*Note: I originally shared this on the STM Forum, which is absolutely the best community of affiliate marketers sharing ideas and insights on the web.
I’m going to share my thoughts and approach to testing offers to find a profitable campaign.. doing so in the shortest amount of time and while minimizing losses. In no way am I an expert and there is certainly more than one way to approach testing offers but I hope my experiences can help others.
I do have a solid amount of experience in AM but have been out of the game for several years. In mid-July of this year, I started to get back into launching campaigns and my starting point has been with mobile pops. Prior to July, I had never reached more than $10-15/day profit with mobile pops.
With the help and advice of Amy, matuloo and others.. including the vast amount of information spread across STM, I have been able to build two mobile pops campaigns that each hit the $300/day in profit mark and several smaller campaigns. While this isn’t huge success compared to some, in my mind its great progress from July to present day because I now have a strong understanding of a process to build a profitable campaign.
Main Takeaways in this Post
Tip 1 – Test fast and efficiently (the more campaigns you launch, the better. have a process for setting a test budget)
Tip 2 – Don’t limit yourself, be flexible and test everything. Break out of your comfort areas and don’t rely exclusively on ripping. (test more offers, landers, geos and get translations, test your own angles, etc)
Tip 3 – Break your “Testing” into two phases.. an Initial Test Phase and then an Actual Test Phase
Tip 4 – TEST EVERYTHING. With your first goal being to find a converting offer and then mass test GEOs and Landers.
So here we go… from what I’ve learned on my journey so far, sticking to just 1-2 geos in the beginning is not a good idea. Not that it can’t work but I originally kept my focus on just a few select geos that I felt would be a good starting point and never made much progress.
My tipping point was when I began testing several geos for one vertical, picking the one that had the best results and continued with it.
Recently, I have been sticking to 3-5 geos and working mostly between those ONLY because I’ve had success with them previously and understand how to make them work. But, I still test other geos regularly.
For the best chances of finding a profitable campaign, I recommend these options:
- Pick 1 Vertical (like sweepstakes, antivirus, etc).
- Pick 3-5 GEO’s.
- Grab 2-3 of the most popular landers on AdPlexity for each GEO you are testing.
- Gather and test EVERY OFFER you can find for that vertical in those geos.
- That should give you atleast 5 campaigns to test broadly.
- Review the stats in detail, if there are any combinations that look promising, then test it further with more landers and offers if possible. (a promising combination is a good performing OS or Carrier or a few high volume placements that are doing well)
- If none of these campaigns show potential, then repeat this whole process but choose 3-5 new GEOs for that vertical. Keep repeating until you find a winner or until you’ve tested as many geos as you can.
- Instead of picking just 1 vertical, you can pick 2 GEO’s and test every type of vertical/offer you can find for them.
- Group and test the offers by Vertical. So gather all of the Sweepstakes offers and test them for those 2 GEOs, gather all of the Antivirus offers, gather all of the gaming offers, gather all of the app install offers, gather all of the pin submits, gather all of the 1 click billing offers, etc.
- Gather 2-3 landers for each offer type per GEO.
- Test and repeat in as many geos as necessary until you find something that works for you. Follow the steps outlined in the previous Option 1
TIP* – Your first steps SHOULD NOT focus on testing just 1 carrier, 1 geo, 1 os, etc. Although that can work, you need to be sure of your strategy and when you have little experience this isn’t a good approach.
TIP* – The most important part of this entire process is finding an offer that converts well.
I start my testing very broad, sometimes I setup a test campaign that targets all OS types and both wifi/carrier traffic.. and othertimes I setup two test campaigns for the same offers/geo while targeting all OS types and split wifi traffic and carrier traffic into their own campaigns. The best approach is probably to split wifi/carrier into their own campaigns but there are some cases it’s not needed unless you really want to squeeze every penny of profit you can from a campaign.
Run a bunch of traffic to the offer/landers, review the stats and decide how I want to proceed. Sometimes if I see a certain segment converting well from the start, I will change my targeting to just focus on the best segments (but I only look at an OS or Carrier level, nothing more granular than that). This is a good approach if you are in a high volume geo and/or trying to be efficient with your budget.
Change the way you think about testing. Break the “Testing Phase” into 2 parts.
