excerpt: Arming you with 3 insights affiliate marketers know for running mobile CPA media buys.

Affiliate networks offer mobile advertisers a great opportunity to promote apps on a low-risk CPA basis – when consumers choose to install and engage with in-app content. App advertisers can run ads with dozens of affiliates and experiment with multiple creative formats, while they spend ad budgets only on desired events, or CPA like app install, registration and purchase.

In this series of tips for affiliate marketers and advertisers you will discover:

Leveraging the affiliate network channel for mobile cost-per-action can be like hitting the performance jackpot — driving traffic volumes for app installs and engagement that would otherwise cost a fortune. Skeptics think that app advertising on the backs of affiliate marketing is just a matter of luck. But we at Evertrack think it’s a matter of pragmatic approach and advanced ad techs. Let’s find out more.

Why affiliate channel drives high CPA performance

We all know that Google and Facebook have become the two dominant platforms on the fast growing market of digital advertising. Each platform serves over 2 million business accounts annually, and this number grows from year to year by around 17%, as reported by Statista.

Advertising revenue of Google (2001 to 2018, billion U.S. dollars)

Source: statista.com

Look beyond Google and Facebook ads

But doing online advertising with just these two platforms doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of other user acquisition channels as well. There are hundreds of ad networks out there that will help you explore affiliate media buying, a growth channel for app businesses and brands.

Take a look at these 5 tips to learn about how to build your media buying strategy with affiliates and CPA networks. Sometimes brands don’t wish to expand their advertising campaigns with new sources as in fact they prefer operating in silos, with little insight into what’s happening in the various channels.

Source: freeimages.com

Don’t make that mistake. Below are two reasons why you should grow your media buys with affiliate networks:

Reason #1. You pay for results only. Running ads with affiliates allows for effective, result-oriented campaigns when you pay for things you expected to get. You pay for actual performance, not friction.

For example, if you or your client want to acquire new users or increase engagement in an application, you are going to buy affiliate media on a CPA basis, where every payable action is the install, registration, or else in-app event. And you don’t want to pay for clicks or impressions, which just refers to the probability of getting the install or registration.

Affiliate marketing is great for app businesses that want to grow fast, with little to no risk of wasting ad budget. In fact, you “hire” affiliates and ask them to drive leads or sales for your app. And you pay a % of sale or a flat CPA in return. No sale, no affiliate payout – it’s a winning pragmatic approach to media buying.

Reason #2. Affiliate media buys go transparent. In early 2010s we could hardly imagine that affiliate marketing could be transparent, unfortunately. That time things like user incentivization, fake installs and invasive ads were something hard to detect.

Over the last few years, app marketers and advertisers have started to use various tools to wipe out invalid traffic from ad campaigns and scale up mobile CPA media buys with trusted affiliates.

Fraud detection systems, robust API integrations, secure real-time ad tracking, smart campaign optimization tools, and link verification services have all together paved the way for transparent and safe digital advertising with CPA networks and affiliates.

Sure, you’re going to have to watch out every affiliate source in your tracking system to make sure you’re not getting bad traffic for your ad campaigns, but you should be tracking that anyway if you want to grow your CPA buys.

How networks protect their inventory with anti-fraud tools

Fraud in digital advertising encompasses black-hat practices and technologies online criminals use to manipulate ad attribution data to steal money from advertisers. According to AppsFlyer’s report, in 2018 mobile ad fraud has exceeded the mark of 11% of total ad spending across app businesses. It’s not a surprise that ad fraud has become a tough problem for the digital ad marketplace, and apparently use of anti-fraud solutions is a must have.

Ad fraud detection tools help networks and advertisers to uncover, analyze and block invalid traffic in real time. Advanced fraud detection tools like Forensiq, FraudScore and Evertrack Fraud Analytics can leverage machine learning, big data and AI to identify fraud patterns and analyze affiliate traffic for a variety of rules and signals to prevent fraudulent activity and save ad budgets.

Here are 4 common patterns of mobile ad fraud that CPA networks and advertisers should know to identify and fight fraudsters:

  • Blacklisted IP addresses, domains and devices
  • New device ID and reset fraud
  • Behavioral anomalies, including but not limited to: bot-like traffic, click flooding, install hijacking, user incentivization
  • SDK spoofing

To learn more about mobile ad fraud detection basics, read the guidelines from Kochava, adjust and Google.

We are sure that top CPA networks should invest much time and effort in refining their publisher bases and performing traffic quality checks periodically for all active affiliate accounts. Their effort than enables affiliate marketing for less ad fraud and friction, while maximizing ROI for CPA media buys.

What ad transparency is and why it’s priority for safe media buys

In digital advertising, transparency involves use of valid and legit methods of presenting advertisement to audience. Advertising transparency intends to protect customers and their privacy from fraudsters and unethical actions.

As advertisers prefer to use different tracking methods (browser cookies, log-in info, app fingerprint data) to customize ad experiences on the Internet, they have to inform their potential clients about those methods by allowing for ad choices (opt-in/out), or otherwise their advertising approach becomes in-transparent and invasive.

Networks manage to comply their inventory with industry standards, laws and data regulations (ex.: IAB, GDPR). They provide advertisers with clear insight into where the media is bought, what intermediaries and publishers are involved in the traffic supply chain, what ad spots are actually paid, and how these campaigns are performing.

The 4 signs of digital advertising transparency to ensure safe media buys:

  • Ad placement includes a reference to the advertiser’s website, Terms, or other information that helps identify the ad and its owner
  • Potential customers can easily opt out from the ad
  • Traffic can be tracked on sub-channels or sub-publishers by ID or actual name.
  • Publishers can pass required values (ex.: app name, creative name, transaction ID, IDFA, GAID, various post-install events) in the tracking URL or via API. Below see an example postback details report from Evertrack.

Evertrack example postback report

In affiliate marketing, ad transparency can be voluntary among unethical advertisers, publishers or intermediaries (affiliates and networks). A general way to fight against those companies is to discontinue buying their traffic.

In programmatic advertising, however, a more holistic approach has been employed by IAB Tech Lab that released ads.txt and app-ads.txt to fight against ad fraud on web and mobile. They regularly update their list of authorized digital sellers and allow publishers and networks to sell their digital inventory in a safe way.