Affiliate spy tools, what are they, and are they worth your money?
First things, first.
What are spy tools in affiliate marketing
Spy tools or competitive intelligence tools allow you to see the ads that your competitors are using. They work by saving and collecting thousands of ads across the internet and compiling them in one place. These spy platforms help every media buyer find inspiration from the competition – you can find your competitor’s creatives, landing pages and angles literally in 2-3 minutes.
Are they worth the investment?
What the new affiliates do when they subscribe to a spy tool – they usually copy the exact creative, ad copy, landing page and run the copied campaign on the same traffic source. In our opinion this is very wrong and here are the reasons why:
1. Banner blindness – if the creatives are good and have made money, probably most of the visitors who come from this particular traffic source are already tired to see it. How to fight with this – just take the angle and change the image with similar;
2. Cloaked landing pages – some affiliates hide their landing pages and spy tools show “white pages” instead of affiliate’s original “money page”. If you copy this “white page” obviously your profit is not guaranteed and most probably you will lose your money faster than you can say “affiliate marketing is dead”. How to fight with this – actually you can’t (some spy tools advertise they can find even the hidden landing pages, but we are not so sure about it), if you think the “money page” is cloaked just find another landing page in the spy tool or do some manual research without any VPN or proxy;
3. Steal traffic from you – affiliates are lazy. This is a well-known fact. That’s why some clever “bad boys” with coding skills “mining” their landing pages with lines of codes that redirect some percentage of traffic you are sending to your landing pages to their own landing page. That’s why you need to have some basic coding skills and clean your landing page before start using it or if you don’t have – better hire someone to clean it for you.
4. And finally, you can be sure that you will not be the only one who will copy-paste the whole campaign and wait to make money. Believe me, this is not the way. You need to put some own effort.
Again: please be very careful when you are copying creatives and landing pages from your competition and don’t do these mistakes – you will have much better chances to see your campaign in green if you try to avoid them!
“But, dude, then why I need a spy tool?”
Why you should use a spy tool
Inspiration advantage over the competitors!
Yes, as I wrote earlier you can copy the idea behind the angle and use it with your own image and ad copy. What else you can do – download the landing page and change it too – put different images, change the colors, speed the loading time.
Pro-tip: you can combine two landing pages from different verticals – for example, you can put the testimonials that are used often in sweeps vertical in a dating landing page.
There are a lot of variations and it’s how you combine and use them. Just don’t forget when you make changes in your funnel – always make one change at a time and test only it.
Seeing what doesn’t work
Something else you can use spying tools: see what ads are not good. Yes, why not. Just filter those ads which receive less traffic and don’t use them or similar ones and avoid their angles – this will save you some money for sure.
Another idea: spy what offers your competition running and which affiliate networks they use. If you have quality traffic you can run the same offers and ask for a payout bump from the beginning. This will give you an edge over your competitors.
How to properly use Spy tools.
OK, Spy tools are useful. But how to use them properly.
Don’t worry now we will show you how to spy on your competitors fast and successfully.
For our fast spy session, we will use Anstrex – it’s one of the best spying tools around and we highly recommend it.
Let’s say we will spy on the native format. GEO – South Africa. Platform – Mobile. Traffic Source (Ad network) – Outbrain. You can choose these options from the top menu – Ad Network, GEO, Device, Language, Category, etc. and they are pretty self-explanatory.
This filter’s not enough for our purposes, let’s continue:
I will set up Days running in the range between 10 and 40. I suppose if an affiliate running one ad for more than 10 days it brings him money.
Alexa Rank – shows how the website, where the ad is shown, is ranked in Alexa. I will set it to around 60000 and below.
Ad-Strenght – it measures the performance of an ad over its entire lifetime and higher values are better. I will set the minimum to 1000 and leave the maximum’s default.
Gravity – it measures the performance of an ad in the last few weeks. Here again, higher values are better. For now, I will leave it untouched.
The last thing you need to do is change the sorting order to Date-Last-Seen (desc). We do this because we need the ads to be ordered such that the latest running ads are at the top.
