Using the display ad builder

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One reason people struggle getting any significant traffic to their content network campaigns is not having enough images.  You really need to cover every available image size option to have the maximum possible exposure for your display ads on the network.   That’s why the display ad builder is such a great tool to use.

The display ad builder has been out for a while, but the recent updates have made it work really well.  Its basically a tool for quickly creating images to use on your content network display campaigns.  You can choose their standard templates with flash animation built in, load in an image, and it spits out all the standard IAB ad sizes.   Normally, its quite a chore to make 5 different animated display ads.  If you outsource them to a designer you might pay $40 an ad, so a group of 5 sizes would cost $200.  The display ad builder tool can do this in 5 minutes for free.

You launch the tool in a campaign by selecting “new ad” then choosing “display ad builder” from the drop down.   You are then presented with all the different designs and formats.

Its then just a matter of filling in the form fields with the information you want, uploading a logo, and entering your destination URL.  The tool then re-formats each ad to fit the correct size and you get flash ads in every size.  The only catch is, sometimes you have to play around with your images or text in certain ad sizes if it doesn’t look quite right.  But overall, its a very fast process.

So if you haven’t tried image ads on the content network because you don’t have the images, check out the display ad builder.  You could be up and running in a few minutes.

Posted in Contextual, General, Google by cdfnetworks on 26|04|10
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Pay per click, pay per call, click to call mashup

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About a year ago I was brainstorming one night about the future of internet marketing. I wrote in big letters on the top of my whiteboard:

Mobile + Pay per call = Future

With mobile penetration continuing to go through the roof, and pay per call technology rapidly evolving, those 2 points will converge at some point. We are still in the very early stages of the merging of these technologies. The few early players in the game up until now have been mobile service providers who can implement their own customer pay per call display ad solutions.   Now Google has quietly introduced click to call, allowing everyone to access mobile users with a real solution.  Basically a mobile user sees an ad and clicks it to be connected directly to the number, rather than having to enter the number and dial manually.   The clicks are charged to same price as regular web clicks.

As a marketer, I immediately thought how this could work with pay per call.  I do a lot of work with pay per call on local lead gen, so click to call seemed like a perfect fit.   Now you can actually integrate pay per click, pay per call, and click to call in one easy step.

Pay per click ad >  Click to call > Pay per call number

Why would you want to do this?  Here’s an example:

• Say you were running a local lead gen offer. You had a unique trackable phone number set up to capture phone leads (pay per call).
• Now say you wanted to reach local mobile users browsing the internet on smartphones like IPhones, Droids, Blackberry, etc. (pay per click)
• Finally, you want those users to be able click directly on the ad from their phone, rather than having to dial the number into their phone. (click to call)

Some of the benefits:

  • You get the benefit of 2 options in your ad, clicks or calls
  • You get the increase CTR from having they extra information on your ad.  Any extra information in your ad, like a phone number, makes it stand out from the rest.  It also adds legitimacy to your ad.
  • If they do click through on the phone number, you have the huge benefit of excellent phone lead conversion rates, compared to website conversion.
  • You could even use the click to call reports from Google to track and bill your local lead gen client!  A built in tracking solution.

Setup is simple, in the Campagin settings under Networks, Devices and Extensions, click the checkbox to enable click to call under ad extensions.  Enter your phone number (your trackable pay per call number).  Then under Devices, to make sure check the box to show ads to iphones and other mobile devices with browsers.

Keep in mind this is not going to be a large traffic source right now, but I think is going to be huge going forward.  Start playing around with it now before it gets saturated.

Interested in this kind of local lead gen stuff?  Then you’re going to want to sign up to my new list!  Something big is coming soon.

Posted in General, Google, Lead Generation, Pay Per Call by cdfnetworks on 23|03|10
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Current state of the google content network

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One the most common questions I continue to be asked is “should I use the Google content network?”

The Google content network is still one of the most misunderstood forms of online advertising. The confusion is understandable.  At first all the experts and gurus said to “just turn it off”. It was thought that it didn’t convert for CPA offers. After a while people started realizing that it does in fact work quite well, it just requires a different skill set than normal pay per click advertising on Google.  So where does the content network stand today at the start of 2010?

The content network on Google is alive and kicking and stronger than ever.  Although things like PPV are getting a lot of press these days for cheap clicks, I still believe the content network is one of the best sources for cheap clicks.   I am talking really cheap like .01 to .02 cents a click.    Here are the some stats for a campaign we have running strictly on the content network.

For this one campaign Google delivered over 54,000 clicks for about $1,000.   That’s among the cheapest paid traffic you can to buy.   This example is obviously on the lowest end of the scale, there are other campaigns we pay up to $1.00 per click on content.  But the clicks are usually much lower than you would pay for Google PPC.

