Broker Traffic & Start an Affiliate Network Using the CPA Cost Model

March 23, 2015 by Tom Fang 2 Comments

As an affiliate marketer, you’ve probably been buying traffic from certain traffic sources and then promoting offers to that traffic. In between, you are adding value through your own special optimization funnel.

Once you start getting good at it, you might find yourself not having enough time in a day. To scale up, you could actually start thinking about getting your own affiliates to send you traffic. That is the beginning of your own affiliate network.

Brokering Traffic

There are usually 2 scenarios when you start to broker traffic.

The first is you enter into some sort of a revenue-share with someone who has traffic, whether an ad network or a publisher. Then you agree that whenever you get a conversion of any kind, you will pay them some amount of that conversion. The publisher takes on more of the risk, but a higher return on his traffic is also possible.

The second is you enter into an agreement with another affiliate, similar to yourself to send you traffic. Perhaps you have an offer that they don’t have access to. Perhaps you have an offer at a high, exclusive payout. Whatever the reason, you are acting as the affiliate network and providing that affiliate the ability to run your offer.

In either case, you dramatically reduce your risk since you are not paying for traffic up-front. It’s more of an arbitrage situation where you only incur cost when you get revenue, which always results in a net-positive ROI.

Be ware: you should only be brokering traffic when you have an explicit agreement with whoever you’re getting your offer from.

Track Using the CPA Cost Model

The two most commonly used software by affiliate networks is Cake and HasOffers. However, when you’re just starting, the cost of either can be expensive and unnecessary. In addition, they cannot do the things you need a tracker to do like THRIVE can so you can continue to run and optimize your own traffic.

The good news is you can use THRIVE to broker traffic. You can run your own campaigns along side the campaigns that are made to receive traffic from your own affiliates.

Setup the Traffic Source

First, create a traffic source in THRIVE that’s just for your affiliates. You can name it something like “External Affiliates” and abbreviate it like “EXA”.

Don’t put anything in the traffic source post-back/pixel field. We’ll do that on each campaign-specific level.

Next, setup your traffic source so that your affiliates can send in their own click IDs and also a few other variables (s1-s4) they can use to send in other parameters:

You’ll notice a parameter called “aid”, which is named “Affiliate ID”. Since a single affiliate may run multiple campaigns, you would be able to run reports for specific affiliates across the campaigns you’ve given them to run by assigning each of your affiliates an ID.

Create an “Offer” for Your Affiliate

Whenever you want to create an offer for one of your affiliates, simply create a campaign in THRIVE using the traffic source “External Affiliates”.

When you’re creating the campaign, be sure to select the CPA cost model instead of CPC:

The default cost is the payout for this offer that you’re offering your affiliate. That’s your cost and their revenue whenever a conversion happens.

In the campaign, you can create a rotation of offers/landing pages just like any other campaign. Normally, you would just create a direct linked campaign with one offer that you’re brokering. However, you can of course also split test your affiliate’s traffic.

Once the campaign is created, the campaign URL that THRIVE generates will look something like this:

http://domain.com/path/lp.php?trvid=10003&trvx=f104cc06&clickid=&aid=&s1=&s2=&s3=&s4=&s5=

First, as mentioned earlier, we added an “aid=” parameter to identify the affiliate. You can designate your own affiliate ID. Let’s say for this person, you’ve designed their affiliate ID as 1234.

Then, the “offer URL” that you would give to your affiliate would be:

http://domain.com/path/lp.php?trvid=10003&trvx=f104cc06&clickid=&aid=1234&s1=&s2=&s3=&s4=&s5=

And you would tell them to send their sub IDs through the “clickid=” variable. If they were also using THRIVE to track their campaigns, then the offer URL they would use would be:

http://domain.com/path/lp.php?trvid=10003&trvx=f104cc06&clickid={subid}&aid=1234&s1=&s2=&s3=&s4=&s5=

The other variables s1 through s4 would be available for your affiliate to use to pass whatever they wanted, if anything, to help you optimize.

Setup Post-Back for Your Affiliate

You can setup real-time tracking for your affiliates by putting their post-back URL or pixel in their campaign so that whenever THRIVE gets a conversion, their post-back/pixel can piggy back off of yours.

To do so, edit the campaign-specific post-back:

In that modal, enter in the post-back URL or pixel that your affiliate has given you.

For example, if his post-back URL was:

http://his-domain.com/path/postback.php?tid=&offerid=&amount=&subid=

Then, the post-back URL you’d enter into that campaign would be:

http://his-domain.com/path/postback.php?tid=&offerid=&amount={amount}&subid={externalid}

The post-back/pixel piggy-back feature of THRIVE can also post-back any number of other variables if your affiliate needs them. That is slightly more advanced, so please contact THRIVE support on how to get that done.

So there you have it. You can pretty easily within a few minutes setup your own little affiliate network with THRIVE!

POF No Longer Accepting New Advertiser / Affiliate Sign-Ups!

March 17, 2015 by Tom Fang 4 Comments

This is going to be a quick, but very important update for anyone who has created a POF Ads account (https://ads.pof.com) in the past.

POF Ads recently announced that they are no longer accepting new advertiser sign-ups indefinitely. They said that this is going to be a trial period to see if they can help existing affiliates succeed instead of bringing in new advertisers and affiliates, but to be safe, we should assume that sign up has closed until further notice.

If you go to ads.pof.com, you’ll see that there is no longer a link for you to sign up for a new advertiser account.

POF Ads is, of course one of the most popular ad platforms for affiliates for years. It’s been popular for a lot of affiliates who try to break into the CPA world, and with great reason. Our top clients who are using POFpro are still spending $x,xxx/day on the traffic source, and most of our users have been doing consistent traffic for years. This is because once you figure it out, POF is one of the most stable traffic sources out there to generate income.

