Could you browser be damaging the online advertising industry?

With cookies being the way advertisers have always tracked users movements through the internet it’s critical that the users browser plays ball and provides access to these cookies. US ‘do not track’ privacy legislation requires browser companies to give users the ability to ‘opt out’ of data tracking. Microsoft recently went further by making ‘opt in’ the default setting on its latest browser, but does this kill online advertising as we know it?

That means unless people change Internet Explorer 10 browser settings, third-party cookies – the main way industry targets ads – are rejected. At least in theory. The onus is on third parties to honour the consumer’s choice.

Now Mozilla, funded largely by Google, will go further still. It looks set to ban third-party cookie tracking, with a beta browser due within weeks. The fear in adland is that the rest of the major providers, including Google and Apple, may follow suit.

What this means is that ad servers will become less useful with increased wastage and the problem of less relevant adverts and increased ad blindness.

The interesting issue is how Google is using Mozilla as a test case for its own browser Chrome, which does not automatically activate “do not track” but does provide the option.  Since browser firms are also content producers and publishers, “do not track” could these publishers to command their own price for online advertising.

Whether Mozilla’s approach becomes the common one is unknown. “[But] the companies that are least affected by cookie legislation are those with large, logged-on userbases,” Mindshare chief digital officer Ciaran Norris said. “Legislators should consider the impact on local businesses.” Industry had a key role in educating both legislators and consumers, he added.

What the IAB’s director says about this online advertising issue

The IAB’s director of regulatory affairs, Samantha Yorke, agreed. Transparency and choice were key, she said. Web users need to understand why cookies are useful to them – such as enabling free access to content – and not a threat to individual privacy. However, she said uncertainty would not be diminished until ‘do not track’ was properly defined.

Not holding her breath for a definition, Yorke was under no doubt that moves to block third-party cookies would have “a profound effect on the digital economy”. The ability to collate analytical data would be “severely compromised”, she said.

One also needs to consider the issue of publisher with paywalled content that use cookies to provide free content up until a certain number of reads.

What this does point out is that advertisers need a better way to track users online journey in order to provide options for targeting and retargeting of users. Ironically this lack of targeting and increased CPM costs might lead to increased revenue in the digital industry!

Where does your data end up from publishers sites?

When you’re surfing the internet it’s difficult to know who is tracking your data and for what purpose. Publishers covet data about user behavior.

Tracking tags are bits of code that enable ad serving, site analytics, audience-segmentation, and social sharing tools on websites. In other words, tags are what make the web tick. By the end of last year there were nearly 1,000 different tracking tags floating around the top 500 websites. That was over 50% more than the 645 unique trackers found in the first quarter of 2012, according to Evidon.

An analysis of Business Insider
An analysis of Business Insider

Those tags are pretty active, too. In many cases, one tracking tag installed directly by a site publisher might spawn others, and those still additional tags, and so on. Publishers and other data providers don’t always know whether tag spawning leads to the dissemination of actual consumer data gathered on their sites, or if it is merely part of the cookie-syncing process performed to match a cookie ID in one system to an ID in another for ad targeting purposes.

This situation is fairly useful for advertisers however for publishers who may be unaware that these tags exist and cannot understand why their sites are slow due to latency induced by these tags.


where traffic goes on publisher sites

If you take a look at the same Business Insider example the tags from the likes of Facebook and Linkedin are adding somewhere between 100 and 500 milliseconds of latency to the load time of the site.

If you consider the privacy and data breach issues it’s important for a publisher to use a service such as Evidon to ensure they’re not having speed and security issues as a result of erroneous tags.

Does a larger image affect click-through rates?

Once you’ve got a potential customer to click-through to your landing page, via OfferForge publishers, does increasing the size of your “hero image” affect conversion rates? Site “WhichTestWon” does a weekly A-B Testing comparison and we’re looking at two of their tests to see what results work best for different types of designs:

  • Test one: Button size

The testing team for Profile Pimp, an online service targeting young adults, tried 45 different variations of its ad campaign landing page.

All the versions used the same offer and much of the same copy.

You can see the control version the team started with here. As you may notice, the button on the control was pretty big already. In fact, it’€™s larger than most marketer’€™s response buttons!

the size of buttons

Images from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

bigger buttons are better

But, the winning creative seen above, had a MASSIVE button. In fact, we’ve never seen a bigger button before or since. More importantly the result of the bigger button led to 135% higher immediate click-throughs. Plus, the service gained 51% higher earnings per click as visitors made their way down the conversion path to purchase. That’s a fairly impressive growth from a larger button!

