Why Cloaking is not Good for a Long Term Affiliate Business

In the past  2 weeks, I have been contacted by almost 20 people on facebook and through emails, basically asking for a way out, As they are tired of the regular cat and mouse game with traffic networks.
First of all, cloaking itself is not bad and can be a very effective tool against bot traffic and to prevent your competitors from spying on you..

The concept of Cloaking

The concept of Cloaking is very simple, using cloaking you can redirect the unwanted traffic to another page or website. For example; let’s say I don’t want traffic from a certain country, city or a traffic source on my blog, I can easily redirect them to another website based on their visitor data.

How affiliate marketers use traffic

In affiliate marketing, cloaking is mostly used to deceive traffic networks. Let’s say I want to promote an offer which violates Google/Facebook advertising policy, using cloaking we can show a legit offer but in reality promote the offer which violates the traffic network policies to people.

For example, let’s take  a scammy Offer like  “forskolindietdr.com”. If I promote this offer directly on Google adwords/Facebook ads, my campaign will never be approved by the traffic networks, as it violates their advertising guidelines.  In order to promote my offer on these networks I would have to use cloaking, which simply means I will redirect Google/Facebook reviewers to a reputable website, something like this NHS Article.  This website is for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, I can easily get away with it and get my campaign approved; where all Google/facebook reviewers and Bots are redirected to the NHS website, and all the other traffic ( visitors ) are sent to the scammy weightloss offer.

affiliate Cloaking

How affiliates use Cloaking

Why Cloaking works

The main reason people tend to go for such offers is the over exaggerated trust that people have on sites such as Google and Facebook. This relates more to the older generations, because they are less aware of scams and how the internet is used to manipulate people into spending money. For example, grandpa’s and grandma’s  are more susceptible to buying things online, without researching, as compared to younger generations. To some, the internet is still fairly new and a large group of people are still unaware how internet works.

Another reason is the attractive ads, the colors and the pull element to them. Advertisers are aware of what their users are searching for and what they want, so they appeal to that nature. Like any ad. For example weight loss consumers will want imagery, and information about how “quick and effective” the products are, they are less likely to read the fine print, because they have already been lured by the attractiveness of the ad. these offers are more likely to focus on attractive ads rather than factual information, their aim isn’t to gain the trust of their consumers, but to just make sales.

Why Cloaking is Not Worth your time

Now let’s talk about cloaking in 2017, have you noticed cloaker prices are falling down ? There were days when cloakers used to charge thousands of dollars! These days you can easily buy a cloaker tool for $200 per month. The reason is that the good days of cloaking are gone, now everyone and their dog has a cloaker account and the competition is getting higher and higher.. Apart from that, traffic networks are coming down hard on affiliates using cloakers, which has caused the account ban rate to increase … It’s really hard for the affiliates to make sure they have sufficient supply of ad network accounts as compared to the ban rates by the ad networks.

So if you are thinking to just enter the world of cloaking, I would advise you to save your time and efforts and use them on something better, long lasting and completely whitehat, instead of shortcuts like cloaking. Just like the last stage of blog networks, they were a big thing amongst affiliates a few years ago, until google wiped them out completely. Yes there are still blog networks, but only those who know their stuff. All those who were in the market who had no real skill got wiped out, I am sure that’s what’s going to happen here soon. Especially with tech giants specially focusing on Artificial intelligence, it won’t take long… Facebook has already started; Read this  : News Feed FYI: Addressing Cloaking So People See More Authentic Posts Adding to this, Google is already working against cloaking behind the scenes and they have  shifted their anti cloaking preparations to a new office ( un confirmed source).

Focus on Long Term Business Goals

I have been working in this industry for 7 years and i have seen many shortcut methods like this which play with systems. Again I would like to mention private blog networks as one of the best examples. If you are serious about an affiliate marketing business, you should always try avoiding shortcuts which play with the system. You might make some money for a while but at the end of the day you will learn no real skills and once your method dies down you will have to start again from zero.

