March 09 150

Affiliate Marketing with Google Ads in 2022 — A Step-by-Step Guide

When it comes to advertising, Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) might have its own ups and downs, but it is still here, safe and sound. Compared to social media advertising, Google Ads aren’t pulled down by changes in trends or sudden expansive growth of any specific social platform.

As implied by the name, in case of PPC (pay-per-click) ads you pay for clicks, or results. If no one clicks, you don’t pay.

Another good thing is that when people turn their attention to Google, they are active and interested in the topic (to read about) or a product/service (to learn more and/or to purchase). Hence, you deal with a warm audience compared to social ad campaigns when your ads suddenly emerge in front of the cold audience. The Google audience does search for information. And this fact makes the life of webmasters much easier.


 Plan Your Google Ads Campaign in Advance

Before we describe the step-by-step process of running Google Ads campaigns, you need to keep in mind the following three aspects: budget (you determine how much you will spend on your ad campaign), simplicity (some things seem too complex but can be solved in a simple way), and patience (do not rush and quit your PPC campaign too early).

As we’ve mentioned above, Google counts clicks on your ads, then you are charged for every click.

The CTR (click-through-rate) shows the ratio between impressions (how many times your ad was displayed) to the number of user clicks. You need to pay attention to the CTR as this parameter shows the efficiency (or performance) of your ads.

In short, to run an ad campaign with Google, you need to determine a budget and set a bid. A bid is an amount you are ready to pay for a click. The good thing is that Google optimizes ad campaigns, and in many cases advertisers pay less than their maximum bids.

The most challenging task is not launching the campaign but to create an ad that will capture potential customers and keep costs as low as possible via continuous testing and optimization of the campaign.

While considering Google Ads for promoting an affiliate offer, consider the following factors:

  • Not all affiliate offers allow using paid ads.
  • Check for allowed keywords (not all advertisers allow using direct keywords to avoid additional competition).
  • Link ads to your landing page first (not to the merchant’s page).
  • The landing page should provide additional value to people. For example, webmasters often offer free e-books or PDF materials to collect users’ email addresses.
  • Test. And again, test with a small budget.

Behind every successful ad campaign is thorough planning and testing. Below we will describe all stages of planning, creating, and running an ad campaign.


Step 1. Determine Your Goals and Budget

First of all, you select an affiliate program and choose an offer to promote. Then, you check whether you can promote the offer via paid ads.

Sure, you have to prepare your landing page and valuable offer to potential customers (free tutorials, guides, etc.)

Then you come to the actual campaign planning and select the principal goal of your campaign (sales, traffic, leads, etc.)

Once you've chosen the campaign objective, you need to determine your budget that includes your daily and monthly budget limits. Actually, you set the overall campaign budget, daily expenses, and a bid.

For some types of ad campaigns, you can choose an automated bidding strategy: Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).


Step 2. Determine Your Target Audience

The Google Ads platform allows targeting specific audiences. You can filter the audience according to demographic characteristics, GEOs, interests, and so on.

Another important moment is remarketing, when you retarget users "who have clicked on your affiliate ads in the past or visited your site or the merchant site without making a conversion".


Step 3. Keywords Analysis

The Google Ads platform allows creating text, image, and video ads to facilitate reaching your campaign goals.

One of the qualifying features of the Google Ads platform is estimation of users’ ads by the quality and relevance of ads and keywords. Particularly, Google pays attention to the CTR, relevance of keywords for every ad group, quality, and relevance of the landing page, as well as general account performance and ad description (text).

The higher your Quality Score is the better ad visibility in the search results will be. So, never stop improving the QS.

You can improve your score by polishing your ad text, adding negative keywords, grouping keywords, and optimizing a landing page.


Step 4. Create Your Ad Copy

The ad copy should match the interests of your target audience. Sure, you can promote a premium car via panoramic images of a sexy girl leaned on the car. You are likely to get many clicks but not conversions. The true target audience would like to see more technical details about the car, or insurance bonuses, or free maintenance offer.  

A key factor for affiliate marketers to keep in mind is to review ad copies from time to time. This ensures they are in line with developing trends and are not obsolete.

Finally, you can review and adjust all parameters from the "Review Ads" page by clicking "Edit".

Once you complete the finishing touches, you select your country and payment mode. Google offers automatic and manual payment options via bank cards or a bank transfer. The varieties of payment options depend on your country.


Step 5. Launch Your Campaign  

After all the work done, the best and relaxing part is to see "Your campaign is ready to be published". Definitely, you need to test the campaign settings and, probably, improve something, but the major part is ready.  


Case Study: How Google Ads Resulted in 200% ROI for Dating Apps

An interesting case study was provided by Alex. He generated traffic from Google Ads to offers in the dating niche via web-view applications.

Networks: Leadbit, Traforce, Takeme.love, Advertise.

Affiliate offers: Sexy Lovers, Tekeme.love, Jolly, Navsegda, Lovena24, Navechno.

Period: July 27, 2020 — October 14, 2020

Traffic source: Google Ads

GEO: Russia and the CIS

ROI: 200%

Alex, the webmaster, cooperated with three affiliate networks, a direct advertiser. He decided to divide users by age and send them to different landing pages for several offers. He applied this approach to match the requirements of various audiences that reacted to his ads. There were three options for the age categories 18+ (buttons led to the Sexy Lovers offer), 25+ (Jolly, Lovena24, Takeme), and 2 options for the age category 30+ (Navechno, Navsegda).  Sure, all creatives and ad copies were designed in Russian for the selected GEO.

        The image says: "Your age".