Initial Testing Phase – The whole goal of this phase 1 of your testing is simply to find offers that will convert more than once.
Actual Testing Phase – The whole goal of this phase 2 of your testing is to take the offers that you’ve found to convert and focus on running more traffic to them and the best target segments, test more landers and test more offers. This allows you to give more budget to test just the best combos, revealing whether or not the campaign has any real potential.
In the Initial Testing Phase you need to test every offer you can find for your vertical/geo with the goal of finding offers that convert more than once. Expect to lose -75% or more of your testing budget (with occassional exceptions). Set a specific test budget for this phase. Anything that doesn’t make conversions (preferably more than 1 conversion) after your test has completed, cut them.
General Testing Budget Formula:
(average offer payout) x (# of offers) x (# of landers) x (5) = Test Budget
Next, the Actual Testing Phase is to further test the offers that you found to be converting. This is where you actually determine if the campaign has potential or not. The Initial Phase just helps you identify what GEO / Offers / Landers / Vertical you should test more. The Testing Phase is where you isolate what segments, GEO’s and offers are converting and spend more budget on traffic to see if any of them really have real potential.
The purpose of this mindset is, if you stopped testing after your initial test, you very likely spent much of your budget on offers/landers/geos that do no perform well and the best offers didn’t have much of a chance to show their real potential. This approach ensures you fully test the best offers you find by sending an adequate amount of traffic from only the best segments. Expect to be losing -50% or more of your budget, but your best offer/lander may be doing better. At this stage, is when I take offers and landers to statistical significance before cutting them.
Next, if something has real potential then you further test those segments, offers/landers, etc. Test more offers, test more landers, test more geos for that offer if it accepts it, etc. Otherwise, go back to the Initial Phase and test other campaigns. At this phase you should be losing -25% to -50% overall but since you should have found a solid offer by this point and and testing many landers, gathering data and finding what placements and targeting is or is not working at all. Your best offer/lander should be atleast -25% or better.
Finally, if a campaign takes you to this step you are now optimizing a campaign to make it profitable. You should already be near breakeven or better. At this point, you cut any bad performing OS types if you have not already, cut any placements that are worse than -15% ROI, adjust the bids (if possible) on placements that are -15% to 0% ROI or move them into another seperate campaign with a lower bid, cut any mobile carriers that are not performing well, etc.
Recap on What’s Important
- Finding an offer that converts is priority #1, the more offers you test, the better your odds of finding and offer that works great.
- In my opinion, the next most important piece is actually the GEO. The more GEO’s you are willing to test, the faster you will find a GEO that kicks butt.
- The next most important piece is the Lander (although the GEO and Lander are almost tied in terms of importance). If you’ve found a solid offer, the Lander will likely push you into profits. And if it doesn’t hit profit in GEO #1.. try GEO 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. One of them will make profit.
- In your Initial Test Phase and Actual Test Phase, review your stats carefully. If 75% or more of your conversions are coming from 1 OS or 1 Carrier.. you may want to consider changing your target settings to focus on just those segments for now.. and come back later to test the others. This is a good approach to reaching profit faster but you will lose traffic volume and in some GEO’s cutting Android will eliminate 90% of your traffic, so be mindful of that.
- The more willing you are to test many GEO’s, get translations, etc. I would estimate that you increase your chances of finding a good campaign by 50%.
- Commit to launching X number of campaigns.. such as 2 per day or 10 per week. Within 2-3 weeks you will have found several profitable campaigns and possibly 1 campaign that will achieve $xxx/day or more.
Note – My interpretation of testing one campaign includes testing one Geo and one Vertical, no matter the actual number of campaigns I setup to test it. So, even if I split wifi and carrier traffic into seperate campaigns for GEO #1 and the Antivirus vertical, that is one campaign in my mind. I’m just setting up several actual campaigns to ensure it’s thoroughly tested.
Note – I’ve also started to incorporate the concept of testing multiple traffic sources for each campaign as well. Because Traffic Source A may get zero conversions but Traffic Source B gets 10 conversions. Initially I suggest focusing on one traffic source, then eventually start testing several sources per campaign as I’m starting to find more campaigns that way.
Now, go out and launch some campaigns!