I always advise people to start with whitehat methods , It could be slow, but will teach you skills which you can use anywhere in your life. It also often takes the same effort as Black Hat methods. However once you are established you have skills that  can yield better results, as compared to shortcuts like cloaking. It also depends on your own morals as well, if you want to sell scammy products to people or if you want to make a living by promoting legit products. That Decision is yours …

Google Announces Significant Change to Display Network

When it comes to digital advertising, there is no name bigger than Google.  With millions of people relying on them for online advertising it is important to keep a close eye on all their activities.  That is why the announcement from the VP of product management of the Google Display Network, Brad Bender was so important.  When speaking at the SMX East conference in New York he said, “I’m pleased to announce that GDN is moving to 100% viewable.  We’re going to migrate all of the CPMs in the system to viewable CPMs.  All advertisers will be able to see viewable metrics so they can make better decisions.”

This is a move meant to address the issue that many marketers have complained about.  They would pay for a set amount of displayed ads, but would be charged for ads that were never actually seen.  These ads would load on tabs that were not active or would load on a page below the ‘fold’ so people couldn’t see them.  In fact, Google has said that about 56% of online display ads are never seen at all, and that is those that are actually loaded.

Google has taken steps to help protect marketers from this issue in the past.  In the speech he confirmed that last year alone Google did not charge advertisers for about 70 billion ad impressions.  These ad impressions occurred, but since they were not seen they did not have to be paid for.  That is, however, only a fraction of the total number of ads that were not seen according to many people’s estimates.

The move by Google will improve the overall results for marketers, and will help to build advertiser confidence in their display network.  It could also make people more likely to buy straight CPM ad campaigns rather than going with click focused options, which have long been the more popular choice.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how all of this plays out.  No matter what, this is a good move by Google since it will give markers more information and a better overall experience.

This change will be rolling out over the next couple weeks to all current and new advertisers using the Google Display Network.  If you use Google’s ad network, make sure you keep a close eye on the information you have available to see how it impacts your overall campaign.  It stands to reason that the adjustment on Google’s end will improve the overall return on investment for most marketers.

Two New Products Launching from Google to Improve Ads

Google has recently announced that they are launching two new products to help improve their ads.  The products are designed to help marketers provide their customers with what they want, when they want it and where they need it. The products are called, “Customer Match” and “Universal App Campaigns.”

Customer Match

The first new product, Customer Match, is designed to allow marketers to reach out directly to the highest-value customers using Google Search, YouTube or gMail.  Using this product you will be able to easily upload your own list of email addresses, which can then allow Google Ad Network to target these users while they are signed in.  The targeting is done in a secure and privacy-safe way since the users can still opt out of being targeted like this if they choose.

The example provided in the announcement from Google states, “Let’s say you’re a travel brand.  You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip.  For example, when these rewards members search for ‘non-stop flights to New York” on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York.  And when those members are watching their favorite YouTube or catching up on gMail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip.”

In addition to targeting people on your existing email list, you can reach out to new customers who are similar to your existing ones based on Google’s massive amount of data.  This can help you to draw in new customers and further expand your email list.

Universal App Campaigns

The next new service, Universal App Campaigns, will allow app developers and marketers to launch a custom campaign that lets you connect directly to app users on search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network.  This will allow you to get your app in front of interested users no matter where they are or what they are doing.  This can help you to find the right audience for the app you are promoting.

Here is the example from the announcement by Google, “Let’s say you’ve built an adventure game.  With Universal App Campaigns, you have unparalleled reach: you can drive installs on YouTube, the platform with 1B+ users who watch hundreds of millions of hours of content every day.  Your ads can also reach specific audiences across 650k apps and 2M+ websites in the GDN.  And importantly, Universal App Campaigns tap into intent-rich searches like “adventure games” and “puzzle games” that are happening throughout the day on Google Search and Google Play so your app can be seen when people are looking to download something new.”

In addition to getting your app in front of the right people, it is also easier than ever to setup.  You just provide Google with your desired cost-per-install and they will take it from there.  They customize the campaign to get you the results you’re looking for.  They optimize the campaign in an ongoing way to get you the highest possible return on investment.

Whether you’ve used Google for advertising before or not, these two new options will certainly help you take your business to the next level.

Facebook & Google Both Testing new Features for On Site Shopping

In the past several days there have been very interesting announcements from both Google and Facebook.  While unrelated to each other, they are both beginning some testing on new features that will allow people to make purchases right on their respective sites.  Facebook is testing the option to effectively put a ‘store’ right on a business page, and Google is experimenting with a ‘buy button’ within the search results that will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

While they are both in the testing phases right now, it is good to get familiar with them early so if (or more likely, when) they roll out to a wider audience, you can begin to capitalize on them right away.  There aren’t too many details on what types of things will be able to be sold, many people expect that marketers will be able to promote their own products or affiliate items using these features, which will present significant opportunities.

