough and decided to roll out a more blanket policy that generalizes the rules and leaves them more up to interpretation. This gives webmasters more design flexibility, while also allowing them more leeway to program their algorithm. The algorithm can now make judgments for ads based on their density and position. The Valuable Inventory Policy is their solution. Here’s what it says: “Advertising and other paid promotional material added to your pages should not exceed your content. Furthermore, the content you provide should add value and be the focal point for users visiting your page. For this reason, we may limit or disable ad serving on pages with little to no value and/or excessive advertising until changes are made.” Examples of unacceptable pages include mirroring pages, putting pages in frames with ads on them, rewriting or scraping content from other sources with no added value, pages with more ads than content, pages with automatically generated content with no curation, pages with no content besides ads, and pages that don’t meet the webmaster quality guidelines. This includes all ads on the page. You must have at least as much content on your page as you have ads, and this goes by screen real estate, not by word count. It includes all AdSense ads as well as all non-Google ads. You can use 5 Google ads and 2 non-Google ads, as long as they’re tastefully positioned and are not obstructing content. You can also use 2 Google ads and 5 non-Google ads in the same way. Again, the focus is on content, with advertising taking a secondary role. The fact is, the more content you have, the more ads you can support. One of the main arguments in favor of this new policy is the advent of websites that scroll forever, loading more content as they go. If Google enforced a 3-ads-per-page max or whatever, users would quickly be able to scroll down past where the ads are, giving you a lot of user traffic with no way to monetize it. Infinite scroll sites are allowed to load more ads as they go, as long as those ads are still in a reasonable proportion compared to the primary content of the site. Other Limitations One thing you may need to concern yourself with when you’re running ads from more than one ad network is any limitations imposed by those other networks. Not all networks are as forward thinking or as adaptable as Google tends to be, and as such, they may have policies that they copied from Google in 2005 and have not updated since. Make sure to check policies for any individual ad network you want to use in conjunction with AdSense. Another restriction you have will be the viability of your ads. Remember that ads will perform differently whether they’re above the fold or below it, and where they’re positioned on the page. They also have to compete with each other, as well as banner blindness. There’s a point of diminishing returns, and that point varies depending on the website. If you tend to have relatively short content, having a small number of ads is probably better. If you tend to write lengthy case studies and longer content, you can fit in more ads without decreasing the viability of each of them. Keep in mind the different kinds of ads you’ll be running as well. Affiliate links – which need to be disclosed as per the US Government guidelines and similar regulations around the world – may be valuable, but they do still count as ads, and Google can identify them even if you use redirects to hide them from your users. In-stream video ads also count against your ads level, though they’re going to be based on the play time of the video, not of the screen real estate used to display them. Above all, the user experience is paramount. If you have so many ads that your users are leaving the page in disgust, or reporting the ads as spam, or are otherwise taking action to avoid them, you probably have too many ads. You want your users to engage with your content, and experience ads on the side. Adding more and more ads to counteract declining engagement rates on your ads will only accelerate the total collapse of your audience. Pretty much every Google policy since 2011’s Panda update has been focused on improving the experience for web users, so as long as you keep that in mind at all times, you should have a good idea of what your limits are. Keep your users happy, and Google will be happy enough to reward you. The post How to Use Google AdSense and Other Ads Simultaneously appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

How to Optimize Your PPC Campaign for Subscription Websites

Running a PPC campaign is always tricky business. You’re walking a razor’s edge, where to fall on one side means profitable advertising, and the other means a huge money sink. It’s tricky to set up, tricky to test, and tricky to monitor in a way that you can use to optimize your results. When it comes to selling a subscription service, it gets even harder to track and monitor in an appropriate way. It’s a simple reason, too: subscriptions aren’t a single fee, so you have to track more data and manage more numbers to have appropriate ROI calculations. That’s what I’ll discuss first, because it’s so important. Subscription ROI Here’s a scenario for you. You’re re-selling a subscription service that costs the user $11 per month, with your offer discount. You want to run some PPC ads, but when you set up targeting for your demographic, costs end up running you $25 per click. Do you run these ads? How do you know what the answer is? The solution is something called Expected Lifetime Value. Calculating the lifetime value of a customer, and the average across all of your customers, allows you to then calculate whether or not such advertising is worthwhile. Some customers, of course, are going to be dissatisfied and cancel after one month. The lifetime value of that customer is $11. Some customers are going to use your service for a few months, maybe six, before they cancel it. Maybe they outgrew it, maybe they wanted a change, maybe their business folded and they don’t need it any more. Their average lifetime value might be, say, $66. Some customers are going to be life-long advocates and hugely loyal users. Your service has only been around for two years, and they have two years of subscription under their belts. The lifetime value of these customers, at $11 per month, is over $250 and rising. How many customers are in each