The AvantLink Paid Placement Bidding System.

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It would be fair to say that paying for a placement on affiliate sites has been around for quite a while. It’s an area that some merchants like to invest in, but for others it’s always been something that doesn’t quite sit right with them, after all affiliate marketing is about paying for an end result, not paying for a banner placement.

The big challenge in paid placements has always been in knowing whether you will get your value for money. Whenever a key holiday with a related shopping season approaches, sites of all sizes present merchants with their “opportunities” to be placed in various “high traffic” locations. The issue being that in general the merchant has no idea if these placements really will get any traffic, never mind any clicks, and when the asking price is usually for a month of placement, there’s no quick easy option to see what the reality is.

Back a few years AMWSO launched an online tool for merchants to share prices locations and success info on paid placements; unfortunately it didn’t do as well as we had hoped, as no one wanted to share their success stories.

Another key challenge for merchants has been knowing who to contact, sometimes a merchant really wants to get a placement on an affiliate’s site, and is very willing to pay for the opportunity, but in this day and age of hidden contact info, voice mail dead boxes and dead end email accounts, it can, at times be quite a challenge to succeed in contacting the affiliate in order to request a paid placement from them.

So with the launch of AvantLink’s “Paid Placement Bidding System” we’re suddenly seeing a whole range of these challenges taken out of the equation. The system that AvantLink have launched is a rather smooth yet simple to use platform that allows merchants easy access to a way to place (at present) banners on a target page with a very small number of clicks and with a significantly low level of risk. The risk is mitigated by the fact that a merchant can place bids for as little as a single day and can see up front information on the targeted page in terms of average page views.  So they can quickly work out an expected ROI based on how much they want to bid, versus the page views and what their expected click through and conversion should be.

For affiliates the system offers a way for even the smallest affiliate to get in on paid placement and offer their key slots to a wide range of potential partners without needing to do the foot work of contacting them each individually with a media package.  It’s pretty much a win win situation for both sides.

Paid Placement Bidding System Screen Shot

The present set up offers a number of rather cool features;

The preview option allows a merchant to select a banner they have in the AvantLink system and see it in the exact slot they are bidding on before putting a bid in. That is cool.  It means a merchant can view the content, colors and style of the page before selecting a banner to go there. Avoiding any issues of mismatched content or the banner washing out into the background.

The bidding time period is up to the merchant and the bidding itself is on a per day basis, so you can bid for a long period or just one day, easy to do some quick testing and then commit to a longer placement. However during a longer placement you may get out bid on some days as bidding is live until the ad goes live each day. AvantLink does have tools in place to inform merchants of when they have been outbid.

The Paid Placement system does also plug directly into the AvantLink reports so merchants will be able to see the full click and ROI data on every paid placement that they run.

The bids placed on the slots is an area that is going to be interesting to watch too. Presently we’re seeing a lot of minimum bid requests of $2, for pages that get 15 to 20 impressions a day, it doesn’t take too much to see that those rates are actually really quite high, working out to a $1000 CPM deal!  That said I’m sure as more affiliates get involved we’ll see the prices start to level out significantly, and obviously the real vale comes down to how many of those impressions result in sales. Certainly if a merchant is paying $2 a day and getting a couple of sales from those 20 impressions then they aren’t going to be complaining that’s for sure!

A couple of limitations in place right now mean that a merchant can only see slots open on the sites of affiliates that they presently work with, and while that obviously makes sense, it can mean that a merchant is only seeing a fraction of the available slots that are listed. AvantLink is reviewing an option to make the paid placement system open for merchants to bid across all available slots, and while that could concern affiliates who don’t want to have specific merchants promoted on their site, affiliates do have the final say in what goes live with an option to review all bids before accepting them.

Cost wise, the merchant placing the bid is going to paying a 10% commission (on the value of the bid) to AvantLink, the full value of the bid itself goes to the affiliate.  Commissions are still paid on sales that are referred by the paid slot.

Expectations for the future, I imagine it won’t be too long before AvantLink expand paying for banner placement to bidding for video and content placement too, and like any good idea in the industry, I expect we’ll see a few of the other networks eyeing this system and planning their own versions very soon.

Overall it’s a great addition to the AvantLink tool set, easy to use and manage. We’ll certainly be using it, especially with the Christmas shopping season right around the corner!