Bad News for Affiliate Marketers: Pinterest Says “No More”

Pinterest recently made some noise in the affiliate marketing community when it banned affiliate links from appearing in users’ posts.

Affiliate marketing is the top way that the site’s “top pinners” make money from their Pinterest accounts. And, clearly, this move has made a lot of people very unhappy.

Why Pinterest Banned Affiliate Links

Before this declaration, anyone could make money by posting affiliate links to third-party websites. Each click-through and completed sale would earn the pinner a commission.

Pinterest – and Facebook, Twitter, and other major social networks – regularly cleaned out spammy affiliates. But in February they decided to completely remove all affiliate links, redirects, and trackers.

The unilateral ban was specifically aimed at affiliate networks Hello Society and RewardStyle. While past affiliate links were still clickable, any future pins would be stripped of affiliate links.

In a statement made to Business Insider, Pinterest stated that it was making the move to provide “the best possible experience for Pinners.” And the spokesperson claimed that the biggest reason for this was the large number of irrelevant pins, broken links, and spammy behavior.

The company’s goal was to maintain a “high bar of relevancy and quality Pinners expect from Pinterest.”

And the Response from Pinners and the Media…

Not all pinners were thrilled with the decision. In fact, many were decidedly unhappy with the decision.

A storm of negative tweets followed soon after. And most major media outlets noted that the timing coincided with Pinterest’s own efforts to ramp up its monetization campaign.

Soon before the story broke, Re/code and others reported on Pinterest’s plans to roll out a “Buy Now” button. But news of the button had been circulating last year. And some went so far as to say that it would revolutionize ecommerce.

Around the same time that news blogs were reporting on Pinterest’s “Buy Now” button in February, Business Insider noted that Pinterest and Apple were partnering to help people discover apps through the site.

Also, Pinterest has been pushing “Promoted Pins” to advertisers. These pins will give advertisers the same type of advertising capabilities that can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites.

Pinterest told VentureBeat, though, the decision to ban affiliate links had absolutely nothing to do with the company’s own monetization agenda. They claimed that their choice was “100% about the Pinner experience.”

So how are affiliate marketers supposed to monetize through the network?

Pinterest suggests using their services to generate income the old-fashioned way: getting paid to perform social media marketing, curate a board, or generate marketing content for businesses.

Pinterest in the Context of Social Networks

While some may not consider Pinterest to be a social network, it ranks up there with Facebook and Twitter in terms of referral traffic.

Shareaholic ranked Pinterest in the top 3 in terms of social referrals. While Facebook is naturally the king of social referrals, Pinterest comes in second place, generating almost 6% of social referral traffic, next to Facebook’s 23%. Twitter comes in third place with around 1% of referral traffic. Pinterest, in fact, generates more referral traffic than Twitter, Reddit, and Stumbleupon combined.

And in terms of ecommerce, Pinterest actually outranks Facebook. It is, after all, a visual network ideally suited for shopping.

Pinterest values its own pins very highly. And it charges accordingly. A thousand impressions can cost anywhere from $30 to $40, according to Ad Age. This is a huge increase from Facebook’s most expensive ads, which can cost around $6.

Currently, the company is valued in the billions of dollars. With tens of millions of monthly visitors and such high social referral rankings, it’s no surprise that companies are willing to dump huge sums of money into advertising on the network.

What the Changes Mean for Affiliate Marketers

While Pinterest specifically targeted Hello Society and RewardStyle, there are a few lessons that marketers can take away from this ban:

Online, nothing is as stable as it seems. Google’s algorithm constantly changes. Best marketing practices always change. And company policies change left and right.

If your monetization strategy relies too much on one source of traffic, then any change to that company’s practices could cause a major disruption to your revenue.

Social networks will always put their own interests first. While Pinterest claims that its focus was 100% on the user experience, some have their doubts. Like every other social network, Pinterest is a profit-centric business intent on making money.

When affiliate marketing begins to interfere with a business’s revenue model, expect that company to take action. If, for instance, affiliate marketing begins to degrade a network’s quality of service, then expect the network to make some changes.