category? That’s what you need to find out, if you want to calculate the average lifetime value for your audience as a whole. Actually calculating lifetime value is a simple calculation. Figure out how many customers your service has and how long each one has been a customer. You already know the cost of a month of service, so you simply need to calculate the average number of months a user remains a customer. In our hypothetical situation, with a subscription costing $11 per month and a click costing $25 per month, you’re looking for an average customer value of at least $25 to break even. That’s 2.5-3 months of service on average. There are other details to monitor, of course. All of those customers who cancel after a month are dragging down your average. Do you have a way to differentiate them in your targeting, or do you need to include them in your calculations? This all gets more complex when you have to consider different tiers of service. If your subscription service has a $5/mo plan, an $11/mo plan, and a $20/mo plan, you have tricky calculations to do involving average purchase value as well as subscription length. Additionally, you may want to see if you can target explicitly the kinds of people who buy the high tier plans rather than the low tier plans when you run your ads. Hubspot’s guide to LTV is a good resource, though it doesn’t deal explicitly with subscription models. Still, it calculates the average value of a purchase and the average number of purchases in a customer’s lifespan, so you can adapt those numbers to reflect subscription models. Only once you know the average value of your customers, can you identify what point your PPC ads become profitable. Ideally, it will be a price you can afford. From there, you need to optimize your ads from every angle you can, which is what the rest of this post is going to help you with. Optimizing Your PPC Campaigns Optimizing a PPC campaign for a subscription service isn’t really any different from optimizing a campaign for a single-sale storefront. You always have an expected value for your customers, and you always have a cost per click, so you need to optimize your click rates and your conversion rates. Here are tips for how you can do it. Build a strong foundation. A foundation in this case is your account structure. It’s very easy to lose track of organization while you’re building up ads, and then you have a jungle where you should have a lawn. Ask yourself some questions: How many keywords are you using in each ad group? How many individual ads are you running in each ad group? How relevant are the keywords to each other and to the ads in each ad group? You generally want your ad groups to be tight groupings of appropriate, relevant keywords within your niche, with ads making use of this relevance in a narrow context. For example, if you have a content marketing service, you might be advertising your content marketing, or your content production, or your writing, or your outreach, and each of these can be their own groups. Always make sure your ad campaigns are as organized as possible, and if it doesn’t make sense to add a new keyword to a group, make a new group and expand it from there. Identify and focus on high performance keywords. Very often, your ad groups will have up to a dozen or even more keywords in them, so you want to drill down occasionally to see how those keywords are performing individually. You’re looking for keywords with a high quality score and a high click-through rate. Conversely, you probably want to identify and cut out keywords that have the opposite issues. If you’ve found some keywords to run but those keywords have an abysmal click rate, you should drop them before they cost you more money. If your research tells you that those keywords SHOULD be performing well, you should look for other reasons why they might not be working. Use a tiered bidding strategy. This is something WordStream covers in this article in quite a bit of detail. Basically, when you find a good keyword, you run an ad targeting that keyword with each of the four match types at the same time. They will have different costs and can get you different results, which both gives you more performance and an idea of how to properly use those keywords moving forward. Constantly grow your negative keywords list. This is another WordStream special, because they have a great write-up on negative keywords. In case you don’t know what they are, negative keywords are keywords you add to an advertisement to make it NOT appear when those keywords are involved. For example, if you’re a shoe store and you’re selling only dress shoes, you might include negative keywords like “athletics” and “running” to exclude people search for running shoes. After all, if someone searching for running shoes sees your ad and clicks through, they’ll find that you don’t sell what they want. That means you paid for a click that can’t possibly convert. Negative keyword lists should be a growing and evolving set of lists. You want a general list to maintain for every ad, but you also want to expand lists for ads based on their performance. If you see that people are clicking through your shoe ad on queries for rock climbing shoes because you used “shoes” as a broad match keyword, you can then add rock climbing to your negative list. Make sure you’re running your tests for an appropriate length of time. You need data on your keywords before you can make decisions about them. You get that data in one of two ways: letting them run for a longer time, or dumping more money into them to get more volume. Generally, with daily budget caps and spending limits, it’s better to let them run for longer. You almost never want to cut off your keywords if they’ve run for less than a week. Personally, I aim for about 10 days, unless a keyword is obviously garbage before that point, or vice versa. You need enough data to make a decision, and for low volume keywords it can take a while to get that data. Look for reasons an underperforming keyword is underperforming. The three main causes are low bids, low search volumes, and improper match type. If you’re using tiered matching, the third one drops out. Low bids are easy enough to fix. You may have put in some keywords with penny bids to try to get cheap traffic, or to use them as placeholders. Don’t forget to increase your bids slowly until they catch and start