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How to Earn Money with Link Shortening – A Case Study

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Site owners, bloggers and online marketers. The one thing they all share in common is the never ending desire to master the art of monetizing their content and audiences. While not all content and audiences are the same, the value in their traffic is always something that should is heavily sought after — no matter the country, focus or demographic.

One such method is for sharing content on social media and monetizing site traffic is through the use of link shortening services. In this article, we are going to take a look at what link shortening is, the different services out there you can use and how sites are making money link shortening services in the process.

What are Link Shorteners and Why Might You Need Them?

The concept of link shortening is just like what it sounds like. You provide a full website URL to a link shortening service, then you are instantly provided with a short URL redirect that sends users to your requested site location. A good example of this would be if you were to share a link on Twitter with your audience. You will likely notice that the long URL you provided is quickly turned into a shorter URL redirect so it doesn’t take up a lot of space within your Tweet.

Examples_of_Link_Shortening

This type of link shortening is automatically done through Twitter, but there actually several reasons what you might want to use a link shortening service for your own links or sharing on other sites, such as:

  • Saving space and making ugly long links look pretty. Yes, the most common reason for using link shorteners is to simply shorten very long links. This is especially true when using social media, as shown above.
  • Gain advanced tracking and statistics on your long links. Another great benefit to shortening links that you might be sharing in different locations is having the ability to track how many clicks you are actually getting, and from where.
  • Hide affiliate links and target URLs. Sometimes you want to promote an affiliate offer or link to another site with a referral ID, but you might not want that information to be public. This is a perfect example of why other site sites are using link shortening.
  • Linking to blocked websites and content through social media. Sometimes social networks like Facebook and Twitter block websites (for whatever reason). One method to get around this is to use link shortening services.
  • Making money with your links. In addition to each of the benefits above, site owners can also make money by using link shortening services to display advertising in between the visitor process, thus generating a new source of revenue.

How Paid Link Shorteners Work

As mentioned in the many benefits of link shorteners above, the one that probably stands out the most is the concept of making money with your links. While not all link shortening services offer a monetization option, sites like Shorte.st, AdFly and LinkShrink are the most common sites that do.

The way link shortening services make money for users of their service is quite simple, and it goes something like this:

  1. A visitor will click on the shortened link from your site or traffic source
  2. An advertisement is displayed on an intermediate paid (this is how you earn money)
  3. The visitor then has the option to view the advertisement or click over (skip) to their final destination

This type of advertising has many advantages for sites that are looking to push a lot of high-traffic volume away from their sites. Examples of these sites  are entertainment & gossip sites, file sharing, image uploads or any other high traffic site that is more focused on volume versus individual action.

You can see the full process of how this works through the image below.

how-paid-shorteners-work

Link Shortening Comparison Case Study

When a lot of bloggers decided to start paying greater attention to paid link shorteners, it was decided to give them a try as well.

However, with so many different solutions on the market, it’s hard to decide how to choose the right one.

Are link shorteners a scam? Or maybe they really allow to make money? Due to many contrary opinions among users, I reached out to a team to run their own link shortening campaigns to split test the results across top networks.

A few minutes with Google were enough to understand that Adf.ly and Shorte.st are the biggest players in paid shorteners niche. We also found some information about Bc.vc, so they were tested within this case study as well.

For testing purposes, non-bot traffic was purchased from 11 countries. There were:

  • Spain (ES)
  • Mexico (MX)
  • Brazil (BR)
  • Saudi Arabia (SA)
  • Indonesia (ID)
  • India (IN)
  • South Korea (KR)
  • Russia (RU)
  • Malaysia (MY)
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Bangladesh (BD)

The study took place on April, 15th, 16th and 18th.

Popads.net was used to generate the traffic and to display an interstitial ad (online advertising that lasts a few seconds before loading a destination page. These ads are typical for links shorteners).

For the sake of clarity, 40K impressions were bought from the countries previously before.

Below, you can see specific countries that delivered the traffic:

benchmark

It was best to choose a wide range of countries to see the differences in payout rates.

Data Analysis

At first glance, all these numbers and definitions may seem difficult, but they’re really easy to understand.

Let’s start with an explanation of terms.

  • Impressions – how many unique clicks were bought. A different number of impressions were purchased from each country
  • Views – how many unique clicks were counted (recognized and accepted) by each link shortener
  • Revenue – how much was earned with each link shortener
  • vECPM is calculated by dividing total earnings by total number of impressions in thousands. It is an excellent performance measure for various ad units. Marketers use vECPM to compare their experimental results.