Facebook’s Shopping Pages

Reports show that Facebook is looking to build “Shops within Facebook Pages” so that you can sell items directly to ‘friends’ or other followers.  This is a smart move since it will help to keep people on their page much longer than would otherwise be possible, and it will also make it much easier for marketers and brands to generate sales more quickly.

Marketers are already using Facebook to get their products in front of their audience, so it just makes sense for Facebook to give them the opportunity to make a sale within the social network.  This will also benefit users since it will be much easier to make a purchase.  Much of the information that they need to fill out will be able to be automatically added directly from Facebook’s database of user information.  During the testing phase, Facebook is not taking a cut of any sales or anything like that, which is nice.  So far, it seems that they don’t plan on requiring any commission even after it rolls out.

Purchases on Google

In a similar but unrelated report, Google has also announced that they are testing a feature called, “Purchases on Google.”  This feature has been rumored to be coming for quite some time, but this is the first time it is actually out there in a live environment.  Google is working with a very small number of high volume retailers to test out their system, which will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

The feature is designed to help improve the purchasing experience on mobile devices.  When you do a search for something, the ads that show up may contain a buy button (or something similar) that will take you to a branded page to make a purchase. Once there, much of the information will be filled out for you, potentially even payment information if you have it on file, so you can make a purchase with just a few taps.  This, of course, will be much easier than trying to type everything in on your mobile device.

The testing phase is expected to expand over the coming months and continue through the holiday season.  At that point Google will evaluate its success and likely begin rolling it out to additional marketers and brands.

Both of these new features could be significant opportunities for all types of marketers.  Keeping an eye on them is going to be very important for the long term success of most businesses today.

What You Need to Know about the Google Mobile Algorithm Update

If you’re involved with performance marketing of any type, you’ve almost certainly heard about the upcoming search algorithm update from Google.  The update is focused on encouraging websites to become more mobile friendly.  If rumors are true, however, it is going to be a major ‘slap’ to anyone who hasn’t yet optimized their site properly for mobile devices such as smart phones.

multitasking in hands

Many of these rumors were prompted by Google’s announcement that they were going to be making updates to the algorithm specifically focused on making the web a more mobile friendly place.   This is quite an unusual move from Google, since they tend to try to keep any algorithm updates as quiet as possible until they roll them out.  The fact is, however, this one has the potential to impact a huge number of sites and Google seems to want everyone to take preemptive action to minimize the impact as much as possible.

Read on to learn about a few of the key points that will be most important to marketers.

When Does the Algorithm Take Effect?

The ‘mobile-friendly’ algorithm change is launching tomorrow, April 21st.  This is the official date that has been given by Google.  Whether it is a one time update or it will be rolled out over the course of days is not known, but most people expect the changes to be completely done on the 21st.

Only Impacting Mobile Searches

One nice thing to keep in mind is that this algorithm is only going to impact searches that are done with mobile devices.  So, if you do a search on Google on your PC, you’ll get one set of search results.  From a mobile device, you may get something completely different.  While this can help to minimize impact for some sites that aren’t mobile ready, it is still a huge issue.  Mobile adds up to around 30% of searches today, and that number is growing rapidly.

Tablets Aren’t Mobile?

Oddly enough, this algorithm change is not going to impact searches done on tablets.  Many people expect there will be a second update focused on tablets, but that has not been confirmed by Google.  It is not exactly clear why Google is not lumping the tablet searches in with mobile devices since they operate in much the same way.

How to Test Your Site

This is perhaps the most important thing you need to know.  It isn’t always enough to just put up a theme that claims to be mobile friendly.  You need something that Google will recognize.  The best way to check your site is to use a free mobile friendly testing tool, one of which can be found HERE. That tool is provided by Google so it is likely going to be the most accurate option available.

It’s Not Too Late!

Another important thing for all marketers to keep in mind is that it is not too late to make changes to your site.  The algorithm is said to operate in a ‘real time’ way, which means as soon as you make the changes, Google will begin ranking your site properly.  With this in mind, you could update your site today to be more mobile friendly and avoid any negative impact from the update.