Carrier Billing Offers a.k.a. PIN Submits, are among the most popular offers preferred by newbies, as well as experienced affiliates. This vertical is arguably one of the easiest to start with, PIN submits are most likely the last type of offers that can still work direct-linked – so without using a Landing Page.
This makes them the perfect choice for any aspiring affiliate, there are simply less options to optimize. I personally, for what it’s worth, also recommend Carrier Billing offers as the best choice in for any newbie affiliate marketer in 2017.
I have already written a pretty detailed article about Carrier Billing offers, so instead of repeating myself again, check it out directly : http://www.matuloo.com/what-are-carrier-billing-pin-submit-offers-and-how-to-promote-them/ The article contains all the necessary info on how these offers work, how the subscription process works as well as basic tips on how to promote them. Please make sure to read it, in case you are not familiar with PIN Submit offers… otherwise you won’t be able to benefit from today’s article.
I received a lot of questions about PINs, once I published the first article, many of you were interested to learn more about how to make money with these offers. So, to take it one step further, I reached out to KIMIA, which is one of the biggest players in Carrier Billing offers, to provide us with answers for the most crucial questions like :
What works now? Where is more money (adult or mainstream)? What traffic types work the best? What GEOs are hot? What are the regulations and how they affect the future of Carrier billing? …
The reason I chose KIMIA for this article, is that I’m personally promoting their offers for a few years already, and so far I have nothing bad to say about them. They offer dedicated support, large selection of offers and payouts are always on time. They also attend pretty much every affiliate conference in the world, so it’s very easy to get in touch with them personally … I simply like the way they do business.
ENOUGH OF THE INTRO-STUFF, LET’S GET TO THE ACTUAL QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.
First of all, let me introduce Ivan Carrillo, who will be answering all my question:
“Ivan is Kimia’s managing partner and new business director. With over 20 years of direct experience in the online industry and over 8 years experience in mobile marketing, he is Kimia’s number one “go-to” person for any and all industry strategies and he is well known on online forums as “ivancy”.
You can also find him on STM Forum, under the same nickname. As a veteran in affiliate marketing he has an invaluable and extensive perspective over all aspects that surround online monetization, not only for topics that directly relate to Kimia´s business models, but all industry current and future trends.”
NOTE: My questions will always be using a BOLD font and the comments that I add will be in Italic, Ivan’s answers will use the regular font.
Question #1 : Kimia is one of the market leaders when it comes to monetizing mobile traffic. Can you tell me a bit about your company, so my readers have an idea about who they are dealing with?
Kimia was founded in 2006 by engineers from the mobile operator sector. The company started as a technology service provider for carriers and evolved into a mobile ad network specialized on mobile carrier traffic due to the experience and granular information acquired for mobile carrier identification. today the company has grown to into a truly international business with 130 employees in 5 offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Mumbai, Singapore and Shanghai. We continue to be very focused on mobile CPA offers and traffic but also have grown considerably in CPI, CPL and CPS models, as well as desktop. Our platform processes more than 9M sales events per month and serves over 200 GEOs.
Impressive numbers to say the least, I didn’t expect such a high employee count at all 🙂 Somehow I always see internet companies as rather “small” teams of dedicated guys… I have to get this out of my head finally 🙂
Question #2 : When I first started with Carrier Billing Offers, the party was going on in Asia – if I remember correctly, India was your biggest market at that time too. I think it was in 2013 or 2014, did the situation change since? What are the hottest GEOs right now?
India was and continues to be our biggest market. Although the market went through strict regulation in 2014 , Kimia was able to maintain a very strong position in the market due to our local office presence and relationships with the carriers and key local advertisers. We’ve had a similar situation in Thailand during this past year where we have been able to continue to grow in the region post-regulation and much of this success is due to our local presence and having a deep inventory of local high-converting offers in order to be covered during a time when key offers may be shut-down.
Our markets are not or haven’t specifically been focused on Asia, in fact some of the GEOs that continue to top our charts consistently these days, include the tried and tested territories such as Italy, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, France, Portugal and Spain. Newcomers in our top 20 include quite a few from MENA, particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Egypt United Arab Emirates and Qatar. As well as a mix of South America, SEA and Africa such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Malaysia, and Nigeria.
NOTE : MENA means “Middle East and North Africa”, also called the Greater Middle East sometimes. The region covers most of the Arabic countries and there are almost 400 million of people living here.
Question #3 : I know that you focus on both ADULT and MAINSTREAM markets. What is actually making more money for you and the affiliates, the adult part or the more mainstream things?
Today we are about 70% Mainstream vs 30% Adult. It’s not necessarily that the adult market is getting much smaller, although regulations have made it more difficult in key territories such as the UK, but mainstream opens up a much larger opportunity due to the multiple verticals available and the entry into regulated regions such as MENA that do not allow Adult. I would say that as traffic sources can be targeted at a much more specific level and product quality tends to be at higher level, mainstream payouts and conversions are more attractive to Affiliates.
