*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.
For a while now, I have wanted to contribute back to STM as a “thank you” to those who have continually contributed to my follow along (Amy and matuloo) and each of you who have shared so much through your threads, case studies, tutorials and otherwise. I very much appreciate the time and effort put in by each of you to nurture so many up and coming STM members. This case study is credited to you.
And what would be more fitting than to share details on how I was able to hit my first $300/day profit in August using mobile pops and a utility app. Some of the information I share may not be compliant for all offers, including the ones I promoted, but I encourage you to look deeper and understand the approach more so than the actual angles used.
Sometimes it’s so frustrating and it feels liking your constantly pushing a boulder up a hill that never ends… but if there’s one thing I’ve learn, nothing good comes easy.
How I Started…
Initially I was stuck trying just a handful of GEO’s mostly within the sweepstakes vertical. I didn’t have much luck other than one little campaign that did an inconsistent $10-15/day profit for a short period of time. I was focused on making sweepstakes work but wasn’t testing broad enough or fast enough to really get anywhere. Looking back I can see so many mistakes I made and much of it was due to my lack of experience and confidence.
One day while having a chat with my AM from Adsimilis (#AprilRocks) she recommended an Android app install that she said was doing well. I had known about the app because I saw it being promoted all over AdPlexity along with several similar apps. At that point, I was still trying to stay focused on one vertical in an effort to make it work. But I decided to give it a try and start expanding my tests to include a couple other verticals. Sometimes you just have to shake things up.
Offer Type: Android Utility App
Accepted GEOs: International, most all GEO’s allowed
Payout: .15 to .20 depending on the network and my final pay bump
Connection: WIFI and Carrier in one campaign
I really had no idea how to promote an app install with mobile pops. All I knew for sure was that I needed my landers to load as fast as possible, needed an angle that would fit a broad audience, find the best converting offers and highest performing landing page… that being said, this was still unchartered territory. Initially, I took the offer from Adsimilis and also found it on ClickDealer, ripped a bunch of landers and spent the afternoon cleaning them up. After I had fully prepared the ripped landers, I setup a domain name and researched the best CDN to use for hosting my landers.
I use a website called Cedexis > Reports and look up the Cloud Storage Response Time for the GEO I’m running in and in this case I used Amazon S3/CloudFront as I do most of the time but on occassion I use Rackspace. In this case, I decided to do my initial test in Brazil because I had been focusing primarily on the LATAM markets when testing sweepstakes and felt comfortable with it. Plus, I already had a spanish/portuguese translator I had been using so my execution time would be fast if I started doing more translations or testing different angles.
Example of Some of the Landers I Ripped and Tested
After setting everything up in Voluum, submitting my campaign to the Traffic Source and setting the campaign live.. I waited with anticipation.
Initial Test Results
It includes 2 offers and 8 landers in 1 GEO.
Typically I Follow This Rule for Testing Budgets
(Average offer payout) X (Number of Offers) x (Number of Landers) x (3-5x)
So in this scenario it should’ve been…
.15 x 2 x 8 x 5 = $12
What I actually spent on the first test was $66, so quiet a bit more than what that formula suggests – goes to show that you can’t always stick to that formula. I wanted to thoroughly test things out and because Brazil is a high volume GEO I knew that I’d initially get alot of traffic from a handful of high volumed placements, so I needed to spend more to get a better gauge. In general, I could’ve spent $30-40 and been ok for this initial test.
The overall campaign test results came back at -87% ROI but my best offer/lander combo was -67% ROI right off the bat. One of my better initial test campaigns.
At this point, I really wasn’t sure of my approach and my process was not very efficient. I decided to run more traffic to the best two landers to identify which one actually was the best and continued running traffic to both offers.
It was clear that Lander 7 was the winner and both offers performed similar but even after all this testing I still way far from making profit. So I found out that Mpire had this offer and decided to test it with my best lander.
So I setup another test with Lander 7, the original 2 offers and the MPire offer.
Here are the results…
From previous tests, I knew that the original 2 networks were getting me an ROI of around -60% with Lander 7… but once I started to notice the MPire offer converting better, I continued running more traffic to see how the dust would actually settle. I was enthusiatic to see that it achieved a -40% ROI, that’s a huge improvement and validates the importance of testing multiple networks for the same offer.
Frustration Sets In.. But Sunshine is Around the Corner
Up to this point, I had not been very flexible and typically stuck to the GEO’s that I was most comfortable with or just trying to master the LATAM markets but I like trying new things and after reading a few case studies on STM had decided to take my best lander and have it translated into 5 new languages so I could test 5 new GEO’s, I also ripped a bunch of new landers to test along with my best performing lander in Brazil.
