Affiliate Marketing: How to Make More Money by Blocking Fake Traffic
One of the biggest “secret sauces” in affiliate marketing is how to optimize a campaign.
Most campaigns start off losing money.
It’s because you start off “blind”. You haven’t found the right combination of traffic source, offer, landing pages, and ads yet.
It’s a race to become profitable before you lose too much money.
Everyone has their own approach to testing a campaign and getting it profitable. And to be honest, there’s no “magic” bullet or secret sauce.
It’s just a series of little experiments you do. And each experiment adds to the profitability.
One thing that separates the big boys is how many tactics they have in their toolbox.
Today I wanna show you a technique I’ve used before in my mobile and native campaigns. Don’t let it intimidate you because it’s easy to implement.
Hopefully you can see that there’s a science to getting campaigns profitable, rather than launching and hoping it makes money :-).
First, let’s simplify a campaign to its core.
From this diagram, you will realize that it boils down to two primary ways to make more money.
The first “lever” is to generate more revenue.
- Adding High-Converting Scripts
- Making your infrastructure load faster.
- Negotiating for Higher Paybumps.
- Better landing pages and angles.
If you do all these then you’ll generate more revenue. But remember, that’s only ONE part of the equation.
The other part is just as important: lowering your cost of acquisition.
Most people will think about lowering their costs as finding ways to lower their CPC.
- Reducing your bids to the optimal level (where you are not compromising on traffic quality)
- Negotiating direct buys with publishers so you pay a fixed fee (i.e. cheaper)
- Increasing Ad CTR so the traffic source will reward them with lower bids.
All those will help you get more profitable.
Here’s one small lever that people neglect:
Stop paying for traffic that will never convert.
Suppose you’re spending $1,000 a day on traffic. What if 10% of that traffic is fake, non-converting traffic?
You can block them and save that $100 a day. Help your mama pay some bills instead of throwing it away.
Previously, I wrote an article on How to Detect Bot Traffic on a website-placement level, and then blacklist that SiteID.
For example, if you found out that majority of traffic from SiteIDs 13425, 15233, 1442 are bot traffic, you block them on the traffic source.
Today, I will show you one slightly more advanced tip to think one step ahead of these bots.
We are going to dig deeper into your Voluum stats to identify these IP/ISP (Internet Service Provider) of these useless bot/datacenter traffic.
And then blacklist them on the traffic source.
Imagine you’re buying drugs in Miami. You feel like something’s off so you get some testing done for the cocaine you just bought.
You realize that it contains a lot of baking soda and baby powder. What the fuck? You confront that pinche culero to stop mixing in the bad shit and to give you that pure, grade A shit.
That’s what we’re doing here guys.
We’re telling the traffic source WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF.
* This analogy was 100% made up and not based on any real life experiences of the author.
Why Should You Even Care?
Take a look at these super low CTR/CVR ISPs.
That’s close to $70/day of useless traffic that we could potentially save.
Saving this $$$ = Higher ROI on Campaigns = More Cashflow to scale your (other) campaigns.
Don’t overlook this tip.
Imagine the above scenario for 10 other campaigns that you’re running.
That’s easily $700/day that you could use to split test another variable.
Terminologies Explained: Datacenter/Bots? ISP/IP?
I know I have some newbies reading this post, so I’m going to take a pitstop and define some terms first.
What is an ISP?
Internet Service Providers. These are companies that provide you Internet Access. For example: AT&T Internet Services, Verizon Internet, Etc.
I’m in New York and I use “Spectrum”.
What is an IP (Internet Protocol) Address?
Okay. This is not a computer science class, so there’s no need to go into details like proxies, IPV4, IPV6, etc.
I’ll give a quick 80-20 on what you need to know to increase your campaign ROI.
Whenever you are connected to the Internet with an ISP, you are automatically assigned an IP address (a few numeric numbers) to identify yourself in a network.
This assigned IP address can either be a Residential IP or a Datacenter IP (depends on where you are connected to).
Residential IPs: These IP are assigned from a standard ISP to a homeowner. If you are browsing from home, chances are you are on a residential IP address. Try clicking this link to see your ISP/IP.
Datacenter IPs: These IPs are different from Residential IPs. They are usually assigned from a datacenter/hosting company like Rackspace, DigitalOcean, Linode, Etc.
Its main purpose is to provide anonymity by masking/changing your IP addresses.
For example, if you want to stream a movie that is banned in your country (e.g. US), you can mask your IP address into an allowed country (e.g. Korea). That way, you can watch that movie from home.
That definitely sounds like a good thing, right?
So, what’s the problem?
The Problem of Anonymity?
Abuse. There are many ways webmasters abuse this anonymity to create harm.
Lets say we’re promoting a campaign on a NativeAds platform. This platform has hundreds of different websites in their network.
They get paid everytime someone clicks on an ad on their site.
So some people want to take advantage of the system. They can hire people or software to “click” on the ads all day to generate more revenue.
The problem? These are not real clicks from real people.