running. As far as low search volume, that’s simply something you need to check and experiment with. If a keyword that looks good doesn’t have enough clicks, pause it. In fact, don’t be afraid to pause keywords that aren’t performing up to your standards. You can make adjustments and try again, or you can cut them off entirely and focus your efforts elsewhere. Always make sure your ads are maximally relevant. If you have a lot of various keywords that focus on different aspects of your service, it’s a good idea to create specific focused landing pages for each of them as well. If one focuses on how cheap the service is, sending them to a landing page talking about a bunch of the upsells they can’t afford isn’t a good way to go about it. Don’t be afraid to make more variations in both ads and landing pages. The whole point is to be as relevant as possible to the audience who sees the ad, so there’s as little disjointedness between the ad and the landing page as possible. One of the number one mistakes I see businesses, even big businesses, making is that they use a generic one-size-fits-all landing page for every ad. Instead of five ads with a quality score of 7 leading to one generic landing page, make five ads each with a quality score of 9 pointing at individualized landing pages. Make use of remarketing whenever possible. One of your best target audiences is “people who are already interested but didn’t convert initially.” Remarketing lists allow you to capture these people and market to them with separate ads later. The fact is, a huge portion of your initial clicks are going to come from people who are interested, but who are not in the right situation to subscribe immediately. They might not have their financial information on hand, or they might not want to plug it in via a phone. They might want to discuss a purchase with a boss or with a family member first. Whatever the reason, those people are just as likely to forget about it than to remember and come back. That’s why you need to remarket. Make use of advanced features whenever possible. There are a lot of useful little features you can get with Google, both in organic search results and paid search extensions. Here are some of them you may consider: Google search extensions, which are those sub-links for search results that can give users specific sub-pages to go to directly. Ad Extensions, which are specific formats and improvements to ads through Google that can give you additional links or call to action methods. Those are just what Google offers. Other ad networks have their own quirks and advanced features that can be very useful once you get to learn how they work. The post How to Optimize Your PPC Campaign for Subscription Websites appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

List of CPM Traffic Networks with No Required Minimum

CPM stands for Cost Per Mille, or thousand, and is a form of advertising where views matter. As a publisher, you own a site you want to monetize, so you want to sign up for a CPM traffic network. You bring in traffic, that traffic sees the ads, and the ad network pays you based on the people who see it. There’s a lot of nuance to this kind of advertising. You might earn a different amount for your traffic depending on where the traffic comes from, with traffic from the USA, the UK, Australia, and other primary English countries coming as a premium, while traffic from India, Pakistan, and other low-tier countries earning you very little. You may have variable pay rates depending on the volume of traffic, the placement of the ads, and other factors. The two most important factors to consider when looking at a CPM network to join, however, are the minimums. Does the network have a required minimum amount of revenue before they pay you? This is a common restriction for a lot of CPM networks; they don’t want to have to cut checks for $5 every month to a lot of low-tier sites, so they put a minimum payment threshold into place. However, this can mean you send traffic to a network for months with nothing to show for it, which really isn’t worth your time. Does the network have a required minimum amount of traffic for you to be able to join it? A lot of the best CPM networks are restricted only to the top sized sites, so they can attract their own advertisers. “Your ads will show on sites that average 100 visitors a month” isn’t really a selling point, after all. There are reasonable rationalizations behind both minimums, but they definitely bias those CPM networks towards certain kinds of sites and certain sizes of communities. It makes it quite hard for those of us with smaller sites to properly monetize, and without good monetization, how can we expect to grow? There’s a self-fulfilling prophecy here, a circular feedback of mediocrity. CPM ads work best when you’re running a site that doesn’t really click through affiliate links or buy products, but is more readily willing to view ads as incidental to content. When you’re bringing in a lot of people, even if those people aren’t exactly the most engaged. It’s also very good for sites that have a relatively low income audience. They might not have the spare money to buy products, but they’ll at least view and maybe even click ads when they know it’ll help you out. There are a lot of lists of the best CPM ad networks out there in terms of the amount they pay, but there aren’t as many available lists of CPM traffic networks that lack these restrictive minimums. What I’ve done here is tried to find as many of each as I can, and listed them for your perusal. Hopefully you find one here you can use. CPM Traffic Networks with No Minimum Traffic Requirements First up, let’s look into some CPM ad networks that don’t require your site to have exorbitant levels of traffic every day. Some of these may be a little iffy, though. The first one is a prime example. RevContent is the first CPM network on my list. It’s iffy in that I’ve seen quite a variety of different requirements bandied about on various forums and in blog post reviews of their network, but I haven’t been able to find specific requirements on their site itself. Some people have claimed to be accepted with virtually no existing traffic, while others say they need 3 million impressions per month. That’s one hell of a variation, right? RevContent’s sign-up sheet makes me think they’re open to a wide variety of