A common misconception about programmatic advertising among rookie affiliates is that a budget needs to be gigantic for the campaign to thrive. This is of course partially true, as usually, the bigger the ad spend is, the bigger the returns. At least in theory.
But it does not necessarily mean that having an enormous programmatic advertising budget is the only way to run a successful campaign. In fact, with proper optimization, an affiliate can step up their game without investing more into their campaigns.
Below, any marketer who seeks advice will find a set of handy advice to help a low-budget campaign bloom.
Find the best-fitting and the safest GEOs for your programmatic campaigns
This point may seem like an obvious one for experienced advertisers, but it is one of the most commonly met mistakes of people who are still growing into the affiliate marketing industry.
In order to make things easier for affiliates, worldwide GEOs have been divided into categories.
See Zeropark's blog post about Tiers of Traffic in Affiliate Marketing to learn how to distinguish the best GEOs out there.
Three tiers of GEOs
Tier 1: it consists of highly competitive, but also highly rewarding, GEOs. It consists mostly of English-speaking countries, and the markets there are every major brand's go-to places. That is why beginners should in fact avoid these GEOs, especially all the affiliates with limited budgets. Unless they operate in a big niche, they simply will not be able to outbid the competition.
As we already established, these GEOs include the likes of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. And the best way to use their big-spending potential here would be to jump in on e-commerce, finance, dating, or nutra verticals on domain redirect ads, as well as push and pop campaigns.
Tier 2: without any surprise, tier two consists of the countries with bigger markets filled with spenders, but not quite as competitive as first-tier countries. What also distinguishes those, is the fact that in most cases, an advertiser has to prepare language-specific campaigns, otherwise, the audience may not understand the ad.
To really use the full potential of this tier, an affiliate should turn their head toward Japan, New Zealand, or Sweden, which are definitely top GEOs there. Basically, these are well-developed countries that do not offer global market reach, also because of the language barrier. The volumes here are a bit lower than in Tier 1, and it is highly recommended for the affiliates to try out push, domain, and pop campaigns for e-commerce, dating, and sweepstakes here.
- Tier 3: Here you can find some slightly poorer or less attractive markets. The CPCs and CPVs there are in most cases fairly low, so it's a perfect environment to spend smaller budgets on. However, there are fewer rules and there is a lot of room for growth. Therefore, wrapping one’s head around these markets needs an increased focus. Because of the instability, there may be some major fluctuations, but this still should be a great testing ground for rookies.
With Tier 3 you definitely need to be prepared to have huge volumes of traffic with really low bids. If properly set, the campaigns should bring fairly good conversion rates, and the most interesting countries from this tier are definitely Brazil, Mexico, China, Indonesia, and Thailand. Competition should be fairly low, so there is a lot of ground to cover. E-commerce won't be as effective here, but sweepstakes, dating, and nutra verticals are something for marketers to have a look at.
Advice: Learn the affiliate marketing mechanisms in lower-tier markets, and then use your experience to conquer highly rewarding and competitive Tier 1 GEOs.
But do not expect to have an easy ride with all lower-tier GEOs. These markets could be volatile, and without proper campaign optimization, an affiliate will still burn the budget fairly quickly. Bear in mind that most countries strive for development, so these tiers may change over time.
Persist with your programmatic advertising strategy
Rule number one for all marketers should be to keep their trajectory unless it turns out to be a complete mistake. While designing a programmatic campaign, an affiliate should know exactly what results to pursue.
A small advertising budget imposes a focus on a few campaigns with limited variables. Of course, bigger financial possibilities would allow marketers to differentiate their strategies – but budget limitations force ad campaigns to become single route-oriented. This differentiation and generally a bigger programmatic ad spend budget allows affiliates to test a broader range of possibilities.
RON campaigns are not that good for low-budget campaigns
Running RON programmatic ads without a sufficient budget could bring unsatisfying results for an affiliate. It’s a straightforward way to burn one’s money without major successes, other than receiving some data about certain GEOs’ performance.
If an affiliate does not have information about which GEOs should they target for their campaign, it would be a good practice to reach out to the support team of the ad network. They should be able to provide an affiliate with a whitelist of sources, as well as give some useful suggestions regarding the campaign.
This is a great way to avoid having ineffective traffic within a campaign, and thus to increase conversion rate and ROI, too.
Setting up a Run-Of-Network campaign is a great strategy for narrowing down the audience of a campaign and is highly recommended for those affiliates who can afford that. Detailed intel about the most efficient targets allows better campaign optimization. But affiliates with low budgets will have to manage without this possibility.
Trying out various GEOs and offers is unadvised for brands and affiliates that do not have a high budget for programmatic campaigns. This does not mean that they can not be successful, though.
Know, how much you are willing to sacrifice
Treat possible ad budget losses as a chance to learn about optimizing your campaigns. The logic here is fairly simple – if a campaign does not bear expected fruit, it was not well-optimized (or the offer is not good enough/mismatched with the traffic). Within your ad exchange platform, you can see what targets and sources work best for certain types of campaigns. After analysis of that, block the traffic you do not wish to have, thus boosting your performance.
The most common practice within the industry is to cut the sources and traffic that have a persistent ROI at (more or less) -70%. At that point, there is usually no use in keeping it, as it is highly unlikely that things will change up.
Let’s treat this as the tipping point for the campaign. For the sources with a more optimistic-looking ROI (-50% for example), bidding up or down could be a way to actually save the campaign. It is really important for all the affiliate marketers to remain cool-headed, and not overreact. All the decisions should be well-thought, and what’s probably even more important, data-driven.
Basically, an affiliate should never expect all of their campaigns to perform incredibly well. Losses are a part of the learning process.
