trends

CPA Networks: The Next Big Boom?

Stewart Tongue

There used to be a huge difference between the payouts an affiliate program would offer their best whales compared to the tier one amounts offered to ordinary webmasters who were only able to send a few sales each month.

Meanwhile many paysite owners were at the mercy of publishers charging prepaid fees for banner ads, popunders and other ways of getting direct access to their traffic. It also required a lot of legwork as publishers and advertisers were left to sift through long list of potential deals to find a handful of good matches. That dynamic eventually lead CPM networks, which refers to cost per mille (the price to buy 1,000 impressions of your ad on their sites). Now that model is evolving and cost per acquisition (CPA) platforms are becoming some of the most important web traffic syndicates online.

We take away the hard parts of affiliate marketing and let our webmasters concentrate solely on acquiring more traffic. -Jason Rouleau

Part of the difficulty in understanding the huge impact CPA networks have had on adult Internet marketing is the fact that for many they remain a dirty little secret. Paysite owners don’t want to turn off individual affiliates by making it seem that they are only interested in large traffic networks, and webmasters who benefit from CPA offers tend to keep their relationships quiet to avoid having many other webmasters over-saturate what is working for them by using the same CPA tools to compete against them.

One well-known site owner explained it all concisely on the condition that they would remain nameless: “Affiliate traffic was always labor intensive for us to purchase because there was so much fraud from click bots, fake purchases on PPS links and all the rest. Meanwhile 99 percent of the traffic came from one percent of our affiliates and we soon saw from our stats that the one percent sending the lion’s share of our traffic was also sending zero fraudulent clicks. That’s why we eventually shut down our affiliate program and moved on to an invite only model supplemented by CPM advertising. We see CPA as a great way to access the traffic of many smaller affiliates and to pay them nicely for their sales while pushing some of the fraud detection and affiliate management tasks off to CPA networks that are specialized in handling those important parts of the traffic supply chain.”

As the Advidi.com CPA website explains, “Our system will offer one code to serve the best possible banner for the best possible offer for that specific user at that time. We optimize the entire process: geolocation, banners, landers, and even join forms. You push one link, and we optimize the rest — all you have to do is tell us what to push.”

The CPM traffic method still has excellent potential but it requires a lot of trial and error by media buyers because it offers impressions per ad buy rather than a definite number of sales per spend. Yes, 1 million impressions may be a good way to obtain better branding and name recognition, but if you want to make a profit on your ad spend you’ll need to buy a lot of traffic to test a variety of creatives and to optimize every aspect of your sales funnel to reach the point where you are earning more than your traffic costs consistently. Some professional media buyers do this exceptionally well and make millions of dollars buying exactly the right traffic for each specific offer and tailoring their landers to motivate each traffic segment they target. It’s not a game for novices or one that can be learned without deep pockets.

On the contrary, CPA advertising allows paysite owners to spend money per sale, regardless of how many impressions are churned to generate each sale. That puts the emphasis on publishers able to supply quality traffic, which is actually capable of converting. However, with a CPA network, there is an intermediary entity staffed by experts that brings in the smaller traffic from many publishers and combines it with their own large in-house traffic for monetization. The result is that a webmaster with three or four sales per month can now aggregate those sales into the larger productivity of a CPA network and have them become three or four of the thousands of sales sent by the CPA network to sponsors each month. That also gives smaller webmasters much larger payout clout.

Another popular affiliate program manager pointed out, “From our point of view, the simplicity of the CPA system really works for everyone. The paysite owner gets clean quality traffic that converts, we pay the CPA network top payout rates for our their streamlining the process, creating the best promo materials, managing smaller affiliate traffic ... and in the end we pay out much higher amounts per sale to each webmaster sending us traffic than they could ever have negotiated directly on their own because their traffic can be monetized so much more efficiently by CPA partners. It’s all about efficiency, everyone doing what they do best and leaving the rest to a trusted sales chain of professionals.”

The CPA revolution extends across all mobile platforms and international regions. KissMyAds.com is the Cologne-based CPA company that features many optimization tools and offers for mobile traffic providers, as well as the traditional desktop traffic from inside and outside the U.S. The impressive list of testimonials on their site from known names and the fact that they are currently hiring for many new positions proves the CPA model is continuing to grow rapidly in many markets.

“Anyone who remembers the old Commission-Junction / Befree / Linkshare days can take one look at the CrakRevenue.com site to see how things have changed,” said Robert of LemmeCheck.com. “Crak now puts together all the best offers, promo materials, stat tracking tools and a blog that has a wealth of real tips for new webmasters — and it’s all right there for free. Send traffic through their ads to save all the time and money it would have taken you to do the testing and optimization yourself. Get bigger payouts and you don’t even have to keep up with all of the offers because they can help you match your traffic with the best current offer to max out your revenue on every click you send.”

“What sets us apart from other networks is our approach to creating unique CPA offers,” said Jason Rouleau of Crak Revenue. “Instead of plugging an extensive list of offers into our system and letting the affiliates fend for themselves, we work hard to create exclusive marketing tools such as video landing pages, optimized sales funnels and high CTR banners that our affiliates can use on their sites. We take away the hard parts of affiliate marketing and let our webmasters concentrate solely on acquiring more traffic.”

AdultForce.com is the entry into the CPA market by industry giant MindGeek. Beyond monetizing traffic for publishers with offers from other sponsors, their focus is on the long list of in-house brands they manage and according to their site they still have a standing offer for any qualified webmaster seeking prepaid deals.

Though the AdultForce site also makes CPM, revshare and PPS offers, it appears to be moving toward a CPA model.

As older affiliate programs continue to close their doors, become invite-only operations or are consolidated into larger paysite networks, there is considerable downward pressure on the market to create greater efficiency and cast out smaller players.

Simultaneously, many affiliate sites now run on auto-pilot or are managed by part-time webmasters who have one foot in this business and the other foot leading them somewhere else, which creates plenty of upward pressure to find simpler ways to monetize traffic and to stay tuned in to the always shifting adult consumer’s trigger points. That combination is benefiting the CPA networks that are growing from the middle out, by satisfying the demand for simplicity and transparency that their publishers and advertisers demand.

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