Now our filter is ready. Let’s see the results:
The first creative looks interesting:
A lot of interesting info here:
In the top menu we can find “Statistics” – it shows how many times the ad is seen and how it is ranked, ”Landing pages” – it shows more landing pages from the same advertiser, “Creatives” – if you need more inspiration from this particular affiliate here you will find other of his creatives, “Publishers” shows where this creative is shown, “Ad Networks”, “Devices” and “Geo” no need for more explanation.
You can start downloading the landing page immediately by clicking the “Download & Deploy” CTA.
The downloaded landing pages are placed in the “Webpage Downloader” in the User’s menu which is located in the top right:
Mission accomplished! Now we have a landing page and a converting creative. You can zip and download it to your computer or edit it with the built-in code editor.
Тhis was one of the easiest strategies to find winning creatives and landing pages.
Now let’s cover another simple strategy that you can use.
Filter affiliates campaigns with basic keyword search & Filters:
Here we are going to primarily rely on the keywords to identify the ads we want. We will sort these ads by ad-strength (desc) and ad-gravity (desc). The first sorting order will give us ads that have done very well in the past and perhaps not doing too well in the last few weeks. The second sorting order will give us ads that are currently doing very well.
How to do this:
1. Select the Ad-Strength (Desc) from the Sort By dropdown menu. This option will sort the ads by their strength with higher strength ads at the top of the page.
2. Type in a keyword associated with a particular niche in the search box at the top right-hand corner. Hit enter key. Here are some keywords to get you started:
- for weight loss products you can use: diet, weight loss, lose kg
- for gambling vertical: casino, win, money, gambling
- for dating vertical: sexy, girls, chat, beauty, date, meet
3. You can now repeat the above steps by changing the sort order to Ad-Gravity (Desc) from the Sort By dropdown menu.
Please remember that with this method we are not filtering the results by ad networks. So we are essentially searching for ads in all the available ad networks. This allows you to find ads that might have been missed using the previous strategy!
You also need to understand you can use both strategies with every spy tool on market - they all have the same or similar filters and sorting so it doesn’t matter what you are using – the methods are more or less the same.
The List of the best affiliate spy tools
It’s a very good spy tool. It has a lot of options and targets and gives you access to 92 countries and more than 3 million ads. Anstrex has different version for different types of traffic:
Anstrex Native - It’s for native ads format, for both desktop and mobile, the price is $69.99/month
Anstrex Push - It’s for push ads format, for both mobile and desktop, the price is $89.99/month.
If you need both push and native you can buy them for only $139.99/month.
It is one of the oldest and most famous spy tools on the market. They have different version for every type of traffic or platform:
· AdPlexity Mobile: for redirect, pop and banner ad formats of mainstream traffic, only mobile, the price is $199/month
· Adplexity Desktop: for redirect, pop and banner ad formats of mainstream traffic, only desktop, the price is $199/month
· AdPlexity Native: for native ads format, the price is $249/month
· AdPlexity Push: for push ads format, the price is $149 / month
· AdPlexity Adult: for redirect, pop and banner ad formats of adult traffic, the price is $199/month
· AdPlexity Ecommerce: if you have Shopify or other e-commerce stores you can see what ads use your competitors, the price is $199/month
This tool is from the same guys who own Anstrex, but it’s only for adult traffic – banner, native, pop and redirect ad formats. Here you have access to 50+ countries plus carrier campaigns. If you are running adult Adperiscope is for you. The price is $89.99/month
Mobidea is not only an affiliate network but they also have good spying tools:
Spy-Push – another spy interface for push traffic. The price is $89.99 / month
Spy-Native – native spy tool. You can buy it for $69.99 / month
If you need both push and native you can buy them for only $139.99/month.
Spy Push is a Push ad focused spy tool offering a large inventory for a reasonable $49 a month. It a good and cheap alternative to those focused only on push ad campaigns
Whatever spy tool you will choose, please don’t forget they don’t guarantee you profit if you don’t put your own efforts.
How to conduct your own Spying
As we mentioned previously, you can always conduct your own investigations using a simple VPN and browsing different sites while with an IP from your target country. This is of course a little more time-consuming but the results and insights can be just the same. The best sites for doing this kind of research are generally sites like streaming sites.