I'm working in online advertising since 1998 and finally decided to start my own blog.

Why you must split test the same offer/product via multiple affiliate networks?

SPLIT TESTING THE SAME PRODUCT, WHY WOULD I DO IT?

When I was starting in affiliate marketing, there was one thing I couldn’t understand, because it wasn’t making much sense. Every experienced affiliate told me, that whatever offer I’m about to promote, I should find it in more than one network and compare the performance in one network against the next one. So basically, they told me to send traffic to EXACTLY the same product, through 2 or 3 different affiliate networks.

I couldn’t understand how could this possibly be good? By doing this, I’m adding 2 more variables to test (2 more networks), so I need to send 3 times as much traffic in order to get statistically significant data on all of them. This is driving up my costs and also the time I need to spend on this. I’m also splitting my revenue across 3 different places, which isn’t gonna help my cash-flow either. And in the end, the visitors will end up on exactly the same product page. So what kind of nonsense is this?

HOW IS VISITOR TAKEN FROM BANNER TO A PRODUCT PAGE?

Now I know it’s not a nonsense at all and let me tell you why. First of all, you need to understand the flow, all the way from a banner click to the product page. Let me tell you what my setup looks like. A visitor clicks on a banner, the link leads to my tracking solution which redirects it to a landing page. Until now, the affiliate network has no influence on the process.

In case the visitor is interested and clicks through on the landing page, he/she get’s sent to the affiliate network’s tracking script, they detect if the visitors matches the requirement of the product owner and in case all is fine, they forward the visitor to the advertisers product page. The advertisers records this click, they see what affiliate network it’s coming from and show a product page to this visitor.

Just to quickly sum it up, affiliate network analyzes the visitor before sending it to the advertiser and the advertiser know what affiliate network this click comes from. And this is why the performance can be different from one affiliate network to another.

SO WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR DIFFERENT PERFORMANCE?

1. Affiliate networks analyze the visitors internally, in case they have their own tracking solution, or rely on third parties to get this info. In both cases, this can result in different loading speeds. A small difference of a few milliseconds doesn’t play a role, but in case of a longer delay … the visitor closes the window and a conversion might be lost. You need to work with networks that have the most optimized redirect chain.

2. Not all affiliate networks are alike, some work on a private/invite-only basis, some are less picky about who they let in and some don’t give a fuck at all, so to speak 🙂 I’m sure you understand, that the quality of visitors and leads will vary depending on this. And advertisers know this too. That’s why they monitor the poor networks more, give them lower payouts or deny a bigger % of leads (scrubbing). This can negatively affect your revenue, even thou you don’t do anything against the rules.

3. Not all affiliate networks are 100% honest, some of them are scrubbing too. There is nothing to prevent an affiliate network from playing with your stats a bit, whoever want’s to do this will find a way. With 100s of affiliates, if they “shave” a lead here and another one there … it will increase their profits but definitely lower yours.

4. Some affiliate networks simply take a bigger cut. Affiliate marketing is a business, people do it for money and networks are no exceptions. And just like in real life, some are ok with lower profits, while some need more … It’s in your best interest to work with network that have acceptable margins.

5. Advertisers have better relationship with some affiliate networks. This can result in better landing pages, more optimized conversion funnels, exclusive deals or even higher payouts. Obviously, you can do better with affiliate networks who go the extra mile and talk with their advertisers and try to get the best conditions for themselves and their affiliates. In a world of fast saturation, one exclusive offer landing page can give you the extra edge you need.

DON’T BE LAZY!

As you can see, even thou you are promoting exactly the same product/offer from the same advertisers, it can perform very differently. Affiliate network can have huge impact on your bottom line so choose them wisely. And DON’T be a lazy ass, always test more than 1, you will be surprised by the differences you will see in some cases.

Thanks for reading!


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