Data was also collected from the Adf.ly and Shorte.st publisher panels.

Due to the fact that Bc.vc counted scarcely any views, we will not focus on analysing this shortener any further. Below you can see the screenshot from Bc.vc publisher panel.

bench1

The next two images show views from Adf.ly and Shorte.st publisher panels.

Views and revenue achieved with Adf.ly

bench2

Views and revenue achieved with Shorte.st

bench4img3

To make the data easier to analyze, the stats from above were put into Excel sheets.

bench 7

The number of impressions purchased from each country

2016-04-26_1446

Summary of test results

Don’t get dismayed with these numbers. The image below will clarify everything.

screen objasniajacy

Explanation of summary of test results (on the example of Mexico)

At first glance you can see the differences in views counting. Overall, for 11 countries Adf.ly counted more views in seven of them. There were: Spain, Mexico, Brasil, South Korea, Russia, Malaysia and United Kingdom.

Shorte.st took the lead with the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India.

Surprisingly, it turned out that Shorte.st paid more in most countries!

The exceptions were: Brazil (there was a draw) and United Kingdom (for this traffic Adf.ly paid me more).

It is worth noting that more was earned with Shorte.st although they basically counted fewer views. That means that Shorte.st has higher rates for each tested traffic.

And vECPM is a unit that shows this perfectly.

Conclusion

This study proved that Shorte.st allows to earn more for the same traffic.

If they only started counting as many views as Adf.ly, they would certainly leave all the competition behind.

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GDPR Rules, Fines and Compliance – What You Need to Know

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As most business people know, taking care of sensitive and personal data of customers is of the utmost importance. Failing to do this could see you getting on the wrong side of your customers and the wrong side of the law – and the penalties can be severe. In the past, the Data Protection Act has provided regulations and guidelines to help businesses to implement data protection policies. However, this is now changing with the introduction of the GDPR.

How will this affect your current business and email marketing efforts?

The biggest question is always what needs to be done next to make sure you are compliant. iContact answers this easy enough with the following statement from the site:

The good news is, if you are already following email marketing best practices and asking your subscribers for permission to join your email lists via a subscription form on your website or requiring the subscriber to tick a box on your ecommerce site (and you can prove this ), you are well on your way to GDPR compliance.

Just like CAN-SPAM came out several years ago, and caused a big fuss, GDPR will likely do the same but everyone (and all of the major solution providers) will make compliance process quite simple and direct.

In order to ensure you do not end up being penalized as a result of failing to implement these new regulations properly, it is important to keep up with the latest developments. Businesses that do not follow these new regulations, which are due to come into play within a matter of weeks, could find themselves facing serious consequences. These regulations are all linked to how data is handled by businesses and it is important for all businesses, large and small, to get to grips with them.

Just like any new laws and regulations that are about to go into place, they have some hefty fines lined up for anyone looking to be made an example of. Imperva has a nice write-up and infographic on the new laws, and their associated fines as well. As you will see from the infographic below, the fines associated with the GDPR are quite high… with maximum fines hitting the $22 million range! In short, prepare your business now, or pay the price later on!

Fortunately, the government has already put a lot of information online about the GDPR, so those with lack of understanding can make sure they do their research to find out what needs to be done. Furthermore, specialist experts from specific industries are being taken on so that businesses can turn to someone with expertise in their specific industry in order to ensure they are following the new regulations to the letter.

One thing to remember is that your business does not have to be located within the EU in order to be tied to these regulations. The regulations also apply to businesses that are not in the EU but that sell products and services to others that are in the EU. Therefore, make sure you do not ignore these regulations just because of the location of your business, as you may find that they also apply to you because of the location of your customers.

How to Prepare for the GDPR Going Live on May 25th, 2018

As fun as it is to read up on all of these new laws and legal jargon, it’s much more exciting to watch a short video that breaks it all down. Not only will you learn more about what GDPR is, but you will also discover eleven things you need to make sure you have in place before May 25th hits and the law goes into effect.

An even better and more detailed resource on how to keep your business safe and compliant is this Forbes article on how the GDPR will affect advertising and e-commerce. With nearly all websites, blogs, and online businesses collecting emails, data, or placing cookies on their visitor’s computers, this is something we all need to be aware of.

