VPN solutions and various utility applications (e.g., file viewers, antiviruses, disk scanners, backup, and diagnostic utilities, etc.) are a special beast in affiliate marketing. For one thing, such specialized software solutions require specific promotion methods (among which to promote VPN and Utility offers with ad networks seems to be the king, but we’ll talk about it later).
This post will be informative for both advertisers and affiliates as the Utility vertical, VPN in particular, is practically going through a “rebirth of popularity” — all due to the global COVID-19-related restrictions. Currently, VPN products are used by 31% of all Internet users worldwide.
Shall we start with clear definitions?
- What’s VPN and Utility Vertical?
- Common ways of advertising VPN and Utility products
- How to promote VPN / Utility offers with CPA networks
- How to promote VPN and Utility offers with Adsterra Ad Network
- BONUS: GEOs where VPN is most popular or restricted
- Final thoughts
What’s VPN and Utility vertical?
VPN and utility solutions of all sorts make up a whole vertical of their own: one with constant high demand (people simply need to watch their hardware and software security and functionality as a whole), strict requirements, and well-defined niche specifics.
- VPN or Virtual Private Network solutions. These are usually integrable applications or plugins that use separate dedicated networks to help users privately and securely transmit data and access web resources that may be blocked or restricted due to regional or other regulations.
- Utility software. Solutions that help maintain (e.g., conveniently organize and view files), optimize (clean disk, fix registry, etc.), configure (adjust energy consumption), and analyze one’s hardware or software infrastructure (computer and OS).
- Types of Utility offers:
- antivirus solutions
- disk cleaners
- batter boosters
- backup utilities
- data recovery utilities
- system diagnostic utilities
- file compressors
- file viewers
- disk defragmenters
- disk scanners and more
Both types of solutions should be pretty familiar to you firsthand if you have been using a PC or smartphone for a good part of your life. VPN, for instance, has become even more widespread due to new legal regulations for online platforms and global pandemic conditions. So, are you wondering how to advertise VPN and Utility to get the real kick out of your promotional efforts? We share some traditional ways you shouldn’t miss out on, as well as a bunch of expert tips on working with ad networks.
Common ways of advertising VPN and Utility products
There are, really, numerous ways and channels that could fit your goal. But why not start with the most well-tried-and-tested ways to promote VPN and Utility offers? We are going to break down the three most used methods of advertising.
Use Facebook Ads and Google Ads
One shouldn’t underestimate the promotional capacities of Google and Facebook Ads in VPN and Utility promotion. In particular, out-of-the-box Facebook Ads tools allow targeting people specifically interested in VPN and closely fit your TA requirements. And one of the “sweetest chunks” of your TA, by the way, will be computer technicians. Keywords to use should also be on topic — use something like online security, network security, home network protection, watch Hulu abroad, download torrent securely, etc.
When configuring Facebook Ads targeting geography, one major thing to look out for is locations where VPN is either restricted or forbidden completely. Thus, while in the US, using VPN is absolutely legal, some countries ban virtual private networks on a state level. See examples of such locations below in the “List of GEOs” section below.
With Google Ads, the situation is almost the same. The competition for keywords is pretty stiff, and you will have to outperform those blog articles, listings, and reviews along with branded advertising. Local restrictions for VPN promo are also a point to consider. For now, there have been only a few headline-making cases like this of a complete banner advertising ban in China.
Employ the CPA Marketing + Ad Network combo
One of the major ways to promote software solutions (a utility program or a security-boosting VPN) is going for affiliate CPA programs and advertising networks. VPN-focused affiliate programs are pretty commonplace. You can google “vpn affiliate networks” for a start, and you will get dozens of programs to opt in.
If you’re a pro affiliate, try a network with already selected and tested offers. One of them is Adsterra CPA Network. You won’t drown in the multitude of offers here, as the platform aggregates only those that proved to convert on Adsterra traffic (over 18K of direct traffic sources). Conversion flows are: CPL, CPI, CPS, SOI, DOI.
After you find an affiliate CPA network you like, you will need to decide where to buy traffic that meets the offer’s terms and restrictions. Remember Facebook ads mentioned above? That’s one of the promising traffic sources.
Try Affiliate Marketing
What differentiates affiliate marketing from CPA marketing is that you get your commission when users buy a product. With the CPA model, payouts come from various target actions, not only purchases. Promoting VPN and Utility services with affiliate marketing can be time-consuming as you need to share some valuable and convincing content with your readers to make them click and buy. If you’re a tech blogger, such content will be:
- test and trial results, etc.
It’s a pretty common practice, and creative content makers can make an immersive ad integration that will make an offer stick in the head of everybody who sees the ads.
How to promote VPN and Utility offers with CPA networks
Advertising via CPA marketing deserves particular attention, especially if you want to figure out how to pick the most prospective offers and not overspend while running them. Here is the checklist for you.
