Whether you’re already running native ads, or looking to scale a winning FB or AdWords/GDN campaign, Ralfs is handing over his secret systems so you can mirror his results.
Through case studies he’s created using the same formula throughout, you’ll see how it transfers cross-vertical from finance to health and even ecommerce.
Ralfs breaks down campaign structure, targeting, bidding practices, creatives and of course, optimisation so you leave with a steady set of takeaways that you can apply to your current native ad campaigns, or scale horizontally through an alternative traffic platform.
Speech by Ralfs Smilšarājs | Media Director, Mobnx
Ralfs Smilšarājs Speech Transcript
Hey, what’s up, guys.
First of all, it is truly a pleasure to be here on the stage today, given that Affiliate World Asia, here in Bangkok, in this very same venue, was the first big conference I attended myself back in 2015.
And this is where I met one of my biggest clients at that time. So I’m excited and I hope you are too.
My name is Ralfs. I’m 24 years old. I live in Latvia and I’ve been making money online since I was 16 years old.
But it was only about three and a half years ago when I discovered the real moneymaker. It was native ads.
The moment I launched my first campaign on native, I instantly fell in love with the idea.
I love the simplicity, I love the scalability. And most importantly, I love the fact that I didn’t have to spend all day in front of my computer screen managing my campaigns.
Yes, I know it sounds like a dream but I mean, sometimes I cannot even grasp the numbers that I see on the screen.
But here I am and in the next 25 minutes or so, I’m gonna reveal to you the exact methods that I use to regularly scale campaigns to over $1 million a month running on native as a solo affiliate.
How Effective Are My Methods
And now, to make things even more exciting for you guys today, as I was creating my presentation, I actually shared the methods that I’m about to reveal to you today, to one of my good friends who’s also running on native ads.
And by implementing my methods, his profits increased 45% which I think is an amazing feat. It just comes to show that the methods I’m about to talk to you about, do work and it’s real.
Now, before I dive into the strategies that I use, I want to ask you a question.
Please raise your hand up if you have any experience working with native ads, running on ad networks such as the Taboola, Outbrain, RevContent or Yahoo! Gemini?
Okay. Perfect, that’s a fair amount of hands.
I really hope that after my presentation is over, you will be able to run to your hotel room, apply my tips and tricks and make more money that way.
And if you didn’t raise your hand up, don’t worry. Because sometimes it’s really as simple as taking your existing campaigns from say, Facebook, over to native and it could work right away.
So to make the presentation more interesting for you, I want to give you some background information about me.
Who am I and why you should even listen to me.
My Journey Started When I Was 16 Years Old
So my journey to making money online started back in 2010, when I was 16 years old.
At a time when I was hugely addicted to an online MMO game called RuneScape. The game is actually very popular still today.
And the game features an in-game currency called RuneScape gold, which I used to have a lot at that time.
Then one day my friend was browsing on this very shady website where people would sell RuneScape gold in exchange for real-life money.
Naturally, I got curious. So I created a PayPal account. And a few hours later, I had $400 sitting in my brand-new PayPal account.
Mind you, at that time I was still living off my parents money, so this was huge for me. I couldn’t believe it.
Sadly, the next morning I woke up to an email from PayPal saying that the payment was reversed. So yeah, I got scammed.
But you see this experience, it gave me an idea. It was like a light bulb switch moment.
“How To Make Money Online”
I went onto Google and I typed in a question, “How to make money online?”
And to my surprise, there were people making serious money on the internet. So, I spent the next 4 years searching for methods so I could become a millionaire myself.
I tried literally everything I could come up with. From freelancing on fiverr.com to being a YouTuber where I actually managed to get quite a lot of subscribers and a lot of views.
But well, it was fun, it didn’t make me the money that I wanted.
Paid Advertising And Native Ads
So it was only in 2015 when a friend of mine introduced me to paid advertising and native ads.
And thankfully, I had made some money from my previous venture so it wasn’t a big deal to spend it all in advertising and testing new campaigns.
Fast forward to 2018 to today, I’ve launched hundreds of different campaigns in pretty much any vertical you can imagine.
Now, I should also mention that I only work with white hat verticals so I don’t run into any problems with approval issues and such.
I’ve generated 8-figures of revenue running on native ads exclusively. And my record is $87,000 in one day.