They can use it to:
- Spam your website to scrape information
- Load tons of popups, and then close it right away once the impression is registered (so we are charged for traffic cost)
- Automatically click on your ads (so we are charged for traffic cost)
- … And all other sort of damaging attacks
They get paid per click so they hire these “bots” to click on your ads all day.
The bright side is that most of these bots that hit your Mobile/Native campaigns usually are on a datacenter IP address. They are usually NOT on a resident IP address.
Our job is to find out what are these datacenter ISP/IP addresses and block the living crap out of them.
I hope this paints a better picture on what we are trying to achieve.
How Do You Detect These Datacenter/Bots ISP/IP?
By digging deeper into your Voluum stats under “ISP” and “IP”.
Let’s start by looking deeper into our ISP data.
Narrowing down by “ISP”
You might have stats like these:
Pay close attention to the ones in RED.
Look at their Visits, Clicks & Cost.
If you’ve read my previous article on detecting bot traffic, you’d immediately identify that these are Bot Traffic.
And, if you ran campaigns long enough, you’ll instantly know that these ISPs are from a datacenter.
Now, look at the amount that we’re spending on each of these ISPs EACH DAY.
That’s $50 for Digitalocean itself, $10 for Linode and $8 for Softlayer Technologies.
That’s around $70/day, wasted.
This campaign is already profitable but if I were to remove these, I could easily add an extra 20-30% ROI on top of it.
Can you start to see the benefit of digging deeper?
Our job is to:
- Compile a list of these ISP
- Google search these ISPs to confirm if it belongs to a datacenter.
Use simple rules:
- Datacenter ISP? Add to a blacklist sheet
- Residential ISP? Do not blacklist. Even if it’s not profitable. Why? The majority of this unprofitable traffic could be coming from bad/irrelevant placements. When we eliminate these bad placements in the future, these residential ISPs could then be profitable.
What do you do next?
Take that blacklist sheet and start blacklisting on the traffic source.
Here’s an example on AdCash.
Simply search for those ISPs and apply the blacklist rule to it.
Here’s a little bonus for you Ngo readers.
Not all traffic sources have the ability to blacklist ISPs.
So what do you do?
Look around to see if they allow you to blacklist by IP address.
It’s the same concept. Instead of blacklisting by ISP, you blacklist by IP address.
But, this one is a little more tedious so I’ll keep it simple for you.
Let’s look into the “IP” addresses that we have in our Voluum Stats.
Narrowing down by “IP”
You might see stats like these (scaled down version):
Again, pay close attention to the ones in RED.
Look at the Visits, Clicks, Conversions.
Most of them have a huge amount of visits but super low CTR + zero conversions.
That’s A LOT of crap traffic that we’re throwing down the drain.
“But Charles, how do we know if these IPs are actually datacenter IPs? I don’t want to blacklist a legitimate residential IP.”
How do you determine if these IP are Datacenter IPs?
Method #1: Looking at Clicks/CTR/Conversions
Refer to my previous article on How to Detect Bot Traffic.
Method #2: Using a IP Lookup Tool
An IP Lookup tool displays as much information as possible for a given IP address.
- What Organization do they belong to?
- What ISP do they belong to?
There are many such services out there.
The one I use is WhatIsMyIpAddress.
Simply enter the IP Address you want to look up.
You should get results similar to this.
DigitalOcean. Familiar to you?
We’ll need to blacklist this IP.
Simply repeat the above for the rest of the suspected IP addresses.
There are automated ways to do this but I don’t want to confuse you further.
Get this basics first. I may do a future article on this.
What do you do next?
Same concept as the above example of blacklisting by ISP.
But, we’ll be looking into the traffic source for options to “Blacklist by IP”.
Here’s an example from ExoClick.
As of Feb 2018, ExoClick only allows you to block by IP, not by ISP.
So, this method works with them.
Protip: Soon, you’ll start to notice that these datacenter IP addresses are within certain IP ranges (e.g. 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52). Identify & block them with this IP Range to CIDR Calculator.
Time for Action
I hope you can see the benefits of digging deeper into your Voluum stats. You’re spending money to collect this data and you need to analyze it.
Find all the Datacenter ISPs/IPs, and then start blacklisting them on your traffic sources. Hire VAs if you need to.
This will help reduce your traffic cost, and increase your profits in the long run.
Here’s another tip: Start saving a master sheet of datacenter ISP/IP.
Why? When you launch a new campaign or scale to another traffic source, you can blacklist these immediately to maximize ROI from the get-go.
Higher ROI = More $$$ to Scale = Even more $$$ to roll
Remember guys, don’t focus just on increasing conversion. Always find ways to reduce your traffic cost.
A few months ago I sent out an email survey asking you guys what kind of articles you wanted me to write.
One of the top responses were more hands on, technical advice.
So, I hope you guys enjoyed this article. (It took a lot of work to write compared to my typical article)
Please help me out by rating this article, and other articles on this site.
We’re using a more “data driven approach” to come up with blog post ideas so your ratings / comments are part of the equation.