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How I made my first $50K from PPD/CPA

For almost a decade I have been creating websites and pushing them up the SERPs with the sole purpose of getting those sweet monthly checks from advertising networks. I still remember my first check from Google AdSense for $147.34 which I never cashed and kept it framed on the wall.

Over the years I was one of the most loyal AdSense publishers for the simple reason that it had the best RPM from all the networks I tried over the years. I might say that I never really gave the PPD/CPA model a chance since all the websites were based on the simple principle of “ad supported free content/services”. All of my efforts were concentrated on three main areas:

  • Creating content or a service that might interest a lot of people
  • Getting traffic
  • Optimizing the ads on the site
  • Getting more traffic…

Few years ago, Google AdSense blocked one of my sites I was forced to replace the ads with some other networks which were not monetizing my traffic even nearly to what I was making off big G. So I decided to try some other content monetization models and I signed up for my first CPA network account. Although the revenue from the site improved, I was still not getting that high RPM as I was with Google AdSense. I had no choice so, I left the site run like that for the upcoming years, believing that the only way I was going to make good money from any site was using the famous Google Ads and looking back I just can not wander how close minded fool was I.

The switch to PPD

Last summer I was not very satisfied with my earnings compared to the traffic that some of my less visited sites were getting so, it was time to experiment once again and this time I was taking things more seriously so I decided to signup for two more content locking networks just to compare the performance among them. I made the changes to the site giving the users the service or content they wanted after completing an offer. I had 3 sites to test so each site was linked to a specific network. The idea was to rotate them on a weekly basis and compare the results since the traffic profiles of the sites were quite stable getting around 2K visitors per day. The networks I was using were:

My first impressions were positive, even from the first day I was making more money than I was before with AdSense, except on one of the sites where users did not seem motivated enough to complete the offers. My conversion rates were very low around 1.2% and still I was making more than I had even hoped for. Amazed by the results I was seeing I started optimizing the landing pages, but no matter what I did I could not boost my conversion rate.

The next tests I did were more concerned with the performance of different networks on different sites. After a lot of looking at the stats and trying to figure out why I had some huge drops in revenue from time to time I noticed something very important, each of the networks had periods where there were just no appealing offers for some countries thus the visitors of the site were leaving after landing on the unlock page. I assume that only the most motivated visitors completed one of the offers to get the content.

This finding led me to the conclusion that there was no perfect network and while one might be better than the others, this is only valid for a certain period of time and is also directly related to the geolocation of the visitors. If only there was a way to be able to get the best offers from all the networks and use them all at once. This will certainly make a big difference in my monthly revenue and conversion rates. I researched this matter a lot, looking at some scripts and platforms available but I did not find something that worked for me. I even bought some scripts just to find out that they are so buggy that I was spending more time trying to fix the bugs and talking to the developers than actually doing any work on my sites.

CPABlend

In September 2014, I stumbled across CPABlend, as I was searching for conversion optimization techniques and signed up for the beta invite program. I did not get my invite for a while, so decided to contact them directly at hello[at]cpablend.com, to request access to the platform. I was surprised by how friendly they were and the sent me my invite almost immediately.

At first I was a bit unclear how everything worked, but my curiosity got the better of me and I was ready to give them a chance. In just a few minutes I connected my networks (luckily they were all supported), and created my first locker. Although my first locker was basic, it had some very important features:

  • Responsive – 40% of my traffic was from mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, so this was very, very important for me.
  • Using multiple networks on a single locker page – along with some great optimization algorithms for me to choose from.
  • API to use for more advanced content locking applications.

Right at the start there were not many options to style the locker, nor use YouTube videos on the locker pages but they managed to add them very soon. It was clear to me that this platform was developing quite fast since I was seeing new features added to the site almost every week.

The most important thing was the slight increase in conversion rates and revenue, I was making around 8% more money, but it was not that great increase I initially expected. At the time I was using “Optimize by EPC / Conversion Rate”.

CPABlend optimization settings

The one feature that really changed things for me was the introduction of the “Optimize by EPC – Advanced” strategy. As I was not very clear why I should choose this one over the other ones available on the platform, I contacted the support to ask them for more information. So, what was so special about this advanced optimization strategy? As I was told by the CPABlend support, the advanced EPC strategy was a more intelligent one and did some complex operations to calculate which offers should be shown each time the locker page is opened. Basically it does the following, once the system collects enough information about the overall performance of the locker for a few days, it uses the historical data to predict what offers should be shown to the user and in which order depending on the previous behavior the users with the same device and geolocation, combining the network provided EPC with internal benchmark values to create a list of the offers that are most likely to convert and produce bigger revenue.

The first few days, using this optimization strategy on the lockers did not show any significant change, but after that everything changed, my conversion rates doubled along with the money I was making. It was working even better than I expected.

The next big increase was when I started using the API and integrated the content lockers directly into my site, thus gaining full creative freedom over how the locker pages should look like and the overall UI optimization. It was so simple and effective that I regret not implementing it sooner.

Conclusion

As a guy who makes his living online, I should have been more opened to trying new content monetization techniques and not rely completely on a single provider of ads or in this case CPA offers. The difference in revenue achieved by using multiple providers of CPA offers was crucial to dedicating more of my time to creating more web sites and web services that will be monetized in this way.

I am finally able to stop searching for popular niches with huge traffic volumes and concentrate on small ones, create appealing content and get the same revenue using content locking with 1K visitors per day that I previously needed at least 10-15K/day with advertising.

I was lucky I had these sites already getting good traffic volumes, and most importantly the content locking model was applicable. This gave me the push in the right direction to start working on a few new projects following the same principle that I am currently pushing up the SERPs using the same old proven SEO tools. The new monetization model allows me to make a good income from very little traffic I started with, 2K daily visitors and with the new sites I launched in January I am currently pushing 3K unique visitors / day.