Spam can ruin it for everybody. There are plenty of bloggers and affiliate marketers who offer quality, valuable content to their followers. But spammy content ends up making it worse for every affiliate marketer.

So if Pinterest’s statements are true – that it only made these changes to enhance the user experience – then the responsibility for the ban falls squarely on the shoulders of the spammers.

In other words, if you flood a network with spammy content, don’t be surprised if you get banned…

 

What’s the real cause for this ban on affiliate links? It’s a coin toss. Affiliate marketers blame Pinterest and Pinterest blames spammers. Regardless of who’s at fault, it’s clear that Pinterest monetization has become much more difficult for affiliates. 

11 Top Tumblr Monetization Tips

Tumblr monetization has its own rules and best practices.

Like any other platform, it has its own do’s and don’ts. For instance, as Pinterest users recently discovered, affiliate links are no longer a viable option for the popular image-based network.

So what are your monetization options on the popular micro-blogging network, Tumblr?

This article offers 11 of the top Tumblr monetization tips that you can start using today.

To begin with, you’ll need to cover your marketing bases:

1. Base #1: Traffic

Traffic is essential to making money. If no one visits your blog, you won’t be able to earn clicks, sales, or income. To generate traffic, you can focus on two sources: Tumblr itself and the outside world.

Tumblr itself is probably the best place to start. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Follow other bloggers who share your interests. Keep following more of them every week. They’ll follow you and – if you share good content – they’ll promote your content and your blog.
  • Make sure you hashtag your posts. And include plenty of keywords in your post content so that they’ll show up in searches.
  • Comment on other Tumblr blogs to draw attention back to your own.

2. Base #2: Turn Visitors into Customers

Convert visitors into customers. That is, develop relationships with people who visit your site. Use time-tested techniques such as distributing free content, acquiring email addresses, and so on.

Like WordPress, Tumblr has plugins of its own. MailChimp, for instance, has a plugin that allows you to subscribe people to your newsletter.

Which brings us to the next point…

3. Base #3: Supplement Your Tumblr Monetization

Other marketing efforts should always go with any blog you own, whether that blog is a Tumblr blog, a WordPress blog, or a self-hosted solution.

Your online content network should be a full-fledged brand – at least, if you want to make the most money from your efforts. The best way to build relationships with customers – and get money from them – is to build a brand that delivers valuable content across multiple channels.

4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a staple of any marketing strategy. Unlike Pinterest, Tumblr hasn’t chosen to ban affiliate links. So you’re free to monetize your blog by posting relevant affiliate links throughout your content.

As long as you keep your content valuable and non-spammy, you shouldn’t run into any problems.

5. Advertising

There are plenty of ad networks to choose from. Google AdSense is one of the easiest go-to ad networks to try, but there are plenty of others that can earn you cash for every click.

6. Content Locking

Content locking networks – also called pay-per-download networks – are networks that allow you to place a file or other digital content behind a “locked” hyperlink.

To access the content, users complete an action, such as filling out a survey. Each time they do, you earn cash.

7. Sell Products and Services

If you sell your own products and services, then you know how lucrative this monetization strategy can be. In this case, the Tumblr blog would become more like a gateway to your business.

Using your Tumblr blog as the central hub for your brand, your products, and your services may be a good idea if you really like the platform. Or if your audience is made up mostly of millennials.

8. Meme-ify and Promote

And since Tumblr caters to the younger generation: meme-ify. Just take a look at how brands are using Tumblr to reach younger audiences.

Animate gifs, be creative, be fun, and develop blog posts that are likely to go viral.

9. Target Gamers

Gamers are another demographic that flock to Tumblr. If your content appeals to that audience, all the better. So develop content, memes, and blog posts that would appeal to that demographic.

 

10. Create the Right Content

Given the fact that most of the Tumblr audience is made up of millennials, gamers, geeks, and other meme-loving segments, don’t be too serious with your content.

As any marketer knows, targeting is critical to the success of any sales message. So if you try selling irrelevant content to the Tumblr demographic, your monetization efforts might not be very successful.

11. Expanding to Mobile

Like other social networks, Tumblr users are mobile-heavy. Over half create posts with mobile apps.