I decided to launch a test in one new GEO at a time. And for whatever reason, I didn’t start with the best offer that I previous found to be MPire. Instead, I started to test the original two offers… don’t ask me why, maybe it was because of the lack of sleep I had been getting or who knows.
Here are the initial results from launching a test campaign in Indonesia:
The best combo coming in at -57% right off the bat and I had only tested a few landers and thats when I realized that I wasn’t testing my previous best offer.
At this point, I decided to go hard or go home and prepared more landers, signed up to several new networks and found the offer on several of them. Some of my data has been mixed up because I was staying awake 16+ hours a day just so that I could run 3-4 rounds of tests in 1 day in an effort to test and optimize quickly. Because of that, it would take too much work to find the actual days/times that I did each round of testing. At first I was documenting everything with a notepad on my desk but after things started taking off, I tracked less and less of the specifics and I focused on growing profit.
After testing several other networks with my best performing offer, I narrowed it down to two networks running the same offer.. MPire and AppFlood. I had also introduced several new landing pages that I had ripped. The next round of testing was an exciting day for me!
Yes, you see that correctly! 39% ROI for my best offer/lander combo. Some of these stats have improved as I’ve noticed many app installs will have delayed conversions for up to a week but the bulk of them will be accounted for with a 6 hour delay or so.
What had me very excited about these results, was at this point I had not blacklisted or cut any targeting. I had only tested offers and landers, removed the bad, kept the good. So the fact that I had achieved 30%+ ROI before pausing bot placements and blacklisting poor performing placements.. again, it was a good day.
I started to pause placements that had received 30-50 visits and had 0 clicks. And I also noticed that most of my profitable placements had a CTR above a certain percentage. So I paused all of the non profitable placements that had a CTR below 5%. Later I increased that to 20% and paused the non profitable placements.
Before I started scaling, I wanted to do another round of testing to try and improve my ROI even further. In hindsight, I should’ve just started scaling and optimizing my placements right then. But due to my lack of experience and trying to figure everything out, I decided to do more granular testing. And here is a screenshot of some of my granular tests…
What I validated from this round of testing was that granular tests do not have a big impact in most cases and it requires a longer testing period with more budget spent to really identify a winner. Thus, focus on testing unique landing pages and not small tweaks on landing pages to get the best improvements.
These are what the mobile carrier and placement stats were looking like at this point for my best offer/lander combo, incase they are helpful to you…
Mobile Carrier Stats
While I was going through this process, I also decided to test several other GEOs that I had planned to previously so that I can start to scale on the same traffic source. So I had my best lander translated into those 4 languages, setup a new campaign that targeted all of those countries together. This is not the best approach but I was just trying things at the time based on various feedback and threads I had gleaned insights from. My idea was to quickly test these new GEO’s and see which one had the best results based on my current best offer/lander. After my initial test on this campaign, almost all of the GEO’s were profitable. I had to make some adjustments to bids and pause some placements but within a day or two I had increased my profits already.. but my primary focus was still scaling and growing the Indonesia campaign.
At this point, the Indonesia campaign was profitable and all of my testing was done and I was about to setup a whitelist campaign to continue focusing on growing profits.
This is how much I had spent testing Indonesia before I was able to get it profitable, keep in mind that I had also spent a couple hundred dollars on my original testing in Brazil.
Total Spent to Get Indonesia Profitable
Total Profit from Indonesia Whitelist Campaign
Total Profit from My Global Campaign
Along this journey I started to test my whitelist campaign against my RON campaign, trying to determine which performed better. I was also running into cashflow issues so I couldn’t scale faster. I also duplicated some of my best placements into a new campaign but at a lower bid in an effort to grab more of the visits for those placements and profit, even if at a lower volume.
By doing all of these methods and then some, I was able to achieve my first $300/day profit on August 28. It was a great feeling. Unfortunately, this offer and most utility offers had gotten paused at that point so I didn’t get to reap the rewards for very long but I did get a few days of $200-300 profit.
Despite that, I learned a ton going through this process and testing so many different things.. making all of the mistakes that I did. It really helped me understand how I need to think and how to approach campaign testing more efficiently.
My First $300 Profit Day
If you take anything away from this case study, is that you should have no limits to what you will test. But you should prioritize your testing in this order…
Check out the other tutorial that I just posted today on my method for testing and finding profitable campaigns:
(Join STM to See Referenced Thread)
Here is a list of threads that I found very helpful and I reread them several times, you may find them helpful as well:
(Join STM to See Referenced Thread)
In my follow along, I walk through alot of this case study in real time but I don’t reveal as much informaiton. You will find an more accurate recap of the profit/loss by visiting this post in my thread: (Join STM to See Referenced Thread)
My hope is that you find value in what I’ve shared and that in some way it can help you achieve your first $300/day of profit.
Since this campaign, I have been able to build another campaign to $300+/day profit and several smaller campaigns.
