I have a quote that I say at least once every day when an affiliate newbie asks me for advice.
“Imitate THEN Innovate”
What does this mean?
It means don’t reinvent the wheel.
For example, if you want to learn affiliate marketing copywriting, you don’t have to start from scratch.
There are experts like Gary Halbert, Ogilvy, or Schwartz you can learn from.
Let’s apply this to affiliate marketing.
There are mobile marketing affiliates out there right now who are pulling in 10k+ per day.
Don’t you think it’s better to model what they are doing, rather than start from scratch?
I’m not sure about you guys, but I hate wasting time and energy.
If there’s a fast solution, I’ll take it every time.
How Can You See What Other Affiliates Are Running?
If you go to any website that has pop under ads, native ads, or your own Facebook account, you’re gonna see ads.
That’s like the caveman’s version of spying.
Here’s how new affiliates would spy before spy tools were common:
- Go to a site where ads are displayed
- Refresh your browser a dozen times
- Download or screenshot the creatives you find
If you want to do it that way in 2017, all the best 🙂
There are companies out there that have built software that takes ALL of the manual work out of this process.
Let me explain how spy tools work:
John wants to run a sweepstakes offer in Germany his affiliate manager tells him is converting well.
The problem is that John doesn’t know what landing page to use.
Imagine if John could:
- See hundreds of created landing pages promoting sweepstakes that are in German within 10 seconds
- He could order them by ones that have received the most traffic, or newest pages
- Then filter out ones that are run by big companies (not affiliates)
- Then steal every single one of those landing pages by downloading them with one click
Wouldn’t that speed up the process exponentially for John?
There are companies that have built software that
does all of this, and a whole lot more.
In this post I’ll show you the best spy tools (the ones I use every day in my company), and how to use them.
I know some of you guys are gonna ask, so let me explain my thoughts on if it’s “ethical” or not.
Spying on Other Affiliates Is Business as Usual
Don’t feel guilty about spying on other affiliates.
Everyone spies and steals from their competition, and not just in affiliate marketing.
Look at car wash franchises, budget airlines, makeup companies etc.
If you wanna compete in those industries…
- You use their business model.
- You add a couple of your own twists.
- Boomsauce, you’ve got a company that’s (hopefully) an improvement on your competition.
Nobody’s upset that you copied their “idea” for a drive-thru car wash or a low-cost airline.
As long as you don’t use their exact logos and colors, it’s fair game.
Guys, it’s called research.
The name “spy tools” makes it sound shady.
But it’s almost a prerequisite for struggling affiliates to know what they’re up against.
I’ve met newbies that have tested dozens of campaigns without getting a single one profitable.
And if you’re experienced it’s even more important to keep up with the trends.
Always keep one eye on your competition.
The frustrating thing about affiliate marketing is that there are loads of reasons your campaign may be stumbling:
- Your landing page isn’t set up well
- Maybe you run an offer that just refuses to convert
- You aren’t prequalifying users well with your ad headlines
- There might not be a consistent theme between your ads and landing page
Wouldn’t life be easier if you knew what
landing pages/ads/CPA offers already worked?
This is where spy tools come in handy.
You’re no longer running into battle blind – you can see almost every move your opponent is making.
Here are the best spy tools I use (I use all of these for different traffic types)
- Mobile Spy Tool
- Display Spy Tool
- Facebook Spy Tool
Spy Tool #1: Adplexity (Mobile + Native)
They have tens of thousands of landing pages in their database…
Change the links to be your affiliate links, then upload 🙂
Let me show you…
I just checked Adplexity to see if anyone is promoting gaming on mobile.
Here are a few random results:
I could download these pages, change the links, and have all 4 of them live in 10 minutes if I wanted to. (Plus the hundreds of other results that came back)
Some of them aren’t relevant, but there are hundreds of results.
Then you can get more granular and search for names of specific games, search for other keywords affiliates might be using on their landing pages etc.
Next you can search by advertiser
This lets you search for specific offers in Adplexity. This is massive. You put in the offer URL and you can see what landing pages other affiliates are running.
Try this one of for yourself, I don’t wanna give away too many secrets
You can also search by publisher
This lets you see which creatives run on certain websites or apps. This is useful if you see a domain name that keeps popping up, or if you wanna find out which category you should use on your traffic sources.
They have a ton of filters
Device type – Android or iPhone
Country – most GEOs available
Language – select all, or certain languages
Affiliate network – this is good for finding profitable offers
Connection – is the campaign running on mobile data or wifi?
Ad type – you can choose between popup, in-app, redirect, text etc.
Traffic source – gives you an idea of what other affiliates run on that traffic source
Tracker – this is a major giveaway it’s an affiliate and not a brand or big company running the ad
Hopefully you guys can see how much of an advantage Adplexity is for mobile affiliate marketing.
Here are some quick tips to help you get started:
- You should filter by how long the ad has been serving. It’s a good idea to limit to campaigns that have been running for over 60 days, because those ads are probably converting well and have a fair amount of data on traffic.
- Click on individual ads to see data on the campaign. You will see what landing pages the ad is running traffic to, a traffic breakdown according to country and a daily traffic bar to see how traffic fluctuates over time. You’ll can also see the top publishers the ad displayed on.
- You can actually download the landing page directly without paying for a special tool to rip it.
