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Ask Propeller: Why doesn’t SmartCPA work for me?

why doesn't smartcpa work for me

Every day we are getting tons of questions on why ad campaigns aren’t performing the way they were expected to. Fair enough. We know all too well that optimizing campaigns is not a piece of cake and it takes practice to master advertising skills, especially when you are dealing with sophisticated bidding strategies.

And what’s a better way of combating various issues than asking a real expert? Today, we have invited Ariadna Butler from our Affiliate Management team to spell out how to adjust your desires to fit the advertising reality.

Today’s question is: Why doesn’t SmartCPA work for me?

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Ariadna says:

SmartCPA is a constant source of questions. Majorly because users have unreasonable expectations of SmartCPA tool. It’s not a Harry Potter’s magic wand, capable of bringing conversions even with the worst landing page or making the most unappealing offer go viral.

Before we begin, let’s once again mention that SmartCPA is a tool that allows you to pay only for conversions. Remember that testing isn’t free (you pay for the test). The good part – it’s fully automated: our system selects the best zones where you have conversions (i.e., your offer has high chances for success).

Dealing with my clients’ complaints, I’ve figured out three underlying reasons why SmartCPA doesn’t perform.

1. Your rate is too low

SmartCPA - Low conversion price

The first one is a low rate (conversion price that you set). It’s easy to assume that saving on testing will spare some money for further campaigns. However, it works the other way round: with a low rate, your campaign gets out of testing with a low eCPM rate.

eCPM (Effective cost per mille) is a way for advertisers and affiliates to compare media with different pricing methods by converting everything to a common metric.

Why is the low eCPM bad? You don’t get an idea if the format you are testing fits your goals and delivers the right and accurate results. If you notice that a particular ad unit is consistently bringing poor results, make sure to remove it from your ad arsenal.

Why is the high eCPM important? The higher eCPM is, the more traffic you are about to get after the test. During the test, this indicator is not taken into consideration and doesn’t affect the results.

It’s a typical case that traffic suddenly drops after the test – this happens because your competitors have higher eCPM and outbid you. Very often after such a drop, I receive messages from advertisers telling that they could go for a higher rate. The problem is that you can’t change the rate in the running campaign, therefore, you have to launch a new campaign with a new budget.

2. Your creatives are not converting

Poor quality of creatives

Image by Rezgo

The second reason is a low quality of creatives used for landing pages. (We have lots of articles on our blog, dedicated to improving landing pages, make sure to check it out).

Let’s say, the campaign is fully optimized from a technical perspective (targeting, budget, zones, etc.), and that’s the case with lots of affiliates; but the creatives are far from being attractive, to say the least. If you have any doubts regarding the creatives, feel free to consult our account managers before you launch the campaign.

3. Not all the zones were tested

The third reason behind unsatisfactory testing outcomes is the low test budget that doesn’t let you test all the zones (ad placements). There is a very transparent correlation between the budget and the number of ad zones the system will test for conversions.

I recommend starting with at least $100. If you are ready to invest a more significant amount, you will get an invaluable data at the end and a whitelist of zones.

Note: there are 3 budget fields you have to fill in: daily budget, total budget, and a test budget.

Test budget is not a part of a total or daily budgets, it’s a different type of expense.  This amount is used to test as many ad zones as possible. Here’s an example: if your daily budget is $50, and the test budget is $100 – a given day’s total spend will be $150.

Test budget is written off just once, after that you are paying for conversions only. Minimum test budget is $50, minimum total budget is $100. In other words, to be able to launch the SmartCPA campaign you should have at least $150 available on your account.

How do you derive a success formula for SmartCPA?

Here are some tips I usually give my clients:

1. If you are not that certain about campaign settings or creatives – test it first on SmartCPM. It would come out cheaper and allow you to test more zones. Afterwards, the data you obtain with SmartCPM can simplify testing on SmartCPA.

2. Set the limits on slices. Normally I recommend setting the limit at 3000 for any device.

3. Use blacklists to eliminate the traffic that doesn’t bring you conversions. In case you don’t have your own blacklists, you can request it from your manager.

4. Talk to your manager. Ask for suitable GEOs, discuss creatives and the best ad formats for your offer. Remember that we are seeing hundreds of creatives, and can estimate which ones are more likely to succeed. Learn more about Tiers of Traffic

Have questions you want us to answer? Ask it here in the comments section or send it to content@propellerads.com.

Have a great advertising week!


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