I try not to read too much of TechCrunch. Every time I do, I’m left with the impression that 95% of the start-ups being covered are noteworthy purely for being start-ups, without a shred of consideration for the actual value they bring to the world. It’s Silicon Vanity gone wild. Mike Chiasson summed up my thoughts perfectly in one tweet:
“At what point can I stop calling you a startup and start calling you a total failure?”
But alas, one article caught my eye last week that I considered to be of actual relevance to affiliate marketers. It was a feature on MixRank, a brand new ad spy tool, currently in Beta release and free to use.
MixRank lets you search through an enormous compilation of Adsense ads, pinpointing the most profitable of the bunch (in theory) and locating where those ads are running successfully.
Sound familiar yet? There’s a fair chance it may. Spying on ads is beginning to feel slightly 2010. Services like What Runs Where and AffEdge have given affiliates plenty of options for staying in touch with the rest of the industry’s fun and games.
It won’t be long until I’m sitting in some battleship grey stained underpants, eyes straining and spying on what other spies are spying on. Who needs affiliate marketing? The real money is in knowing where the real money is for other people making real money!
Whether I joke about it or not, competitive analysis plays a large hand in the making of lucrative campaigns.
So what can MixRank do for you?
I’ll give you the breakdown of what it says on the tin:
- MixRank is a “search engine” for display and contextual ads. Enter the target website, find their active ads.
- MixRank lets you check exactly where a website is getting it’s traffic, and which ads are performing the best. Very useful for niche affiliate offers (Scholarships, education offers, and bizopps)
- MixRank cuts through thousands of split tests to show you the best performing ad copies in whatever industry you’re researching.
While it’s nice to be able to monitor what Adsense advertisers are up to, it goes without saying that many affiliates are still harbouring sore arses from Google’s treatment in the past. Not everybody has an Adwords account, and I would suspect that most of the readers on this site will be turning their attention to a different benefit of using MixRank altogether – the ability to scale out PPV campaigns.
If I analyse the advertising efforts of Match.com, I can get an interesting perspective on where the cretins (and their affiliates) are finding the most joy with Adsense ads.
Pages upon pages of hotspots for profitable Adsense campaigns
From the report above, I could judge that my landing page would be worth popping on ChristianFishing.com. Dating on a Christian fishing site? Well that’s not very obvious… what were Match thinking?
Possibility one: Many Christian fishing enthusiasts are actually single and responsive towards dating ads.
Possibility two: There’s no correlation. The advertiser has spunked 30 days of clicks on an unprofitable ad.
How do you predict what will happen? You don’t. Such is affiliate marketing, mon amis. Spying on ads can give you inspiration and potentially fantastic starting points, but seeing is only one piece of the jigsaw. The 99 other pieces involve actually doing.
This is not rocket science, and it’s not a guaranteed formula for success, but we can draw reasonable conclusions that the ads running for the longest on the same traffic source, are good places to start with a targeted PPV campaign. Particularly those generating a large number of page views so you’re not wasting your time.
There are many tools for scraping URLs to build out PPV campaigns, but I often find that generating serious volume with collections of pages can be difficult. Dealing with dribs and drabs of traffic has proven to be a much bigger danger to my campaigns than the thought of actually losing money.
If I can’t attract volume, I often abandon ship. My recycling bin of failed PPV campaigns consists mainly of creative ideas that never met the acid test of enough eyeballs. Scraping targeted pages prevents heavy losses in the testing phase, but it also stunts the growth of your campaigns.
By using MixRank, you can jump straight in to bed with a broader, and much more scalable, method of demographic targeting. You’ve probably heard PPV publishers preaching that the big money is in scaling sideways; in finding closely related websites that appeal to your demographic, without being so fucking obvious that your targets can only include life_insurance_for_nannies or the deal is broken.
There’s no volume for affiliates who aren’t prepared to think in term of demographics.
MixRank cuts some helpful corners. Conventional URL scraping wisdom would be unlikely to uncover such diverse targets unless you were purposefully scraping some very obscure terms. And that’s the kicker. MixRank isn’t so much a ready-made campaigns to-go service, but a colossal database of clues that should point your PPV efforts in the right direction.
I’ve used Match.com as an example, but in true form of this blog, it would probably be one of the worst examples to test. I recommend you stick to analysing sites that are lesser known brands where the online advertising is seen as critical to their business models. Direct results are the order of the day.
You want to research only the websites where somebody with a brain is going to notice if a URL target has been seeping a heavy loss for the last 30 days. A giant brand like Match.com is unlikely to be as clued in to what makes a profitable target as the smaller dating agency that spends 100% of it’s advertising budget seeking immediate returns on tighter margins. And I would even suggest that you ignore dating sites altogether.
Log in to your affiliate network of choice, preview a bunch of offers, and run the landing page URLs through MixRank’s reporting panel. It shouldn’t be long until your brain is bursting with PPV possibilities and niche angles that essentially add up to stealing somebody else’s “thinking outside the box“.
The service is currently free to use during beta phase, so register your account while the trial deal lasts!
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