different levels of site traffic, since you can plug in the rough amount of traffic you get, and one of the options is under 1,000 hits. Whether that’s per day or per month, I don’t know. What I suspect is that they maintain different tiers of network within their overall program. They’ll always be open to the high tier sites, but the smaller ones may have limited space available. When they need to purge out a few of the underperformers or the inactive or cancelled accounts, they’ll be open to replacing them with other small sites. AdCash is the second entry on this list. This is the first one that very definitely has no minimum traffic requirements, but they’re also pretty much entirely self-serve. You sign up for your publisher account, they give you some tags to add to your site in whatever locations you want your ads to display, and you earn money based on those display ads. It’s all very simple. AdCash has been around for over 11 years, they serve over 600 billion requests per month globally, and they have tens of thousands of active campaigns going at any given time. All that combines to virtually ensure that you’re never letting ad space go empty, so long as you have the views to make it worth running. I can’t estimate your prospective CPM values, of course, since that will vary based on your traffic and your sources, but they’re far from the worst network out there. AdCash is not without some restrictions, however. First and foremost, they do not allow adult websites in their network. They have additional rules against sites with violent content, hate speech, hacking and cracking content, illegal item sales, and so on. It’s the usual slate of “if it’s illegal, we won’t monetize it” rules you probably expect from other sources. Clickadu is a pretty decent and flexible network compared to many of the others on this list, so it’s right up top. They have a variety of different ad formats, including some mobile ad formats and video pre-roll advertising that aren’t offered on other kinds of CPM networks. They have no minimum traffic requirement, at least not as of the last time I checked. Clickadu is also unique on this list in that it’s one of the only CPM networks that is available to anyone that also does not restrict adult content. They have the usual “no illegal products, no hacks, no piracy” rules, but they don’t specify anything against adult content. RevenueHits is another pretty great CPM network that partners up with a few other networks, like Propeller Ads, Clickadu, and Link Shrink. You can sign up as a publisher with ease, they don’t even ask for a ton of information. They’re a self-service ad network platform, developed by Intango. They’re also definitely on the list of publisher networks with no minimum traffic requirements. RevenueHits is interesting in that their system is very simple. You create a placement on either a desktop or mobile version of your site and they give you the code tag to add to your site. Once it’s up and running, your ad space is filled with ads from advertisers and you earn based on your traffic. It’s all very easy. While there are no minimum requirements for traffic, they do have the usual sort of restrictions on site content. No adult content, harassment, illegal weapons, or other illegal content. It’s the usual, basically. Adsterra is next on the list, and I have a soft spot to for it simply because the big A on their homepage is fun to play with. They’re another very simple, more or less self-service ad platform for publishers with no minimum traffic requirements. The do have some requirements, but they’re quite simple. No sites under construction, no sites with no content, no sites with 15+ banners or 5+ pop-ups on them, and no sites with an alexa rank greater than 1 million. Those are basically “don’t be deindexed and don’t be malicious.” Adsterra has the same content restrictions as other sites as well. No hacking, no piracy, no porn, no hate, no illegal activity or items, and so on. Other than that, there’s nothing really unique to know about this network compared to the others already listed. Criteo is possibly the most unique network on this list, in that they aren’t standard display ads. Rather, they offer a unique style of retargeting ads. Visitors on your site see Criteo ads, and those ads point to products or businesses that the visitors have visited recently and expressed interest in. Remarketing and retargeting are important forms of marketing today, so it stands to reason that there would be a newcomer that is willing to open up to small sites. Other than that, Criteo has many of the same requirements as the other networks on this list. Don’t promote anything illegal, don’t serve malware, you know the drill by now. Their mechanism may be unique, but their service is not. Conversant is another “maybe” on this list. Conversant is the company that you may have heard of for CJ Affiliate, one of the top affiliate networks out there. Conversant also has a private exchange for CPM advertising, and they have fairly low requirements. I say low because, while they have a minimum traffic requirement, it’s only 3,000 hits per month. That’s really not all that much, only around 100 hits a day, which isn’t too difficult to achieve as long as your site isn’t terrible. is on this list as a “maybe” in that they don’t list their minimum requirements, and some other reviews have said if they have traffic requirements they are fairly low, but that’s not necessarily meaningful. They do mention that you must have primarily English traffic from the US/UK/Canada markets, and they have traffic quality standards as well, so they’re really more of an honorary mention than an actual recommendation. Dishonorable Mention: Chitika. Chitika was once one of the top no-requirement ad networks in the world, so much so that back in 2010 when Yahoo shut down their own CPM network, they recommended people migrate to Chitika. So why are they in a dishonorable mention now, without even a link? Well, this link might elucidate some things. As of April 30 2019, Chitika is shutting down.  