by Mark Kempton, PointsPrizes Founder
Published in Advertising on 27th October, 2018
In this guide I'm going to demystify the world of Incentive CPA marketing, and teach you how to drive huge amounts of free traffic to your website or mobile app!
Incentive advertising is one of the best kept secrets in the marketing industry. It's used by top game apps, survey companies and hundreds of large brands to generate paying leads at a much lower cost than more traditional forms of advertising.
It's so powerful, those who actually know how to do it, will rarely explain it.
Advertisers spend billions of dollars, trying to drive as many clicks to their website as possible. Usually it works something like this:
Sound familiar? You probably feel like this guy...
The simple fact is that, even with all the data in the world about users, it's impossible to accurately predict how well they will interact with your specific brand.
All the machines can do is make informed guesswork. If they are accurate even 1% of the time, then that is considered a success.
I'll let you into a little secret about online advertising. Most successful campaigns lose a considerable amount of money on their first user engagement.
Their real goal is to harvest the user's contact information - so that they can be emailed, or otherwise contacted, over and over again. The sales are quietly made up on the back end of the traffic funnel, not the front.
Eventually, given enough time and a well designed communication strategy, profitability emerges. The entire CPC market is hopelessly saturated with professional advertisers, operating on incredibly narrow margins.
Alternatively they are a huge brand, able to saturate the entire internet with awareness campaigns, costing tens of millions of dollars. That's the advertising equivalent of 'shock-and-awe' carpet bombing. Do you have that kind of money lying around?
Ideally you want users to feel like they found you, rather than you having found them. That's the true sweet-spot - where smart companies make millions of dollars.
To achieve that, you need to transform your website, or mobile app install page, into a cascading river of traffic. You simply can't afford to pay for any traffic that fails to engage.
Incentive CPA allows you to reward users for actually trying out your product or service. Traffic comes from hugely popular viral rewards websites such as PointsPrizes, and many others.
Instead of paying for clicks, you pay only for results. For example, you could require users to install your game app, reach level 20 and win 10 battles. You have complete control, so you only pay when traffic is profitable.
Setting up an incentive CPA campaign is a bit more technically challenging than a traditional CPC campaign. Some advertisers find it a culture shock, compared to the traditional CPC advertising model they are already so familiar with.
Every time a user reaches your required conversion point, you will need to send an HTTP request to the affiliate network, so that they can deduct funds from your budget and - for incentive campaigns - reward the user. That means you need to do some work to your website or app, to prepare it.
It might seem illogical, informing the network that you want to be charged money. However, it's very important that you send these conversion signals, otherwise your offer will lack the conversion rates, and traffic will be significantly reduced.
There's a range of different ways to send the conversion HTTP request. One of the simplest ways is by embedding a conversion pixel on your checkout, or user milestone page, like this:
By loading this image file, it sends attached query string data to the affiliate network:
Usually these IDs will have been passed to you in the URL's query string, when visitors first arrived on your website, so it's just a matter of feeding that data back to the affiliate network:
Obviously I'm simplifying things a little here, and there are definitely more secure ways of achieving the same result. Also, every network will have different query strings and requirements, which you will need to read about in their advertiser documentation.
As you can see though, it's much less complicated to implement than one might think. If you're not a technical individual, then you can hire a freelance developer to set it up for you.
Once you sign up with a good affiliate network, an account manager will contact you, guiding you through all the technical stuff you need to get started.
If you're new to incentive CPA, then I would highly recommend you start out with the affiliate network Adgate Media - they have one of the largest networks of quality incentive publishers.
You should also sign into PointsPrizes as a user, get familiar with the incentive process from a user perspective, and explore the many great incentive networks we work with.
For example, choosing a good thumbnail image, providing clear conversion requirements and creating a good landing page are all things that will give you an advantage.