MSN giving up FREE traffic?!??!?!

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…

7,000 clicks!

For the year?

41,000 clicks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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…

Jonathan

3 thoughts on “MSN giving up FREE traffic?!??!?!

  1. Sounds like an MSN bot, no conversions? on 41k of clicks…

    I remember when I used to start a campaign and the next morning see thousands of clicks and no sales, I’d rush to Google fearing a blown budget and, cost = zero.

  2. That’s a really good point Taylor… but if it was a bot, why would it keep hitting an inactive campaign? And why only these two, and not the others in the account? Also why multiple times in the same day, but not a consistent number across all keywords? I have many keywords with only a single click, then some with 2 clicks, 3, 4, etc. It’s not like they just polled every keyword in the campaign once or twice per day. The numbers are different and seemingly random.

    It sure is weird… I should try setting up much more relevant keywords on a campaign and pause it. These two were pretty all over the place in terms of relevancy. I was trying to see just how lateral I could go and still get traffic.

    Jonathan

  3. Maybe MSN is testing their content network. Only US advertisers (advertisers physically based in US) get to advertise on MSN content network currently, so maybe they have loads of inventory.

    I contacted them to see if I could advertise on their content network but they said there was no way for advertisers outside US.. sigh.

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