PPC Affiliate Marketing for 2021

By Victoria Caminante

June 22, 2021

ppc affiliate marketing

As an Amazon affiliate, we sometimes use affiliate links in our content. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.

When discussing PPC affiliate marketing, it’s important to make a decision between the two unique types of performance-based marketing. What is usually described as pay per click affiliate programs are geared for marketers, also called publishers, to be paid by displaying ads next to their online content. A popular example of this is Google AdSense. Under these programs, marketers are paid to help direct traffic (clicks) to a merchant’s website.

Bewilderingly enough, PPC affiliate marketers can refer to other affiliate marketers who utilize paid advertising to promote affiliate offers to their audience. In this case, affiliates must initially invest their own funds to produce ad campaigns for the affiliate products they are promoting. When conversions occur, these PPC affiliates are paid. They see profits when an actual sale materializes.

The two types can be easily confused. Just keep in mind that the first type refers distinctly to monetizing your website with display ads, whereas the latter is more about employing PPC strategies to work affiliate marketing. 

This article focuses on the feasibility of affiliate marketing by running paid ad campaigns to promote affiliate products, including what strategies make it work and what critical factors are needed for success.

Challenges for PPC Affiliate Marketing

Knowing how to properly navigate the challenges of the system will help you prepare an efficient strategy for your ad campaigns.

Challenge #1: Little Success

This is the most noticeable challenge in working PPC for affiliate marketing deals. Success is directly related to ROI (return on investment), because at all times while you are paying for ad campaigns, there is an inherent risk that you won’t make a cent in return.

The realization of profitability can be a deal-breaker for some. You really do have to be in it to win it. With the proper configurations, there is no reason why you shouldn’t see the desired returns.

Challenge #2: Restricted Tracking

Tracking ad performance is a vital part of analyzing and optimizing in PPC. Because you don’t own the websites for the products you promote, you cannot simply create and add UTM codes to the URLs to track your conversions as an affiliate marketer.

Instead, you can track the clicks and impressions of your ads and the actions on your affiliate landing page. Take advantage of your affiliate dashboard that illustrates all of the traffic and conversions you bring to a merchant’s website.  

Challenge #3: Low Conversion Rates & Click-Throughs

Because you’re an affiliate, you can only bid on non-branded keywords. These are normally very competitive and draw less interested traffic than people who are ready to convert. This can result in both low CTR (click-through rates) and conversion rates, which pose another obstacle to profitability.

Challenge #4: Ad Policy Violations

Advertising platforms like Google Ads have, with purpose, created policies that ban the use of bridge pages. You ensure your affiliate landing page provides invaluable content on its own, and that it does not send the visitor traveling meaninglessly through pages…i.e., a bridge page.

Intermittently, affiliates have had their ad accounts suspended if the ad support team is not acquainted with the definitions for affiliate landing pages and bridge pages. The solution is to make sure that your page delivers what the merchant’s page you’re linked to does not provide. 

Recommendations for PPC Affiliate Marketing

Recommendation #1: Start with Organic Traffic

The use of organic traffic in affiliate marketing, when using SEO and PPC together, can maximize your traffic and conversions if you have the resources for it. With PPC, you receive instant results by driving increased traffic to your affiliate site. With SEO, you will improve site ranking and build authority, which increases your conversion rate.

In order to avoid having your ad account suspended, you need to develop an affiliate landing page that delivers value and generates organic traffic. An organic foundation also builds trust and authority with consumers. Warming up your traffic means that you need to provide value upfront. PPC alone delivers a lot of cold traffic but it’s not worth much unless you warm it up with some organic content. 

Recommendation #2: Focus on Keyword Research

Taking the smartest angle in keyword research means selecting high-intent keywords. Utilization of these search queries has proven people are more likely to follow through on their actions. Review and comparison keywords are usually used by those who are already closer to conversion. These users are at a level in the cycle where they’re investigating and assessing different products. 

Effective keyword usage entails constant testing and revising. The challenge is that you need keywords that are both precise and targeted that attract enough traffic, without being saturated with too much competition. 

Don’t forget that you’re bidding on keywords as an affiliate. Try to use some caution with your ad spend and focus mostly on exact match keywords. These provide more control over exactly what you’re bidding on and help you minimize costs.

Recommendation #3: The Need for Better Keyword Tools

Never forget: PPC affiliate marketing is fiercely competitive. Marketers collect revenue from the actions taken by website visitors: clicks, impressions, and leads. Consequently, the key in affiliate marketing is selecting a niche where you can develop a focused audience that is prone to take actions on your site, like clicking on the ads. To be profitable, think of operating on larger scales and higher efficiencies.

A strong strategy would be to uncover profitable keyword niches before the competition can get to them. To manage services necessary to make a living as an affiliate marketer, you need to practice ongoing, iterative keyword research. It would help to have both popular and competitive keywords, along with targeted, high-intent keywords.


Success as a PPC affiliate marketer means you must actively make strategies and constantly monitor performance. Utilize advertising platforms or target locations that the merchant’s in-house PPC team is not.

Your key to successful ad campaigns should be transparent. Confer with the affiliate program managers and obtain their approval. Make sure you select effective landing pages that provide content for potential customers not found on the merchant’s website.

No successful PPC affiliate marketing exists without an organic foundation. Just like SEO, PPC is highly competitive, meaning constant effort is required. Examine your performance and regularly find ways to optimize your campaigns.

Want to learn more about affiliate marketing? Learn 7 strategies only the pros know!

Author Bio

The most important thing to know about Victoria is she’s an avid Star Wars fan. If that’s not impressive enough, she’s skilled in creating interesting and complex articles in a wide range of topics. In her over 15 year “side gig” as a writer and editor, her library of articles is approaching 10,000 in topics from a variety of clients including law firms, doctor’s offices, information technology, oil and gas, tax auditors, educational institutions and more. She’s also pretty handy with a lightsaber.

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