Native to Search Arbitrage campaigns have been gaining lots of traction recently, and quite frankly running them on native traffic is “a piece of cake” – especially when compared with the usual lead generation or straight sale offers.
As a matter of fact, these campaigns mostly run on a direct-link flow meaning that you don’t need a landing page or any pre-sell content to make it work.
But even if these types of campaigns do not require a complex setup, they do have two main constraints that might be a bit hard to deal with.
- Getting access to networks that provide search feed links may not be as easy as it seems.
Generally speaking, most of the search feed providers, approve only marketers that spend at least 3-4 figures a day or more. Also, most of them ask for ad spend proof.
- Conversion can be reported within a few minutes, but the revenue takes up to 36 or 48 hours to be confirmed, which makes the optimization process a bit more complex.
Anyways, in this guide, I’m going to walk you through some of the technicalities of these campaigns and how to deal with them.
The Search Feed Provider Networks
If you don’t know where to source these types of offers, the following networks might be enough to get started and spend 6+ figures a month with a decent ROI.
The Search Feed Offers
When promoting search feed arbitrage links, we’re basically promoting result feeds of specific keywords for which someone else is bidding on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
For anyone who has already run search traffic, this is where search traffic buyers should be accepting clicks from these feeds.
Also, based on the search provider, these offers are usually divided into two types:
1-Click Flow – When the visitor is directly served with the promoted service/product listing link.
2-Click Flow – When the visitor is served with a pre-lander, that will send him to the promote service/product listing links.
The Conversion Payouts
Keeping present that our offer objective is to make the visitor click on the promoted search result served through our search feed, the payouts, at first sight, might look pretty small. You may even think it’s impossible to make such offers work since the RPC (revenue per click) might usually vary from 0.01 to $1.5 or maybe slightly more depending on the targeted country and keywords. But on a positive note, these offers tend to have an average high conversion rate. Again, depending on the targeted country and product/service behind the keywords it could have a conversion rate of 15% or even more.
The Campaign Setup
Quite often it happens that many marketers that run search feed arbitrage don’t even use a click tracker to keep track of their conversions. Instead, they simply put the search feed link as their ads destination link, then keep track of the results on the traffic and search provider network. A pretty straightforward approach, but not so efficient.
One of the best approaches I’ve seen many marketers have success with is by using a tracker for three simple reasons.
- They can keep track of their Cost/Revenue accurately and even automate their optimization process with API-based automation tools (TheOptimizer Native already has features specifically for these types of campaigns).
- They can create multi-geo targeting campaigns in order to get cheaper clicks and improve their ROI.
- They can split-test offers/verticals from different search feed providers under the same campaign.
Out of all the trackers out there, I personally like the following two.
FunnelFlux – Its visual builder and advanced features can help a ton in any type of campaign. But for Search Feed Arb specifically, I love the ability of not having to necessarily fire conversions back to the traffic source when manually uploading conversions.
Voluum – It has a pretty straightforward interface, and multi-geo targeting can be easily set up using flows, plus having custom conversions gives us the ability to correct the revenue of the search feeds once they are confirmed.
Single GeoTargeting – Simple Flow
This one is pretty straightforward, your funnel is pretty simple, all you need to do is to add one offer to the flow and you’re done.
Multi-Geo Targeting – Advanced Flow
When targeting multiple GEOs under a single campaign, we will need to add some IF/ELSE conditions to our visitors flow. This way we’ll be able to send the visitors to the correct search feed.
All we need to do is to add some IF conditions to the funnel builder to check visitor’s countries.
When creating flows, we will need to create a path for each country targeting and another one for untargeted country traffic.
With such campaigns, it’s not needed to play with the usual high bids that we’re used to seeing on eCommerce or Lead Generation campaigns. Instead, depending on the country we can start bidding even with pennies for these campaigns. Obviously, the targeted countries, play a big role in deciding the bid, however, even on US you can get things rolling with a $0.10 CPC.
