The affiliate marketing industry is maturing and becoming more sophisticated. Whereas in the past the focus was on driving big volumes, nowadays advertisers are shifting their focus more and more towards the quality of the traffic affiliates bring to their campaigns.
So, as an affiliate how can you make sure to deliver good quality and reduce your fraud to the minimal possible levels? After all, if you deliver good quality this will lead to frequent pay bumps, faster payments, regular presents by the advertiser, etc. On the other hand, delivering fraud will inevitably lead to you being blacklisted by the advertiser.
Some useful guidelines both the affiliate and advertiser should implement in order to guarantee high-quality traffic:
- Define and spell out in detailed terms what a valid vs. invalid conversion should look like. The more the affiliate and advertiser are aligned on this, the better it is as the affiliate knows better how to construct, target and optimize his affiliate campaigns.
- Affiliates and advertisers should have an open and transparent communication about the allowed traffic sources and the recommended traffic sources. Every quality-focused advertiser will need to have a clear guideline on what traffic sources are allowed vs. not allowed to promote their campaigns. The affiliate should always be open and transparent about the traffic sources he’s going to use to promote the campaigns. Also, here is a direct correlation between the affiliate’s traffic quality and the communication between the affiliate and advertiser.
- Always use tracking on all your campaigns, preferably server to server postback tracking as this is more accurate than image/iframe cookie-based tracking. Work with SubIDs if possible so you can detect and shut down bad traffic sources immediately. Make sure you get weekly quality reports from your advertiser with detailed information about your conversions and their quality.
- Analyze the metrics. A sudden traffic surge or increase/decrease in CTR and Conversion Rate (CR) should be analyzed in close detail. Implement Google Analytics so you get a full overview of your traffic such as the volume of daily users, browsing systems they use, location, country, etc. This is also a very handy tool to see drop-off rates from one page on your site to another, where users click, how much time they spend on your site, bounce rates, etc. Each metric has a certain “normal” value range you should be in – if you’re not in that range. Make sure to analyze what’s going on!
- Make sure you have a strict anti-fraud policy and communicate this policy with your advertisers. What happens in case one affiliate (or SubID) starts delivering fraud traffic such as stolen credit cards, a huge spike in return rates or cancellations, etc. Good agreements should be in place BEFORE starting the campaign, not after as this will lead to conflict situations. There is a big difference between an affiliate deliberately generating fraud traffic (fake users, fake credit cards, enormous returns/cancellations) and an affiliate that has lower than average quality. With the first affiliate – you have to kick them out of your program (without payment!). With the second affiliate – you can still work with them, but at a lower payout so you are still ROI positive.
- Another good way to detect fraud is by analyzing the referral URLs (if they are not blocked), looking at conversion time stamps and IP address patterns. There’s quite a few other anti-fraud systems methods and systems we use at Addiliate as well, but we believe it’s better not to tell the burglars where we put the alarm!
- Have an antifraud software in place. You can either develop this in-house or work with a third-party provider. There are a lot of good SAAS software systems out there that can help you with this and take all the work out of your hands. I would recommend FORENSIQ who gives a quality score to each affiliate IP’s and an individual quality score to each conversion (green – orange – red). It’s important to realize not a single antifraud software will be completely waterproof, but it will definitely help you prevent fraud transactions in a large variety of cases.
Delivering volumes to a campaign is one thing, but doing so while at the same time focusing on quality is quite another thing. Affiliates that want to survive and be successful in the long run will need to focus their attention, time and money on building a structure in which they can guarantee high-quality traffic to the advertiser. It requires a lot of effort, but rather than short-term money by only delivering big volumes, focusing on quality is ultimately the only way towards building a long-term business out of your affiliate marketing activities.