To monetize the mobile market, focus your monetization strategy on mobile users:

  • For best results, make sure your affiliate links and ads lead to mobile-friendly content. Otherwise conversions and commissions will suffer.
  • As mentioned above, don’t make content too detailed or serious. Short and concise is best. Viral, short-attention-span posts can go a long way.
  • Tumblr is experimenting with new ad formats – from video to app install ads – that are geared towards mobile devices. If you have an advertising budget and appropriate content, test them out and see if they’ll work for you.

 

Like other social networks and blogging platforms, Tumblr offers up its own monetization opportunities. But it does require some effort. Start by building your audience, focusing on a niche, and experimenting to see what your customers want.

PPL, PPS, PPC, and PPI: Affiliate Compensation Models and Their Benefits

The acronyms PPL, PPS, PPC, and PPI, affiliate marketing, and advertising compensation method, are probably familiar to most online marketers. Each compensation method pays differently and has a different earning potential. Which one is right for you?

Each has its benefits, its drawbacks, and its applications. Generally speaking, certain types of compensation pay more than others, but it should be noted that these rates can vary greatly, especially when it comes to highly competitive industries. 

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL)

Most companies place a high value on leads and offer pay-per-lead (PPL) – often considered a type of pay-per-action (PPA) – compensation methods. As with most affiliate networks and compensation methods, the rate can vary greatly from advertiser to advertiser and from industry to industry. Lead-generation programs offered through affiliate networks can pay anywhere from $2 to $20 or more.

Subscription-based services, such as internet service providers and cell phone networks, as well as other service-based vendors, tend to use this model.

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS)

Pay-per-sale (PPS) requires payment in the form of a commission each time a product is sold. This commission is almost always a percentage of the total cost of the product. As with the other compensation models, the exact rate can vary greatly. But, in general, this rate has the potential to be as high, if not higher, than the others.

Some sales, such as a $2.99 ebook with a 6% commission, doesn’t have a lot of monetization potential, given the low commission rate as well as the low conversion rate for purchases. A camera, however, that generates the same commission on a $1,500 sale would have the potential to be much more lucrative.

This compensation model is very common in affiliate marketing and can earn marketers a great deal of income, but it is also highly competitive and quite time-consuming.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is one of the most ubiquitous, common terms in the online advertising world. With this compensation method, marketers earn money each time a person clicks on an advertisement. Anyone who wishes to monetize an app or a website, for instance, can insert PPC ads as a way to generate an online income stream.

In general, PPC ads don’t earn very much revenue – often less than a few cents. Highly competitive niche markets, however, can pay much more. Logically speaking, then, the more traffic you have and the more you engage them, the more money you will earn.

Pay-Per-Impression (PPI)

Pay-per-impression (PPI) ads are another common compensation model for display ads and text ads. They generate revenue based on the number of times people view the ads. From the advertiser’s perspective, this compensation method is typically called cost-per-mille (CPM), which means cost-per-thousand impressions.

As with PPC, the pay tends to be low relative for this compensation model, and often requires large amounts of traffic in order to gain a significant income.

Which Compensation Model is Best for Marketers?

After reading the above descriptions, it may seem that PPL and PPS are the better way to go. After all, they earn you much more money, so why wouldn’t you?

It’s true, but there are other factors that you should take into consideration.

PPL and PPS take more time to implement. Adding ads to your website, software program, or browser extension is usually a matter of inserting the proper code. And if you have enough traffic to your site or users engaged with your app, you’ll be able to generate decent revenue.

On the other hand, it can be harder to convince someone to spend money on a product or service. You have to put time and effort into contextualizing the offer, creating good content to pitch the sale, and earning people’s trust. This type of marketing can often be a part-time or even full-time job.

Affiliate marketing is highly competitive. Generally, when people use the term “affiliate marketing,” they are referring to PPL, PPA, and PPS compensation methods. Because this type of marketing can be so lucrative, it is also highly competitive. The niches have all become saturated with talented, tech-savvy marketers who make it very difficult to squeeze in. And, as time goes on, these fields will only become more competitive.

