Anatomy of a winning PPC to affiliate campaign

Many people talk, including myself, about how to build good campaigns that have great quality scores and a solid ROI. But what exactly does this mean in the real world? I have said before, we are all working off essentially the same keywords. So given the same list of say 10,000 keywords, how does one person’s campaign completely fail, while another person makes a killing? It’s all about campaign structure. The best way I can explain this is with an example.

A couple months ago I began a quick and dirty test of a new niche and affiliate offer. To do this I got 10,129 keywords together into 1 campaign with about 35 adgroups. I wrote 2 ads for each adgroup, bought a domain, slapped together a landing page, and began the test. This hastily made campaign actually showed some promise with a slight profit. The potential was there for a real money maker, so I decided to push forward full force on the campaign. This was a heavily contested niche, probably one of the most competitive out there, so I knew I had to start from scratch and build a proper campaign. Here are the steps I took to build the winning campaign.

First of all after taking a hard look at the keywords, I knew I had to logically break up the campaign into 6 separate campaigns. This was necessary for the adgroup structure I had planned to work. To me, adgroup structure is the key to PPC marketing. Keep in mind some of the hard limits of certain services like Yahoo (max 1000 adgroups per campaign).

Next I was able to pare down the list of 10k keywords down to 8,257 using some of the keyword scrubbing techniques described here. The more non- converting keywords you can remove from your lists the better.

Then the hardest and most important part – adgroups. I took the original 35 adgroups, and broke them out to 1,523 adgroups spread out over the 6 campaigns. This was absolutely necessary to get the highest possible relevancy of the keywords to ads. How relevant? Well, about 300 of the adgroups had just 1, short tail keywords in them. Overall, my keyword to adgroup ratio was a tight 5.42 kws/adgroup.

After building out the adgroups, ads had to be written. Recently I have found some evidence that writing non-dynamic ads lead to better quality score than using dynamic insertion, so all ads were written manually. I did use a template to speed up the process, but no keyword insertion tricks were used. I had at least 2 ads per adgroup, to begin the process of A/B testing.

Finally the landing pages. To continue to reflect the relevancy of the keyword, from the ad to the landing page, I needed to build 1,142 landing pages. Much like the ad writing, a template was used, but each page differs enough to be totally relevant to each keyword and ad.

In review:

Test campaign:
Domains: 1
Campaign: 1
Keywords: 10,129
Adgroups: 35
Ads: 35
Landing Pages: 1
Winning campaign:
Domains: 3
Campaigns: 6
Keywords: 8,257
Adgroups: 1,523
Ads: 3,046
Landing Pages: 1,142

So you can see, it takes a ton of work to compete in PPC to affiliate marketing. Gone are the days you can slap up a campaign in an hour and have it make money over the long term. The work I describe probably took around 35 hours to complete, and that was just the initial build out. That may sound like a lot of time, but if you consider this will keep making money for months, maybe even years, it’s not anything. Optimizing and improving the campaign is a never ending battle. This campaign is really starting to make money now though, and the time investment has already paid off. The great thing about PPC is that it’s a level playing field. Anyone can compete in any niche, it’s just a matter of how hard do you want to work at it. Work harder than your competitors by building a better campaign, and you will succeed.
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Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Pay Per Click by cdfnetworks on 01|29|08
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Comment by Teach Me $$
2008-01-29 15:57:14

Wow Chad,
First of all hats of to you for providing the stats and breaking them down so that we can follow whats going on.
I have one question, how did you build that many landing pages you mentioned a template, My guess is that you made static landing pages with adgroups/Ads/keywords related.
Answer if you may.


Comment by Scott
2008-01-29 16:04:13

Awesome post. It’s nice to see big time affiliates giving up there secrets! So how are you defining “winning campaign”.?

2008-01-29 16:24:44

[...] Original post by CDF Networks [...]

Comment by Jared
2008-01-29 16:46:15

@1 – This is just my method, but I have found the easiest way to make a ton of landing pages is to simply make a php function. Inside the php function you will have the complete template. This way if you make a change to you landing page all you have to do is change the function and all landing pages get updated.

My landing page would look something like this (but a little more complex obviously):

So you see it is is pretty bare. With essentially two lines of code you are generating a full landing page. Title, Keyword, and paragrah are just sample variables.. you would use whatever you need for you landing page.