Question #4 : Since you see the data in your network, are there some verticals/niches, that are showing the best performance now? For example games/antivirus/content download … something that you think the new affiliates should definitely focus on, because it’s hot right now?
Some of our trending niches at the moment are:
Sweeps – I would recommend affiliates to test this niche while it’s hot as these types of offers may be more regulated at a future point in time.
Dating – Not as explosive as it was a year ago but a stable and profitable niche once you have established yourself.
Video Streaming – Netflix and Amazon style products for countries where it is not available. We are seeing good results in MENA with these types of products.
Mobile Content – Still a great performer and highly recommended niche.
Screenshot below shows some exclusive and TOP performing offers :
Question #5 :. Carrier billing offers became popular about 7-8 years ago, if I’m not wrong. At that time, everybody wanted to buy “mobile redirects” and the prices offered were extremely high, even $50-$100 for 1000 redirects.
This is pretty much gone now, the redirects don’t work so good anymore. What is the best traffic type to use for Carrier billing offers these day in your opinion : POPs, Redirect, Banners …
Mobile redirect in terms of a domain redirect is practically in-existent in today’s market due to the penalizations from Google. However, there is still the option of buying redirect format (from video play buttons etc.) but it is not available in large volumes.
In general we see that traffic that converts best and is most profitable is pops. This is due to a number of factors. First the mobile billing flow and price points position for an impulse purchase. Additionally, low CPA payouts lend itself to pop traffic due to price. That being said landing creatives are key to conversion at the end of the day.
Another factor in the best converting format is the territory. In tier 2 and tier 3 countries where payouts are lower, quality of services are less developed and populations are larger, pops tend to lead the market. However in some Tier 1 territories where users are more advanced, quality of service is at a higher standard, payouts are higher we see less conversions but higher quality user and payout. In this scenario banners are more popular.
In general, we see an approximate breakdown of 70% pops, 20% banners, 10% mix of interstitials and redirect.
NOTE : I was surprised that banners only took 20% of the revenue, I was expecting a way larger %. The clear domination of POP traffic also came as a surprise for me, maybe I need to start to focus on it more again. Not surprised about the end of redirects though, I had a few sites penalized by Google, just because of this couple year ago too.
In case you’re not familiar with how the redirects worked: a small script would detect that user is browsing on a mobile device and redirect them away to the buyer straight away… so the users didn’t even get to load the original site. Google deemed this inappropriate and started to penalize sites doing it. Not surprised by their decision, but it left many site owners very sad, the revenues it could generate were very high.
Question #6 : Kimia is one of the networks that utilize a Smart-Link approach. Can you explain my readers how it works in a nutshell?
Kimia Smartlink has been functioning for 8 years, so that is a lot of time to learn, optimize and improve it’s performance. Our algorithm is based on machine learning techniques that allows us to predict traffic behavior and optimize performance resulting in every click achieving the maximum profit possible. Traffic is detected and segmented based on GEO, carrier, platform and vertical routing every click to the offer with the highest resulting ECPM. One of the best features for Smartlinks is that, whatever happens to the offer that is currently being run, there will always be a top offer backup, so no clicks will be left un-monetized.
Question #7 : Would you say it’s better to rely on your smart-link, or to focus on direct offers? I know that you have plenty of direct offers that affiliates can promote, but sometimes the smart-link algo might work better… or is it not the case?
Every affiliate has his/her preferences for working with direct offers or Smartlink and we aim to provide a premium solution for both. However, there are some situations where we would recommend one over another.
In situations where you may have bulk traffic or entering a new territory or vertical that you are not familiar with, our Smartlink provides an easy and quick way to test the market without having to individually select and test offers. You can start with a large funnel of traffic and using our dashboard and stats affiliates are able to identify which traffic sources are converting with which products. This not only allows affiliates to save a lot of time and money but also to identify the traffic and product combinations that can then be launched as individual offers and scaled exponentially. While many networks offer affiliates Smartlinks they don’t offer the granular information of which products are the ones that are actually converting and the ability to track traffic sources by product.
Smartlinks also work as an insurance agent. Individual offers may reach caps, pause, change payout, etc. resulting in click-loss. Additionally, new products may launch with a better performance and you could be miss the opportunity if you are not aware. Working with smartlinks allows your traffic to be monetized always and keeps you aware of the best performing products in the traffic segment.
Kimia Smartlinks are available for Mainstream, Adult, CPI, Dating and Sweeps.
