Payout or Nothing: Pitfalls That Hide in the Offer Description

31 March 2023
Reading: 10 min

Affiliate marketing, like any other field, has various pitfalls. Some are related to verticals, while others are related to GEOs, creatives, and so on. There are also nuances associated with working with offers. In this article, we will explore what to pay special attention to, what to be wary of, and how to avoid problems when launching a campaign, together with CBDO ZM TEAM Sveta.

It’s (not) easy to earn on gaming offers

Those who are just starting out in affiliate marketing often hear that it is easier and more profitable to work with gaming offers. The target action of such offers usually looks like: register and top up the balance, or register and reach a certain level in the game. These conversions cannot be obtained using only standard targeting methods. To interest a person not only in registration but also, for example, in the first balance top-up, you need special creatives and detailed targeting to reach the gaming audience. Therefore, when working with such a product, it is important to have an understanding of the niche and be able to create the necessary advertising materials.

It is not worth immediately launching many campaigns for gaming offers. It is better to first analyze their conditions and agree to less complex conversion requirements, even if it is for a lower payout rate, but with a greater chance of a successful campaign.

It will also benefit your campaigns if you play the game yourself before launching a campaign for it. Then you will understand its level of difficulty and how much a user can immerse themselves in it, rather than losing interest at the very beginning.

Payout or Nothing: Pitfalls That Hide in the Offer Description

Don’t risk your entire budget on one offer

Working in the CPA industry sometimes requires a willingness to take risks, but the risks should be justified (and not too risky). Do not throw your entire advertising budget on one offer, no matter how great its conditions may be, especially if you are a beginner. In affiliate marketing, you need to analyze, test, and learn from the mistakes to better understand the likelihood of success at the start of your work with an offer. Even the “I’ve seen it all” attitude does not guarantee that you will achieve high profit.

Therefore, it is better to allocate a certain amount of money for testing first, after which you will have information about user reactions. By analyzing it, you can build more effective and relevant funnels. And when you see a stable flow of profit, then you can increase your investments if the offer is still relevant.

And do not forget that the affiliate program may delay payments or reject a portion of your leads (it can happen for various valid reasons). And this is a force majeure that cannot be predicted. By spending all your money on one product, you leave no leeway for yourself to maneuver in such a case.

Always be ready to act

A well-known affiliate marketing myth, still fresh in the minds of beginners — the internet is all about easy money. As if you just need to set everything up, and then the money will flow into your pocket like a river. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Imagine you have read the terms and chosen an offer, received or created a creative, and launched a campaign. And this is only the first step (which requires a lot of effort and time, by the way). After that, you need to regularly monitor the indicators (that’s why it’s so important to have detailed analytics in the affiliate program, and also use a tracker) to analyze reactions to your promo and overall campaign results. If the creatives do not convert leads, you need to come up with new ones, if the smart link has dropped, you need to replace it as soon as possible.

Affiliate marketing is constant change and adapting. Searching for new funnels and approaches to the audience, new traffic sources, and suitable images for creatives. There is no passive income here, but there is no limit to the amount of earnings either. You just need to work hard.

The devil is in the details

For example, you found an interesting offer with acceptable requirements and ready-made creatives. Without much thought, you launch a campaign and forget about testing. But for some reason, the flow does not go as expected. It’s all in the details — the cost of the lead, the quality of and demand for the product, the ready-made promo materials, etc.

Therefore, testing is necessary, as it helps to identify overlooked details. It is important not only to have a quality target audience and advertising and lead cost, but also to have an interesting and accessible product.

Varieties of KPI

KPI is an important aspect to pay attention to when exploring available offers. After all, it is the advertiser’s requirements for traffic. The higher the rate, the more likely the KPI is stricter and the work is more difficult.

There are hard and soft KPIs. The first usually refer to strict conditions that must be met without any “buts”. No concessions, even if you are missing some 0.01% to achieve the desired result. The second option is more like a suggested traffic goal, and if the KPI are not fully met, you may still get paid for the work. But the rates for soft KPIs are lower than for hard KPIs.

Payout or Nothing: Pitfalls That Hide in the Offer Description

Minimum deposit and baseline

This is relevant for the gambling vertical. There are at least two important indicators by which the result of your work is evaluated — the minimum deposit and the baseline. The first is the minimum amount that a player must deposit in the casino. If this indicator is higher than the market average, then it will be difficult to work with this offer. But the rates of such tricky offers are usually also higher than average.

