How To Fight Back Against Rising Click Costs

If your inbox is anything like mine, your Monday mornings are probably spent combing through network emails of what to promote, what to test and where to send your traffic. Of course, working out what to do with our traffic is a minor point. Getting it profitable is the hard part where we’d most appreciate advice!

Good old fashioned affiliate arbitrage is beginning to feel like running from a tsunami of problems.

Spiraling click costs, weaker inventory, stubborn advertisers. Sound familiar?

If it does, we have something in common. I’ve been looking at several ways to combat the challenges faced in advertising on the major social platforms. Let’s face it, neither Facebook or Plentyoffish are getting any easier to crack. You can concede defeat, or you can retreat and regroup.

So what actions can you take to avoid becoming the next affiliate casualty?

Open your mind to new bidding strategies

This is particularly important on Plentyoffish. Bidding strategies can make or break you. Making a simple change can completely turn around your fortunes. For example, I’d gotten it in to my head that bidding $0.67 with a frequency cap of 4 was the sweet spot for one of my campaigns. For a long time, this was very profitable. But you shouldn’t be afraid to bid on different groups of traffic. When my campaign ran dry, I was forced in to a change. Eventually I regained profitability on the same offer, with the same creatives, just by bidding $0.48 with a frequency cap of 7.

Sometimes you have to bid less, and live with the lower conversion rates, to achieve a greater ROI. For Christ’s sake, don’t live and die by your conversion rates. Live and die by what’s making you money.

Dayparting, weekparting, monthparting, retardparting.

Have you scrutinized your stats and analysed them on an hour-by-hour basis? If you’re working in the dating niche, this is pretty fucking significant. Forget about conversion rates. Look directly at the EPCs vs. CPCs over a 24 hour period.

You also need to consider a variable bid approach. Many affiliates say that you simply shouldn’t advertise dating offers during certain hours. On the flipside, traffic is a lot cheaper for those of us who decide to take that path. Probably because those saying you shouldn’t bid in the morning, are the same idiots bidding the same fixed amount 24/7 and then wondering where their profitability went. Well, duh.

Use language that sells your offer twice as hard.

If you’re not yet using landing pages, you might as well be a dinosaur dodging asteroids. It may be fun for a while, but sooner or later it’s going to be game over. Something I always look to do when my ROI drops is sell the offer twice as hard. Particularly if I’m in a small demo where a lot of eyeballs have already seen my main sales pitch.

Go back and look at your landing page. Give it a language makeover. Take every single descriptive word and ramp it up a notch, particularly the words that are being used as anchor text. Bust out a thesaurus and leave no corner of your landing page untouched. Every single conceivable concern or restraint from joining Site X now needs to be dispelled and extinguished. You simply can’t afford to lose as many clicks as you used to.

And for this, I’d give you one piece of advice. Don’t write on your own level. You’re not trying to sell a Rocket Science degree. Write as if your landing page is going to be read by the dumbest idiot in America.

Scale away from the competition.

This is the single easiest way of regaining profitability that you’ll still choose to ignore. It simply involves taking the components of your most successful campaigns, having them translated, and targeting non-English speaking markets. By advertising in non-English speaking countries, you instantly eliminate the competition that inflates your prices elsewhere.

But you’ve got to remain patient. Just because your campaign is nicely formalized in the mother tongue of the poor bastards you’re advertising to, that doesn’t make it a guaranteed success at the first time of asking. And many affiliates give up because it’s not as easy to optimize a campaign in a foreign market. There’s also lazy scaling syndrome. Where you translate your creatives but don’t bother with the landing page because it’d mean shelling out a few extra dollars.

This is particularly mind-boggling logic when it comes from the very affiliates who know first-hand what difference a landing page can make to ROI. Don’t be a fuck nugget. Do the job properly.

If straight arbitrage fails, capture the data.

The way we operate as affiliates, our mathematics are very simple. We need to get traffic cheap enough so we can sell it and make a profit. Okay, great. But most affiliates leave themselves exactly 5 seconds to play God with that data. If the click doesn’t convert, it’s forever lost.

