Every campaign manager worth her salt knows that successful ad campaigns are all about optimization. But instead of making you go through ad network boot camp like a good campaign manager would, we’ve concentrated the 8 best CPC hacks that will get you optimizing like the pros.

The basics of CPC ads (aka performance based advertising) are very straightforward… and hackable. CPC ad networks like Google AdSense are actually a great demonstration of stuff from that dusty old economics book.

You know, the one you propped your monitor up with in college – while playing Candy Crush the night before midterms. It’s hard to pay attention to what your Econ professor is saying with that much protruding ear hair. It’s seriously distracting! Anyway…

yoda says maximize cpc ad networks

Now we’re going to talk about some disturbances in the CPC force. Just before we do, here’s that mandatory disclaimer bit. We’re not going to get you into any trouble. Our “hacks” are just very creative and effective strategies.

How PPC/CPC Advertising Works

An advertiser pays for every click. The more conversions driven by those clicks the more money those advertisers are willing to bid per click. And they do. Then others do the same. And so on.

Of course, all of that back and forth is automated. They just set and adjust their maximum bids – plus targeted keyword lists, and ad copy.

The big ad exchanges, which is basically what Google is a big ad exchange, are very efficient. Eventually the bids become optimal – meaning more earnings for you and the network you’re working with.

If you’re a publisher – Google AdSense. If you’re an advertiser – Google Adwords. So we’re going to get creative, and use every strategy or hack we can think of to try to get an edge.

We want to maximize our earnings. Those are the deep, salty waters we’re wading into today. Don’t step on a stingray.

Let’s start the mind blowing discussion. It’s all done with just smart strategy – No vision quests or mind expanding substances required.

cpc network optimization vision quest

8 CPC ad networks hacks:

  1. Arbitrage

    We gave everyone the 30 second intro to arbitrage here. You buy lower cost ads in order to get traffic to your blog. As long as you earn enough from the ads on your site, you can have a net gain in ad revenue.

    Your ad spending has to be less than your ad earnings. Otherwise what you are doing is not arbitrage. It’s just losing money.

    advertising arbitrage cheap cpc network

    If you paid for 10 ad clicks to your site for 10 cents each, you would spend $1 in ads. If you then get 1 ad click on your site that earns you $1, you just broke even. If it earns you $2.50, you successfully used an arbitrage strategy to earn $1.50.

  2. Heatmaps for Ad Placement

    Heatmaps have nothing to do with global warming. Well, they do. Just not in the CPC ad world.

    advertising heat mapsAn example heatmap showing highest user activity levels (mouse over and clicks). Source: CrazyEgg.

    A heatmap for the web is just a cool way of tracking where your visitors are moving their mouse and clicking. Where most of this activity happens becomes the hot zones. Where the activity doesn’t happen – you guessed it – are cool zones. And it gives you the visual overlay to see.

    In order for you to increase your ad clicks, it only makes sense that getting people to notice the ads is important. By using your heatmap, you can find out if your ads are in those zones. If they aren’t, then adjust the ad placement. Bring some deeper into the hot zones. Then test to see if it results in more clicks.

    There are several different heatmap providers out there. If you’re not using one, you should start.

  3. Write Content for High Paying Niches

    If someone dropped a handful of bills with a $1, a $5, a $10, a $20, and a $50 – and said “free for the taking” – which one would you go after first?

    It’s not really a trick question. Grab the $50 first. The catch you were waiting for is when there are a bunch of people all going after the same cash. There is a trade off between what you have a good chance of getting, and which have the most value for you if you get them.

    In the CPC world, keyword bids can be much higher than you think. Check out the top 20 highest priced CPC keywords. The lowest in the list is $27.80!

    where-does-google-make-its-money small

    Now chances are, many of these may be too competitive for you to get traffic for. However, if you find out which keyword niches pay well, you can start writing content that will allow you to have some high CPC ads served on your site.

    If you find the balance between content that you can compete for in the search engines, and high paying niche CPC ads, you have a winning formula.

    Now, that’s just the basics, if you want to get really professional with keyword targeting from the AdSense side, you should check out our detailed blog post on how to increase your earnings by thinking like a stock broker

    As an exercise, we’ll leave it up to you to think about how this directly relates to our hack #1: arbitrage.

