Forming digital partnerships through direct deals can be one of the most profitable, yet time-intensive growth marketing initiatives. By going direct to publishers, advertisers can negotiate improved deal terms, better ad placements, more traffic, all while reducing fraud.
Never has forming direct partnerships been more important than today as ad networks will have cost advertisers more than $16 billion in fraudulent ads in 2017.
Finding Partnerships with the Google Display Network
Most marketing programs already have a burgeoning PPC program by the time they kick off partnership marketing. Within the AdWords platform, running text, image, and rich media through the Google Display Network helps marketers identify potential partners quickly.
When we use keyword contextual targeting our ads appear on sites relevant to our topics. Once these ads run for some time, we get a robust view of how each website-URL-ad combination performs from a volume, cost, and conversion perspective.
Google’s share of a publisher’s AdSense revenue is 32%. This means that when an advertiser pays a $1.00 CPC, Google earns $0.32 and the ad publisher earns $0.68. Knowing this, negotiation becomes a win-win as advertiser and publisher can split the difference and cut Google right out of the picture.
Through the placement report we can also discern thematic patterns of the sites that convert well. Maybe there is a clustering around Tier 1 news publishers, perhaps it is mommy bloggers, or maybe consumer reviews sites. Once identified, we can begin searching outside this initial base that monetizes via AdSense.
Sourcing Direct Deals from Google's Organic Search Results
As a business, you likely know what are your “money keywords”—that is, keywords that you rank well for and which drive significant revenue. You also likely know what keywords you would like to rank well for.
Start by identifying your top 100 keywords in click volume. This is a straightforward process that can be done via Google Search Console, Google Analytics, SEMRush, SimilarWeb, ahrefs, or the like.
Next, either manually or with a tool (I love ahrefs for this), identify what other sites rank in the top 8 for these queries. Limiting the analysis to those that rank in the top 8 helps ensure that our partnership targets are all of significant traffic. The hope is that we can cover more "surface area" of the internet.
Undoubtedly there will be some big players that dominate across the tail—like Zillow in real estate, Airbnb in hospitality, and yelp in restaurants. Partnering properly with one of these whales can be a game changer for a business.
However, identifying smaller regional players and building a network of tail partnerships can also be a great, high ROI strategy. Domains like FloridaVacationHomes.com, WestBestBBQ.com, and others like them are often excited by the attention and thrilled with the opportunity.
Don't Forget about 2nd Tier Search Engines
Search engines not named Google (Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, Baidu, etc) all can drive significant traffic.
Given that each search engine has its own unique ranking algorithm, make sure to check the results pages of all the search engines in your target market to fill up the partnership pipeline.