The bottom line is, I absolutely love native ads. And today I’m gonna tell you everything I know about it and everything that I think you absolutely need to know in order to crush it on native.
And to show you that I walk the talk, because this is an affiliate conference, and without stats, it’s not real right?
To show you that I walk the talk, this is from October where I did over $1.1 million from one affiliate network that I work with.
And this is from November just last month, where I did over $1.3 million. And yeah, so it’s real.
But in order to achieve this kind of results, you need to understand how native ads work. And this is why I think it’s very important to begin with the basics.
Now in my presentation today I’m gonna go through all the things one by one that I think are very important for you to know if you want to run on native ads at a big scale successfully.
So let’s begin.
Choose Broad Appeal Offers
My first tip to you is always choose a broad appeal offer. What I mean by this is an offer that’s targeted to both men and women.
Because think about it, if everything on native is about the ad CTR then you absolutely, then it makes sense to increase the amount of clicks your ads get.
This is also the reason why I believe not all offers can work on native ads.
If the offer you’re promoting is targeted to a too narrow audience, you will just end up paying ridiculously high CPCs and they will eat all of your margins.
It’s All About CTR On Native
This brings me to my second point that it’s all about the CTR on native ads.
If you have a low CTR, you will not be able to spend any money. And this could literally drive you frustrated because it happens a lot.
You need to find the balance between targeted and clickbait.
The way I like to do this is I always start by testing targeted ads, just to see if the offer converts. And if it does, then I move on and test clickbait-y ads.
After testing both ends of the spectrum, I combine them both together in order to get the best of both worlds.
Now usually this works very well and in my opinion is a very effective method of testing new campaigns.
So remember targeted first, clickbait second.
In order to get that high CTR you will also need to know how to write good headlines.
Use A Free Online Tool
For this, I recommend you use a free online tool that analyses the emotional value of your headlines. There’s a bunch of them available online, they’re all free.
You will find them on Google, just search for “tool analyser” that analyses the emotional value of your headlines.
So as a rule of thumb, if the headline has a score of less than 20%, I don’t bother even testing it.
Now sure it’s not 100% accurate, but from my experience it works fairly accurately. And all of my top converting headlines have a score of 40% and above, with most headlines ranging from 50-70%.
Now, I want to talk about the problem I see beginners make often.
They launch a new campaign, it gets rejected. And they don’t know what to do next, and this happens more frequently than you can imagine.
It’s just the nature of native because your ads get shown on world’s most premium news publisher websites. And trust me when I say, they don’t want to see any low-quality products on their sites.
Build A Good Relationship With Your Ad Network
Now the way to combat this is to build a good relationship with your ad network.
To be more specific, your rep is like a middleman between you and the person who reviewed your ad. And in most cases, you can actually, if you ask nicely, you can get a list of the exact reasons why your campaign was rejected.
What’s funny is some of my biggest campaigns were actually first rejected when I launched them. And then, I got them approved.
So don’t get discouraged if you see the red letters.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I’m about to reveal to you the secret that I use to create high CTR ads that absolutely crush the competition.
The Secret Of High CTR Ads
Here it is. It’s a Google pixel smartphone. I know, I’m not sponsored by Google, although I wish I was.
So, I take all of the photos for my ads using this phone, and here’s why.
Back when I started, I invested in a very expensive DSLR camera thinking that, “The better gear I have, the better images I would take.”
But boy was I wrong. All the image is taken with a DSLR camera just ended up looking like stock photos. And let’s be honest nobody clicks on those.
Whereas images taken with a smartphone have this unique, unprofessional look to them. And they just tend to stand out more.
I think it’s something to do with the focus points and the depth of the image. But whatever it is, a smartphone is all you need to create amazing ads.
Recommended Image Size
And since we’re talking about images, you should always use the recommended image size.
All native ad networks have their own image sizes that they recommend you use.
And this example on the screen is from Taboola, specifically. They recommend you use an image size of 1000 x 600 pixels.
And if you do so, the image will look just as it did when you edited it in Photoshop.
However, were you to export the image from Photoshop in a random size, let’s say 400 x 400?
Even though the image looked good in Photoshop, it’s going to look completely out of place once it goes live on Taboola. Now this is a real example.
Test One Variable At A Time
And when it comes to testing your ads, I always recommend you start by testing headlines first and images second.