Certain types of content are more suited to certain types of marketing. PPC and PPI ads are ideal for certain types of content, but not as ideal for others. They can be excellent for monetizing software, apps, or browser extensions, for instance. Since PPS and PPL marketing often relies heavily on context and content, it can be more of a creative and logistical challenge to use these types of marketing to monetize anything code-based.

 

While there is no one right way to monetize anything, there are two general things to consider: what type of content you’re trying to monetize and how much time you have to put into your online marketing efforts. For those who want to put less time into marketing and more time into content creation, PPC and PPI ads are probably the way to go. But for those who want to focus on the marketing side of things, context-driven sales, and so forth, PPL and PPS compensation methods will probably work well.  

Top 5 Ways to Make Money with Software

Every developer aims to make money with software, but how do you do it? Fortunately, there are several ways to monetize anything. None of these monetization methods are very difficult.

And they can be mixed and matched to meet your needs and your revenue goals. Some work better for mobile apps and some work better for desktop, while some work just as well for both.

1. Freemium

The freemium model of advertising is one of the most common forms of monetization. This monetization method also goes by the name of “in-app purchases.”

It works like this: you offer your software or app for free, but with limited features. Users that want access to extra features must pay to access those features.

Games use this quite frequently and very successfully. Gamers who want certain power-ups, for example, may purchase those extras for real money.

This allows developers to distribute software for free, which vastly increases the number of downloads. But developers still make money in the process. Though turning freebie-seekers into paying customers can be tricky, the effort often pays for itself in dividends.

2. In-App Advertising

This is another common monetization model, which you’re probably familiar with. Ads are placed inside apps, either on a piece of the screen real estate or between screens (interstitial ads).

These ads earn income per thousand views or per click. Revenue then varies based on the ad network, the type of ad being displayed, the audience, and so forth.

This monetization method is second in popularity to the freemium model. And these two methods are sometimes combined: users can pay to remove ads, for instance.

To earn money with in-app or in-software advertising, you need a lot of users for your app. A larger percentage of users end up converting on advertisements than on freemium upgrades, but the revenue per conversion is less.  

3. Paid Products

With so many free apps and software programs online, it’s hard to get people to purchase an app. Customers who will spend five dollars on a latte won’t spend two dollars on an app. And, chances are, you’ll be competing against an app that’s free or freemium.

When you’ve got the clout, marketing resources, or market share, however, this is a top monetization strategy. If, for example, you’re the only company offering a niche product, then charging for the product may make sense. Also, if your company already has a reputation and a solid following, you may be able to charge for a piece of software or an app.

Game sequels or high-quality products are examples of software programs that may benefit from this approach.

4. Pay-Per-Install

Pay-per-install is trending as one of the most effective advertising, distribution, and monetization methods.

This approach is ideal for making money with software that’s distributed on desktop platforms. CodeFuel’s InstallFuel, for instance, supports Windows and Mac OS X. There are also options for mobile developers.

To monetize with a pay-per-install program, you integrate your software with a smart installer. The best smart installers aren’t just scripts, however, they’re full platforms that allow you to customize the installer to meet your needs.

You can tailor the look and feel of an installer, pick and choose the products you promote and advertise your own software through the network’s partners. Analytics gives you a 360-degree view of downloads, conversions, and more.

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing isn’t just for websites. Developers can design software and apps around affiliate deals. This can be one of the most lucrative ways to make money from an app or software program. But it can also be challenging and limiting.

In other words, if you want to develop a software program and earn money from affiliate deals, you’ll need to design your software for that purpose.

Travel apps and websites are good examples of programs that use affiliate marketing to earn money. Websites such as Orbitz and apps such as Hipmunk are simple travel programs, but each sale earns developers a commission.

As you can probably guess, this can be a virtual cash machine once it’s up and running. But it’s also tough to integrate it with a pre-made software program or app. A language-learning app or video game may be better suited to in-app advertising or a freemium model.

These are the top five monetization models, though there are other creative methods of earning revenue, such as selling analytics or code. Subscription models, when implemented properly, can also be a lucrative method of earning revenue.