ANYWAYS, Chad, great post bud. At least I don’t feel crazy anymore when I launch a campaign that has 100+ landing pages.

You going to be around ASW?

Comment by Jared
2008-01-29 16:47:32

damn, the comment stripped out the example.

here it is again minus the php tags

include “global.php”;
createPage($title, $keyword, $paragraph);

2008-01-29 16:49:50

[...] I would like to share you a great post from Chad. He shows us the anatomy of a winning PPC to affiliate campaign. I have no doubt with his campaign. [...]

Comment by Chad
2008-01-29 16:54:50

Teach Me- I have a system that creates a template then inserts the keywords into placeholders throughout the file. Similar to what Jared posted, but not PHP and produces clean HTML only code with seems to work great for QS.

Scott-I define winning as any profitable campaign. This particular one is pulling about 1k a day.

Jared- Great comment. Yes, I’ll be at ASW.

Comment by al
2008-09-09 17:12:40


That “system that creates a template” — can explain how that works. The closest that I’ve come to this is caching php as html and then using the html

Comment by gopher
2008-01-29 18:08:52

Can you share with us how exactly you broke up the keywords? Did you do it manually (I guess not) or do you have a good macro/script/tool that will do it for you?

Comment by Andreas
2008-01-29 20:23:17

Chad, are you interlinking your pages?

For example if I’d go for “loan”, I build a landingpage for “car loan” and a landingpage for “student loan”.

Would you recommend to have a top navigation bar which points to all the different loans and links to the various landing pages? Or do you keep internal links away from landing pages and just link the offer?


Comment by Karolis
2008-01-29 21:44:11

Great post! Very useful and interesting data. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Sucker
2008-01-29 23:21:54

That’s impressive, I can’t even imagine building a campaign like that! I just don’t have the patience (among other things..)

Comment by Brady White
2008-01-30 00:43:38

You mean affiliate marketing actually takes work? ;)

Comment by Tim
2008-01-30 03:05:48

What kind of free tools are necessary for a beginner or do you have to purchase everything first?

Comment by Matt Larson
2008-01-30 04:00:29

I’ve seen another tool that organized keywords, but adwords editor works great on the free side for breaking down keywords by relevant terms – not their auto tool, but typing in manually. Of course you can do it from the start, too by how you group them – like a speed PPC (though it is a breeze to script something like that.

Comment by Think Like An SOB
2008-01-30 04:32:36

Wow. You must be extremely talented or with extreme patience to break down into so many adgroups.
Also, your idea of successful may not be the same for others…for many $100/day is wow and for some $1000/day is oh well.

Comment by wesley
2008-01-30 07:57:53

Why exactly did you break this up in 6 different campaigns? Wouldn’t different adgroups be enough (and 1 campaign)?

Comment by Kiley
2008-01-30 14:21:32

Great job, Chad! However this post could easily sway the noob away from PPC. It’s certainly not necessary to do all of that work to make a lot of money with PPC.

You don’t need thousands of keyword, and certainly don’t need thousands of LP’s, dynamic or otherwise, to create a winning campaign.

I just think it is a bit misleading.

Comment by CPA Affiliates
2008-01-30 15:57:30

Great way to break it down the narrower the better these days. get that QS up :)

Comment by Chad
2008-01-30 16:52:22

Thanks guys for all the great questions. I will do a follow up post to answer them all in a day so keep em coming!

Comment by Karolis
2008-01-30 18:32:59

Could you explain more about how you broke down your campaigns? For example what do you do with broad phrase and exact matches? Do you put them into different campaigns or do you keep them in the same ad groups? Looking forward to hearing more on your campaign structuring philosophy :)

Comment by Jacob F.
2008-02-02 06:13:25

>> This particular one is pulling about 1k a day.
Well, that certainly changes the economics of creating thousands of ad groups. It doesn’t seem like such a bore now :-)

Comment by Curtis
2008-02-07 09:11:37

If your landing pages just offer a paragraph of text with the affiliate link, hasn’t Google spanked you yet with $12/keyword bids? Google dislikes landing pages with one affiliate link as they don’t offer value to the user (according to Google of course).

I have landing pages with title and h1 tags that are the exact ad text and unique content on the page that includes the keywords from the ad. After months with ‘Good’ QS and low bids, they jump to $12/keyword and become ‘Poor’.

