Why CNAME is Dangerous When Using Custom Domains with A Tracker

April 27, 2015 by Tom Fang No Comments

If you use one of the competing cloud-based trackers out there for your tracking needs like Volume, you’ve perhaps noticed your own campaigns or heard that campaigns of others are starting to get flagged by antivirus and/or traffic sources like Facebook.

This results in a very poor user experience for the traffic that you are buying since they will get virus alerts in their browsers and traffic sources like Facebook will start banning your campaigns or accounts.

This can happen if you use a custom domain and use CNAME record to setup your domain for the tracker, which cloud-based tracking software seem to rely on.

CNAME is an alias for the one domain that every user of that tracker uses. This means that if any other user of that tracker runs something dodgy, it could very negatively reflect upon your own domain as well since everyone essentially shares the same primary tracker domain, which points to a single IP address.

As an alternative to that, with THRIVE’s Managed Service, where we put you up on our super-optimized Amazon cloud setup, we use what’s called the “A Record” when setting up your domain, so that this would never happen.

Via the “A Record”, each domain would point to a unique and dedicated IP address that only you use so that your reputation and traffic is never affected by other users. Other users could run the shadiest things through, and your install would never be affected.

Even if you do get your domain flagged, we can easily change the IP and domain of the installation.

This is an important matter that unfortunately not many are too educated about, but this should definitely not be ignored. I hope this post provides some good background to beware when using a shared cloud tracker.

If you are interested in THRIVE’s all-inclusive Managed Service, please contact us with your traffic needs! We will beat any competitor in pricing!

ClickBank Conversion Tracking via Their “Instant Notification Service”

April 16, 2015 by Tom Fang No Comments

For anyone who is using ClickBank or want to start promoting products on ClickBank, THRIVE is now fully integrated with their real time conversion tracking service.

If you are a Thrive user already, you know that most of the time you depend on Thrive’s post-back URL to call back to Thrive whenever one of your offers receives a conversion.

ClickBank, however, doesn’t support this capability. Instead, they have their own version of a conversion post-back called the “Instant Notification Service”. With this integration, when you get sales, Thrive will automatically be notified in real time of a conversion just like using its post-back URL for other offers.

Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to set it up.

First, grab the ClickBank-specific URL from the Tracking section:

On that page, copy the URL in Step 1:

Then, log into your ClickBank interface and go to Settings > My Site.

Scroll down to Advanced Tools and click the Edit link.

On that page, paste in the URL that you just copied:

Make sure that Version 6.0 is selected and then click “Test IPN”.

On that page, you’ll also see a “Secret Key”:

Copy that key and go into Thrive to enter it:

Once you’ve completed Step 2, you’re all set! When you get sales, THRIVE will get notified of the conversions in real time.

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!