How to Choose an advertiser in Commission Junction (CJ.com)
We all have our thoughts on what advertisers are best to make us money on our personal sites. Of course, the only real way to find out what works best to monetize your site is to test but I like to look at a few different things when choosing an advertiser to work with on CJ.com as part of my vetting process. I may have a few holes in my vetting process but I have found this to be pretty strong when it comes to making sure I am, at least in part, on my way to making money from my business relationship with Commission Junction.
Here are the very basics I look at when choosing a CJ advertiser.
1) Compatibility – is what the advertiser on CJ offering compatible with my site. It is important that what is offered is either something I am pushing directly or something that is ancillary to what I am promoting. I typically want something that is directly related to the site but I am generally happy with ancillary products as well. For instance, a site about boats could sell fishing gear; one about shoes could offer socks. If the visitor has an interest in the general niche, and my sites are very broad in nature, then they would usually have an interest in some of the ancillary products offered.
2) Earnings – are others making a buck with them or is the EPC way low. Granted this is not very scientific, and I would surely get my knuckles cracked with a ruler by one of the Nuns if I was in elementary school, but taking advantage of some of the results others have had in CJ can cut down on some of the testing. This goes against some of the “Trust But Verify” theory but if others are not making money in CJ with their products, there may be a reason that is tied to the advertiser and not so much tied to those that are publishing. Obviously you want to generate as much revenue per click as possible and a lower number could indicate a poor converting landing page by the advertiser. All the pre-selling in the world won’t help if the lander is not converting well.
3) Network Earnings – I prefer something with a 3 or higher in their earnings bar. This is tied to #2 here (Earning in Commission Junction) in a sense but there is a difference. Network earnings are relative to other similar advertisers and those that have a 3 or higher
are more in line with what I prefer. This is more of a track record measurement and I want to see that the advertiser has a bit of a track record before I start sending my traffic to them. Again, I’m relying on others that have used this advertiser in CJ so it is a little less scientific but if they can’t crack the third level in the network earnings bar, and have been on CJ.com for some time, I usually do not look at them. There are exceptions such as if it is EXACTLY what I am looking for but generally I pass them by.
4) Creatives – do they have ones that work, and if not, will they allow you to use your own? Sadly there are some offers that have creatives that are just plain weak. So weak that even I can do better. That is not a problem if the advertiser will allow you to make your own and get them approved though. That happens more often than not if you approach the advertiser and explain your reasoning. In fact, I’ve had an advertiser put my creative into the system after it got approved once. I did outsource the creation but it goes to show you that the advertisers are often open to allowing your own creative. I do not do that if there are decent creatives that are offered as I like to take advantage of the branding they offer for their products. Having a brand as part of your site, and using that brand to sell for you, does increase your credibility and can help you generate revenue. The advertisers on Commission Junction are interested in making money, just as you are, and will usually work with you in a lot of areas and creatives is just one.
5) Program Terms – make sure that the cookie will work for you, your method of driving traffic is fine with them and that the countries you are targeting are accepted. In general, the cookies offered by the advertisers on Commission Junction are pretty decent (30 days and longer) and give you some time to allow your visitor to convert but you need to check anyway. A 24 hour cookie is all fine and dandy for an impulse purchase but if you have something that may not be an impulse for the buyer and you think the buyer may want to mull it over, you want that extended cookie. You also want that if you think the visitor will be buying repeatedly so you get paid for that second and third purchase.
6) Accessibility to the CJ Advertiser – I like to communicate with the advertisers on CJ for a few different reasons. If they are not responsive to me when I email in the beginning, what will be the case when I need to communicate with them about an increase in pay out? Or will they just close my account with them over a misunderstanding? How about if I have been sending converting traffic and want to bend the rules a little and send traffic, although converts, is not in line with their public program terms? Communication is important and I don’t expect an immediate response to every email I send but if it is 2 weeks between the time I send and the time I get a response on a regular basis, I probably won’t be sending my traffic to their offers. I’m not a prima donna but don’t ignore those that are feeding you and my traffic would be feeding you. Talk with me and keep the lines of communication open so that we can both profit.
Finally I do a search in Google to see if there have been any issues with them and their affiliates. There may be some issues online from different publishers that were not cleared up and that happens with any business and I’m actually fine with that. On the other hand, if I see page after page of complaints on a variety of sites I tend to check the ice for thickness a little more closely. There will almost always be naysayers and I look to see what they are saying about the advertiser and if there are a ton of them I am a little wary.
I also look to find the people that are saying good things about the advertiser. Human nature, such as it is, does not usually cause us to laud and applaud an advertiser, and in our industry, we like to keep some of our jewels under our hat, but there are some out there that will freely share. I gather as much third party information as I can when I am doing my due diligence and try to cull out the contrived and the garbage and only use what I believe is legitimate. There is no way to be perfect there but one should do what they can when they are choosing an advertiser in Commission Junction and I am sure that some of this would apply to any entity that you were working with that was a conduit for advertisers.