The Guide To Merchant Paid Placement Best Practices

With the Paid Placement Bidding System (PPBS) in full swing here at AvantLink, we’ve been asked by a number of merchants to provide best practice guidelines when using the paid placement tool. We have already done a full training webinar devoted entirely to the topic, but wanted to provide a written recap as a quick reference guide for any merchant looking for best practice and strategy recommendations.

Of course, if you’re not already familiar with it, start by learning about the new AvantLink Paid Placement Bidding System. Once you’re comfortable with the concept, here are several best practices and strategies we recommend using to get the most out of your paid placements:

Value Ad Impressions First, Sales Second

The PPBS breaks away from the tired tradition of only judging an ad’s success by the number sales it brings in and instead places a heavy value on ad impressions served. Paid placements should first and foremost be viewed as opportunities to effectively expose your brand through ad impressions on highly targeted affiliate sites with content that compliments your product offering. Even in the short time the PPBS has been available, we’ve quickly discovered that merchants are able to secure highly targeted ad serves for unbelievably low CPM rates. Any sales that result from these paid placements should be viewed as a secondary benefit to the overall branding efforts.

Roadblocking Individual Affiliate Sites

Roadblocking is a very effective strategy that all program managers should be familiar with and regularly practicing. If you’re not, take five minutes to read this post on affiliate roadblocking techniques.

Many affiliates have made it so that all banner ad placements on their site are actually biddable ad space. For you as a program manager, this is good news, especially if you have a big sale or promotion you’re actively trying to promote. Taking a page from the roadblocking tactic above, look for high-value affiliates that have multiple paid placement options on their site and place bids on each one. In other words, roadblock the entire affiliate site. Securing exclusive placement on an affiliate site is a powerful way to expose your brand and/or promotion to that site’s visitors without having to worry about multiple brands fighting for attention.

Roadblocking Multiple Affiliate Sites

Have a big event or sale that really needs to get some quick exposure? The original roadblocking technique listed above can now be applied to paid placements. Secure paid ad placements on multiple affiliate sites using the same ad featuring the event or sale to uniform and control what messaging is being seen across the board. This tactic has already proven to be immensely effective for brand exposure.

Communicate With Affiliates

Just like any other facet of managing your program, communication with affiliates is the piece that can make it or break it. Is there an affiliate that you would like to bid on for space on their site but they’re currently not participating in the PPBS? Email that affiliate and let them know about the system, your willingness to bid on their space, and encourage them to get set up.

Is an affiliate that you’re interested in charging too much for their minimum daily bid? Email them and negotiate out a starting price that works for both of you.

A new platform like the PPBS requires willingness to communicate from all parties involved to make the most out of it. Don’t hesitate to email affiliates about their participation with the tool and explore how you can work together more effectively.

Selecting Relevant Ads

When placing a bid, you will need to select an ad from your program that will fill the allocated biddable space on the affiliate’s site. While this may seem like straightforward wisdom, remember the importance of selecting an ad that matches the content or purpose of the affiliate site. Bidding for space on a site about running shoes? Select an ad for footwear. Bidding for a top placement spot on a high-traffic shopping/comparison site? Fill that spot with creative for a current sale or promotion on your site.

Putting in an concerted effort to match affiliate content with relevant ads from your program is a simple yet very effective process. So effective in fact, we often find that program managers are better at selecting more relevant, targeted ads for an affiliate’s site and visitors than that actual affiliate is.