Just Give me 3 Months!

As an online marketer, how often have you heard that? I hear it all too often and it is usually code for “I have no idea how you are going to perform with my traffic, but just give me your money”.

When looking for new traffic sources on the Internet, those folks selling traffic with a given technology bolted on – say bid optimization, click arbitrage or the like give you this spiel. A lot of times these these traffic sources are charging on a cost per click or CPM basis. Taken a step further, often the follow up logic given is:  “We need to see how my traffic converts and how happy you, the buyer, are with the campaigns results.”

However, depending on how you end up buying traffic, you are often the one left holding the bag. Sure the sales rep claim that he/she is not in business to go around taking one time shots of money from folks. What they won’t tell you is that they are in the business of casting a wide net to take money from as many people as possible and find those buyers for whom their traffic works. The sales rep then cozies up to these people and sells them more.

Often, the buyers are told their conversion will improve over time because the sellers technology will optimize against a given set of success metrics. At Downtown Ecommerce, we have spent or have helped spend quite a bit of money. 9 times out of 10, the conversion in the first couple weeks remains static and any improvement, or degradation, in the conversion (quality) of the traffic is negligible. Very very few are the cases, if ever, that you will wake up one day and find a 300% improvement to performance. If this does happen, it is usually because there was an oversight on the implementation.

Worst case, all the risk lands squarely on your shoulders and you are left with a bill and few sales. Especially with unproven or new traffic sources, the buyer can combat the 3 months “Trust Me!” with some smart contract negotiation. Here are a few tips for the online marketer:

– Short out clauses – these are mandatory especially in click or cpm contracts. You can get burned on click deals – out clauses of 24 – 48 hours are common if requested.

– No minimum spends – beware of minimums that you must spend in order to do business with the traffic source.

– Click of Record – work out up front who is the click counter of record for cost per click deals, you or them. If them, see below.

– Click discrepancy dispute clauses – call out up front what to do if
the clicks you count from the traffic source and the clicks that you
count internally do not tie.

Often you can vet the traffic sources who are built to last from those who are not by how willing they are to work with you. The less willing they are to work with you on the above points, the less confident they are in their traffic. If these people are selling you something truly valuable they should be willing to lower the barriers for you as far as possible to give you a taste, as they know you will come back for more.

Remember, in many cases the fox is watching the hen house here – meaning, that those selling you traffic on clicks or impressions are also the record keepers and determining the bill. Not exactly and independent, neutral third party.

There are a lot of good traffic sources out there for your business, even free, if you are savvy and scrappy enough. Spending money marketing online will be some of the best money you spend, if spent right. There are also a lot of smooth operators out there angling for your marketing budget. Use the “Just give me 3 months” line as a mental alert to pay extra close attention to the deal you are contemplating.

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This post was written by DEP Ecommerce Consultants