Baseline is the minimum amount of money on the player’s deposit that the advertiser considers a successful conversion. The baseline can be hard, or in other words, one-time, when the entire amount must be deposited in one transaction. If this does not happen, the conversion will not be approved, but if everything works out, the payouts can be generous. There are also cumulative baseline options, where the desired amount is made up of several user payments. It is important to study the terms of the offer carefully.

If you see high rates, you should not immediately rush to work with this product. It is better to think twice before getting an offer that promises more than just a good payout.

If the payout is high, look for a catch

Let’s continue the topic of high rates and hard work. Tricky cases can be found not only in gambling but also in dating. Once again, read the offer terms carefully. Perhaps the targeting requirements are not conventional for such offers and the target audience is not 18+ but 40+. And it is much harder to involve an older audience in online dating: they have special requests when looking for their better half, which means that traditional dating creatives will not work.

In addition, in this vertical, the advertiser may also indicate such a metric as the customer retention rate, which is how long a person continues to use the service after the first acquaintance.

Opinions and comments

Sveta, the CBDO of ZM TEAM, helped us understand some of the pitfalls when launching offers.

What are the pitfalls that can be encountered in the conditions of offers in gambling? Are there any additional conditions?

Usually, is gambling, unlike in gaming, there are no level requirements. But one often finds additional conditions in the offer description. In addition to the first deposit, the simplest one is the wager, i.e. playing through, when a player must place bets for a certain amount.

In addition to that, there may be KPIs based on the number of repeat deposits, the number of players from the stream who must make a redeposit. All of this is usually referred to as player activity.

Should a media buyer test the games they advertise? For example, if you were able to complete the game, then the user will be able to do it too, and you have a better chance of monetizing the offer. But if the game is too difficult, is it better not to deal with such games?

If we are talking specifically about the gaming vertical, it is better to understand what game you are working with. Especially if the KPI specifies a level that players must reach. Often, for example, in free-to-play games, you still cannot reach a certain level without a donation or very long farming of resources.

In what cases is it worth taking a risk and investing a large budget in advertising an offer without testing? Or should you always test first and if everything is good, only then invest more money?

You should always test, as the offer may work for you, but the advertiser may be not satisfied with the traffic. Or vice versa, you will invest a large budget, and launch many ad campaigns, but nothing will convert.

Are there the hottest hours when you need to monitor how the offer is performing, check the funnels, etc., and are there hours when you can relax and not worry that something will break down? Or do you always have to be alert?

It is better to always control the spend and performance. But you need to be more attentive during the hours when the population of the target country is the most active (working hours), as they will be viewing more ads at that time, and the price of traffic is likely to be higher.

Is it true that the products you work with should be in demans in the target GEO? That if the demand is low, there’s an 80% chance that the offer will not convert? In other words, is working with less-known products worth the risk?

It all depends on the vertical and traffic source. If you are using contextual advertising, then yes, it is desirable for the product to be well-known, as you can use brand keywords (again, if allowed). And if the traffic source is Facebook, then often good but little-known products also work well.

Hard KPIs are the strict conditions of the offer, while Soft KPIs are more like suggestions. What are the specific requirements of both types, and how exactly can Soft KPIs impact whether the traffic will be paid or not?

Let’s take the simplest example — dating with both kinds of KPI being “10% of registered users must make a deposit. If 9.5% of users make a deposit within your campaign, you get nothing with Hard KPI and get your payout with the Soft ones.

If you agree to Hard KPIs and do not meet them, you should understand that you may lose 100% of the payout. In the case of Soft KPIs, it is a guideline that you should strive to achieve, but advertisers are always more open to dialogue here. But bear in mind that if you miss the Soft KPI by a long shot, you still risk losing the whole payout.


The devil is in the details — a phrase that is suitable for working in the CPA industry. Not noticing some details in the offer conditions, you can get less than expected or even lose your payout completely. And in such a situation, you can only blame yourself. Just as lawyers pay close attention to the fine print, affiliates should be especially vigilant in studying the conditions for traffic quality, targeting, and understanding the difference between hard and soft KPIs. All for the sake of “most profitable profit”.

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