The Campaign Optimization Process
Considering that we’re playing with an average low payout, when optimizing such campaigns, we will need to be pretty aggressive when it comes to blocking publishers or playing with the bids.
For example, when promoting a search feed with an average RPC of $0.65 we can easily block a low conversion rate / low ROI widget on a $1.5 spend.
So, in terms of metrics to keep a close eye on, I’d say the Conversion Rate, RPC, and ROI are the most important ones.
Also, like with traditional campaigns, even with these campaigns the widget/publisher CTR is pretty important, but most of the time this is visible in the search feed network provider.
The Manual Tasks Needed to Update Revenue
Even though these tasks can be easily automated using the API of the search feed provider network and your tracker, until you get deep into these types of campaigns, you will need to upload conversions manually when they are confirmed. So as bad as it may look, you will have to systematically download the confirmed revenue CSVs from the search feed network, then upload them back to your tracker in order to update your correct revenue.
Furthermore, when uploading conversions manually to your tracker, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not posting conversions to the traffic source twice for the same conversion. This can result in giving the traffic source optimization algorithm false information, that can negatively impact the performance of the campaigns.
When manually uploading conversions on Voluum I am always forced to temporarily disable/remove the postback url (maybe its my fault that I haven’t paid much attention for a better solution), whereas with FunnelFlux I can easily choose to fire my traffic source postback URLs when uploading conversions or not.
As always it is pretty hard to make a fortune with a single campaign, on almost every traffic source. So dealing with such low payouts and aggressive optimization approach, automatic optimization plays a big role in getting search feed arb campaigns in shape. Not that the main purpose of this guide is to pitch theOptimizer, but some of the features that we have on the platform, have been adopted to meet search feed arb marketers needs.
Automatic Revenue Update on TheOptimizer Native
Since you’ll be uploading your revenue regularly to your tracker, you can setup a schedule on TheOptimizer where you’re practically telling the system to pull your campaigns data every day at a specific hour for Yesterday, Before Yesterday, Last 3 Days or Last 7 days. This way, knowing when you usually upload confirmed clicks revenue, you can schedule TheOptimizer on when to pull these stats.
Automatic Optimization Rules
Given that we now have both the cost and revenue flowing in systematically to our automatic optimization platform, we can easily create automatic optimization rules for our search feed arbitrage campaigns. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the payouts for these campaigns tend to take up to 36 or 48 hours to get confirmed, so an extremely important functionality when using automation to manage these campaigns, is the ability to exclude the last 1 or 2 days from being taken in consideration when executing block actions.
Here are some basic rule examples:
Block Widget Rule 1
Considering data from: Last 14 Days / Excluding: Today & Yesterday
IF Traffic Source Spend is greater or equal to $X.X AND ROI is less than -40%
Run rule every 10 or 20 minutes
Explanation: Considering that the revenue takes 36-48 hours to be confirmed, we are excluding Today & Yesterday stats from being taken in consideration. Optionally we can add a conversion rate condition to avoid blocking potential profitable widgets.
Block Widget Rule 2
Considering data from: Last 14 Days / Excluding: None
IF Traffic Source Spend is greater or equal to $X.X AND Tracker Conversion Rate is below YY%
Run rule every 10 or 20 minutes
Explanation: Considering that we get the conversion events reported within a few minutes, we can run optimizations including today by taking in consideration the conversion rate.
Considering data from: Last 7 / Excluding: Today & Yesterday
IF Traffic Source Spend is greater or equal to $X.X AND ROI is greater than YY% AND ROI is less than ZZ% AND Hour of the Day [select 3 specific hours in a week]
Set Bid to 80% of the EPC, then do not allow the bid to go below $x.xx AND not above $y.yy
Run rule every 1 hour
Explanation: Here we are tweaking widget bids 3 times a week taking in consideration the average EPC of the last 7 days. This way we can push the campaign to a more steady ROI.
Make sure to check out the replay of our webinar on “Native to Search Arbitrage” linked below.