  4. In-Banner Video

    In-banner videos get a bad rep; sometimes much deserved. But just imagine replacing one of your typical ad placements with a video instead.

    in banner video example

    Demonstrating an in-banner video ad. Source: BlackBeachDigital.comThese videos can play as soon as the page loads. Some do it with sound on. Others will play the video with sound muted.

    In either case, you have something more likely to capture user attention. And without attention, there can be no ad clicking. In #2, we try to use heatmaps to bring the ads where the user attention already is. With this suggestion, we’re trying to capture that attention and bring it to us.

    Now imagine combining both strategies, and then testing it with the AdNgin platform to find the optimal configuration.

  5. In-Image Advertising

    CPC ad networks have to place highly targeted ads in order to maximize their clicks and earnings. But it isn’t always matched up based on text alone. It can also be determined from image data or image metadata.

    in image advertising example

    In-image ads examples. Scrolling over the sie image brings up highly relevant ads for your web visitors. Source: Imonomy blogBut in-image advertising goes a step further. Not only is it utilizing the images to determine relevant ads, it can also display those ads within the image.

    Scrolling over the image with the mouse will reveal the ad. Since images typically draw the human eye more than plain text, it’s a brilliant method of leveraging this focus to get the ads clicked.

  6. PairFair Ads (For Ad Blocked Traffic)

    When your users run ad blockers, your revenue declines. They can’t click what they can’t see. We wrote about how much of your traffic is affected by ad blockers.

    We also headlined another blog post with a super dude in blue spandex, offering insights on some of the psychological phenomenons you can exploit.

    One thing we didn’t share with you before, but we’re excited about testing is PageFair. Our friends over in Dublin have come up with a very smart strategy for dealing with ad blockers.

    First they detect them. Then they serve up what the call non-intrusive ads of their own. If your traffic is significant, the percentage of ad blockers will add up. PageFair lets you attempt to expose those ad blocker users to some ads.

  7. Data is the DNA of Your Digital Audience

    Well, sort of. Just go with it for a minute. Can we agree that knowing who you are writing for is going to let you do a better job?

    Absolutely. Probably the most important rule in communications is knowing who your audience is.

    Think of this as a circle of reinforcement. If you write for your audience, you get good engagement. Good engagement leads to ad clicks. Ad clicks send a signal to the ad networks that you are a money maker for them. They in turn send you better quality ads of high value. You can get more clicks (better contextual matching) and earn more per click (increased CPC ads).

    CPC ad network FLOW

    There are hundreds of different strategies and lots of top analytics platforms to let you take different approaches. But let’s think about it from a common search engine traffic perspective.

    If you take note of the keywords that are sending you traffic, that’s a good indication that closely related keyword phrases will also send you traffic. Those are the keywords that you are successfully competing for. So write more high quality content that includes these keywords.

    Then you can tap into that circle of re enforcement with the help of the new traffic you pull in.

  8. Fire Your Non-Performing Advertisers

    Ad networks are highly efficient, not perfectly efficient. You can still exercise your own judgement… as long as you are willing to validate that judgement by testing it.

    Here’s one approach. Most ad networks allow you to screen out which advertisers are permitted to run on your site. When you don’t like the ones you are getting, you can block them. Or “fire them” if you like the sound of that better.

    fire your cpc ad network

    If you prevent your non-performers from clogging up your ad impressions, you force the ad networks to fill the spaces with different ones. If done successfully, you can see an increase in your CPC earnings.

    The better matched your advertisers are, the more clicks you get. The more clicks you get, the more the ad network wants to send you higher value ads. Remember, they make money getting those high CPC ads clicked too. That’s why they serve them up to whomever can get the most clickthroughs.

Which Hacks Will You Try?

We’ve given you the nutshell version of 8 of your favorite strategies. Hopefully that has you excited about trying out one or more of them on your site.

There is a science to CPC ad networks like Google AdSense. As you can see, it’s not just as simple as a bunch of advertisers bidding up a keyword.

Please let us know which strategies you have tried already or are planning to test.

Comment and let us know if you have any questions.