Content traffic does convert as well.   It’s just a matter of tracking everything, finding the converting sites that your ads are displayed on, and focusing your optimization on those sites.  There are no specific rules for which sites to exclude from displaying your ads.  For example, a lot of people say to exclude gmail.com, but I have seen conversions come from there.  Just like everything else, you have to test for your specific niche.

Quality score is important on the content network, although I have found not as strict as normal Google Pay Per Click.  So if you have a campaign that just won’t run on the PPC network, its possible Google will allow it for content.  As you can see by the example stats, a .09% CTR would be horrible on PPC but runs fine on content in the 3-4 ad position range.

So as 2010 starts, I’d say the content network is still an excellent source of cheaper traffic and should continue to be for the foreseeable future.   It doesn’t work for every niche and offer, but definitely should be tested to find out.

Posted in Contextual, General, Google by cdfnetworks on 13|01|10
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Google content network basic strategy

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With the social ad networks like Facebook and Myspace getting all the attention these days, its easy to forget about the #1 largest ad network: the Google content network.   With an 80% reach of all Internet users and 140 Billion page views a month, the Google Content network drives some serious traffic.   And just like social networks, you can also do specific GEO targeting and some demographic targeting.

But are the clicks still cheap?  Here is screenshot of a couple test campaigns from just last month.  These 2 campaigns received over 20,000 clicks at .02 per click!

Cheap content network clicks

The Content network can still be a goldmine of cheap traffic, if used correctly.   So what is a simple game plan to access that traffic?

Basic content network strategy.

1.  Always create separate content network and search network campaigns.

2.  Create your data gathering campaign.  This is generally a keyword targeted campaign.  Use only about 15-25  keywords per adgroup.  Duplicate keywords are fine across adgroups, this establishes a theme that Google uses to trigger your ad.  Individual keywords don’t matter, its the theme of the keywords in an adgroup that matter.  Use lots of negative keywords to hone down your themes.

3. Tracking performance and being able to interpret the data and reports is what I consider the biggest component of any campaigns success.  In order to do that you will need to set up your landing site with tracking.  Install conversion tracking on your thank you or success page.  Also install Google Analytics on every page of your destination site.  Set up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics for each step of the landing page to conversion process.   (Those steps aren’t just for a content network campaign,  I recommend them for any landing site you are driving traffic to.)   Now you are in a position to see all the possible data from your campaign.

4.  Run a Placement report in Adwords to show what sites on the content network are showing your ads.   Be sure to include conversions in your report data.  Then sort the report by conversions.   The results shown are the gold mine of data that you are looking for.

5. You can now use the data to create a new Placement targeted content campaigns with the URLs of the converting sites.   In those, I would continue to use keyword based adgroups as well as adding image ads.  If the image ads also convert well on those placements, you can split them off into another campaign.  These Placement campaigns should convert very well based on your previous data.

6.  You can also continue to optimize the original keyword campaign by using the site exclusion tool to block the non converting sites.  For the converting adgroups you can increase bids, and narrow your demographic targeting.  Eventually the keyword campaign should provide good results on its own, as well as  a further testbed to extract more converting URLs for the Placement campaign.

That’s just one basic strategy, there are many ways to use the content network.  But however you use it, don’t ignore this valuable traffic source!

Posted in Contextual, General, Google by cdfnetworks on 02|09|09
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Are you advertising on Bing?

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By now most people have heard of MSN rebranding their search to Bing. We have been playing around with the search engine, and are actually impressed with the features.  The left sidebar with topic categories, related searches and search history is very effective when searching.   I also like the pop up text preview of the organic listings.    When searching for people, Bing seems to heavily weigh social media results like Twitter accounts in their SERPS.

All this is great, but how can you use Bing to make more money as a marketer?   Timing for one thing.  Microsoft is throwing $100 million into a media blitz.   With this kind of hype, its a great time to take advantage of the increased traffic bump to the new service.

If you are using Adcenter, you are already on Bing.  Results from old PPC campaigns are shown automatically on Bing.  But you might want to check your Adcenter campaigns and see what this media push is doing to your campaigns.  Most of our campaigns are showing increased impressions and clicks.

Positioning has also changed a bit.   Some searches we have been testing show as many as 11 paid results on the first page.  They also display some highlighted main column listings at the bottom of the 1st results page.  That is a first for PPC.   With all these positions available, your campaigns could radically change as you ads shift around.  Again, its a good time to re-evaluate your current PPC ads to track the results of the Bing launch.

It’s still too early to tell how this will affect the bottom line of revenue, but so far results are promising.   What do you think of Bing?