This presents a huge opportunity for anyone who has created a POF Ads account in the past because this traffic source has (1) been very profitable and consistent once you figure it out, and (2) been very popular with new entrants that often drive the costs up. But now, there are no more new entrants and less competition to bid up traffic costs.

As time goes on, as the newer affiliates eventually drop out, and there are no new entrants, this leaves whoever is dedicated to the traffic source to fill all of the traffic inventory. This should be very good news for those who are already profitable, or anyone who has had experience advertising on POF in the past.

If you need a POF Ads account or have a POF Ads account lying somewhere that you do not plan to use, please contact us directly. We are experimenting with the idea of facilitating the exchange of accounts :).

Create Multiple Branches of Split Tests in a Single Funnel

March 10, 2015 by Tom Fang 2 Comments

As you get better and better as a performance marketer, you’ll notice you need to track ever more complex funnels. For direct response campaigns, you might just have a single landing page that links to a single offer, or, sometimes traffic is linked directly to the offer.

As you get more advanced, however, you might find yourself wanting to test multiple offers on the same landing page. Go a step further, you might want to create multiple split tests on a single landing page and have each split test rotate multiple offers to test.

You may find yourself wanting to track multiple steps of a funnel across multiple sequential pages and introduce multiple split tests at various points of the funnel where you think your audience might convert.

No matter how complex the tree, with our tracking platform THRIVE, you can create as many branches as you want in your funnel so that you can design the tree for your funnel however you’d like and with as many split tests as you’d like. We refer to this feature as “Branching”.

Multiple Split Tests on a Single Landing Page

To understand how Branching works, let’s start with an example of using it on a single landing page.

Let’s say on this landing page, you have 3 offers from 3 different verticals: verticals A, B, and C. And now, you want to setup a split test for multiple offers in each of the verticals.

So, you’ll have 3 links in the landing page that rotates 3 different offers each:

  • Link 1: rotates between Offer A1, Offer A2, Offer A3
  • Link 2: rotates between Offer B1, Offer B2, Offer B3
  • Link 3: rotates between Offer C1, Offer C2, Offer C3

How would we set that up in THRIVE?

First, let’s ignore the offers for verticals B and C. Now, we just have a simple campaign with a single landing page links to 3 offers, and it would look like this:

The landing page code to link to those offers would be:

<a href="http://domain.com/path/out.php">Link Text for Vertical A</a>

But now, how do we link to a completely different set of offers on the same landing page? We’re going to create a Branch.

We’re going to add 2 branches and name these branches “Vertical B” and “Vertical C”.

Now, let’s add offers to these branches so we can split test these offers for each vertical:

After adding the respective offers for Vertical B and Vertical C, your Branches section of your rotations should look like this:

Now, all we have to do is get the landing page code to link to the 2 branches. First, we need their Branch ID’s. Those are located right below the branch name, and it’s 7511 for Vertical B, and the branch ID for Vertical C is 8010.

Click “Get Branches LP Code”:

And we can figure out that the landing page code to link to each respective branch is as follows. We just need to place the branch ID’s after the “b=” variable in the code.

Landing Page Code for Vertical B:
<a href="http://domain.com/path/out.php?b=7511">Link Text for Vertical B</a>

Landing Page Code for Vertical C:
<a href="http://domain.com/path/out.php?b=8010">Link Text for Vertical B</a>

And you’re all set! You should now have 3 different links on your landing page that links to 3 different sets of offers to split test.

Apply This to Multiple Step Funnels

Now, if you let your imagination go a little further, you’ll realize that each offer can also link to a branch, and the tree can be endless.

If you have multiple steps in your landing page funnel, you can add subsequent steps as offers instead of landing pages and use this branching feature to create as many split tests as you want. You can branch the visitors off from your funnel at any point. Just link to the specific branch ID that you want on any page.

For example, we can setup a funnel like this:

Landing Page (1st Level)

For the first level, maybe you have 2 landing pages you want to split test, so you add them all to the rotation. We’ll also need the offers we want to split test under each rotation. We do not have to link to this offer on the page.

Landing Page (2nd Level)

Now, let’s say we have another step in the sequence that we want to split test 2 landing pages with. In this case, we’re going to add the 2 landing pages as offers in THRIVE, then add those 2 offers to a branch in the campaign’s rotations.

Now, on each of the landing pages for the 1st level, you just need to link to this branch (branch ID is 5384) with the following code:
<a href="http://domain.com/path/out.php?b=5384">Click Here for 2nd Level Lander Split Test!</a>

Offer Split Test

After the 2-step landing page, the visitor is sent to the offer. Let’s say we also have 2 offers we want to split test. So what do we do? We create another branch again. This is getting familiar right?

And similarly, on the pages of the 2nd step landers, put the branches code (branch ID is 3532) on those pages where you want to link to the offer:
<a href="http://domain.com/path/out.php?b=3532">Click Here for the Primary Offer!</a>

That link would then link to the split test of 2 offers.

Finally, the Up-Sell Offer

Then, let’s say you want another offer after the primary one as an up-sell. Similarly, create another branch, add the one or more offers to that branch to split test, and on the primary offer pages, use the branch code for the up-sell branch to link to the up-sell offers.

As you can imagine, you can create as many landing page or offer split tests at multiple points in your funnel. The possibilities are endless when using the basic unit of a branch to construct your tree.

While a single branch is a relatively simple concept (it’s a rotator that rotates multiple pages), it becomes immensely powerful when you start piecing together multiple branches in a complex funnel.

If you haven’t tried THRIVE yet, please sign up now for a 30 day trial!