This tool gives you a ton of intel on your competition.
Seriously guys, back in the day I used to have a VA who would spend all day on sites like Putlocker saving all the landing pages that popped up. Copying others is one of the best ways of learning how to sell online.
Note: Adplexity has different versions:
Spy Tool #2: WhichAdsWork (Facebook / Ecommerce)
Note #1: WhichAdsWork is no longer around (November 2017), but I’ll leave this here to show you guys what the tool was like 🙂
Note #2: Good news, there’s a new kid on the block – AdSector. It has all the capabilities that WAW did and more. Read the full AdSector review here.
WhichAdsWork is something I could only dream of 10 years ago.
You can search in
They have a good selection of countries and they are expanding it as demand comes for it (so if you want a new GEO, tell them!)
Here are the countries they currently offer (as of May 2017):
- United Kingdom
- United States
How can you sort/search the results?
The sorting is similar to Adplexity but with a few extra features for Facebook.
- Search videos ads, image ads, or both
- Newsfeed or side column
- Interested in (heaps of options for popular interests on FB – great for targeting)
- You can search by keyword, advertiser or publisher, and look on the landing page or the ad.
You can also search/filter by what’s happening on the landing page.
- Landing pages using an affiliate network
- Pages using the common trackers (Voluum, Prosper etc)
- Ecommerce platform (Shopify, Magneto, Tee Spring, Woocommerce etc.)
- If any funnels used (Leadpages, Clickfunnels etc.)
John has seen loads of ads for watches on his own Facebook page.
He thinks watches might be a good product to build up a Shopify store around.
He can fire up WhichAdsWork and search for “watches” using the keyword search feature.
Here are the results I get when I type in “watches”:
But can you see a problem?
Half of the results aren’t to do with watches.
John wants to get more specific than that for his research.
He can change the search parameters to see how other ecommerce store owners are targeting.
I’m not sure how reliable the targeting options are, but they’ve worked well for me 🙂
John can change some of the search functions and get better results.
Here are the search parameters I used:
- United States
- Ads running longest
If you wanted to start a watch store, you could learn a TON from studying these companies.
Read their Facebook page comments and see what people are saying about them.
- Maybe their customer support is awful
- Perhaps people think the watches look cheap
When you’re looking at competitors, ask yourself some questions:
- Do you think you can build a better store than them?
- Can you see any flaws in their funnels you could fix?
- What sort of angles are they using to sell their products?
- Do you have an advantage over the other Facebook ecommerce drop shippers?
- If people are tagging their friends in it, does that mean people love the product?
- Are they using Shopify apps to increase their conversions, or are their pages lacking?
Here’s a video from the WhichAdsWork team that goes over their tool and how it works.
Download WhichAdsWork (Removed Nov 2017)
Alternative: Read AdSector Review
Spy Tool #3: WhatRunsWhere (Display ads)
I recommend WhatRunsWhere if you’re doing display or native campaigns.
The ads and landers that let you create a $1,000-a-day campaign on Facebook may totally flop on display. It requires different images, ad themes and angles.
You can get an account with WhatRunsWhere for $299 a month if you want to spy on desktop campaigns or $399 a month if you want to spy on desktop and mobile.
Using WhatRunsWhere is super simple.
When you go to the dashboard, go to the “Publisher Database” and enter a domain to see all the ads that are displayed there. You can also do a reverse search by advertiser landing page.
One of the cool things about WhatRunsWhere is that it helps you see what types of sites may work best for your offer. It might always be the sites you first think of.
For example, I just spied on advertisers promoting on bodybuilding.com and found these were the top ads (display).
Most of the best performing ads are promoting supplements which makes sense right?
Then I did a quick search for games being promoted on native and these were the top results.
My Top 3 Tips For Using Spy Tools
#1 Go for recent ads
I like to look at ads that are within the past 2 weeks. Fresh = good. People get used to looking at the same landing pages and conversions go down over time.
It’s good to be on top of new ideas in your vertical.
#2 Look at other traffic sources for angle inspiration
Are you running Facebook ads? Don’t limit yourself to Facebook spy tools. You can spy on native ad campaigns to get ideas on angles to run.
Protip: Facebook will slam you for running typical native “shock” headlines. Look behind the headline. What’s the actual angle they are using?
#3 Filter out “branded campaigns”
The spy tools have different filters to weed out branded campaigns. As an affiliate, you probably don’t care about what ads Netflix has.
Some ways include using keywords and filtering by tracker / affiliate networks. If there’s no tracker or no affiliate network, it’s probably not an affiliate.
Ready to Start Spying on Your Competition?
Spying is a great way to get off the ground as an affiliate.
But you have to be smart about it. It’s a great way to learn affiliate marketing from a different point of view.
You don’t want to get “inspiration” from losing campaigns, so don’t assume because you see something that it’s profitable.
Be just as careful with your testing budget as you would be if you were testing something you had no idea about.
If you can afford a spy tool, it’ll cut your learning time down a lot.
My #1 choice is Adplexity, by far.
I shot a video with the founder of this software, and we go over every single feature. How to use it like a super affiliate, how to get the most data possible on your competition, and how to make more money as an affiliate.
If you don’t know what your competion are doing, you’re wasting your time.
Competitive research is one of the backbones of business, especially in an industry like affiliate marketing where it’s so easy to do it.