OK gang this is REALLY weird.
As many of you know, I switched to 99.999% PPV traffic over a year ago and pretty much haven’t looked back. That being said, I occasionally throw up a PPC campaign on a whim.
Last year (I forget when exactly but it was definitely QUITE a while ago) I put up 2 campaigns on MSN, since I hadn’t used them in ages and they had improved quite a bit. Both campaigns were to offers on CX Digital.
Well the campaigns weren’t profitable, so I stopped them after a while. I had uploaded huge amounts of keywords (like 50k or somesuch insanity) and got a lot of traffic, but couldn’t find anything converting consistently enough to even optimize it.
So flash forward to moments ago. I haven’t logged into my CX account in eons as I’ve been working with other networks instead. But today I remembered an offer they had so I logged in to look it up.
And what do I see in my stats for today but TRAFFIC! Specifically almost 2,000 clicks on 2 offers I’m not even running!!!
I figured some kind of mistake had been made – OR I had a stray campaign running somewhere that I’d forgotten about that was probably costing me a fortune!
In a slight panic, I looked at the subids of the offers to see where they were coming from. Lo & behold all clicks were from MSN! I was sure I’d shut those campaigns off last year but (again slightly panicked) I logged into MSN to see what kind of spend I’d been looking at.
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Absolutely not one cent spent on MSN since I shut those campaigns down last year.
So back in CX, I looked at my traffic for the month…
For the year?
At .05/click that’s over $2,000 in free traffic.
I have completely confirmed that I have not been charged a single red (or any other color) cent for this traffic.
So MSN appears to be filling inventory with campaigns that are shut down.
This is potentially a REALLY BIG DEAL!!! Here’s what I suspect could be going on:
A PPC network (especially a content network) has page impressions as their product demand, and ads as their inventory. They MUST fill that demand, because if they don’t then their publishers (the website owners who are displaying ads) don’t get paid, get unhappy, and eventually will stop participating in the network and the whole thing will collapse.
So networks are sometimes faced with an awkward situation: They have loads of demand (lots of searchers or visitors needing to be shown ads) but not enough inventory to fill it (active campaigns put up by advertisers).
When this happens with Google, you get those PSA (public service announcement) adsense ads, that no website owner likes to see because it means they aren’t getting paid for those clicks.
So I believe MSN may actually in such dire need of inventory, that they are actually running inactive campaigns just to keep the inventory filled.
This is pure speculation of course, but I’d love to hear from anyone else who may have phantom traffic coming from their MSN account when the campaign is inactive.
41k clicks for free certainly doesn’t suck, though in this case they didn’t generate even a single conversion. Makes me wonder what other free traffic I might be able to get out of MSN though…