In fact, they’re basically already shut down. Their advertisers are gone and no earnings for the month of March were paid out at all. Another one bites the dust. CPM Traffic Networks with No Minimum Revenue Payouts This is where things get tough. The fact is, virtually no ad network out there is going to pay you for a few dollars without some specific exception. Many networks have a clause where, if you’re closing your account, they’ll pay you whatever remaining balance you had, even if it’s under their minimum threshold. Still, though, pretty much every ad network HAS a minimum payment threshold, it’s just a matter of how flexible it is. AdCash is a great example of this. They’re a very large and simultaneously very open ad network with thousands of advertisers and publishers active every day. They’re also very flexible with payments, giving you the option to get paid via bank transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, WebMoney, and even in Bitcoin. Even with all of this flexibility, they still limit you to a minimum of $25 USD or 25 Euros in your account before you can request a payment. Every other network I’ve listed up above either has a $25 minimum or higher. Some like Criteo have different thresholds, like 50 Euros or $150 USD. Some of them have different thresholds depending on the payment method you choose. Some CPM networks that I didn’t include had even more complex payout schemes, including fees depending on the bank you use. Overall, there’s not really a good option if you want under $25 payouts, unfortunately. Over to you folks now. Are there any good CPM networks you’ve used that have no minimum traffic requirements and no minimum payout thresholds? I’d like to hear about them if so. The post List of CPM Traffic Networks with No Required Minimum appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

MegaPush Review – A Unique Push Notification Ad Network

With the increasing prevalence of mobile devices and the fact that now nearly 60% of web traffic is from mobile users, it makes sense to start catering to mobile more and more in everything from web design to content to advertising. Traditional display ads, banners and lightboxes and slide-ins and pop-unders, these all rely on the unique multi-windowed approach to computer usage coming from desktop platforms. Mobile devices have less available screen space and less room for pop-style additional windows, so advertising has to adapt. One unique advantage mobile devices bring to the table for advertisers is push notifications. If you can use push notifications for advertising, you can take advantage of a unique mobile-specific channel that is otherwise left for, well, notifications. What are Push Notifications Exactly? If you have a smartphone, you’ve experienced push notifications. Any time you see a message or icon on your lock screen, or an app icon in your top nav bar, you’re seeing a push notification. They come from a wide range of sources, but mostly apps. A game might send you a notification when they’ve pushed a patch, or when your stamina bar refills. A restaurant app will message you when a special deal is active or when your reservation is ready. Messaging apps like Facebook Messenger will leave you a notification when a new message comes in. Push notifications are powerful because every mobile user is used to checking them. In a way it’s like email in that sense, but push notifications don’t have an inbox to be ignored or a spam filter to weed out the messages. Using push notifications for marketing is a relatively new, untapped channel. That’s what makes MegaPush a key player: they were the first to build a complete advertising network around them. These days, push notifications are an increasingly available marketing channel. Networks like MegaPush are springing up, but more importantly, existing and established ad networks are starting to add push notifications as another ad format to their networks. What is MegaPush? As you probably guessed, MegaPush is an advertising network unlike any other. They were the first push notification focused advertising network, and are still the largest such network focused entirely on push notifications. They were founded in 2017, so you know at least their technology is up to date. MegaPush is nice enough to publish a neat infographic on their homepage showcasing their demographics and audience niches right up front. Their audience is (roughly) 80% male, with a majority of users falling into either the under 18 age group or the 45-54 age group, with 35-44 taking a middle ground. In terms of niches, the categories that are broad enough to have a full segment of their pie chart are cinema, literature and teaching, tourism, software, and business. Other niches may not have as much traffic, but are certainly still available. So what advantages does MegaPush bring to the table? Here are some of their selling points, beyond the demographics. Global traffic. CPC bidding. Minimum price per click of $0.001. Fully implemented tracking. 12+ million clicks per day. Now, a couple of these may be questionable as positives, but we’ll talk about that some more in a moment. The core fact remains: push notification marketing is relatively new, and MegaPush is the most prominent player in a largely untapped market. They are poised to hit the big time, if they navigate the early years where most ad networks fail. I should also mention here that, as a global company, MegaPush works with a variety of payment processors, including Qiwi, MNP, Ibox, Wire, Beeline, and Visa, but they do not mention some of the big names, like Stripe or PayPal. For those of you who are into the crypto craze, they accept Bitcoin as well. Using MegaPush Getting started with MegaPush is actually very easy. There are no traffic minimums or minimum spends to be an advertiser. All you need to do is register and deposit $100 into your account to get up and running. Even the sign-up form is easy, simply asking for a name, password, and basic contact information. Before you get too far into it, though, make sure it’s a network that works with your niche. As with a lot of advertising networks, MegaPush has a rules document that includes a list of niches that aren’t allowed to advertise through their platform. It’s mostly the usual, no illegal items or materials, nothing political or religious, nothing sexual or adult. You can read their full list of rules here. Actually creating a campaign is dead simple. If you’ve ever looked at any other advertising network before, you should know more or less what to do from the moment you’re in their dashboard. First, click the new campaign entry on the left column. This opens the main window to the new