This is because you can use the same headline on native ads for a very, very long time.
Whereas the images, they usually get burned out and you will need to rotate them every week, every two weeks, every three weeks. Depending on the level of scale you’re running.
In fact, I’ve been using the same headline for one of my campaigns for almost a year now. I just keep rotating the images and it stills get me a lot of clicks.
Start With A High CPC And Low Budget
Another basic yet important tip I have for you today, is to always launch campaigns at a higher than average CPC.
This is because native is a very competitive space. And if you start with a too low of a CPC, you will simply not be getting the impressions that you want to.
But by bidding high you actually force the algorithm into sending you the impressions that you want. And this will make testing fast and efficient.
Of course this is a bit risky, so I always recommend you start with a lower than usual daily budget. For example, $250 a day.
And if it spends the budget quickly, let’s say in 50 minutes, then you know you can decrease the CPC.
Because your CTRs are probably very good and you can adjust the daily budget accordingly.
The Perfect Campaign Structure
Now that we know the basics of native ads, we’re ready to move on and talk about the perfect campaign structure.
This is very important in my opinion because without the right structure, you might run into problems with scaling and your campaigns may simply not last as long.
So, my first tip to you is about targeting.
Whenever you start testing a new offer on native ads, I recommend you create three campaigns.
Three main campaigns.
One, targeting desktop. Another one, targeting tablets. And, the third one, targeting all device types together.
And the CPC you would use for the third campaign is as if you were to only target mobile phones alone.
Now you may be wondering why target all three device types together.
This is one of my tricks. And what happens is when you’re targeting all device types together is you increase the average campaign ad CTR.
And in result, you get tablet and desktop clicks for the cost of mobile. You can imagine that your campaign ROI will obviously go up because of this.
And what’s another cool thing about this is that you will get a lot more clicks than if you were to only target mobile phones alone.
Targeting Multiple Campaigns
And the same thing can be applied when targeting multiple countries.
For example, if your offer accepts traffic from the US, Canada, and UK, I recommend you create an additional campaign targeting all of these countries together.
What will happen is you’ll get a lot more traffic, and cheaper traffic too.
This method can also be taken to the extremes. If your offer accepts traffic from all over the country, all over the globe, I mean, all countries in the world, then you can target global traffic.
And you will get a lot of clicks, and you can set the lowest CPC you can.
If it’s 2 cents, 5 cents, you will still get a lot of traffic. And if you have a good offer, you can actually make a killing doing this.
Don’t Go Crazy With Ads
When it comes to the number of ads in your campaign, I recommend you have 4 to 6 active ads for each campaign.
This is because if you upload too many ads at the same time for a campaign, you may actually slow down the testing process because it confuses the native ad algorithms.
If you want to test a lot of ads at the same time, I recommend you testing batches of 5 or you just create multiple campaigns with each of them having 4 to 6 active ads.
How To Scale Aggressively
Now, we’re ready to talk about my favorite topic of all, which is scaling.
How to scale campaigns on native ads successfully and aggressively at the same time.
My first tip to you is don’t be scared to bid high.
From time to time, I see people boast about their triple digit percent ROIs. But when I asked them how much money they spent per day, the answer is usually not impressive.
In most cases, I believe these people would make more money if they were to increase their CPCs, run at a bigger scale, while maintaining a lower ROI percentage.
Now on the screen we have a real example of this. Besides how are you going to compete against others if you’re only spending $200 a day?
What’s more is you’ll probably not be able to get the exclusive deals that you’re after.
Because think about it from the advertisers perspective.
Who would you rather work with, an affiliate who can send you $10,000 worth of traffic a day? Or an individual who can send you only $500 worth of traffic a day?
The answer is obvious.
Boost Your CPC At The Right Time
Now the biggest tip I can give you when it comes to scaling your campaigns is to increase your CPCs at the best converting time.
It could be Monday’s, it could be the evenings of Friday’s, it could be weekends.
You will never know until you analyse your data. Because this is going to be different for each and every campaign.
Now this in the screen is a real picture from one of the ad networks that I’ve worked with.
The blue line shows my daily spend. As you can see, it fluctuates from $20,000 a day, all the way to $50,000 a day.
And this is perfectly normal. It’s because I drastically changed the CPCs depending on the performance on that individual day.
