Case Studies

Optimizing Zones: Follow-Along Contest Case Study and Lessons Learned


Let’s be real: affiliate marketing can feel like a bit of a maze sometimes, right? Optimizing zones, improving your approaches, testing new GEOs… That’s hard!

But here’s the good news: you’re definitely not alone in this. We’ve got a story about Sorrowz, an affiliate marketer just like you, who decided to dive into our yearly Follow-Along challenge. He took part in the PropellerAds and Afflift annual contest, and guess what? 

His journey was nothing short of remarkable. 

He didn’t have it all figured out from the get-go, and that’s okay. None of us do! But with a bit of trial and error, plus a heap of determination, he turned things around. Today’s case study contains some interesting and practical lessons to learn, and we will eagerly share them with you.

To make it maximally useful, we have included some insights throughout the story. Expert comments from Anastasia Valiaeva and a detailed conclusion from Sotos Charalambous at the end will help you make the most of this case. Both Anastasia and Sotos are our Senior Account strategists, who have seen millions of campaigns with all their twists and turns.  

Participant Profile

  • Afflift Username: Sorrowz
  • Traffic Source: PropellerAds
  • Tracking Tool: Bemob
  • Affiliate Network: Traffic Company + Golden Goose + one more CPA network
  • Type of Offer: mVAS + CPI
  • Offer Payout: up to 2$ Max

Ever wondered how seasoned affiliate marketers navigate their campaigns? Let’s dive into a real-life scenario with our Afflift community member, Sorrowz. He’s decided to leverage PropellerAds for traffic, track his performance with BeMob, and run offers taken from Traffic Company, Golden Goose, and one more CPA network. Focusing on mVAS and CPI offers, with payouts going up to $2 max, he’s set up for an intriguing adventure.

utilities offers

September 7th Update: Diving into Action

First on the agenda? A super beginner-friendly offer complete with a direct link to their prelander. Sorrowz decided to leave additional pre-landers out of this party to keep things simple and straightforward. His weapon of choice? OnClick Popunder traffic from PropellerAds, targeting three different GEOs to test the waters and find that sweet spot of conversions.

Strategy and First Week’s Performance

Sorrowz decided to go big right from the start, opting for the broadest targeting options to maximize traffic volume. This approach is particularly savvy when dealing with offers that have lower payouts, and he planned to employ this strategy across all GEOs to thoroughly test the offer’s potential.

Anastasia Valiaeva, our Senior Account Strategist, says:

“To me, applying narrower targeting would be really useful here. I would recommend cutting non-performing targets: optimizing these zones by OS Versions, Browsers, and Browser language.” 

Diving into the Results

In the first week, Sorrowz ran the offer in three different GEOs. However, he decided to keep the specifics under wraps for the time being. He hit a balance between sharing his journey and strategies while also safeguarding his profits from potential competition. It’s a smart move, ensuring that he can maintain his competitive edge while contributing to the community.


Here’s a bit of insight into the campaign setup: GEO 1 was launched two days prior to GEO 2 and GEO 3. Notably, GEO 3 was initially set up with SmartCPM bidding, while GEO 1 and GEO 2 utilized CPAGoal. Despite GRO 3’s less-than-stellar performance, Sorrowz is giving it another shot, planning to switch it to CPAGoal in the upcoming days.

Anastasia Valiaeva:

“When testing a new offer, it’s better to start with the CPA Goal model – true.

But if we are looking to further expand on slices, I highly recommend testing different pricing models. Different pricing models help to get linked to more zones in GEO, by overbidding competitors. More than that, each pricing model has a certain pool of benefits. For example, CPM allows us to target a specifically high intent audience, and for some verticals, it’s crucial to take maximum volumes out of it.”

new feature subzone

Optimizing for Success: A Closer Look at GEO 1

Sorrowz used GEO 1 as a key example to show everyone his approach to optimization. He was all about tweaking and tuning the traffic until he got the results he wanted. And it was clear that different segments performed differently. By adjusting the bids here and there, he could turn a losing segment into a profitable one, all while keeping the winning segments going strong.

September 9th Update: Expanding Horizons and Testing New Waters 

A few days into the journey, Sorrowz decided to amp things up. He expanded his reach, testing the waters with his offer – it was an application to view videos.

He was hunting for the next big hit, figuring out which GEOs were gold mines and which were duds. The ones that didn’t make the cut? He hit pause on those.

Enter GoldenGoose, the sidekick in this affiliate adventure. Sorrowz kicked off several campaigns with them, targeting various GEOs. Some were competitive, but he had seen promise in these offers before and was willing to give them another shot.

That day, he took a close look at his campaign, analyzing the stats across three different landing pages, all revolving around giveaways with valuable prizes. The user’s attention was the prize, of course. A clear winner among the landing pages hadn’t emerged yet, so he kept a close watch as the conversions continued to roll in.

He also shared a glance at the five different offers running in his campaign, noting the surprisingly similar results across the board. This unexpected turn meant he would be giving these offers more time, collecting more data, and catching opportunities to optimize.

With helping offset the losses from the testing phase and an additional $20 in revenue from TrafficBack, Sorrowz enjoyed his profits.

September 17th Update: Sticking to the Plan and Aiming High

Diving back into the video app offer, the feedback Sorrowz had received so far was promising. He continued with his strategy of testing different geos, keeping the profitable ones, and holding off on major optimizations.

He was close to hitting his daily cap of $150 on the offer, and he was ready to optimize for maximum profit within that threshold if he couldn’t secure a higher cap.

During this time, he also threw his hat into the ring with MVAS offers from GoldenGoose and TrafficCompany, hunting for the big fish in the sea of smaller winners. His strategy was paying off, as he managed to find some success.