  • Case two: larger background image

Dell’s testing team wanted to increase lead generation. Their original landing page wasn’t bad at all. It was designed using best practices including no distracting navigation, useful bullet points, and easy-to-use form and no scrolling required.

Dell's version

Images from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

Dell’€™s testing team tried a radical revamp for their test, using what we call the €˜mega-sized background image€™. Basically, instead of using an image as one of many page elements, they used the image as the background that the rest of the elements sat on.

So, the background becomes your white space.

contact a Dell expert src=

Images from WhichTestWon, copyright protected.

The mega-sized image lowered visitor bounce rates by 27%, plus it increased leads generated by 36%.

Dell was so impressed by these results that the testing team ran out similar redesign tests for other B2B product lines€¦ and so far they’ve all raised lead generation and contact form conversions as well, sometimes into the triple digits.

Well there you have it, bigger images help although solid A-B testing is still required to confirm your theory that a bigger image helps.

Source (WhichTestWon)

Are Facebook ads better than TV campaigns?

Recently there’s been a debate over whether Facebook ads are more effective than traditional TV adverts. Apparently Facebook is now “on a par with TV” when it comes to effective advertising, but the return on investment is far better, claim FMCG brands that have used the social networking site.

Nestlé said it could directly attribute 11% of Kit Kat sales to its Facebook ads following a recent cross-media channel campaign.

Facebook delivered the highest return on investment, generating £1.34 in return for every £1 invested, it said, adding that it was the best medium for “brand impact and overall brand equity, compared to other online channels and television advertising”. Immediately it’s obvious that the simple measurability makes the Facebook option a better choice for marketers.

General Mills also ran a cross-channel campaign to promote Old El Paso products. Some 27% of sales during the push were down to Facebook and it was “the most efficient channel for driving sales”, it said.

According to a Samsung campaign: The data indicated an average three- to five-time return on Facebook ads. An ad campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, amid the iPhone 5 frenzy, resulted in an even larger return on investment. The three-week campaign reached over 105 million unique users, and generated $129 million in sales, a 13-times return on a $10 million ad buy, she said. Samsung now has more than 20 million fans on Facebook to market its messages.

The situation isn’t that simple though: ads on TV are more intrusive and offer instant audio-visual impact, as compared to Facebook ads which initially appear to be more like static print ads. While TV ads can be fast-forwarded, ads on Facebook can be equally ignored.

Facebook’s global head of CPG marketing Erin Hunter added: “As a marketer I would want to reach as many people as possible in a well-targeted fashion and in a mass way. Facebook absolutely excels at that, because of the number of people we have, but also because we know exactly who they are.”

At OfferForge we recommend you combine a wide range of online adverts including PPC and Facebook in order to spread your costs and maximise your ROI.

Digital marketing offers publishers and advertisers a huge variety of channels. Diversifying the digital channels you use has a number of benefits. The first and most obvious is that you have analytical data for each channel. The more data you have, the better you would be able to make business decisions on where you spend your marketing budget.

The data is often available in real time and this enables you to make changes on the fly. The second serious benefit digital marketing offers is that it is very low cost when compared to many other more traditional forms of advertising. You would be able to test numerous channels without breaking the bank.

The massive benefits of online performance marketing

Here at OfferForge we’re obviously big fans of online performance marketing (OPM) and believe in the power of the medium and are thrilled to see the latest report by the IAB and PwC to the ground-breaking study into Online Performance Marketing.

Whether looking from a network, publisher or advertisers, OPM providers fantastic benefits. There are some interesting areas of growth in the UK: financial services accounts for 45% of total spend retail 20%, media and telecoms at around 10% and travel and leisure at 9%.

Most large brands in the UK are involved in affiliate marketing and the study also signalled continued rapid growth with an average increase in investment of 25% this year.

The truth is that although the number of marketers that appreciate the value and on-going potential of affiliate marketing is growing, this is still a sector overshadowed by display and search.

The report does point out the biggest issue associated with OPM: affiliate marketing is seen as complex and let’s face it the general marketing community quite understandably likes what it knows i.e. advertising, direct response and display media spend.

To persuade more brands to invest in internal resource as well as external expertise, affiliate marketing should present itself as a strategic sales channel, not just another branch of the complex digital marketing world where spend is divvied up by agencies traditionally orientated to display.

The most heartening considering though is the fact that for every pound spent through OPM you’re looking at a return of eleven pounds in sales.

Online Performance Marketing is another part of the marketing mix that advertisers and agencies should consider and utilise in order to stretch and maximise their budgets.

Affiliate programs: Where do they fit into Online Performance Marketing?