campaign pane. Fill you information: your campaign name, link, title, message, image, icon, and targeting information. For targeting, you can choose country, device, and OS. Choose your start and stop times and your budget. You can also choose IP ranges, traffic feeds, and ISPs. On the other hand, there are no interest or demographic targeting options. This is where one of the biggest potential drawbacks of push notification advertising makes itself clear. Push notifications are, if you haven’t noticed before, very short. They only give you 30 characters for your title and 45 characters for your description. That’s less than 1/4th of a tweet! You’re able to use emoji if you want, so that can help a bit, but you’re still very heavily restricted in the amount of space you have available. This is, however, an inherent limitation in the ad format, due to how much space a push notification takes up on a mobile device. There’s no way to expand that until Apple and Google collectively decide to expand the size of push notifications. Will that ever happen? Who knows! Once you have your ad configured the way you want it, simply submit it. As long as you have money in your account, it will be submitted to the moderation queue, which takes roughly half an hour before your ad is reviewed and either accepted or rejected. MegaPush has a very high acceptance rate. Basically all they check for is if you violate any of the rules listed upon that rules document, and they will only reject for violations of those rules. Keep in mind, however, that three violations will result in the closure of your account, so don’t push it. Drawbacks, Warning Signs, and Problems Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses in the lands of the MegaPush. I have a few issues with it as an advertising network. First and foremost, the bottom chunk of their homepage is covered with case studies copied from people who have tested out their service. Unfortunately, most of those case studies are, well, bad. A lot of them are Russian, for one thing, and almost all of them show off losing money in mediocre tests. They talk about targeting third-tier countries for a few cents with really bad, literally Google translated advertising. None of it is even applicable to the kinds of advertising I run. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of these “case studies” are bare minimum experiments created specifically to get MegaPush to syndicate the post on their site, giving that backlink to the site that did the study. Since most of them are spending very low amounts of money, and they’re operating in niches like dating and pharma, it doesn’t inspire confidence. The fact that the rules and FAQ pages for MegaPush are in a very “engrishy” style also doesn’t inspire confidence. The fact is, MegaPush is a foreign-created and ESL company that is using English as a trade language, not a native language. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it comes with certain connotations and a history on the web. An advertising network lives and dies based on the balance of its publishers and advertisers. Too many advertisers means competition drives pricing so high that it no longer becomes feasible. Too many publishers and the opposite happens. If the publishers are not high enough in quality, the traffic the advertisers get is garbage and they abandon the platform. Conversely, if the advertising is poor quality or spammy, publishers start to back out. Smart advertising networks can solve this problem through some aggressive filtering. I can understand MegaPush holding off on this filtering as long as they can; it involves cutting out a lot of publishers and advertisers. If they don’t have enough high quality members of their respective rosters, they won’t be able to survive the purge. They need to build before they can prune. The break point, in my mind, will probably come in 2-3 years. At that point, we will known whether MegaPush wants to become one of the big players, or if they’re going to content themselves with low quality traffic and ads. My hunch is that the currently existing high quality advertising networks are going to offer push notifications – some do already – and that MegaPush won’t be able to compete. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, but that’s the way I feel the wind blowing. Get the Most Out of MegaPush If you’re determined to make use of MegaPush – and it’s not a bad idea, especially if you just want to get experience with a new ad format with very low pricing – you can play around quite a bit to optimize your traffic. Here’s the thing with MegaPush: the traffic is generally quite low quality, but so long as you have an offer that can be claimed in your target zones, it very likely will be claimed eventually. Even really bad ads can have a decent return, simply because there’s very little banner blindness for push notification ads just yet. The first and best route for optimization you have is feed optimization. MegaPush has over 50 individual traffic feeds, but you need to actually be tracking the {feedID} parameter in your advertising to be able to see what traffic you’re getting from what feeds. Without that parameter, everything is just lumped into one record. Basically, run your ads with no feed targeting, then pick out the top performing feeds and add those to your next round of targeting. Alternatively, edit your existing campaign to remove the feeds that don’t perform well enough. Device targeting is useful as well. Remember that, while push notifications are primarily a mobile innovation, they are available on desktops as well. The trick is, push notifications on desktop are a lot harder to get, since they require an opt-in on the user’s part rather than being a natural part of mobile usage. I find that desktop push notifications are very unlikely to convert, though it’s not completely unheard of. At the very least, run different campaigns for mobile and desktop, so you can optimize them individually. Have you used MegaPush? Have you experimented with push notification ads on other platforms? Let me know in the comments how your experiences have gone. I’d like to see if the case studies they publish are typical, or if a savvy user can make more out of it than they make it seem. The post MegaPush Review – A Unique Push Notification Ad Network appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.

