How to Choose the Best Ad Network

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Choosing the best ad network can be daunting for affiliates trying to balance user experience with monetization. Testing is the best way to know how different networks will perform with a particular site. However, affiliates often work with limited resources, so it’s hard to spread test budgets out enough to yield a large enough sample. When there’s not enough data to continue the campaigns, a lot of affiliates give up quickly (and therefore don’t make money). Knowing a few tips on how to choose the best ad network can help streamline the testing process.

Not All Ad Networks Are the Same

Ad networks differ by several important factors, and smart affiliates test to find the best fit. The following items are important differences between ad networks.

  • Type of traffic
  • Minimum budgets
  • Conversion success rates at the goal CPA
  • Targeting options
  • Optimization availability
  • Account management/support

Start with a Discrete Test

A/B split testing is the most common way to determine which traffic sources work with which offers. Some networks offer a free trial for a week, or up to a certain number impressions, so it is common to run tests on a one-week basis. Affiliates normally test out 2-3 networks, and see how offers perform within each one.

In order to succeed, an affiliate marketer should always split test one element at a time, but sufficient sample data comes from testing multiple elements.

What to Test When Choosing an Ad Network

  • Lead sources
  • Placement
  • Ad types
  • Artwork
  • Offers
  • Calls to action
  • Landing pages
  • Device targeting
  • Geographic locations

Tips for Setting Your Test Budget

  • Affiliates can normally tell if something can perform by spending $50 or less.
  • Look for networks that have no set-up fee and/or low monthly minimums
  • Allocate money for creatives, landing pages and tracking
  • Talk to reps at networks to see how their offer is currently performing, and current price on bids.
  • Ask about split testing, and how the network can help you scale to back into your goal

Questions to Ask Yourself as an Affiliate Marketer When Choosing an Ad Network

  • Is this scaleable?
  • Does the network reach my target audience?
  • Do I have the budget to test each new offer I want to run to find what works?
  • Am I making money on these offers, or just breaking even?
  • What variables can be changed, and what actions can I take to make the most impact?
  • How is the user experience?
  • What are the network features that I find useful?


digital marketing and advertising