How to pick a VPN / Utility offer
There are too many offers available out there, but don’t let them trip you up. A wise affiliate always keeps in mind what will return them a profit. Use this helpful checklist on how to choose the best VPN/Utility offer. You can extract almost all you need from the offer’s description.
The simpler, the better. If it is easy for users to complete the conversion, you will get your payout faster while spending less money. Installs, trials, subscriptions are the most lightweight compared to credit card submits. For example, an install is a pretty nice flow. There are also “1-click” flow, trial, opt-in, PIN submit, etc.
Here you can rely on the classic rule: Tier-1 traffic is more expensive. But bear in mind that some new highly demanded GEOs have appeared. You may have to raise a bid up to $20 or $30 for the ZA (South-African) users. Payouts will also be impressive.
Device and OS
Remember and save the OS and devices specification. It will help you in further campaign optimization. It is good when your targeting by device or OS is not too narrow, otherwise, it will be challenging to send a lot of well-converting traffic.
Restrictions and limits
Virtually, the primary section to examine. Restrictions may hinder all your efforts, so pay attention to the following:
- Traffic types restrictions.
- Limits to the number of conversions for the test period (you won’t be paid for extra conversions).
- Quality checks and additional verification terms (usually, you can drive more conversions after you pass the verification).
- Geo-restrictions; too many exclusions may end up with insufficient traffic volume.
It will serve you well if you visit the landing page where you are going to send traffic. With VPNs, it might be a Play Market or AppStore page of a product, or a classic landing page with a teasing message and lead form. The first option is sometimes more challenging; you will need a pre-lander to prewarm users so that they rush to complete the target action.
Which ad format to choose
It’s fair to claim that there are no unsuitable advertising formats here. Anyway, you don’t look for a suitable one — you need the best-converting.
Popunder traffic has always performed excellently; you can rely on this format while promoting VPN and Utility products.
Social Bar push ads formats are true conversion-boosters. They allow for utterly native creatives that look like regular push notifications, although more eye-catching. Some of the templates you can get at Adsterra are animated to engage more users. Social Bar in-page push creatives can easily result in ROI 300% on the US traffic.
See how affiliates promote VPN and Utility offers
What creatives should look like
With Popunders, you will not have to design ad creatives except for pre-landers. Other advertising formats require more time for research and some creative-making skills, like with Native Banners or Push Ads, where you will have to come up with headings, call-to-action, icons.
You will have to balance between a catchy message and a misleading one; be convincing enough but not scare away. The trick is to make such creatives look native and credible but not confuse users.
When you advertise with Social Bar push ads, halfway to users’ hearts and CTRs is made for you. The secret is in the tested templates that fit any OS and browser. You can either go for a classic notification (light or dark theme), or jump to colorful widgets with CTA buttons.
Templates save you hours, if not days while remaining unique thanks to the icons, pictures, and texts you add to them.
Some don’ts for VPN and Utility creatives:
- never threaten or intimidate people (a “you were/can be hacked right now if you don’t use our VPN” is a no-go);
- avoid using logotypes, mascots, and other brand elements if you’re not promoting this brand;
- try not to make you message too long and dense;
- don’t limit yourself to one creative; make multiple ones to your heart’s content for better impact.
- don’t mislead by offering VPN for free if users will have to pay for a subscription.
Some dos for VPN and Utility creatives:
- keep them neat like system messages if you want to create a notification;
- always use the language of your target GEO;
- use colors that resonate with the product you promote;
- avoid complex technical terminology, list benefits and values;
- if the software you promote is free or available with a freemium license, state this in your creatives.
How to promote VPN and Utility offers with Adsterra Ad Network
Ok, you signed up or logged in to Adsterra and now are looking for neat, converting traffic. Which pricing to choose? Which bid to place? When to start narrowing targeting? With this set of tips, you will get most of the questions answered. We divided them into three main stages: before running a campaign, testing and launch, and optimization tips.
1. PRE-LAUNCH STAGE
Conversion flow and pricing
Remember about the conversion flow we mentioned earlier? That’s why you need to check it in the initial offer. Usually, you advertise VPN and Utility offers with CPI conversion (cost-per-install). Installs, trials, 1 or 2-clicks, opt-ins are fast conversions.
Your best decision when buying traffic is to choose the CPA pricing model. You will pay only for conversions, and as they come pretty fast, you will get outstanding performance within the network. If you get conversions, it means your campaign is viable, so you will also enjoy higher positions in the ad feed.
Popunder Ad Format is best to start with. It sends loads of impressions (about 2BN weekly), costs less, and doesn’t require extra creatives except for pre-landers.
Social Bar push ads come second when it comes to choosing the ad format. It’s an innovative format with unlimited opportunities in creatives’ design. With its ready-to-use templates, you save hours on launching a campaign. Traffic volumes are some 1,5BN weekly.
