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
As CPA affiliates, we often have to absorb the costs for wasted clicks of tons of traffic that we drive to advertisers sites. If fact the majority of traffic that we pay to send to an advertisers site doesn’t not convert for the specific action that we are contracted to be paid for. Of course, they are still getting the benefit of that traffic. It may convert for something else on their site, or after the cookie has expired. Even if the customer we sent doesn’t take an action, the advertiser still gets to build their brand and gain visitors. It’s kind of the forgotten element of the CPA model.
Well here’s an example of just how good it can be on the other side of the equation. We have had a PPA (Pay Per Action) campaign set up on Google for a while now, sending traffic to a customer site that we are managing in the Aviation market. (See our visual guide of setting up a PPA campaign) . This PPA campaign is mostly for testing purposes, and not our main driver of traffic at all. So anything we get from it is basically a bonus. As you can see from the screenshot below, it does not convert very well at all for the action that we have set up. However, the traffic does end up staying on the site and looking around, which is great.
For the 1,499 click of Google traffic, we have paid a whopping $9.00. That breaks out to a CPC of $ 0.0060 per click! Now do I feel guilty about all the Adsense advertisers on the content network sending me this traffic and for essentially free? Not at all! I am on that losing side of the equation most of the time, so it’s nice to be the one on the receiving side.
I’m sure all the savvy readers of this blog can think of some very “grayhat” ways to exploit this kind of thing. That’s not how we roll at CDF Networks, but rest assured we have thought of them too.
About the test:
In January of this year, I posted my extensive test results of 12 PPC networks. Since 8 months is an eternity in affiliate marketing, I decided to revisit this test with a brand new niche and see who performed best and worst. I also added 1 more network, Ask.com, into the mix. The test ran for most of the month of August, and it took me the last 10 days to really analyze the data. Please don’t ask what the offer or niche was, I still need to make a living guys! The keyword list and ads were kept as close as possible on all the different networks. Some minor changes had to be made based on ad copy length restrictions. All landing pages were identical. Bid prices were adjusted to try to keep ad positions as close as possible throughout the duration of the test.
I rated each network on 3 criteria. Traffic, conversions, and pricing. I had a scoring framework for the different point levels, but obviously some subjective decisions were made in determining each score. Traffic and concerversion rate were given the highest weight, and click pricing was give half weight.
• Traffic Volume (Highest volume = 10 out of possible 10)
• Conversion Rate (Best conversion rate = 10 out of possible 10)
• Click Pricing (Lowest pricing = 5 out of possible 5)
For a best possible total score of 25
Yahoo came out on top. With their strong traffic volume, and strong conversions, Yahoo surged to past rivals MSN and Google. Their moderately priced traffic and more lenient quality score (compared to Adwords) also helped Yahoo grab the top spot.
Traffic Volume Winner:
No suprise that Google Adwords is the leader in this category. As the king of search and a 2/3 market share for most keyword searches, they reign supreme as the volume leader.
Conversion Rate Winner:
Yahoo and MSN tied for the top conversion rates. The traffic from both of theses networks continues to convert better than Google for most of the niches we have tested. This may be surprising to some, but our data clearly shows big G behind the other 2. Also notable, Looksmart produced strong conversion rates.
Based on the test results, these are the networks that I would consider testing any offer on:
These are the networks that are probably not worth your time. But you never know until you test!
• Search 123
Want to test these for yourself? Check out these PPC coupons for some free seed money.
There is a lot of buzz out there about Google’s new PPA (Pay-Per-Action) ads which are currently in beta. I will post my views of the service after I have had a few more weeks to see the real world results, but until then, here is a step by step guide of how to set up a PPA advertising campaign on Google. There are 14 steps and screenshots in total.
1. First step is to create your action and setup conversion tracking. By going into the conversion tracking section and choosing “Create New Action”.