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Why Use Affiliate Ads Rather Than AdSense or YPN?

by Robyn Tippins on September 6, 2006

Over the last year I’ve become more and more jaded with Google Adsense and YPN. Both are very popular and Cinderella stories about the vehicles abound. However, for most, they are not the vehicle through which you can quit your day job.

I run a ‘deals’ site (duzins.com) that gets a little traffic and pays enough to justify my time there. Of course, as you can see I don’t even update it daily (big no-no) and I *just* added a weekly email newsletter, so with effort this could certainly be a six figure earner for me.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that a common question many people have is “Why do people choose affiliate ads over Adsense/YPN?”

I think this case study will tell you:

One advertiser recently sent me an email reminding me of their current affiliate promotion. It was roughly (details changed to protect my hide):

1. 10 Subscriptions – Get $50 Home Depot or Best Buy Gift Card

2. 50 Subscriptions – 2G iPod Nano

3. 150 Subscriptions – XBox 360

4. 275 – Home Theater System ($1000 value)

5. 500 – Tickets to the Affiliate Summit, $500 airfare and 3 days lodging

6. 1000 – Serious renumeration

Now, this was for a service that costs between $10 and $20 dollars, depending on plan, and it’s a really popular service at that. And, remember, this is, in addition to the $15 lead spiff. So, in essence, for option #6 you would make around $5K for the above bonus and $15K for the lead spiff.
1000 subscribers to this sought-after service would yield you $20,000! The details are that you have a full quarter to participate (ie 3 months to get the 1000 subscriptions). I mean, can you imagine that spending $5K in Adwords would probably bring you 1000 subscriptions? That’s a profit for the affiliate of at the least $15,000.

Now, compare that to $1K a month in Adsense earnings on a popular blog…

Affiliate advertising pays, big-time.

Popular Affiliate Networks:

Commission Junction (easiest and largest)

Linkshare (great advertisers like Dell and iTunes)

Performics (less high-tech, but worthwhile and easy to navigate)

You can hover over the ad in my sidebar or over the Linkshare link above to see what affilate links look like. Feel free to ask me any questions on this one. I have learned alot this year, after running my own site as a publisher and helping clients investigate the advertiser role. And, wish me luck on the 1K subscriptions. LOL

Stay Tuned: I’ll be posting a few followups later this week that explain 1- How to effectively use affiliate advertising (three part) and 2- Why advertisers are interested in affiliate advertising at all.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen @ Adsense Freedom September 7, 2006 at 10:04 am

I agree that IF you can get the affiliate sales that you can earn good money – but Adsense is still pretty much the easiest and quickest way for anyone new to the internet and wanting to make money.

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Robyn Tippins September 7, 2006 at 10:31 am

Jen,

It certainly takes concentrated effort to make it w/affiliate ads. I suppose with Adsense many can just write and make the money.

But, the people making real money in Adsense are few and far between. Of course, I don’t really know affilate superstars, maybe they are rare as well…

Loved your podcast with the keyword arbitrage guy. Amazing!

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Wendy Piersall September 7, 2006 at 10:47 am

I agree Robyn. With affiliate marketing I’ve made nearly 5 times the amount I have made thus far with AdSense. When I did my analysis, I do believe that your niche plays a highly important role in click-through rates. My work at home site has a dismal click-through while my old self help site has a very impressive click-through rate. Placements are basically the same, too.

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Jadine September 7, 2006 at 12:26 pm

With affiliate marketing, there’s no guarantee the person is going to buy once they get there, add to that the chance of them coming back to the site through another affiliate link or the official site itself. At least with adsense and YPN all the user has to do is click through in order for you to get paid. Many people don’t have the marketing and copywriting skills necessary to make it with affiliate programs.

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Dan September 7, 2006 at 1:37 pm

Excellent article! I run a satirical advice column and while I don’t do it primarily for money it would certainly be nice to generate a little extra income — at least enough to pay for itself!

The problem: Because the subject matter of my content changes with each post and can sometimes be something as odd as venereal warts (so long as I can make it funny!) — well, as you might expect, the wart removal ads don’t get a lot of play on the site.

I’ve been trying to brainstorm a good solution and had totally mind-burped about affiliate ad networks. (I admit: I’m a newbie.) This sounds like something worth investigating.

Again, thanks for the article.

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Robyn Tippins September 7, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Wendy, if you need a hand tailoring your WAHM ads to something that the demographic will like, please lemme know. :)

Jadine, I think the difference in the venues is the work involved. Affiliate marketing takes ad buying, actual html changes each time the ad changes, etc. while Adsense is really foolproof because the delivery is contextual.

Dan, glad to have jogged your memory. Certainly affiliate ads will make your advertising job easier. Contextual ads on your site must deliver all kinds of odd ads LOL

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Greg Saunders September 8, 2006 at 9:52 pm

I have done a lot of research into Adsense and YPN verses affiliate programs and from what I have seen it really depends on your content and your target audience.