Don’t try to overbid from the start; you risk draining your budgets. Only after the campaign proves to engage users and convert well, it’s reasonable to increase a bid to get more traffic.
Which bid to choose? Adsterra’s algorithms show the recommended rates right after you have picked the target GEO. You see all clues on your campaign setup page. You can add 20-30 cents to it, but not more.
Even if you are experienced enough in running VPN offers with other networks, we recommend you to target broad on a new traffic source to exclude over-optimization and traffic loss. So avoid using your black- and whitelists from the start. You can apply for those to Adsterra managers later 😉
Choose different browsers and device types for your test campaign if there are no limits to those in the offer’s description.
One important note here: if you have some restrictions for device types or browsers in your offer, you surely don’t need to add these countries in your targeting.
Remember to translate all your creatives to local languages, or add two versions — in English and the local language — to your A/B test. With Push Ads, it is better to choose high-contrast icons or neat illustrations with no visual clutter. Choose the PNG format if possible. The preview mode will have a dark background, but on publishers’ websites, everything will be ok.
For more insights, read the guide to making highly-converting creatives shared by the Adsterra Head of CPA.
2 – CAMPAIGN TESTS AND LAUNCH
- Keep an eye on your conversions as soon as you launch your CPA campaign. As said earlier, installs and trials come fast. When they don’t look at your CTRs. If they’re poor, you will need to re-evaluate creatives.
- With strong CTRs and low conversions, you will need to make sure you don’t mislead users and, maybe, change the message of the pre-lander. And finally, look carefully at the settings; perhaps, you narrowed the targeting (see the advice above).
- Remember to refresh your creatives and pre-landers. It’s pretty often when you will not need to tweak the campaign settings but to add new visuals or messages.
- Each new GEO you add requires a new ad campaign. Multi-geo campaigns blur the results making it hard to guess which traffic source you should exclude and which to send to a whitelist.
- For CPA campaigns, conversion tracking is a must. So please add tracking tags required by Adsterra.
(here: ##PLACEMENT_ID## – puts a unique ID to each traffic source; ##SUB_ID_SHORT(action)## – tracks all conversions)
3 – VPN / UTILITY CAMPAIGN OPTIMIZATION
- Blacklisting and whitelisting are vital tactics in optimization. Affiliate pros recommend excluding all ISPs from Amazon AliExpress and other giants when you work with Popunder ads.
- As for traffic sources with top-level conversions, you definitely need to place higher rates for them. Ask your manager how much you should add to your payout to get more traffic with no second-guessing.
- While blacklists are pretty radical tools, the Adsterra Custom bid allows for selective bidding. You don’t exclude traffic sources that send you fewer conversions and traffic, you pay them less, and vice versa – you increase bids for those sources that make you more profit.
- Consider adding alternative traffic types. When you promote VPN or Utility offers, add non-mainstream traffic that allows for showing explicit content. This audience uses VPN solutions pretty often.
- Communication with your manager should be your No1 priority. You will be surprised how many insights they can serve: average bids, pre-landers examples, tips on creatives, trends within each specific GEO.
BONUS: GEOs where VPN is popular or restricted
Regarding VPN usage rates, there are world locations and regions where it is demanded more than elsewhere and vice versa. Use these locations to your advantage, diversifying your TA demographics at the same time. Let’s glance at some numbers provided by Comparitech in 2021.
- The Middle East and Africa. Middle Eastern and African countries tend to demonstrate the highest VPN use rates among all other world locations — a full 61% of surveyed PC and smartphone users in Indonesia employ VPN, with 45% for India and 42% for the United Arab Emirates.
- AR, BR, CO, and other Latin American countries. 31% of respondents across Latin American countries stated to be using VPN regularly, which means that you can safely target such locations right after you cover Indonesia and/or other countries (India and the UAE).
- US, UK, and other English-speaking locations. The use of VPN is not so widespread in the US and UK. Instead, people living in most other countries tend to use VPN to access American and British online services. That’s why only 25% of US-based respondents confessed to using VPN (our guess is that the vast majority of them are IT specialists or keen tech enthusiasts).
- RO, ES, FR, and other European destinations. 24% of Europeans tend to use VPN somewhat regularly, yet you shouldn’t neglect European locations as there is a vast space to cover.
There are also locations where virtual private networks are either legally banned or restricted to a certain extent. Among them are:
- North Korea
These insights and tips should help you understand how to promote VPN and Utility offers solutions most efficiently in today’s fierce competition. The opportunities are plenty, and most of them are just lying there for you to get: simple conversion flows, high payouts, and massive traffic. Make sure to figure out the specifics of all offers you pick from affiliate networks and check restrictions to VPN promotion in countries you are going to target.
With this how-to guide, it’ll be easier to promote VPN and Utility offers on Adsterra traffic. However, never underestimate trends and competition: check with your manager current payouts, whitelists, and pre-landers 😉