Tips and Hints

The Ten Top Paying Programs at Commission Junction this Week

I’m a nerd. I love to write programs, I love to analyze data and I love it when I get results that I can sink my teeth into. So I’m trying to put together a free service for people out there to get details on the best paying affiliate programs on the Internet.

I had to start somewhere, so I wrote a program that spidered the entire Commission Junction website from top to bottom, and gave me the top 10 programs in every category and sub-category (I had the flu this week so I was bored anyway). Then I took those programs and figured out which was the best. I also did an interesting analysis of which categories of programs pay the best for Commission Junction…which will be my next entry, hopefully today.

I’m going to do FastClick next, but I’m taking requests. So if anyone has a site they want analyzed, just let me know.

I also plan to put together a free weekly email service that has the top programs, new programs and other info from the affiliate network(s) you want. To be notified when it’s ready so you can sign up, just put your email address in the box below:

Before I get into the data, I want to mention a bit about what numbers and methodology I used. The metric Earnings Per Click has gained momentum as a way to measure how well a program or ad campaign pays its affiliates. The number is derived by taking the total payout across the network for that campaign or program and dividing it by the number of clicks that program or campaign has received. Commission Junction averages the EPC across all the creative for a particular advertiser, meaning that they are measuring how the advertiser does across the network rather than each individual banner or text ad.

There are many reasons why I chose this metric to come up with the best programs, not the least of which is the fact that it is a common metric across different ad networks. More importantly, as a publisher, your job is to find the best paying program for your particular content areas, and I thought that knowing which paid the best would help you sort things out better. You still need to get the user to click on the ad. Using this report will ensure that when they do you will get the best payout.

One last note about EPC…Commission Junction (like many others) uses an average EPC per 100 clicks, meaning that the actual earnings per individual click is 1/100 of the number you see. My spider ignores programs that take place outside the US, and ignores programs with no EPC data.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 programs in Commission Junction this week, using the 7-day EPC as a guide:

Please note. This data is old. Finish reading, but if you want to take a look at newer data, go here.

Rank Ad ID Category Description 7 Day EPC True EPC Pay Type Payment Amt SubCategory
1 1473257 Financial Services GetSmart $ 437.05 $ 4.37 Sale: $10.00 – $45.00 Loans
2 1656448 Financial Services Structured Settlement Alliance $ 400.77 $ 4.00 Lead: $40.00 US Investment
3 1566304 Home & Garden SunSetter Awnings $ 277.00 $ 2.77 Lead: $10.00 US Garden
4 761785 Loans $ 262.24 $ 2.63 Lead: $8.00 – $32.00 Loans
5 1426112 Insurance American Life Direct $ 235.26 $ 2.35 Lead: $50.00 US Personal Insurance
6 1400962 Insurance Esurance Auto Insurance $ 222.80 $ 2.22 Lead: $5.00 US Personal Insurance
7 1027018 Books / Media The Wall Street Journal $ 216.63 $ 2.16 Sale: 15.00% – 35.00% News
8 445347 Loans Planet Loan $ 213.66 $ 2.14 Lead: $12.00 – $16.00 Loans
9 1223070 Credit Cards Citibank Business Cards $ 209.84 $ 2.09 Sale: 100.00% US Credit Cards
10 1593562 Financial Services $ 207.54 $ 2.07 Lead: $7.00 – $50.00 Loans

I was absolutely fascinated by this. My spider created a database of the top producing offers in each category at Commission Junction. There are a minimum of two and a maximum of ten for each of 150 categories and subcategories. The spider produced more than a thousand entries. Looking at the top 10, all of the offers are related to personal finance in some way with the exception of the SunSetter awning.

Taking a quick peek at GetSmart (#1 on the list), there’s some creative there that has some unbelievable EPC numbers. For example, this one:

has an EPC of $33.00. It’s a pay-per-action (filling out a loan application). So if you have a site where people might look for a home equity loan, refinance or second mortgage, you need to have GetSmart on the site.

But how’s the conversion? For advertisers with variable payment amounts (like GetSmart), we can only make a somewhat educated guess. I always take the worst case scenario. Let’s say I get $10.00 for each action, the lowest amount. If the EPC is $4.37, that means it takes 2.3 clicks to get one action ($4.37 x 2.3 = $10.00), so every 2.3 people to click on the ad fills out an application. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the context of the ad on your site (in other words, if the demographic of the people on your site is mostly people who rent houses, you probably won’t sell many home equity loans).

Let’s take a look at a few more of the offers. Structured Settlement Alliance buys things like mortgages, court settlements paid over time, lottery winnings, annuities and stuff like that. Their EPC is $4.00, and they pay $40.00 for a lead (the person must complete a lead form and be validated). Since the EPC is $4.00 and the payout is $40.00, it takes 10 clicks to get someone who will actually fill out an application.

Sunsetter Awnings, which is next in line, averages 3.6 clicks to conversion. Not bad.

Another very interesting tidbit from this exercise is that 8 out of 10 of the top ten pay for leads rather than sales, meaning that if you have the right context for the ad (somewhere where the visitors would be genuinely interested in the category of the ad), you should be able to do well.

If that’s you, take a close look at the list. If you think your visitors would be interested in the categories on the list, go down the list and choose a program that you think is right for your site, considering:

1. The action the visitor has to take for you to get paid. Theoretically the more you ask the visitor to do the less chance of a conversion, but that always depends on context. For example, if you have an introductory mortgage site, someone might be more inclined to fill out an application than just provide contact information.

2. The true EPC. You need to balance the payout against the true EPC, keeping in mind that your site will probably be different. If it takes 50 clicks to convert, the reward had better be good. If not, choose an advertiser with a lower conversion and higher payout.

I did a much deeper analysis of Commission Junction, including determinng which categories have the greatest average EPC. I’m going to include all that in my next entry Dissecting Commission Junction.

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