For example, I have seen sites geared towards seo, ebay, marketing, and other similar site that appear to be geared towards a very specific niche. I find that they have affiliate links that bring a 50% return if the product is purchased.

An example product would be an ebook or service that sales for $49. You would get half of that. I know there are many affiliate types out there and some pay very little, but I really like the ones that provide a 50% split. However these sites are definitely more geared to a niche market and the intent is to sell those products.

Now as for the blog sites that are not geared to a tight niche market seem to do better with a mix of click through and affiliate links from my limited research and talking with others in the blogging business.

Of course I may be biased as I absolutely hate clicking any ad unless I am specifically looking for what that ad is marketing… and when I am looking I am more likely to click an affiliate link since the sites I end up at when looking for something specific tends to have the affiliate type links OR I end up at the origin site of the product.

Good article.

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Robyn Tippins September 8, 2006 at 10:22 pm

I agree Greg. Niche is key to those type of sites.

These are slightly different affiliate ads (like the Audible ad above) that are all from established companies and the commission is much less, from 1% to about 20%.

I’m not really sure how to semantically differentiate between them, they’re both referred to as affiliate ads.

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Dan September 9, 2006 at 1:31 pm

Robyn, I’ll give you an idea of the google ads I got on my site: They went from bible sales to pole dancing/stripper supplies to wart removal to dealing with anxiety/phobias to dealing with childhood attention deficit. Very funny! But not very profitable.

I have since signed up with Linkshare and will see how that works but there is one question I have that I can’t find on their site and I hope you can answer (and I swear I won’t ask any more questions!) : Can I use the links myself. If I wanted to buy something from one of those sites it seems silly to go through the main site instead of using the referral button, but I don’t know if that would be against the terms of service. (Sounds illogical for it to be so since a sale is a sale is a sale, but it wouldn’t suprise me if it was a no-no.)

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Robyn Tippins September 9, 2006 at 1:38 pm

Dan, I can only imagine LOL

Often affiliates will actively encourage affiliate sales. However, every now and then you’ll get an advertiser (Amazon, for example) that stricty forbids it.

My suggestion is to go through the terms of service for that particular advertiser. Or, if you don’t want to take the time, just email the affiliate manager and ask. You’d be amazed how nice they are, and how fast they usually get back to you. Most of these companies do their best to really cater to their affiliates.

And, don’t worry about asking me questions. That’s why I blog :)

Keep em’ coming. Someone else may have the same question and you’re helping them w/your question.

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Dan September 10, 2006 at 11:47 pm

Okay, you asked for it, now I’m going to ask you a bazillion questions!

Well, okay, I don’t have anything right now. Good to know about amazon — I signed up for them as well since my wife is blogging about her travels through books. (She likes to read books in themes and ‘travels’ through them — she was sailing the seas for a bit through Moby Dick and a few other books and I think she arrived in Russia with an idea of perhaps going to India next.)

I’m pretty new to blogging as well as advertising on blogs so a lot of what I am doing now is experimentation. Hopefully I’m not committing too many faux pas on the way. I have to admit there is a lot more to it than I realized when I got into it, but it is very rewarding even if I don’t ever turn it into a revenue stream 8)

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Peter September 11, 2006 at 4:32 am

Robyn,

Thanks for a great post, I’m looking forward to the follow ups.
Love the PayPal seal :)

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Robyn Tippins September 12, 2006 at 8:10 pm

Peter, paypal is evil ;) Dan, ask away and welcome to the blogosphere!

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Jonathan Dingman September 21, 2006 at 9:05 am

I’ve started to move away from AdSense slowly because it’s become less profitable for me. I’ve been interested in textlink sales and affiliate sales more and more. One thing I did just stumble upon is a plugin to contextually market my products within my Wordpress blog, replacing specific keywords with affiliate links. It’s called aLinks by headzoo. Worth checking out.

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Robyn Tippins September 21, 2006 at 9:19 am

Jonathan, I’ll check into that. Thanks!

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Alison Moore Smith September 23, 2006 at 12:28 am

Thanks, Jonathan. It’s free!

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Richard November 21, 2006 at 2:30 pm

Thanks

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Smit April 9, 2007 at 7:33 pm

Very cool design! Useful information. Go on!n

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PHP Programming June 7, 2007 at 11:07 pm

You say “…$1K a month in Adsense earnings on a popular blog…”.

I’ve read stories about niche marketing sites that were build in a few hours, add a few links and Adsense… and in a few months were turning $500/mo. Now that is not enough to live on however when you figure they are building the site in a few hours under a reasonably high traffic keyword phrase that has not been penetrated and setting the site on autopilot not too bad.

On the flip side I would rather hear more about how you plan to drive this site into 6 figure earnings. That is more to my liking.

Thank you for your article!

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