So how have your landing pages stayed in good standing with Google when they seem destined to get rid of affiliate landing pages because they see them as diminishing their brand with quality search results?

Comment by Curtis
2008-02-07 09:15:33

Also, with that many ad groups and keywords, how on earth do you manage it all? For example, how do you pick up when you’re paying WAY too much and losing money on a keyword or when you’re not paying nearly enough? Or how about a keyword that you’re paying a lot for but isn’t bringing the right traffic (people are interpreting it as something else)?

Comment by Matt
2008-02-19 01:13:12

This is a great post man. quit informative. Its make things much easier.

2008-02-21 15:59:37

[...] going to do more niche research and keyword research. Some of the most successful players in PPC affiliate marketing use something like 10,000 keywords in their campaigns.  I’m going to pick an offer that [...]

2008-02-23 21:30:08

[...] for my main offer by 143.4%. How’d I do that? No big secret, just by using the techniques described before on this blog with super targeted campaigns, tight adgroups, and hyper relevant landing [...]

Comment by chuks ugoji
2008-03-20 11:05:53

Thanks cos this makes things easier truly.

Comment by MillionDollarCheck
2008-03-22 21:25:32

This is harder than i thought..but i guess that hard work is what separates the best from the rest.

Comment by Jeff
2008-04-10 05:13:35

Now I know why I’m not making any money from PPC. I SUCK!!

Comment by Matt
2008-04-24 14:40:57

Great post – question…
How in the world did you build 1142 landing pages (along with all the other work) in only 35 hours. Is there a tool that you used to auto-generate the landing pages?

2008-05-05 15:35:20

[...] Popular Articles The 13 Pay Per Click Network Challenge Anatomy of a winning PPC to affiliate campaign Breaking the $1,000 per hour barrier How to import Adwords campaigns into Yahoo and MSN Keyword [...]

2008-05-07 00:20:09

[...] Once I saw the campaign had promise, I tore it down and rebuilt it from the ground up with awesome structure. Then I kept checking reports all the time and honed everything down intto a conversion machine. [...]

Comment by Greg
2008-06-25 01:50:47

1000k a day net or gross? That number is meaningless to your readers if you are spending more than that on clicks.

Comment by TipJar
2008-08-24 21:32:41

“Work harder than your competitors by building a better campaign, and you will succeed.”

Solid advice.

Comment by mark
2008-09-29 19:27:31

Hi Chad,

Thanks for posting such great stuff on here! I’m just getting into ppc for affiliate marketing and am looking at conversion tracking software options. xtremeconversions and affiliateradar are the primary ones I’m looking at.

I’m creating a shopping comparison site and will be using datafeeds provided by several affiliate networks…cj, avantlink and amazon etc.

Any advice on a platform to monitor the ppc campaign at the keyword level?


Trackback by Internet Unterhaltung
2008-10-25 14:32:41

Internet Unterhaltung…

Actually I’ ve always thought it was weird that something other than firefox. com was used for marketing. For an internet company, the domain name often* is* the company name in a very real way- google, myspace, facebook, etc. I realize that’ s an …

2008-12-30 16:53:24

[...] Popular Articles The 13 Pay Per Click Network Challenge Anatomy of a winning PPC to affiliate campaign Breaking the $1,000 per hour barrier How to import Adwords campaigns into Yahoo and MSN Keyword [...]

Comment by ???????
2009-02-19 03:08:40

Well, It’s really a huge job i can imaging. and 35 hours is really fast. Rssed. Thanks

Comment by abmoslado
2009-02-19 03:09:33

well, really hard job. And i’d love to know how to difine a winning campaign. Thanks

2009-05-29 06:58:36

It never occured to me that you need to go this granular to create a truly effective campaign. I guess if you put the effort in and get really targeted there should be no reason you cannot succeed. I have always believed in small very targeted ad groups and ad copy but have never gone to the lengths of creating such a large number of landing pages.

2009-07-23 17:56:52

[...] Popular Articles The 13 Pay Per Click Network Challenge Anatomy of a winning PPC to affiliate campaign Breaking the $1,000 per hour barrier How to import Adwords campaigns into Yahoo and MSN Keyword [...]

Comment by Residual
2009-12-28 07:28:20

I guess there’s a science to everything.

Comment by Pay on Results SEO
2010-11-22 16:03:20

Great post by the way. I stick with SEO as it is what I know best. Affiliate campaigns I leave to you guys.

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