Why Nobody Is Clicking Your Affiliate Links and How to Fix It

When you first learn about it, it seems like affiliate marketing should be easy. It’s not really that difficult to set up a blog; all you need is a domain, some WordPress software, a few plugins, and you’re good to go. It’s trivial to sign up for most affiliate networks. Then all you need to do is put links on your page and rake in the cash, right? How hard can it be? The answer, of course, is “quite hard.” There’s a reason there are entire blogs based on “how to succeed with affiliate marketing.” You’ll soon discover that there’s a lot more to affiliate marketing than just slapping a blog and some links online. There’s a mountain to climb, and you need to prepare yourself for the journey. What I’ve done is put together the most common reasons why you aren’t getting clicks on your affiliate links. Check each of them down the list and see which apply to you, and work to fix the issues you find. Your Site Lacks Traffic The first and most common problem with any affiliate marketing website is a lack of traffic. A lot of bloggers start off slow and try to monetize too early. I understand the desire to set a precedent; people don’t like building up loyalty only to be monetized at the first chance. On the other hand, it doesn’t do you much good to put links up when you only have a few dozen hits per month. It’s a matter of simple math. The typical affiliate marketing conversion rate is something like 5%, and that’s out of the people who click. An average click rate might be 1%. That means five out of every hundred people who click go on to make a purchase, and one out of every hundred people to visit go on to click, so you need tens or hundreds of thousands of visitors to see reliable conversions. Obviously, you can do a lot to tweak these numbers – and a lot of the subsequent headings in this article follow those tweaks – but the numbers are still the numbers. You need volume to succeed with affiliate marketing. Your Links are Off-Topic Have you ever been reading a blog post and, in the middle of it, seen a sentence or a paragraph that’s entirely out place? Something that stops the entire train of thought to then pitch some pest control service or as-seen-on-TV crap? I have, and I know most people have. It’s baby’s first attempt at affiliate marketing, and it’s a lowest form of spam. Often one of the hallmarks of a spam blog is a bunch of unrelated, usually stolen content with some mostly unrelated affiliate links added in. The spammer doesn’t care that their content isn’t their own or that their site isn’t good, as long as they can get even a single conversion, it works out in their favor. Always make sure your affiliate links are as close to on-topic as possible. Your Links Lack Context This is a small extension of the previous item, but it’s a narrower focus. Consider that your links need to be relevant to your niche, but they also need to be relevant to your article itself. If your links aren’t relevant to the article you’re writing, who is going to want to click on them? I generally recommend that you should build your posts around your links. Know what the product is and how you’re going to recommend it, and build from there. Your Links Lack a Call to Action Every affiliate link should have an inherent call to action. Either that call to action should be a simple “click here to buy now”, or it should be something more detailed and tuned for the specific product and the problem it addresses. A good piece of content is geared towards explaining how a product is going to solve a problem, with affiliate links to that product. You Aren’t Adding Benefit Here’s a question for you: Why should your reader click your link and buy the product through you? Why wouldn’t they just go to Amazon on their own time, or to a manufacturer page, or to a different storefront they trust more? What makes your offer special? There are a lot of possible answers to this question. Timing. You’re targeting your content to be found by people actively looking for a solution to a problem, so presenting them with the solution gives them a path of least resistance to solving their problem. Additional value. Your site is geared towards helping people with a given industry or job, and the product, while perhaps not beneficial to order from you, grants them access to exactly what you recommend when you give advice, and makes your advice all the more applicable. Discounts. Many affiliate offers allow you to present the product at a discount. Maybe clicking through your link gets them a free upgrade or a free month of service. You need to have some kind of benefit to bring to the table, and more importantly, you need to inform your readers what that benefit is. If you’re offering a discount to anyone who buys through your link, make sure you’re saying so. Make it clear that you’re providing something they can’t get by going elsewhere. Your Links are Ugly This is an issue for a small subset of users who pay attention to links. This subset is growing more and more as people grow more aware of the kinds of tricks that are used to scam them online. Take a look at these four different Amazon links. All four of these lead to the same product. The first one is the full link with reference information Amazon adds to the URL when you click through their pages to reach a product. The second one is the same link with all of that reference information stripped out. It looks significantly less ugly. The