The major benefit of all these models is that they operate relatively independently. Once you have an app up and running, you only need to tweak your monetization program and update your app from time to time. Developers can stack up to their apps over the long run: the more apps you release, the more money you’ll make.

Search Engine Monetization Strategies for Your Site

Search engine optimization is the best way to drive traffic to your site and help your business grow. You identify the keywords that your target audience is using to find information or products related to your business niche, and you make sure that your site is poised to offer that information. It sounds pretty simple, right? In practice, however, it can be quite tricky. To do it right, in fact, it requires a complex series of steps that can take months to see results. Targeting search engine results can help you make money in more ways than just driving sales of your own products or services. You can also target search data to monetize your site. There are lots of options for monetizing your site.

Here are a few search engine monetization strategies you should try for your site:

Advertising

One of the top search engine monetization strategies is advertising. Your first step after conducting thorough keyword research, of course, is to optimize your site and try to drive as much traffic as you can to it. The more traffic your site gets, the more attractive it will be to advertisers.

The next step is to seek out advertisers that target those same keywords, or that sell products or services in the niche. In most cases, you won’t solicit advertising, but will review requests from advertisers who come to your site. Just make sure you review these requests carefully. You want to choose advertisers that don’t just meet the needs of your target audience. You also want to choose advertisers who help you continue targeting those keywords.

When users come to your site, every aspect of your page should provide information that matches their search terms, from the content to the headlines to the ads. The better your site can to do this, the better you will serve your visitors. The better you serve your visitors, the higher your conversions. Then, you’ll be able to charge more for your advertising. Nice, isn’t it.

AdSense

AdSense is a special advertising program that merits being considered in its own right. AdSense is offered by Google. It automatically serves ads to your site that are relevant to your target keywords. By strengthening the keyword usage on your site, you ensure that you get ads from the advertisers you want and increase the conversions you get for them. Ultimately, this increases the money you earn.

AdSense won’t generate a ton of income for your site unless you have a very large number of visitors each month. However, you can add it to your site to complement other advertising that you sell and supplement your income.

If you have a large number of visitors and wish to add monetization options, then the CodeFuel Search Mediation solution is a great choice. We help you boost your revenue per user visit and optimize your landing pages. If you are buying media on display, native, or search, we can help you introduce new monetization options.

Learn more about search mediation    

Search Feed Monetization

Don’t make your users go off your site to search for the information they need. You can monetize search by adding a search feed to your own site. This isn’t just a site search bar. Instead, it is a search box that returns results from all over the web. When you use a monetized search box, you earn a fee or a commission each time the person conducts a search. To find out more about monetized search feeds, check out the search monetization from CodeFuel.

The right search feed will be customizable so you can design it to fit in with your site. The feed won’t look anything like an advertisement. However, every time someone uses it, you’ll earn revenue. If your site gets a lot of traffic, you can make lots of money with your search feed.

Sponsored Posts

Organic search can lead people right to a page on your website. And if people are already visiting the page, why not earn a bit of money from their visit? By integrating sponsored posts, you get paid a flat fee for writing a blog or article that is related to the advertiser’s keyword of choice or writing a review about the company’s products or services. If you have a popular site, you could earn hundreds of dollars for such posts.

Search engine optimization is essential for ensuring the success of sponsored posts. If you use the right keywords and the right SEO, you can drive more traffic to the post. This will make your advertisers happy, and encourage them to buy more sponsored posts in the future.

Affiliate Marketing

You don’t need to write sponsored posts in order to earn money with your website. You can also make money by writing targeted blog posts or articles for an affiliate product. You link to the product in the post, and if users click through and buy the item, you earn a small commission. Just like with sponsored posts, the more successful you are with your search engine optimization, the more traffic you will drive to the content and the more conversions you will get. Unlike sponsored posts, you earn each time someone buys, not just a flat fee.

Search engine optimization is important to the success of your site. If you strengthen your SEO, you’ll get more traffic, and if you get more traffic, it will be easier to sell more of your products and services. You can use these same strategies for search engine monetization to start generating revenue from those same search results.