Lower budgets impose fewer variables
What is generally a recommended strategy, is to spend 10x of the payout for each campaign flow that is being tested. This helps you create a definite number of combinations of variables. But be careful, the fewer variables you test, the smaller the chances are of finding the ‘winning combination’. The number of variables is heavily reliant on the budget.
There is no universal amount of money that has to be spent on testing the campaign for the best combination. For some affiliates, these needed budgets will be still lower, while others will have to spend considerable amounts to get the same results. This could be the case of luck for some affiliates, but definitely, most should use extensive data analysis to optimize their campaigns.
Remember to evaluate your ad campaign in-real-time
Never leave a campaign uncontrolled unless you’re using some kind of auto-optimization solution. Programmatic advertising technology enables affiliates with such broad analysis possibilities, that it would be a waste to neglect those. Also, the wisest practice would be to regularly and often check the campaign's performance to catch any disruptions or trouble.
If the adjustments and rectifications are done on time, they could really save lots of advertisers' budgets from burning out.
Use Rule-Based Optimization (RBO) tools
Fortunately for the affiliates, some ad exchange platforms like Zeropark allow them to set up some automatic optimization tools. While setting up RBO might seem complicated, there are both easy set-up options for rookies and also more advanced capabilities for experienced affiliates.
What beginner affiliates should do, is use the default Rule-Based Optimization setting calculated by the platform after specifying one parameter – your offer payout. It certainly will be the safest option for any marketer, as this limits the possibility of making a mistake.
Optimization steps to follow in each ad campaign
A good campaign is a well-optimized campaign. But an affiliate should not start optimization unless they have relevant data to back up all the decisions they are making. Optimizing certain parameters is an immensely important step of every campaign running, but it should only come after receiving statistical information on what works, and what does not.
This is the most optimal way of minimizing losses and avoiding further trouble with a campaign. Acting with reason and in the right order is, in fact, the only way to succeed.
Optimization options to elevate ad campaign performance
With custom programmatic advertising solutions, an affiliate is able to adjust the programmatic ads settings to maximize ROI and conversion rate. Feel free to use this list as a cheat sheet for your campaign optimization:
Ad formats – programmatic advertising could be done via different types of ad formats. Zeropark's offer includes Domain ads, Pop ads, Push ads. They of course differ in the amount and quality of traffic they offer on different verticals – pops are the cheapest, which makes them perfect for beginners with low budgets.
Geo-targeting – an affiliate can narrow down their campaign to precisely chosen countries, regions, and even cities. Running worldwide campaigns is highly unadvised for affiliates with low budgets, as most probably their funds will be burnt rapidly.
Device filtering – programmatic ad-tech allows advertisers to target chosen device types (either mobile or desktop), operating systems, and even specific browsers. Beginners in the affiliate industry might not appreciate this option to the fullest, as it becomes the handiest once the targeted audience has been crystallized.
Check out, which is better – Desktop vs. Mobile Traffic?
Frequency filters – a user is more likely to engage with an ad when they do not feel overexposed to it. Frequency filters are a must in every campaign, and although the standard setting for optimizing profits would be the default of 24h, lowering it to even 30 or 60 minutes could be more than beneficial for the win ratio of the campaign. This should level up the conversion rate, which is something you’d want if your campaign struggles with traffic volume.
Only detailed data showing how day parting should be set to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness should be a reason behind changing the settings. Day parting optimization should never be based on one’s hunch.
Keyword targeting – an affiliate can buy only the traffic that relates to certain keywords. With lower budgets, there is little space for mistakes here, so make sure to check the correctness of keywords. Misspellings, adding special characters, or inserting full URLs are some of the most common errors that negatively influence campaigns’ keyword targeting.
Placement level – display advertising could be done only on chosen target domains. Always be on the lookout for best-performing targets, note them down and create a targeted campaign with precise targeting.
Source targeting – an affiliate can target an audience offered by certain sources. Ask the support team for a whitelist before launching your campaigns, or make your own based on previous experience.
Setting the bid– in order to win the auctions in the real-time bidding model, at times it may become necessary to adjust the bid level. We suggest setting the bid a bit higher than the recommended amount for a given country. This is a great way to start a campaign, as it promises better initial results. After analyzing performance, the affiliate should then of course incrementally adjust the bid.
Campaign budget – with low-budget ad campaigns, there is no way for advertisers to have an unlimited budget. But this also needs to be adjusted sometimes. The same applies to setting up a daily and source budgets – this way all the money for advertising will not be spent right away.
It is always best to follow the advice of more experienced colleagues. Following affiliate marketing influencers is a great practice for those rookies, who want to get a hang of things much quicker, even vocabulary-wise. It could also be a valid source of inspiration as to what verticals and what GEOs are worth considering.
Also, it is very important to select those personalities, who can benefit your knowledge and performance best. Find out who the Best affiliate marketing bloggers and influencers are.
The key to the success will be finding the right balance of targeting and further optimization. Having too broad of a campaign could be as inefficient as having too narrow of criteria. Here, the expertise comes with experience, so the more an affiliate understands, the better they should do on the market. Remember, that for the best campaign results on a limited budget, an affiliate should:
Avoid running a campaign in tier 1 GEOs. Instead, it’s best for them to focus on tier 3 and countries that offer medium volumes of traffic.
Affix the testing budget to find out which combination of variables works best.
Ask an ad exchange platform for whitelists and suggestions on how to initially target the campaign.
Avoid RON campaigns, as those burn the budget out rather quickly.
If using keyword targeting, make sure that keywords are correctly spelled.
Follow the latest trends and changes in the affiliate marketing world.
Make all the optimization decisions based on data they receive from market and campaign analysis.
Sign up for Zeropark's demo and explore affiliate advertising possibilities.