This is also the reason why you will never see my daily spend show up as a straight line. It’s just not feasible.
And if you’re not doing this already, then you will not reach your campaign’s true potential. I would say that you’re literally leaving money on the table.
When you have campaigns running at the big scale, you will also need to know a thing or two about optimisation.
The Art Of Optimization
Thankfully, optimising campaigns on native is a pretty simple and straightforward process. That is, if you take advantage of the smart bidding algorithms all native ad networks these days offer.
Now I know you might be thinking, why would anyone let the ad network control your bids?
I was the same. But once I actually gave it a try, I was surprised. Not only my spending increased, but also my performance increased, and my return of investment went up.
As a result, I could spend so much more money.
What’s more is it saved me a lot of time. Time that I could use to focus on launching new campaigns and make more money.
Now just keep in mind you have to send all of the conversion data to your traffic source.
I know some of you might not like this very much, but I don’t see a problem with it.
There’s also one exception to this, as always in life.
That is if you’re not spending enough money, and if you’re not sending enough conversion data to the traffic source, then you might be actually better off optimising the campaigns manually.
And when I say optimising, I mean to increase or decrease the CPCs for each individual placement you’re getting traffic from.
The only manual thing you will need to do when it comes to optimising your campaigns is dig deep into your data and check the performance for each OS version.
OS Version Matters
To be more specific, you should check the older versions of Android, Android 4, 5, 6.
These are known to send poor quality traffic and in most of my campaigns I have them blocked out completely because they’re just not working and they eat a lot of your budget.
Android 7 is good, it works for most campaigns. Although sometimes it doesn’t work, and then you might be better off killing it all together.
Android 8, 9, the new versions of Android are really good.
Apple is of course, one of a kind, fantastic, works for all campaigns. And Windows is great too.
So it’s only the older versions of Android.
Now I have a bonus for you. This could be especially helpful for those just starting out or if you don’t have a large budget to begin with.
Bonus Tip #1: Go International
My tip for you is to go international.
Target countries that are not as competitive and as expensive as the United States, for example.
Germany and France is a great example. You can spend 20k a day in these two European countries alone. So there’s definitely big enough scale and the conversion rate is relatively high.
Another good region to target is Latin America. Mexico and Brazil comes to my mind. You can get really cheap clicks there. And if you have a good offer, you can make a killing.
Just keep in mind that you will have to translate a whole funnel for this to work. Because the international ads, the translated ads, gets their own inventory on native ads.
By doing this, your ads will actually show up on like the local news publishing websites in each country.
Bonus Tip #2: Go Direct When You’re Ready
Now we have another bonus for you, and this is for the big guys.
If you’re spending money on all native ad networks already but want to spend more, then I recommend you go direct and worked with the big guys, work with the publishers, I mean.
If you have the money and if you have good networking skills, you can actually have your ads hard-coded directly into the publisher’s website.
And by doing this, obviously you don’t have to worry about fighting against competition.
A good example is AOL. If you didn’t know, there’s inventory they sell to advertisers directly.
Just keep in mind you have to commit to much higher spends instead of charging CPCs. You would have to pay a fixed CPM amount.
But if you’re really serious about spending 6-figures a day, then this is a direction I would definitely look into this.
Now I know this is pretty exclusive information I’m sharing with you right here. And I know I don’t want people to get mad at me. So I’m not gonna share the names of the publishers who do this.
Spying On LinkedIn
But if you do some spying around on LinkedIn, you will actually find what you’re looking for.
But just to give you a tip, all the big publishers that you’re getting traffic from, on say, Outbrain and Taboola, you can actually go direct with them. And spend a lot of money by doing so.
50k a day, 100k a day. It’s all possible.
Now I see the timer has been going slower than usual this day. But that’s kind of it for me today.
Thank you very much for your time. I hope you all learned something new today and you got some knowledge out of this.
If you have any questions for me, please send me an email at [email protected]. And I will gladly answer you. Or just come say hi to me if you see me walking around the conference or one of the parties later on.
I will be there and I will gladly answer your questions.
Now I want to give a big shout out to my cousin, Niklavs, who actually designed this presentation for me.
Without him, my presentation would look plain and boring. And it just wouldn’t be as interesting for you to listen to.
So, thank you. Thank you all again.