NOTE : I would like to write a bit more about how the Smart-links work at KIMIA, because they do not use the same system as the other networks, and it got me confused too, at the beginning 🙂
There are 3 ways that you can work with KIMIA, by sending traffic to their Performatic, Perfor-Matrix and Market Campaigns.
MARKET: this means sending traffic directly to certain offers, you choose them from the “market” and create campaigns for them.
PERFOR-MATIC: this is the “classic” Smartlink, you set the offer limitations that you want the system to put into rotation and that’s it … it will handle all the rest.
PERFOR-MATRIX: this is a selection of the BEST performing offers for a GEO – so like a Smartlink, that works with just the best proven offers. When sending traffic to a matrix, it will put preference on these top offers and only send it elsewhere in case some of these top offers gets paused or pulled.
The way that worked the best for me, was starting with the Performatic system, throwing some traffic at it, then looking up what offers actually converted .. next step was to check, which of them are available in the Market and then promoting them directly.
The screenshot below shows the Perfor-MATIC settings :
Question #8 : What future do you see for Carrier Billing offers? The truth is, they have been regulated heavily in some countries, which pretty much killed the model … USA for example, where it’s not possible to promote such offers at all. Are we talking about a dying business here, or are Carrier Billing offers here to stay for the next few years?
It is true that the mobile carrier vertical has been regulated over the years but it is also a big world out there and as we have seen many of these countries go through dips others have come to rise. Additionally regulated markets doesn’t always mean a shut-down. In many instances, as we experienced in India and Thailand, we see that the market plays by stricter rules but those that are able to adhere to the rules are actually in a very strong position.
We believe that the mobile carrier market is not going anywhere for the next couple of years….beyond that who knows about anything in this industry:)
These changes in click flows undoubtedly reduce conversions, however it also opens up an opportunity for higher payouts and longer term partners with opportunities for payout bumps. Proving you can deliver a high ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for the advertisers is a long-term play which can be highly profitable for the affiliate. We have experienced this in certain territories such as India and MENA where operators have become very strict with churn and due to the precautions we have taken with publisher ids and churn pixels, we have maintained a high reputation and avoided being blacklisted by carriers, which has happened to many other networks.
We have faced several market regulations over the years in GEOs that have bounced back Thailand, Indonesia… Market regulations generally mean something is not “quite” right in the market for the carriers and the users and there is a “cleansing” process to be done. This does lead sometimes to market shutdowns, as it happened in Singapore, however, when the market returns only the strongest and best-practice partners are able to continue to work under the stricter market regulations. So the market returns, eventually, but with a new philosophy towards the users.
Similarly, in India, during a period of time, had regulations that mainly touched on the user experience during the flow, arriving in payment landing pages that were completely controlled by the carriers, this led to a decrease in the CR, but it did not kill the market. Partners worked hand in hand with the carriers to come to an adequate agreement between user experience, legal/security details and product experience.
Therefore, markets will always go through changes, these changes are sometimes labeled with the dreaded word “regulations”, however, it doesn’t mean the market dies. Those with local trusted partners will be able to wait it out and work through the market needs to come out stronger in the end.
NOTE: ARPU means Average Revenue Per User and CHURN means annual percentage rate at which customers stop subscribing to a service and cancel it. Higher ARPU is good, higher CHURN is not 😉
Question #9 : When talking about Carrier Billing offers in the affiliate business, it’s usually some members area that users get access to. The problem with some offers is, that the content isn’t really worth it, which makes users complain.
The truth is, Carrier Billing model could be used for more legit operations, providing access to way more valuable products or services. Do you think this could be the future of this vertical? Or maybe, do you already work with advertisers who care more about the user experience than their own pockets? 🙂
We are seeing a shift in the market toward higher quality products in general. As mentioned previously, providing an offer that is as engaging as possible to the user is going to result in a higher ARPU. Some examples of this are Video streaming TV/movie products which we are seeing in MENA and Spain. Games portals are also working very well in Iberia and South America. Utilities that provide a real solution for users such as security are also on the rise.
Due to the increase in volume of the offers available, “most” advertisers have improved the quality of their products. Not only the look and feel but the actual product, users have a wide range of options now and are more aware of what is actually worth “a buck” online, so partners are adapting to this. They know that in order to achieve high quality traffic the user experience has to be decent and the ARPU interesting for the affiliate. In this case networks have played a part in making partners conscious of the win/win situation for both sides, having good quality product that keeps users engaged will mean generating constant money for both affiliates and advertisers and scaling.
Question #10 : Let’s get to some actionable data now, let’s say I’m a newbie affiliate and I want to start with Carrier Billing offers. What should I do? Should I start with Adult or Mainstream? What traffic should I focus at, banners or POPs? Do I need landing pages or can I direct-link? Do generic banners still work – those Download/Play buttons for example. Is there some country I should focus on, or maybe stay away from? …
Unless you are really creative with your banners/angles, you should start with pops mainly because you have one less factor to optimize your campaigns compared with banners, that is the CTR %. I would start also with a low payout / high volume country, so you can get enough relevant statistical data pretty fast to optimize and without investing too much in traffic. Some of the MENA countries would be a good choice. That way you can learn the basis of blacklists/whitelists, bidding etc… quickly and at the lowest cost possible.