The revenue for the same period was also shared, adding another piece to the puzzle of Sorrowz’s affiliate journey.

September 22nd Update:  Navigating Challenges and Planning for the Future 

This update was brief, as Sorrowz was juggling other projects and dealing with a short period of a small profit slowdown. He shared results from September 14th to 18th, highlighting the challenges he faced as his rates took a hit in some regions.

Despite these setbacks, he was determined to find a way to make it work, even if it meant settling for lower profits. The focus was on the high volumes of traffic and the potential they held.

He promised to share optimization techniques in the next update, aiming to make campaign management smoother for himself and others following his journey.

September 28th Update: Facing Setbacks and Sharing Optimization Tips

The week of September 19th to 26th was a tough one for the video app offer, with a flagged domain potentially halting conversions across several GEOs. Sorrowz’s cash flow was low, adding to the instability of the campaigns.

He shared the stats for this period, highlighting how helped turn what could have been a massive loss into a slight profit:

As promised, Sorrowz also shared some optimization tips for CPA Goal campaigns on Popunder traffic, focusing on creating a zone blacklist and blocking unprofitable ones.

Here is a comment from Anastasia Valiaeva:

“It was mentioned earlier that Sorrowz wants to scale campaigns to preserve positive results and maximize traffic volumes. Of course, positive ROI is the main factor for a successful media buy, and in the end, that’s the goal.

But let’s also dig deeper into the optimizations and discuss zones with negative ROI. In our case study, Sorrowz blocks anything below -20% ROI. Let’s consider that some zones may bring really good volumes. So through proper optimizations, blacklisted earlier zones may also be a great source of additional volumes and profit for us.


 In this case, I highly recommend periodically retesting blacklists in separate campaigns with new approaches: By new approaches here, I mean – testing with new pre-landers (new landing pages aim for the higher CR, and as we know, higher CR helps to increase eCPM, and as a result, we’ll buy traffic from the zones at a lower price).”

Small lifehack from Sorrowz

“I’m using LibreOffice for this task since when sorting the stats, I prefer to arrange them by decreasing ROI and decreasing profit. This way, I can easily identify and block zones with negative profit and no conversions. Typically, I block zones with a 50% CPA spend and no conversions, and for zones with conversions, I block anything below -20% ROI.

Afterward, I recreated the campaign while excluding these blocked zones. While you can also create a whitelist campaign that includes only zones with positive ROI, I tend to favor the blacklist approach. This approach ensures that I don’t miss out on potential new sources that may become profitable in the future.” 

October 2nd Update: Wrapping Up the Contest and Looking Ahead

The contest was approaching the end, so Sorrowz shifted his focus toward MVAS offers. He also enhanced individual landing pages for the best-performing offers, aiming at CR and ROI boost.

In his final update, Sorrowz shared the overall stats for the AffLift contest. His approach had been to break even on campaigns and scripts while maximizing profit from push collection on his pages.

He assured his followers that he would continue updating the follow-along after the contest ended, as there were still details on MVAS offers to share. He had focused mostly on CPI offer during the contest but was eager to explore and share more in the days to come.

Anastasia Valiaeva:

“Also, keep in mind retargeting features: collecting users, who completed conversions in the audiences and excluding them from launches in new campaigns (with the same link) on the same traffic slices. It helps to lower costs and improves CR as well.”

Don’t forget about the offer feature for Popunder:

Please note that this one is available for Gold & Platinum users. It works for Popunder and helps CPA Goal campaigns with the same offer to receive and analyze data faster, getting less traffic from the low-performing zones on the offers with the same category in the past.

hidden settings

Key Takeaways 

So, what can we learn from Sorrowz’s case? 

He’s shown us that affiliate marketing is a journey of trial and error. By diving into a mix of mVAS and CPI offers and spreading his efforts across multiple affiliate networks such as Traffic Company or Golden Goose, he has demonstrated the importance of diversification. 

  • Keeping a balance between transparency and competitiveness was another of his strategies, sharing his journey while also safeguarding his profits.

  • Tools like BeMob are necessary for tracking and, therefore – data-driven analysis and smart decisions.

  • can become your source of additional income and cushion losses. In this case, played a significant role in smoothing out the bumps along the road.


The biggest key takeaway? Here is some advice from Sotos Charalambous, Senior Account Strategist at PropellerAds:

“When testing a new offer, it is better to start with the CPA Goal bidding model.

  • Testing one GEO and one OS per campaign is always preferable for easier and better optimization. Also, the optimal way is to start with the broadest targeting and narrow it down regarding the results you get.

  • After 3-4 days, it’s time for the initial zone optimization, cutting down zones with high spend (2x payout) and no conversions.

  • A week from the start, it’s the time to cut zones that bring conversions, but also have a large negative ROI.

  • After zone optimization is done, you should also check various traffic slices and cut those with the biggest losses, for example, mobile ISP or unprofitable OS versions.

  • After the campaign works for a while and you know how to optimize it, it’s a good idea to retest or duplicate the campaign using our blacklists. In this way, the campaign will go through the testing phase with all the optimization applied and get more traffic from the best-performing slices.

In most cases, it’s better to work with blacklists instead of whitelists to ensure fresh sources are not missed.” 

Looking Ahead with Lessons Learned

Drawing from Sorrowz’s experience and Anastasia’s and Sotos’ advice, we see a clear path laid out for aspiring affiliate marketers. 

His approach of starting broad and then narrowing down based on performance is a strategy worth considering. And let’s not overlook his savvy use of additional revenue streams. 

His story shows that success in affiliate marketing is attainable with the right strategies and tools. 

Ready to give it a shot yourself? There’s a whole world of affiliate marketing out there, waiting for you to dive in and find your own success story.


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