October 21st, 2013/Affiliate Marketing/By /

Affiliate Marketing: How Do Affiliates Make Money With Spy Tools Around?

I received an interesting email a while back and thought you guys would be interested in my response.

How do super affiliates make money if their campaigns are revealed on spy tools? I copied their landing page, offer, and ads, but I’m nowhere near profitable. How are these guys making money?” 

I should explain what spy tools are first. In any business, it’s important to see what your competition are up to. I’m sure Apple and Samsung have spies in each others companies. Knowinsg what your competition are up to helps make sure that you don’t fall behind.

When I first started in 2007, there weren’t really spy tools around. If you wanted to see what other affiliates were running, you’d just go to a website affiliates run on and hit refresh. If you want to see what they are running in international traffic, then you’d get a VPN and switch your proxies. Some places like Facebook can be more complicated because you have to have a certain type of profile for specific ads. For example, male and females get shown different ads in general.

What spy tools do is they scrape the ads for you and compile them into an organized database. It’s also more enhanced because you can sort by frequency, date ranges, traffic sources, countries, placements, etc.

You could do all this manually of course, but spy tools makes it faster and much easier.

Here are some Ngo approved ones if you are interested.

WhatRunsWhere focuses on Media buys, Adult, and Mobile

whatrunswhere

Check out my affiliate marketing software and tools for more.

Where people go wrong is how they use them.

Despite the marketing, copying & pasting someone’s campaign isn’t automatically going to make you $10k a day. Most guys will just copy a campaign, and not make any attempts to improve it or add in their own twists. If it doesn’t work then they just copy another campaign and cross their fingers.

This isn’t an anti-spy tool post actually because I use them myself. They’re more for intelligence and for inspiration. I observe what the competition is doing and I try to out-do them. If it’s a brand new campaign then yes I’ll jack landing pages and ads, but I’ll use them as benchmarks against my own creations.

Here are some ways I’ve used them

  • I saw an interesting angle for an insurance ad, and I applied to a mobile campaign I was running. You can get inspiration from completely different niches.
  • Last week I was doing some research and saw a competitor running a new offer I hadn’t heard of before. I split tested this new offer and it was doing 2x better than my original one.
  • I was spying on a competitor and saw that he was using exit pops on his lander. I asked my ad rep about it and they recently made a policy change and allowed exit pops on landers. I wouldn’t have known without the tool.

The Hidden Elements of a Campaign

The big question is why can’t I make money if I’m directly copying someone’s campaign? I think affiliates don’t realize the number of things that are going on behind the scenes that contribute to a winning campaign.

Offer – The guy could be getting a much higher payout than you. They’ve been running it for a while and probably have a few pay bumps over you due to quality and volume. You might be getting a $4.50 payout, but he might getting paid $8. Check the affiliate link because he might have a direct relationship with the advertiser.

The ads – The best affiliates are constantly rotating in new ads. The original guy took all the best impressions, and now you’re left with shitty leftover impressions. You might be using his ads from 2 weeks ago and competing against his new superior ads.

Landing Pages – I’ve seen some of the top affiliates constantly have different landing pages in rotation. The tool could’ve grabbed the worst performer and you’re using it. Or maybe they’ve even cloaked the spy tool themselves, and you’re copying a dummy page.

Bids – Some traffic sources will reward you for how much money you’ve spent on the campaign, the campaign history, and how much you actually have deposited into the account. Maybe they’re not actually bidding and they’re actually working direct with the site, getting a much lower price than you are.

In some places there are special bidding strategies they may be using that you aren’t that are giving them an edge.

Placements – If a traffic source has a large amount of placements, an optimized campaigns means they’ve cut out the non-performers and have bid high on the best converters.

Time parting – They could be running the best times of the week and the best days of the week.

Targeting – This is a big deal on mobile. The guy has cut out all the non-converting carriers and non-converting handsets. That’s data you can’t see on a spy tool.

Where to Go From Here

I hope this clears up what spy tools are. I think they are amazing and should be a part of every affiliate’s toolset, as long as you realize that they’re not magic bullets. The best guys use them for inspiration and research, and always make sure to add in their own twists and innovations.

If you are interested in obtaining some spy tools, here are my recommendations

WhatRunsWhere focuses on Media buys, Adult, and Mobile – Enter “DrNgo” for 2 weeks free trial

Affiliate Marketing Tools – This is where I recommend what I use