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Lead scrubbing and commission shaving
How CPA game is functioning?
Ideal situation is described above, but real situation is far from that. Along with cookie stuffers, including adware/PPV, there are more hungry wolfs. Commission shaving, when affiliate network is not crediting affiliate account, and leads scrubbing, when advertiser is not reporting all valid leads.
A few examples mentioned above are the reason to test the same or similar offer on different networks using different advertisers to find where is conversion highest. And stick there.
One example. Got msg from my AM that one advertiser asking to not promote them, since my leads are not converting as expected? Strange request. Maybe I need to convert that traffic for them? However, the same traffic redirected to very similar offer, conversion as expected, no complaints. Landing page of another advertiser is not misleading visitors, trying to get more signups on that way. That was the only difference. From this example, you can see that leads not valid for one advertiser, can work for another.
As it is said above, some advertisers are not reporting all valid leads, or they are "deleting" valid leads later. I am not talking about false or incomplete info submitted (bad lead), I am talking about perfectly valid leads, valid info, live person.
Now, that is questionable but common practice todays. Some of advertisers are going that far, even deleting leads after three months.
We need to go little behind CPA scene to see why valid leads are deleted.
What they don't tell you is, that some percent of those leads must bring profit to advertiser, or not all leads will be paid. Or, in another case, lead must fill some percent of displayed offers, or you will not be paid. Now, that is why I call that questionable practice. I was trying this (what advertisers doing with leads) in real word, and asked my money back because my lotto tickets didn't win. No chance.
So, for affiliate, it is important to send valid AND targeted visitors to get all leads paid.
To check offer landing page that it is not misleading.
Right, advertiser needs to convert acquired leads, not affiliate. Even when advertiser has misrepresenting landing page, or he is pushing wrong offers to leads, and conversion is low, affiliate is accused for delivering bad leads. The fact: Valid leads are bad leads until advertiser is not profiting from them. Period.
Your conversion is not depending of click/signup ratio. Your conversion is depending of that how many $$$ you can bring to advertiser. In the best case.
Believe or not, other (bad) affiliates from the same network are one more reason for your deleted leads. To attract signups, those greedy affiliates are using some dirty tricks (will not be posted here), delivering valid leads to advertiser. Those leads, since they are forced, will not convert. Due to that reason, some number of valid leads have to be deleted. Sometimes, your leads are deleted from that reason.
In many cases, reason for scrubbed leads are duplicates. As affiliate, you can make mistake and promote more offers from one advertiser on the same place. Visitor can fill, say, three offers from the same advertiser, using the same email address. In this case, duplicate leads will be scrubbed, and that is not theft. Many beginners don't know this. Now you know.
There are three points where affiliate network can steal affiliate commission. First is during redirection, when cookie could be replaced, second is while tracking pixel is fired, not crediting right affiliate account, and third when leads are posted later, not posting all leads on affiliate account. First two are not used that often, but sometimes affiliate could see that conversion ratio for one offer is steady, not changing, even then, when affiliate is sending different kind of traffic. Asking why? Don't ask, test that offer on another network and compare conversion.
Some affiliate beginners are thinking that geotargeting feature is in fact, theft. It is not, if redirection is performed on the network level. On that way, visitor from another Country is redirected to international offer, and affiliate is credited for that lead.
Problem is when affiliate network doesn't have geotargeting feature. In that case, visitor can be redirected at advertiser's website to different offer, from some another network. This is still not theft, advertiser is simply using chance to monetize untargeted traffic, it is affiliate network mistake, and you should find another network, or better target your visitors.
Have you been banned from promoting some offer, and you don't know why? Did you got request to stop promoting some offer on some places, although other affiliates are doing the same? Are you surprised when you suddenly see new competitors bidding on your super-secret profitable keyword, promoting the same offer? Advertiser don't want you to bid on some generic keywords?
If you experienced any of this above, time to change network and advertiser. They will find source of your traffic, and if is possible, they will simple try to push you out from there. To take your place.
Say that you found profitable keyword, and your ad is the only ad on that page.
A few days later, you could see another ad or even two, promoting the same offer.
Eventually, you can receive request that advertiser don't want you to bid on that keyword
from some reason. What happened?
Who are "they"? Bad CPA network or bad advertiser. Or both.
Experienced affiliate already knows all this above. Then, what experienced affiliate is doing? Instead of building list for advertisers, he is building his own mailing list. However, there are still good CPA networks and good advertisers. Stick to them.