How to Stay Up to Date with the Latest GDPR News

Since the new regulations are only just coming in, there may be some teething problems to begin with. This means that there is a chance there could be some changes and adaptations to begin with. In order to ensure you continue to implement the regulations properly, you should keep on top of any chances and developments. You can also hire the services of experts to help you get to grips with the GDPR as well as to help keep you informed as and when any changes are made.

With the introduction of the new regulations, all countries within the EU can benefit from the same data protection laws, which can help to make things much fairer and far easier to understand. Having different sets of rules from one EU country to another could be confusing and frustrating for both customers and businesses. Experts believe that these new regulations will help make things far easier to manage and understand as well as ensuring fairness across all EU countries.

However… only time will tell, and it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out after GDPR goes into affect.

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Affiliate Marketing in Asia – $1 Trillion Up for Grabs

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Affiliate marketing has completely changed the way advertising and business are done on the internet today. What started out as a simple referral-based monetization platform from Amazon, and then soon adopted by Google, quickly spread throughout the industry and is now used by millions of businesses and brands around the internet today. At the same time, affiliate marketing first got its start in the United States, but soon found itself making its way around the world over the years.

One of the most common things United States-based affiliate marketers and brands neglect to focus on is the power of affiliate marketing and targeting towards other countries around the world. Just because you are living in a specific country or region, it doesn’t mean that you should be focusing all of your advertising and online marketing efforts there. This is especially true when you factor in the amazing demographic and geographic targeting options available online today. At the same time, language and translation barriers are really no excuse as well — there are plenty of low-cost services out there that this can be outsourced to.

Affiliate marketing in the U.S. is expected to be worth $6.8 billion over the next five years; in the UK alone it is already worth $1.6 billion. With these two markets already in demand and quite saturated, it might be best to start focusing your efforts on Asia. It was also pointed out that “Asia’s e-commerce spending hit US$1 trillion in 2016 alone”. (source)

With all of this in mind, today we are going to take a look at affiliate marketing in Asia, and why it simply can’t be ignored. Special thanks to Leadbit, an industry leading direct advertiser and affiliate network, for providing the infographic visuals and stats on each of these breakdowns.

Affiliate Marketing in India

Of all the countries and regions in the world today, India is growing at one of the fastest rates — both with people and their technology. More people are getting online than ever before, and with a population of more than 1.3 billion, this market is huge enough for any business or affiliate marketer to see huge results from. At the same time, of those 1.3 billion, less than half of them have access to the internet (whether it be through the internet or mobile devices).

When it comes to internet usage, most Indians are spending their time watching online video and using social networking platforms — both of which offer amazing demographic targeting and advertising options. It’s also important to consider your language usage and targeting as well. While English is one of the main languages in India, it’s just one of many.

As for promoting offers in India, this is something that many affiliate marketers and brands might struggle with, as traffic to individuals with India is usually pretty cheap, but the conversion rate on any type of credit card or payment offer is usually low. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t find success. Evergreen offers like weight loss, health supplements, and anything else that everyday people need on a daily basis is well worth a test in this region.

Affiliate Marketing in Thailand

While India is one of the largest world markets that many brands and affiliate marketers are taking advantage of right now, Thailand is also making its way onto the radar. With a population of around 70 million, and more than half having access to the internet, this demographic is quickly getting online and looking to take advantage of what the internet has to offer.

Just like with promoting offers in India, it will be tough to find winners, but again… traffic costs are also at a fraction of what you would expect to pay to target countries like the United States, Germany, New Zealand and others.

Internet usage in Thailand is mainly focused on search engines, social networks and shopping online. Thailand residents who have access to the internet, are getting online nearly every day.

Affiliate Marketing in Vietnam

The common theme that we are seeing with affiliate marketing across Asia, is that the traffic sources are cheap, and the monetization and affiliate offers are slim. The benefit here is that the competition is low, but if you can master the art of finding success with one offer in an Asian country, you can likely replicate it with others as well.

Next, on the list, we have Vietnam. With a population of almost 100 million people and nearly half of them being online, this market is just waiting to earn affiliate marketers millions of dollars. Like many other countries on this list, social media and search engines are the best ways to reach such audiences.

When it comes to social media in Vietnam, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google+ Lead the way — which is quite different from what you might be used to seeing in US and English-based markets.

Affiliate Marketing in Singapore

Singapore is one of the most well-known and recognized names in the world, yet they only have a population of around 6 million people, which more than half of them already being online. With an average daily internet usage of seven hours, most users are spending their time in the search results, social networks and watching online videos.

