The technical aspects of running ads on Facebook is the biggest challenge to most.
So you suck with tech-related things, you’ve never heard of HTML or PHP, you don’t know what subids/querystrings are or why tracking is needed in the first place. Don’t worry – plenty of people without technical backgrounds have conquered tracking before and will do so in the future. Your goal is to add yourself to that list. They say you learn tracking, not a tracking system.
Tracking is a cornerstone of Internet Marketing. If you aren’t tracking things down to the most granular level possible, you are doing it wrong.
I don’t mean you need to target the smallest age groups possible, I mean you need to know exactly how a specific campaign/ad/demographic responded to your landing page, who converted, what ad did they come from, etc.
Good ad setup at the traffic source, i.e passing of unique ad and campaign identifiers
A well organised and functional tracking system
A general understanding of how ‘tracking’ works
This guide won’t explain how to setup and install tracking systems, how to manage a server etc. but will focus on specifics relevant to Facebook.
Cardinal Rules and Mistakes to Avoid
- Never direct link to an affiliate link on Facebook. Just don’t.
- Always check offer landing pages on MyWoT before considering running them.
- Don’t let geo-redirection by the affiliate network cause problems.
Point number 1 relates to number 2 and 3.
Most affiliate network tracking domains are red-rated on MyWoT. Most of your affiliate links have active geo-redirection, which bounces people from outside an offer’s allowed countries to some ‘catch-all’ lander.
This is an important obstacle to circumvent so deserves its own section.
Geo-redirection is the process of sending users to different URLs based on their location - more precisely, the country that their IP appears to be from according to a database such as that supplied by MaxMind.
You will use Geo-redirection in tracking systems, for dynamic content on websites, and in many scenarios - it is not inherently bad, in fact it’s extraordinarily useful.
However, it does pose problems to advertisers.
Take Random Affiliate Offer A that has a $2.45 payout and allows traffic from the US, UK, CA and AU. Quite typical. Load your affiliate link from either of those countries and you are fine. Load it from France and… the link redirects you to a penny auction lander. What?
This functionality is commonly employed by affiliate networks to get revenue from traffic that is ineligible for the link loaded - why let some user from France go through to some offer where we can’t earn money from them? It makes sense, but it’s a pain in the ass as we, the media buying advertiser, want to control where our traffic goes - we couldn’t care less what Affiliate Network A wants.
There are two solutions:
- Turn off Geo-redirection
Ask your AM/network to turn off geo-redirection for an offer. Or globally if possible. You are never going to need it.
If they do, make sure to check that this is the case. Load the affiliate link through multiple different VPNs (e.g. use Overplay or HideMyAss) to ensure it goes to the offer regardless of the country your IP is from.
Do this testing in Chrome or FF in a private windows to ensure cookies aren’t skewing your results.
- Geo-redirect Traffic Yourself
The goal of this method is for users from outside the US, UK, CA, AU to never even meet your affiliate link - so geo-redirection by the network never happens! There are two ways to go about this - either do so within a tracking system such as Prosper202, CPVlab, voluum, etc.
Redirect people before they hit the tracking system or affiliate link. In most cases we want to do so on a user's way out of our tracking system, not on the way in (no point throwing away data right?)
I will show you how to do both. But first, an interim warning.
Link Parsing by the Power Editor
Not many people know this, but when you create an advert in the power editor and it previews the ad to the right-hand side, the advert URL is parsed to get the destination and this can be a death sentence.
If, when parsing that URL, the automatic checker hits a prohibited destination (MyWoT!), it may blacklist that link. Not joking. You haven’t even tried to upload the ad and you’ve banned something!
When you then try to upload ads you will get an “offensive content” warning.
I have observed this many times, albeit sporadically (FB is fickle!) and it always results from geo-redirection by the affiliate network link.
Evidently, a big chunk of the list gets blacklisted, which can cause issues campaign wide - e.g. when using voluum it appears that the entire campaign ID string gets blacklisted so you can’t upload ads with that campaign URL any more. The blacklist is unaffected by querystrings so changing these has no effect.
How do we avoid it:
Don’t create ads and put in an advert tracking URLs unless your tracking setup is ready to receive traffic from Facebook reviewers, whether they be bots or humans.
I can’t stress this enough.
The last thing you want to do is have to recreate an entire campaign just because of some dumb automated system.
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