What I’m working on now is learning how to build consistent daily profits and how to build campaigns that are fully compliant as I do not want to run with the added risk of being non-compliant and losing my payouts.
I will caution you, that using these angles and some of these tactics on utility apps would bring a certain level of risk of not being paid out. Make responsible choices and understand what you are doing before you try anything non-compliant. In fact, I encourage you to stay compliant always but to each their own and I’m not responsible for your actions.
I’m happy to answer questions and share more, feel free to leave comments below.
Hey Andrew ! Great article again :p
What is usually your starting bid ? Is it between 50-75% of the average top bid, like you said in another article ?
Andrew Payne says
It varies depending on the campaign. Every traffic source and offer type I approach a little different. But most of the time for low payout offers, those that are less than $1, I will start with a bid that is 25-50% less than the average bid. For higher payout offers I usually start with a bid that is 25-50% higher in the beginning. If I’m getting conversions after the first round of testing, I may adjust my bids slightly to cut down on my losses in the beginning.
hi andrew thanks for the awesome case study i’d like to start my mobile journey also so what is the minimum budget you suggest to start with and CPA networks and if you can recommend some traffic source to start with 🙂
Andrew Payne says
I responded to this in your email already but for the sake of others.. I recommend a minimum of $2k to get started but an amount of $5k or more is preferred.
Traffic Sources: Zeropark, PopAds, PropellerAds, PopCash
Affiliate Networks: ClickDealer, Mundo Media, Mpire, AffTimes, Adsimilis, Avazu, and others.
For the sake of newbies, and for understanding the AM journey a bit more, you say min $2k-5k is preferred when starting off, and this is budget ready to lose just for testing and collecting data… So how would you say (according to your experience) your cashflow, and ROI looks like after that first initial spending to get your first profitable and scaled campaign? Because the trick is to keep finding profitable campaigns consistently to keep cashflow positive, so would you say you’re finding profitable campaigns faster at a negative ROI?
Andrew Payne says
This question cannot be answered clearly because everyone is very different. One person may start with $2k and in their first or second campaign they find a winner, scale it and only took them $500 is do the whole process. While another person may require $5k before they hit their first successful campaign. It’s all about where that person is starting from, what knowledge and experience they have and how quickly they can learn.
For me, I started with about $8k and it took me 3 months to hit my first monthly profit with my money being spread around different networks and traffic sources. The more cash you have in the beginning, the faster you are able to test, learn and make progress. If you are starting with a smaller budget, you will need to test less competitive areas, campaigns with smaller potential and then gradually build up.
All of your decisions are made by the data that you collect. You can’t get data without spending money, the more you spend across more offers/landers/geos/traffic sources, the faster you will find a combination that works. But test smart, test often and test quickly.
Hi Andrew, Found your blog the other day and already getting value from it. Bookmarked for regular visits 🙂
I’ve been running mobile pops for about 4 months now and not having much success. It seems like every campaign i run gets 1 freak conversions then nothing. For example i could spend £20 on a $2 offer and get 1 conversion. I have no problem getting clicks on my landers but they never convert on the offer end.
Based on the results above would you of carried on with the offer had it had say 2/3 conversions in the first round of testing as apposed to 52. And as what point do you say ok. This campaign is just not working I’ve had X conversions and spend £XX.
Thanks for any advice
Andrew Payne says
Spending £20 on a $2 offer is not very much especially if you are testing multiple landing pages. You need to focus on gathering several offers and testing them appropriately. A basic initial test formula is this…
(# of offers) x (# of landers) x (average offer payout) x (5x to 10x multiple) = initial test budget
It’s important to test lots of offers and it’s best to use just a few landers at first. Then you will notice if any particular offer stands out significantly or not. If you are getting conversions but it’s still poor results, try testing it on 1-2 more traffic sources. If no conversions or really bad results, then move on to another GEO.
Hicham 93 says
HI Andrew , i’m e new follower of your content and also new on pop traffic , for sweepstakes offers , is there any special Categories i have to target or let it broad ? what do you prefer and thanx for your time and content
Andrew Payne says
Hi, thanks for following and for the question. I almost always setup my campaigns and test them on RON. There usually isn’t a need to target by categories for the main verticals but there are some cases where you can. I recommend starting with RON.
Du Chang says
Thank you very much for your case studies, they inspires me on doing things which I did not do before.
Could you please tell me, if you will start now on Utility Apps in Mobile Pops traffic, which GEO’s would you test first of all?
Every tells me that I must start from low bid countries and I must not start from US (because this is very expensive country).
Or maybe you would prefer Sweeps or any other verticals, because on Utility Apps can’t earn enough money at this time? Many people says that know impossible to work in Utility apps vertical because advertisers often deducts payments because of low KPI. And I must work only with cloacking.
Could you please tell what do you think about this moments?