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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Click flipping...Better options exist, regardless of Adsense's health...

I was one of the eighty-five kerbillion bloggers who mentioned Scott Boulch's "The Death of Adsense" report not too long ago. For those who missed this micro-tome, Boulch argued that smart pricing crushed the margins for those using Adsense as a primary moneymaker and that contextual advertising (at least over the Google content network, I suppose) was off of life support and well into its purgatorial stay.

I thought Boulch's report was worth reading because it did do a nice job of explaining how smart pricing was dooming some of the popular Adsense-based business models.

Well, Part II of the Boulch report was released. I think it is called "Life After Adsense" (if not, it is something similar). Boulch recommends that all of those people who are seeing their income falter as a result of the changes within Adsense should abandon ship and move on over to the exciting and profitable world of click flipping.

If you haven't heard about click flipping, get ready to grow acquainted. Boulch managed to get over 30K copies of his report out there, so it is bound to become a topic of discussion. I read one blogger, who I think was using some light variation of Boulch's own words define click flipping like this:

"Click Flipping is the process of identifying and maximizing, multiple profit pathways by using PPC traffic and converting that traffic into CPA (Cost Per Action) offers."

Yeah, internet marketers are as in love with jargon as those who get excited about delivering marketing strategy meetings in the conference rooms of Corporate USA. If you cut through the jargon, the basic idea is relatively simple. You buy traffic with pay-per-click campaigns and send it to various others willing to pay more for traffic on a cost per action basis.

Oversimplified example: You buy traffic via Adwords for a nickel per click. You then route that traffic toward a related CPA offer who is paying $10 per sale. If you can get more than one out of every 200 clickers to seal a deal with your CPA buddy, you make dough.

This really isn't anything different than what affiliate marketers have been doing for some time, in my estimation. They bought PPC traffic and tried to funnel it to sales pages for programs with which they had affiliations in order to earn bigger commissions. Admittedly, Boulch does dress his click flipping strategy up a bit and it is a little more complicated than I am making it out to be. However, that's the basic idea.

Now, I am not an internet marketing super-guru-mega-seller. I do, however, have many in the IM biz as customers and, as such, I think it is important for me to pay attention to the industry. Although I might not an expert, I am informed. And, it's my informed opinion that Boulch's second offering in "The Death of Adsense" series is a fine guide to click flipping. It's also my informed opinion that click flipping has absolutely nothing to do with the decline (real or imagined) of Adsense. I also think that click flipping still falls well short of an even better IM business model.

Let's say Adsense was dead, like Boulch argues. Personally, I think that is a bit of marketing hyperbole designed to feed his massive list-building campaign, but there is a legitimate argument to make about the decrease value of clicks for publishers in a post smart-pricing world. Anyway, for the sake of argument, let's say Adsense is d-e-a-d.

What does that have to do with click flipping? Nothing.

You could make money click flipping just as effectively if Adsense UPPED its payments over heyday levels. According to Boulch's analysis, click flipping should be a winner regardless of the Adsense climate. That matters for two reasons.

First, those who don't think Adsense is dead, dying, injured or past its prime can still get some insight from the Boulch book on click flipping.

Second, it just goes to show you that Scott is a talented marketer. He managed to drum up excitement about his click flipping guide by first making the basically unrelated announcement of Adsense's death--complete with creepy skulls in the graphics. He now has a 30K+ name list for when he decides to launch his next for-profit venture. Nice work, but unrelated to anything about Adsense if you think about it.

Boulch does argue that click flipping is as groovy notion because it avoids some of the issues that caused the alleged downfall of Adsense, but the analysis there is shady at best. The basic plan here was to tell all of those folks who are earnestly trying to build their Massive Adsense Empires to hop on over to the world click flipping instead.

Really, though, the more I think about click flipping the more second-rate the whole process seems to me. Boulch has concocted an internet marketing "food chain" that really doesn't make a great deal of sense to me (or to Alice Seba, apparently), but he seems to think that click flipping elevates one's place on that list. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Either way, his logic would seem to indicate that a different action would be superior.

Why remain satisfied with being the "middle guy," scavenging traffic to send to people who will pay you a percentage of their (bigger) take? Why not climb to the top of the chain and be the person who is actually providing the product and let guys like Boulch do the legwork for you?

Boulch knows that, on some level. After all, he's going to be sending out $15K plus in commissions for those who helped get the word out about his report. He is more than willing to let bloggers and others do his legwork and to pay them a half-buck per name because he knows that he can make that list worth a lot more $$$.

The logical conclusion to the whole story is that those who produce and own products are going to be those on top of the food chain, so to speak. They are the ones who will be able to run the CPA campaigns that will put some money in the hands of Boulch & Co. because they will be making even more.

It's long worked the same way in affiliate marketing. You can make a nice sum pushing other people's products, but the folks who are really cleaning up are the ones who are producing and maintaining control over the products themselves. Yes, that route does require a creative spark and comes with development costs, etc. that can be avoided by being an affiliate or a click flipper, but the payout MUST be higher when it is done correctly. Otherwise Boulch's whole argument falls flat because CPA will die out faster and more violently than Adsense ever could.

So, as a non-IM guru, I would posit the following for those who want to make a living in the IM field--whether Adsense is thriving or dying.

Don't bother flipping clicks to someone else. Be the person who finally translates those clicks into actual payments.

Content Done Better writes ebooks. I have people come to me with ideas and plans they want translated into readable guides, manuals, stories, etc. Why? Because they then sell those ebooks. Guess what? They don't do it all themselves. They use affiliates. They buy their own PPC traffic. They'll even run CPA campaigns (whether you want to call it commissions or whatever). They are willing to spread the wealth when someone else is generating it for them.

Guess I've been rubbing shoulders with those on top of the IM food chain, huh? No wonder they always pay on time!

This might be a good place for a self-serving plug. If you have an idea for a great informational product, get in touch. I can write it for you. We can put together a monster of a sales page and promotional materials to go with it. You can then start your affiliate program, CPA campaigns, etc. and situate yourself a little higher up the line. Interested? Fill out the form on the right sidebar, email me at cdbrack [at] gmail.com, or use the contact form at Content Done Better.

Anyway, I don't know that Adsense is dead, although it certainly has changed. I don't know if click flipping is a panacea, although it does make sense and follows some basic principles that have worked in other situations. But I do know, with relative certainty, that there is a slot above those who are flipping clicks and that it's occupied by people who create and own the actual products--the ones with whom the buck actually stops.

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