In five year’s time, will the [CPS or CPA] side of the performance marketing industry be bigger in the USA than it is now? If so, what will drive that growth?
Yes we expect to see growth. There was a temporary contraction in the CPA space as low-value direct response marketers and dubious publishers were driven from the space. But that left a cadre of professional and sophisticated CPA practitioners still standing. And they’ve succeeded in building CPA revenue back up by delivering real value to consumers and advertisers. As the numerous CPA advertisers who have been successful grow, they invest more in CPA. And on the supply side, we see continued expansion of performance-based media channels (as evidenced by the recent explosive growth of mobile and native ads)—and smart and innovative affiliates are leading the way in monetizing these new channels.
We also believe that CPA’s results-based model makes logical business sense for advertisers. The fact that it helps minimize risk and guarantee ROI will continue to attract more of them into the space. Plus, mounting evidence of the pervasiveness of click fraud and bot traffic in non-performance-based online media is making CPA even more attractive.
See the Bloomberg Business article “Marketers thought the Web would allow perfectly targeted ads. Hasn’t worked out that way.” – bloomberg.com/features/2015-click-fraud/
How can an advertiser tell the difference between a good network and a poor one?
The best and most conclusive way to discern between networks is by the quality of the traffic they deliver. But that’s something one can find out only after trying a network. How do you assess quality before you begin working with a network? Watch out for over-promises. Some networks will say anything to land a new advertiser including making guarantees that they will deliver high volumes of conversions—and pushing hard to get the campaign in as exclusive. The reality is, however, there is no way to predict performance without market testing. And if a network is confident in its ability to deliver quality traffic, it won’t shy away from competing with other networks to prove its worth. So look for networks that are honest and modest in their claims, and that offer sober counsel on how to best bring your offer into the CPA marketplace.
Are affiliates right to worry about their commissions being affected by shaving and scrubbing? If so, what should they do about it?
Yes, they should always worry. Though hard to fathom, it is believed that there still may be a number of significant players who routinely shave/scrub to beef up their own revenue.
We’d like to think that the problem is not as pervasive as affiliates fear. That said, we still think it’s wise that affiliates be ever vigilant, keeping a close eye on their traffic metrics. We also recommend that affiliates split-test different networks and compare results. Finally, affiliates should seek to build a close and transparent relationship with their account rep.
What do you see as the key differentiators between the leading CPS networks?
While the main players are all relatively comparable, there are differences—in fees, availability of help from a dedicated account rep, tracking and affiliate base. For example, one is seen as offering the most accurate tracking while another is more flexible in passing through external ad tracking tags. Are you a big brand and want to unleash a major campaign on the CPS network that offers the greatest scale and money is no object? Or, are you more interested in targeting specific affiliates and have a more limited budget? As is true of any marketing media decision, you need consider the audience you need to reach, capabilities required, and budget to determine which CPS network is the best fit.
Is it possible for the performance marketing industry to police itself in any meaningful way?
Yes, absolutely! But it will more likely be done on a company-by-company basis rather than by some consortium of companies or the industry as a whole. What is that will drive a company to police itself? The fact that delivering poor quality and fraud is simply bad business. If you are not delivering value to your advertiser clients, you are not going to be keeping them for long. Fortunately, there are more technology tools than ever before for quickly weeding out fraudulent and low quality traffic.