One of the key takeaways to remember about targeting an audience in Singapore, is that 91% of the people in the country are accessing the internet daily. Even though there are less than 10 million people in the country, almost all of them are accessible online.

Affiliate Marketing in Indonesia

As we move away from the small population of Singapore, we jump over the massive population of Indonesia, which is around 262 million. With more than half of the country already having access to the internet, it’s yet another country on our list that will offer an amazing opportunity with demographic and geographic targeting, while also offering low-cost traffic in the process.

Something to consider when marketing to Indonesia, is that Islam is the main religion of the country. Considerations here shouldn’t be just on the language and religion factors, but also what type of offers might better apply to them as well.

Like many other countries, Indonesia is very social media hungry — with more than 106 million people accessing social networks regularly. With Facebook being the number one social platform of choice, it also paves the way for great demographic advertising through the Facebook Ads platform.

Affiliate Marketing in Taiwan

Taiwan is another big name in Asia, and there are currently has more than 23 million people living in the country. What makes this country stand out from others in it’s surrounding areas, is that there is a heavy demand for Facebook, and a great majority of people in the country already have access to the internet.

With more than seven hours of internet browsing taking place daily, most of this time is spent on search engines and social media, while some shopping and emailing, of course, takes place as well.

Affiliate Marketing in Hong Kong

Another well-known name, yet small in population, is Hong Kong. With nearly all of their population already having access to the internet, if you can find a profitable way to market to this audience, you could find some big success.

More than 97% of residents within the country are accessing the internet daily, mostly to use search engines and social networks — while also spending 6 hours a day online in the process. The one demographic stat to point out here is that 38% of the population falls into the 25-34 age range, which is perfect for selling products, services and offers to. However, it’s simply a matter of finding the right offer to promote and squeezing enough profit out in the process.

Affiliate Marketing in China

Last but not least… we have the massive population of China, which currently sits at 1.4 billion. With so many different factors at play, China can be one of the most profitable, yet frustrating, markets to master. Not only will affiliates and brands have to master the art of language and translation, they will also need to cater to a whole new world of regulation, censorship, and limitations that Chinese users have to deal with on a daily basis.

Of all the countries mentioned in our list, China has a steady structure of what users are doing when they get online — which consists of mostly shopping online, checking the weather, communicating through social media and downloading photos online. Something interesting you will also notice is that none of the major social networks are in play here either. (as they are mostly all blocked)

China is a massive multi-billion dollar market, but also one of the most confusing to master. There is also a lot of focus on how affiliate marketing is bringing new brands and businesses into the Chinese market right now as well. Since this method has worked so well in other countries, there is no reason why we shouldn’t continue to see the same success as more brands make their way into China.

How to Find the Best Affiliate Offers to Promote in Asia

While we tried to cover the many different ways affiliate marketing can play a role in Asia, it’s actually more about how to best understand, target, and monetize the audiences around you. With so many traffic sources and demographic targeting options available today, it’s quite easy to run an ad campaign to any of the countries listed below, and also doing a quick split test.

The other factor in play here is to find an affiliate network that provides access to offers for each of these countries. When doing so, be sure to keep an eye out for different ad copy, creatives, and landing pages that are already pre-built to the specifications of each country (ie: in their own language and style).

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, special thanks to Leadbit for the visuals and stats to make this post possible. Affiliate marketing is changing all of the time, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to start expanding your campaigns to new areas of the world.

Leadbit currently has affiliate offers for all of the countries listed above. Be sure to check out their ad network and explore your options with affiliate marketing in Asia today.

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5 Reasons Why Media.net Is a Top Alternative to AdSense

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Many online publishers assume that Google AdSense has a monopolistic stranglehold on the contextual ad market, particularly for smaller publishers who may not be able to work out more lucrative deals with other networks or privately with advertisers directly. They assume that Google AdSense is the be-all and end-all of this type of advertising and that is simply not true.

Whether you’re getting into this market for the first time or you’ve been suspended, disabled, unapproved or even banned from AdSense and are looking for a viable alternative, Media.net is more than worthy of your attention. It’s an ad network that powers the Yahoo! Bing network of advertisers, meaning that you are working with a couple of the biggest technology brands in the history of the web. They say you can “tap into one of the largest pools of advertisers in the world” to “maximize revenue from your online content.”

So, what are some of the biggest reasons why you should sign up with Media.net as a publisher?