As for Adult or Mainstream, I would say Adult is easier as the variety of categories/products is more limited than in Mainstream, but on the other hand the competition is fierce and there are some stabilized players than have been doing it for years already. So at the end, stick to whatever you would enjoy more selling.
Generic banners still work, but as mentioned before, we see more action with POP traffic. POPs are a better choice for newbies, because there is no need to worry about banners. We see affiliates making money both with LPs and without, majority works with LPs.
NOTE : This pretty much confirms my own experience : Generic creatives, that reach the highest CTRs, or POPs work the best. As I mentioned already several times, PIN Submits can still work without a Landing Page, but a good LP will almost certainly improve the conversion rates. I don’t personally see much difference between adult and mainstream, when it comes to the difficulty or running each of them … so it’s really a question of personal preferences.
Question #11 : I just noticed that you will be one of the main sponsors for the upcoming Affiliate World Conference in Berlin (AWE) this June and I know that you are attending a lot of other affiliate conferences all over the world. Why are you putting such a lot of effort into this?
Kimia is in for the long run and we know that we are only as good as the partners and team that make our network run. We believe strongly in personal relationships and taking time to know our affiliates and advertisers. Going to the shows is an opportunity to meet the constant influx of new players in the market but also to spend time with our current partners. This face to face time is not solely for promotional or commercial reasons, we get a lot of useful feedback from partners to keep improving and developing.
As we travel to local events, we also take the opportunity to learn about the current and future aspects of the specific market, we are in the end an international company with a local focus. We make a point in participating in sponsorships to give back to the community that makes our company great.
For anyone who is planning to attend AWE in Berlin, we are also hosting the Bar at the Official Cocktail Party, so stop by and have a drink on us! 🙂
NOTE : I will write an article about the Affiliate World Conference that takes place in Berlin (AWE) 14-15th June… probably next week if all clicks. In the meantime, you can check out their website : https://affiliateworldconferences.com/europe/
It’s gonna be the largest affiliate event held in Europe, with more than 2000 affiliate attending it. All the big companies, including KIMIA will be there. If there is just one event you should attend this year, Affiliate World is the one!
Question #12 : Last question for you for now 🙂 Aspiring affiliates always wonder how much money they can actually make in Affiliate Marketing, can you give me some data, without naming any names of course?
I’ll start off by saying that we provide the tools, technology and offers to make Super Affiliates. However, anyone in this business will also agree there is a big portion of know-how, dedication, creativity and a bit of luck that contribute to the 5-figure a day big fish. An average at Kimia is earning 4 figures daily, with 30% of those earning over the 5k mark.
We also have an elite group of super affiliates who are capable of doing up to 20k/day in certain conditions. There is no magic equation as to exactly how to get there, but we do ensure that we provide the local knowledge, personal support, technology, coverage, tools and premium offers to get you well on your way to success.
Kimia’s team is at our affiliates full disposal!
Thanks for the answers Ivan, I really appreciate that you took the time to give me such long and detailed answers. I know you’re busy, so thanks for your time.
WHAT SHOULD YOU TAKE FROM THIS?
All right … based on the answers I got from Ivan, the future doesn’t look too bad for Carrier Billing. On one hand, we have some more regulated markets, that are coming back to life after a set down… on the other one, there are still new GEOs where the model wasn’t saturated yet – for example the Arabic regions look pretty interesting (MENA). Based on the revenue numbers, many affiliates are literally killing it with PIN submit offers, so no, affiliate marketing is certainly NOT DEAD 🙂
Looks like the overall quality of offers/products is improving too. There is a shift from making “a quick buck” to more reliable and sustainable business models. Which is only good in my opinion and should help PIN submit offers to get rid of the bad image they carry right now in many countries.
If I was to pick an ideal start-up combination, based on the data from KIMIA, it would go like this : You should run mainstream POPs, using Landing Pages, targeting the MENA region and promoting Video Content or Sweeps type of offers. This should be the most promising combination right now.
In case you are looking for a stable partner to test PIN submit offers with, KIMIA is certainly a good choice to start with. They are obviously not the only one on the market, but they are certainly a solid company, which I can confirm with my own experience.
In case you decide to give them a try, tell them you’re coming from my blog, so they buy me a few beers when we meet at their booth at AWE in Berlin 🙂
And here is a link to KIMIA.COM again, in case you haven’t clicked any of the ones I dropped in the text already 🙂
Thanks for reading!