third one is a bare affiliate link with reference information, and the fourth is a shortlink an Amazon affiliate can generate. The fourth one is by far the cleanest, because it hides all of the reference information used for tracking. (Note: the affiliate links have had the affiliate code removed; they’re for demonstration purposes and are not valid tracking links, so don’t worry about clicking them.) For something like Amazon you can just use a shortlink, but other affiliate networks don’t offer their own domain for shortlinking. This is why a lot of affiliate marketers choose to route their affiliate links through a cloaking redirect. Cloaking is also a convenient centralized way to manage your affiliate links. If one product changes or you want to change a link, you can change a single central redirect a lot more easily than you can change a hundred links across a hundred internal pages. You can read more about the benefits, as well as how to do it, here. Your Links are Front-Loaded Putting your affiliate links up at the top of your article is a great way to get them ignored. If someone is finding your page, they’re generally doing it because they have a query they searched for, and they found your article. That means they are looking for information they assume your page will provide. They don’t want to click a link off the page until they’re sure they got the information they wanted, or they’re sure you don’t have what they need. Putting a link in the top half of your content isn’t generally a good idea. You can put one in the top third, near the end of that third, to capture the people you’ve already convinced. Otherwise, you’ll want to put links closer to the end of your content. Of course, you should do some testing with different positions for your links, so you know what captures people the best from your best posts, as well. Your Links are In Your Navigation (Or Elsewhere) Adding your affiliate links to places that aren’t in your content is a death sentence for those links. For one thing, no one is going to click a link in your navigation or sidebar that isn’t extremely compelling, and an affiliate offer is very, very rarely compelling enough to click without a full blog post backing it up. For another thing, adding such links to your navigation can be a cause for a Google penalty, or at least a demotion in your search visibility. They don’t like it when you put advertising as part of your overall layout, and the omnipresence of such advertising can cause issues. It’s not guaranteed – and cloaking can help hide it – but it’s still not worthwhile to try, in my opinion. Your Site Isn’t Trustworthy There are a lot of different signs of trust a website can portray, and you need to have at least a few of them if you want to get anyone to click through your links. What kinds of trust signals might you try to use? Customer testimonials are good, though they don’t necessarily help a pure affiliate site. If you sell products of your own or even offer consulting, they can be worthwhile. Product reviews can be very useful. Just screenshot or quote a few good reviews of the product you’re trying to sell and use those as part of your marketing. Social signals can be useful, though they’re harder to get and less valuable than they have been in the past. Still, a lot of shares on your posts can indicate to people that what you have to say is worthwhile to many. A lot of trust signals are more applicable to storefronts, and I go over them in greater detail in the article linked above. Some, though, can be very useful to affiliate or hybrid sites, so it’s worth looking into them. You’re Clearly Just In It For The Money Every good blog should have more than just product reviews for affiliate links. Sure, the microsite method can work, but if it works, it’s on a small scale. That’s why the people who go with microsite marketing tend to build dozens of sites across a niche, which could just as easily have been built into one larger authority site. The only reason they tend to not go the centralized route is so they can take advantage of the minor benefits of matching keyword domains, while maintaining the ability to simply cull any sites that underperform. When you’re running a site and every blog post you publish is nothing more than a basic overview or review of a product, with a bunch of links to affiliate products, it becomes quite clear that you’re not in it to help your readers, but really just to make money. That’s the wrong approach, and people can sense your lack of expertise, sincerity, and value a mile away. Many will simply decide to ignore your site in the future, and most will avoid clicking your links once they realize what’s going on. You’re Reaching the Wrong Audience Even if you have a lot of traffic, maybe that traffic is a different audience than you want it to be. I see this a lot from people who are chasing high-paying affiliate commissions rather than high-volume commissions. Sure, selling that yacht might earn you a year or two’s worth of wages in a single click, but if you aren’t designing your site explicitly around targeting the hyper-rich in their yacht-owning ways, you aren’t going to be getting any sales. That may sound like an extreme example, but I’ve seen yacht-based affiliate offers and let me tell you, that’s a very narrow niche. The post Why Nobody Is Clicking Your Affiliate Links and How to Fix It appeared first on Growtraffic Blog.


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