1. Large Established Base of Quality Advertisers

One of the primary appeals to Google AdSense is just the sheer number of advertisers who are actively bidding on the network. This intense competition lends itself to better ad rates for publishers who run the units on their websites. But again, Google is hardly the only player in town.

As mentioned above, Media.net exclusively powers the Yahoo! Bing ad marketplace. This gives you access to all the major buyer networks and around $6 billion worth of search demand. All of the major demand-side platforms (DSPs) and ad exchanges are actively competing for your traffic, which in turn will help to maximize your revenue.

You’d be extremely hard pressed to find another Google AdSense alternative that boasts that kind of volume, that kind of competition, and that level of quality among its advertisers. That is the reason why huge online publishers monetize their traffic with Media.net too, including everyone from Forbes and Reuters to WebMD and Marie Claire.

2. Dynamic Optimization

Having access to a massive base of high-quality advertisers doesn’t mean very much if the wrong ads are being shown to the wrong people at the wrong time. If you’ve got a website that online marketing, ads about vintage tea sets probably aren’t going to perform very well.

Media.net boasts of some truly impressive ad serving technology that will dynamically optimize the ads to best suit your content at just the right time for just the right audience. Media.net is a pioneer in the display-to-search (D2S) advertising format, monetizing your content using a CPC model. Advertisers bid on your display placements on larger CPC budgets and you get paid the most possible as a result of filtering the intent of the audience.

One feature that is especially handy is the fact that the simple two-line JavaScript code you paste into your website’s design template will dynamically yield either text ads or display ads. The network technology will automatically optimize this decision for the highest revenue potential. You’ll also enjoy a 100% fill rate across all verticals and ad formats, so every last impression is being monetized to its fullest potential.

3. Highly Customizable Style and Design

Relying on the advanced optimization engine is one thing, but you still want to exert a certain level of control over how these ads will look on your website, right?

The Media.net ads that are served on your website can be customized to match the color scheme and style of your design and layout. It has been clearly demonstrated that a “native advertising” approach to such ads is much more effective, blending the ads in more effectively with your original content to create a more aesthetically-pleasing experience for your website visitors. The ads should feel like they belong there.

The versatility of options here, particularly in terms of different ad formats, is equally impressive. You can utilize desktop interstitials, like the above example served on Forbes, to maximize returns on these high-value impressions. Advertisers are willing to pay top dollar for this kind of exposure and attention.

The “below the article” ad unit takes on a form similar to the native advertising that you may see all around the web these days too. It looks like recommended content that is seamlessly integrated with your own content.

On the mobile side, you can take advantage of the mobile docked ad unit. This ad unit remains docked at the bottom of every page, ensuring that every mobile impression counts. It is supported on all iOS and Android devices, including iPads and tablets. Considering the continued growth of mobile usage, it is absolutely critical that you monetize your mobile content just as effectively and specifically as you do with your desktop content.

4. Ad Specialists Optimize Your Earnings

A very common complaint that you’ll hear from just about anyone who has had to deal with Google, whether that’s with AdSense or any other product, is that it becomes almost impossible to connect with an actual real-life person to come to a suitable solution. Your emails may never get answered and, if they do, you may only receive a canned response. That’s no good.

Media.net is different in that every partner, every publisher, every advertiser is assigned a dedicated account manager to address any questions or concerns you may have. That personal touch makes all the difference, because it means that you have an actual person to help. This is the kind of service that is usually reserved only for “top tier” publishers. But at Media.net, every publisher, large or small gets dedicated personal support. Furthermore, there are optimization specialists working around the clock for your mutual success and benefit.

5. Powerful Self-Learning for Contextual Ads

You know how the predictive text on your smartphone’s keyboard gets better and better the more you use it? After a while, it starts to understand what words you use most frequently and in what order, getting better and better at not only completing the words you type, but also predicting the next words to follow? The learning algorithm with Media.net works in much the same way.

The contextual ads that show up aren’t being called up based solely on information gleaned in that single moment. Instead, advanced calculations are being conducted based on your history with Media.net, gleaning what ads perform best on your platforms and channels for what kind of content. It needs some time to understand and absorb your content.

Once it does, though, it will be remarkably well equipped to serve contextual ads that are specifically relevant to your particular audience, ads that are more likely to attract clicks and perform well for you. This auto-optimization process is continuous, so your performance with the network will only get better over time.

Here is where you can sign up with Media.net. You can get started in less than 10 seconds by providing your website and email address.

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