He relied mostly on videos, as his experience proved that videos generated much more traffic than image-based ads. Actually, he used pretty ordinary descriptions and headlines, such as "Lonely? Dating is nearby", "Look for love here", etc.  He commented that he might have even used "Download the app" or "Install the app". The rate of conversion wouldn’t be affected, but “advertising is no longer restricted by the adult-only rules”.

If apps aren’t marked as the "Dating" category in Google Play, your ads can be displayed to a wider audience, not only the targeted audience. To generate targeted traffic, the webmaster found the solution: he used emojis and symbols instead of word-based descriptions.

He noted that the ads are usually rejected by moderation due to the violation of the punctuation and symbols rules, but the video can be approved. And it is a video that should generate targeted traffic.

Most of the videos used in the ads were pretty neutral. The webmaster also commented that he doesn’t use any terms directly relating to Dating, or the term Dating. This is related to the recent Updates of the Google Ads policies. In many cases, if you mention Dating, videos aren’t displayed. He admits it might not be the case for other advertisers.

He also recommended duplicating ad groups on stage when the number of installations declines.

It's 10 campaigns done with small budgets, about 50$, and increase the installation price until the videos start playing on YouTube. The next day, lower the bid and see how the ad behaves. If it keeps on giving some conversion even if the volume is less, let's leave it until the next day. That's how it will work until obtaining the right price for the installation.

Results:

Traforce — $19 000,

Leadbit — $1 348,

Advertise — $4 563,

Takeme.love — $10 230      

As you see from the numbers above, Alex got pretty good results. Unfortunately, he didn't share more details because some campaigns were still running.    


Case Study: £975.48 (or a bit over $1 300) as an affiliate on Clickbank with Google Ads

Gerald Umeh, a marketer from Nigeria, reveals all the details of his success via his YouTube channel.

He set his choice on Google Ads to earn on the ClickBank affiliate program. Actually, Gerald decided to go with a trading product in the Nutra niche. After scrolling ClickBank for the right affiliate offer, he decided to work with a weight-loss product from the keto diet line.

One of the keys to his success is the detailed keyword analysis prior to the ad campaign.

To keep the CPC lower, he launched the campaign on Google search results page and YouTube.

As Gerald explained, he prefers to keep things pretty easy. The key to his success was a choice of the affiliate offer that allowed using direct keywords and provided simple but efficient advertising instruments for promoting the offer. At the end, Gerald was satisfied with the results of his affiliate campaign that topped his account with.


Pros & Cons of Google Ads for Affiliate Marketers

We will not go into details of advertising with Google Ads for e-commerce businesses or any other types of companies, but list advantages and disadvantages of Google Ads only for affiliate marketing.

Pros:

  • High quality traffic. This is out of the question. As we’ve mentioned above, people have an intention to buy or discover a product or service when they search for it. You deal with the warm audience ready for shopping.
  • A tremendous audience allows reaching your specific targeted group. No need to remind that the number of active Google users worldwide is nearly 4 billion.
  • You pay only for clicks; there is no minimum deposit to run your Google Ads campaign. This is a huge benefit because many ad networks require minimum deposits.
  • Easy to scale up your ad campaigns across several platforms, including YouTube, Gmail, Display Network, various Android apps, and so on.
  • Fast results. Once your ads are approved (within minutes, but the process can take up to 24 hours), your campaign is considered launched and active.  

Cons:

  • In some cases Google Ads campaigns might be quite costly. If you are still a beginner who entered a very competitive niche (for example, software or hosting), an average CPC can be around $5. Sure, rates depend on GEOs and quality scores, but you should know that some niches are simply expensive. The Google Ads Planner helps with planning campaigns in terms of keyword prices. You can reduce CPCs by running ads not on search engine result pages but on YouTube or Google Ads Display network.
  • Affiliate marketers can get their accounts banned or suspended if they do not watch closely for redirects (which can be considered cloaking) in affiliate links. Carefully read Google Ads guidelines.
  • The complex structure of Google Ads might take time to learn. Ad campaign optimization requires a specific level of proficiency to get lower CPC while maintaining conversions high.
  • Not all clicks mean direct conversions. Just imagine competitors clicking your ads for the same keywords with a single purpose to empty your pocket. This is called a click fraud. So, do not skip the testing stage of your campaign to tune up the target audience and all other parameters of the campaign to get the best possible CTR.  

Attention: Google Ads Restrictions

It comes as no surprise that Google prohibits advertising of some services and products, such as drugs or ammunition. Some other products and services can be promoted with limitations, for example, alcohol, sexual content, gambling, healthcare products, some financial services, etc.

Limitations include thorough age and GEO targeting, for example, you can run alcohol ad campaigns with Google Ads and Facebook Ads only in GEOs where alcohol ads are allowed and only to the proper age group (18+, 21+, or 23+).

Obviously, webmasters use some techniques and tools to avoid bans or suspension of their accounts. Quite often you can see threads on forums dedicated to cloaking scripts on industry-related forums, such as BlackHatWorld or Warrior Forum.  

Are you familiar with cloaking techniques?
1 vote

Important: Google warns marketers and webmasters about violation of the Google Ads policies and the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Any violations, including cloaking, keyword stuffing, doorways, "sneaky" redirects, and spamming social network websites, will lead to a warning (usually issued 7 days prior to any further actions) that might result in the suspension of the account.    


Conclusion

Undoubtedly, valuable content and thorough, consistent application of SEO techniques contribute to the growth of your business. However, this is a long-term strategy. Google Ads can help you get results faster.      

We’ve recently discussed the best tools for Google Ads automation that can save a significant part of your time and allow you to focus on strategic goals instead of routine tasks. A planned Google Ads automated campaign should deliver fast results and save some time for further development of your business  

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