Affiliate programs are the perfect give and take between online advertisers and publishers. Advertisers only pay for performance, while publishers only get paid if they perform.

For online advertisers it means having a sales force of websites working on commission only. If the publishers make you money, you pay them.

The most attractive offers you will find in the affiliate world are financial affiliate programs. The financial affiliate programs usually work on a lead generation basis. In tun for the leads you generate for them, they will pay you a set amount for each lead.

There are a number of affiliates at Offerforge who are raking in huge earnings from promoting financial affiliate programs almost exclusively. The industry is constantly looking for new publishers who can generate leads for them and competition is fierce between these institutions. The upside for publishers is a very attractive commission for leads generated.

Tablet vs desktop clickthrough rates compared

For the past few years we’ve seen tablets and smartphones lumped together when it comes to media buying in the “mobile” category. However, anyone that has used a smartphone vs a tablet knows that there is a vastly different usage pattern.  For example, we’ve seen a huge amount of evidence which shows that tablets drive more traffic and higher conversions than smartphones and that tablets tend to be used on the couch as a second screen while users are watching their favourite show.

A new report from Adfonic again underlines the fact that tablets outperform smartphones by almost any advertising measure.

Throughout 2012 Adfonic tracked a steady increase in the number of ad impressions viewed on tablets, rising from 9% in Q2 to 14% in Q4.

CTR index per campaign type

This is important for marketers, as the report also shows that clickthrough rates (CTR) for tablets are far higher than on smartphones in both direct response campaigns (such as cost per acquisition, per click, or per impression) and branding campaigns based around cost per thousand (CPM).

As the report points out, these two campaign types would typically involve different creatives or user journeys, yet tablets outperform smartphones for both types.

Adfonic’s data also looks at the CTR for different advertisers verticals. Compared to smartphones, tablets achieve particularly strong CTRs in style/fashion (+106%) lifestyle/health (+99%) and entertainment/media (+81%).

CTR uplifts on smartphone and tablet by advertising vertical

However, it appears that there is an opportunity for FMCG/retail brands, probably because shoppers are used to looking for store locations and searching product information while on the go. Dating/social brands also achieve a higher CTR on smartphone than tablet, presumably because people access these sites to kill time while out and about.

The design and usability of tablets means that they are commonly used for leisure and entertainment, so usage peaks in the evenings when people are at home.

The report shows that tablets are used in the evenings with a peak over smartphones around lunch time and even more so at night. Smartphone ad requests also peak in the evening, but at a much lower level than on tablet.

The moral of the story; it’s time to start thinking about different devices and the appropriateness of your collateral as well as times of the day you launch your campaign. This functionality is available at OfferForge so contact us today in order to setup your affiliate marketing campaign.

Why this is important to your marketing efforts

There is a huge global shift towards mobile device usage. It has opened the door to many opportunities for publishers and advertisers to reach customers in a totally different way. To ensure you achieve an optimal ROI you need to consider your clickthrough rates carefully.

A huge key to affiliate marketing success is regularly analysing your data and making improvements based on it. It is the difference between really making money online and getting the traffic, but just not being able to generate an income…

It’s Google vs Amazon as the retailer grows its mobile ad network

The gloves are off as Amazon is leveraging their Kindle devices into building a mobile ad network. The network is a direct shot at Google and Android’s advertising dollars. Mobile advertising remains a huge growth area as the majority of the world’s next 2 billion Internet users will experience the Internet for the first time on a mobile device.

While mobile ad networks are a dime a dozen Amazon has something that most other competing networks don’t: troves of data on the millions of consumers who buy goods off its site. This wealth of information mean seamless calls-to-action embedded in ads that can get users immediately clicking through to buy products.

amazon vs google mobile ad networks

As this is just a beta there are limitation. For now, Amazon’s mobile ads API will only work with U.S. users and apps and games on the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and other Android phones and tablets. If a developer does use the API, they have to make sure that their apps are also available for download on Amazon’s app store.

Features are fairly standard for mobile ad providers: the network has two types of ads: static clickthrough banners and then banners that can expand to include rich media like video. They have calls to action that usually involve opening an in-app or native browser. There’s room for basic geo-targeting with using latitude and longitude coordinates if a user has chosen to share them with an app. Publishers can also blacklist certain advertisers they don’t want or think are appropriate for their users.

The numbers are looking good. According to the release by Amazon app developers are enjoying the benefits of the service. James Farrier, founder of list-making app Simple-List Free, claimed a 200 percent revenue lift after hopping from “another major ad network” to Amazon. And Anatoly Lubarsky, founder of mobile game developer X2line, received a 300 percent eCPM increase and twice as much revenue for its Baby Adopter app after switching to Amazon. However that app may be a unique example since Lubarsky said a majority of its users are on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet.