Just yesterday, I received a network email advising me to target users earning over $100,000 to maintain maximum quality on an offer. It got me thinking. This moron earns $100,000 in a year and he’s clicking my link, just like I asked him to. In the absolute best case scenario, I’m only going to make $7 from him – if he converts on my offer. How much money am I leaving on the table by not keeping the schmuck to myself and upselling like there’s no tomorrow?

By building your own email lists and capturing data, you can afford to compete with the rising click costs. Because each conversion is worth so much more. You don’t even have to build an email list. Just brand your landing page in such a way that if the user decides not to click through, he has somewhere else to go where he can provide value to you. That’s a gigantic tip right there, and I’ll let you interpret it as you wish.

I’m guessing many marketers are finally recognising how replaceable an affiliate engaging in straight arbitrage actually is. It’s not too late to do things differently. But don’t say you didn’t see it coming when Plan A hits the wall.

Recommended This Week:

  • Looking to finally get your campaigns translated in to another language so you can start making money again? One Hour Translation is fast, cheap and thankfully much more accurate than the badass copy and pasting skills that took Finch to an unexpected C grade win in his French GCSEs. Viva Mon Francais!

  • If you’re not already registered on PPV Playbook, you are missing a beat sunshine. Easily the BEST place to learn from marketers who are actually making money. It has some awesome case studies. The catch is that you will need to pay some of your hard earned pesos to access it. I swear from the bottom of my black heart, joining is worth every penny

  • If you’re a new reader, please add me to your RSS. Feel free to add Finch to your Facebook. Yes, this is the right link. My real name is not actually Finch. Also follow me on Twitter Love you long time. Thanks for reading.

About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


Leave a comment
  • Funny you wrote about this, as I am writing a new post and in that, I said I am done with Facebook as far a overall advertising, due to the click costs. And yeah, email lists are the best way to create recurring income, as you can branch and scale that out so many ways.

  • Damn Finch, for someone so involved in dating, you really haven’t explored outside of POF and facebook. Consider getting into display/media buys – can use cleavage galore, few/no offer restrictions, and landing pages that actually sell are almost never necessary. Just slap a couple offer countdown scripts and some half-naked models on your LP, call out a specific gender, and you’re good to go. No need to worry about quality – the sheer amount of volume possible with exchange or network buys for dating offers will get your AM changing your affid every other day for you just so you can stay on the offer. And either way, its hard to complain about offers going down if one made you 500 grand last week

  • @hoo – That’s a pretty brave business plan. You do 500 grand in a week and don’t stop to worry about quality? To each his own, but I don’t think I’ll be following that path anytime soon. Especially when I work with several advertisers directly and don’t have an AM to hide my tricks…

    In regards to media buys though, yes, I have explored them. About six months ago, 90% of my traffic was coming from them. But it’s nowhere near as simple as slapping some cleavage on a banner and waiting for the jackpot like you’re suggesting.

  • Building a list is such a good way to monetize traffic. Have you tested using Facebook Connect as a secondary option to capture the user’s e-mail? It’s something I’ve been meaning to test and I plan to implement in a side project of mine, but was wondering your thoughts on it and whether you’d tested it or not.

    Keep up the great posts Finch. Really enjoy reading your blog 🙂

    – Luke

  • We depend on affiliates to help us cover the 200 ethnic markets that we need to target globally. We use OneHourTranslations and can vouch that this crowd sourcing model works. Brian @

  • Interesting Post, Finch.

    I actually just posted a blog post on this as well with an article I found on how Facebook has increased the self-serve advertisements CPC by 40% which is pretty crazy. Have you found profitability decreasing with Facebook since last year?

    I agree with Finch. Quality is important, because while you may be making money by sending junk leads, the advertiser also has to make money as well so they’ll kick you off the offer.

  • Ever read words that sell by richard bayan? If you’re looking to gear up the language of your copy that book is a must have

  • Actually this isn’t a dating offer. It’s for a targeted list I’m building in a different niche. I am running some dating offers though that have higher cpc, around .30 range and am getting epic of around .70-.80

  • I agree about the click costs and their rising price. Am trying to explore other ways and they are getting crazy. You are right on about on the language, it has to be convincing

  • It can pay off huge finding the proper balance in between CPC and the frequency cap, some users only click and convert after seeing your ad 3, 4 or ever 5x.

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