Posted in General, Google, Landing Pages, MSN Adcenter, Pay Per Click by cdfnetworks on 24|06|09
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Using conversion funnels to increase profits

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One of the biggest gains you can make in the profits of your campaigns is to optimize the conversion process.  A great way to do this is by using conversion funnels in Google Analytics.  By setting this up, you can see exactly where visitors are being lost during the conversion process through a visual interface.

The process is fairly easy.  You log into your Google Analytics account and create a new goal.  That goal will usually be the URL of your thank you or success page.  Then you define the intermediate pages that lead up to that goal page.  The first page might be your landing page, then a payment page, then the thank you page.  This is your conversion funnel process.  You then install the tracking code on those pages and you are done.

Once the data is being gathered you can go into the Goals section and view the report Funnel Visualization.  This will show you exactly what is happening to your visitors at each step in the process.  By seeing how many are bouncing out on each step, you know just where to focus your efforts to increase conversions.  This combined with the Website Optimizer are the most powerful tools I have found for increasing profits of your landing pages.

Here’s a short overview of the process:

Posted in General, Google, Landing Pages by cdfnetworks on 08|04|09
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New Year New Tool Testing

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We are making a big push around here in 2009 to automate as many things as possible and make life easier. To that end, we have been testing a lot of new tools lately. Not sales letter page things, but actual tools that I think show some promise. Although most end up not working as advertised, some are actually turning out to be worth using.

With all the emphasis we are putting on building our landing sites for SEO as well as PPC, we needed a fast way to build up links. This technique helps with quality score, bid prices, and eventually free traffic to affiliate sites. One tool we tested that does work as promised is Social Submitter. The software automates the submitting of links to social bookmarking sites. It can submit to 160 social bookmarking sites and is a very advanced program. You can create filters for your submissions, use proxies, and see the status of your bookmark submissions all within the program.

social-sub

I almost hesitate to blog about this one, because I think its a great advantage to have. This could be used to promote straight affiliate sites, or just bookmark your blog entries to get more exposure for your site.  But with a price tag of $150, most people will pass this one up. As far as I’m concerned though, any tool that helps make money is always worth the price. They have a demo you can use to try the program to a limited number of sites for 3 days, if you want to test drive it. Is anyone else using this software to boost affiliate sites yet?

Posted in Affiliate 101, Affiliate Marketing, Conferences, General, Google by cdfnetworks on 08|01|09
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The CPA to CPA arbitrage play

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Back in June 07 I wrote a post about how to set up a campaign on Google’s pay per action (PPA) beta network. There wasn’t much interest in the post and the service in general, but I saw this as a huge opportunity. I have been running many PPA campaigns every day since then and making solid money off of the program. Unfortunately the service is ended in August, but it was great while it lasted. Here’s what I did, and hopefully it provides a concrete example of thinking outside the box.

Since you can arbitrage anything I got to thinking why not do an offer to offer arbitrage. The idea was basically a PPA to CPA arbitrage, essentially just CPA to CPA. The beauty of the PPA/CPA system is that it puts the burden of advertising on the publishers, in this case Adsense publishers. You set your conversion action amount you are willing to pay that publisher for brining you the sale. The number of clicks are irrelevant because you don’t pay for them (but more on that later).

So in this example I had a CPA offer that paid $12 per lead. I set the PPA action amount for $7. So for each completed lead I netted $5 after giving $7 to the adsense publisher. The high payout generated a lot of action for publishers, I tried lower amounts but that led to less interest by publishers.

Now the big problem with this type of setup is technical. You have to have a white label or self hosted offer, because the action confirmation code Google used need to be a static and final confirmation page. The dynamic pages that most affilite networks use to place normal Google tracking code or other pixels did not work for the PPA network code. Luckily I had an offer I could have total control over, so this worked.

So how did it go? Very well. Once publishers started running the ad the clicks started pouring in. Since the action amount was higher than most, a lot of people tried it. The conversion rate was low, but that wasn’t where the majority of the money was made. Which brings us to the part about the free clicks. Finding a way to monetize the free (non converting) traffic is the key to the whole thing.

The defined action was not the only exit point on the landing page. There was a small email signup link to grab double opted in emails for future selling. There were thousands of clicks coming into that page that didn’t convert well on the primary action, but did sign up for the email. Then I was able to convert these free clicks into sales via newsletters. In fact, when I calculated a CPC cost, using the paid out actions I was charged for against the free clicks – I was effectively paying .002 a click. That’s over 100,000 Google clicks for $200

Even though the Google PPA network is gone, there are lots of similar things you can do like this (not the Google Conversion Optimizer though, because that does charge you for all clicks). Hopefully lightbulbs are going off in your head as you read this ;)

Posted in General, Google, PPA by cdfnetworks on 02|09|08
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