Whether the Amazon device network is large enough still remains to be seen but considering the loss leading approach of selling the Kindle device at a discount we can imagine there must be millions out in the wild and more competition is only better for developers and advertisers alike.

The dangers of ad targeting for all websites

Here at OfferForge we’re obviously big proponents of ad targeting however sometimes things can go amusingly wrong.

So why isn’t everyone just improving their targeting? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Ad targeting is a difficult artificial intelligence (AI) problem, and while you may not agree that it’s a worthy one, it does require a lot of technical heavy lifting.

A targeting algorithm takes everything you know about the impression – search keywords, location, demographics, previous user activity, time of day, the previous CTR (clickthrough rate) of the ad and so on – and uses that to choose from among millions of candidate ads the one to show. And it has to do this in a fraction of a second. This is not a trivial problem.

It’s not easy but sometime it goes totally wrong…


A Florida criminal defense lawyer’s ad appears on the same Web page as his mugshot for driving under the influence. Thomas Lewis Edwards is smiling in both pictures.

Get hold of an OfferForge consultant and make sure this never happens to you!

Can your website track mobile behaviour?

As mobile (both phones and tablet devices) continue to dominate sales, fewer than half of businesses (41%) are able to accurately measure the behavioral differences between mobile behaviour and desktop visitors according to the Econsultancy/Kontagent Mobile Sophistication and Strategy Report.

A further 41% report that they have limited insight into how mobile users browse their sites, while almost a fifth (18%) say they cannot measure the difference at all.

The study is based on a January 2013 survey of 1,301 respondents from both client-side and agency backgrounds. To provide context for mainstream marketers, the sample was divided into two main parts.

One part is comprised of those companies who have been determined to be “mobile first” by one or more measures, such as having a majority of customers/audience access site(s) via mobile devices or having a primary revenue stream from mobile.

This group is used for comparison with the main body of the sample, the “mobile mainstream,” which better reflects mobile programs across sectors and company types.

As expected, the mobile first group proved to be far more adept at measuring user behavior than the mainstream. Almost two-thirds (63%) of that group can track differences in behavior between mobile and desktop users.

Perhaps as a result of the lack of accurate analytics, 46% of the mobile mainstream said that they optimize their mobile sites less than quarterly or never.

Only 23% of the mainstream group said they update their mobile sites based on user feedback/data either monthly or weekly; however, this increases to 63% among mobile first companies.

The report reveals that mobile sites are updated even less frequently than apps, which is a surprise given that updates are easier for most organizations.

Finally, the new report looks at the extent to which mobile programs are supported by business intelligence and analytics teams. This can often be a useful measure of how much value a business places in its mobile initiatives.

As mobile becomes a driver in online shopping the importance of accurately tracking user flow through your site in order to track trends and conversions. Without this, you might as well be putting a billboard up!

Purchase the full report here:

TaxTim launches Sales Affiliate Program

Welcome to the future of online tax returns!Our revolutionary digital tax assistant Tim helps users understand their taxes and complete their tax returns all on their own, with confidence. Users answer simple, plain language questions in a conversation with Tim online and he then prepares their tax return for them instantly and professionally!

The affiliate offer from TaxTim is one that would be enticing for most of the online population of South Africa. The affiliate program will pay you on a cost per sale basis.

Launched in 2011, TaxTim has made amazing strides including funding from Google, press in Financial Mail, FinWeek, Al Jazeera, Sunday Times and more, as well as being named one of Africa’s Top 40 Tech companies.

TaxTim helps users of all ages and computer skill-levels to:

  • Get registered for tax
  • Setup and use SARS eFiling
  • Complete their tax returns with 100% confidence
  • Understand their tax situation
  • Answer their tax questions

Your referrals will have a quick chat with TaxTim before getting their fully-completed tax return and earning you R49 for every completed return!

Please see our homepage here and our sign-up page for users here. Our core service assists users in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu (SARS can only help in English!)

TaxTim is consistently rated 8.5 /10 for an easy way to complete tax returns. We only identify users by their first name and email address, thus their privacy remains protected at all times.

We look forward to paying you a great commission for solving a universal headache ? TAX!

This is a select campaign, please apply to run it today!

Although tax season in South Africa doesn’t run for the whole year, there is always a frantic rush as the deadlines come closer. This is your chance as a publisher to cash in on this cost per sale offer. This is the affiliate marketing equivalent of fish in a barrel as the need spikes dramatically in tax season