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Now, I realise just producing a landing page would probably fetch me more clicks because I wouldn't be competing with other affiliates for the merchant URL, but that takes time and work...is the effort worth it to produce a landing page? Will I decrease my CPC by enough to make it worthwhile in terms of ROI? Thanks in advance for your comments/suggestions...
I've switched from direct to merchant to a landing page, largely because of the changed AdWords rules. In my situation, I think this actually increases my return given the higher likelihood of a link bonus and the short cookie duration of the site I link to. A growing portion of my traffic seems to be return visitors, most likely ones that I would not be getting credit for if I sent them directly to the merchant (again, due to the short cookie duration). If your landing page is designed well, there is no reason it can't increase your return.
My case may be a unique circumstance, though. Lots of variables, so your mileage may vary.
I have seen some people running simply a different display URL and still sending the traffic direct to the merchant, which also seems to have the same effect as genuinely sending them to a different URL in terms of ad display frequency. Whilst I find it had to beleive that such a simple tactic as adding a non-existent suffix (e.g merchant.net, when the real URL is merchant.com) gets around G's new rules, my experience and competitor research seem to show that this definitely IS the case.
Another way to get around the "one" URL per affiliate plus merchant is to just promote a program that isn't well known yet, or even better, brand new. Sure, the competition will catch on in due time, but hopefully in the time you have complete "control" over that new URL (campaign) you can make hay in a big way! What do you guys think...
So, I built 7 very specific landing pages, each one dealing with a different product, and pointed AdWords there instead. I don't get a lot of clicks, so it's really too soon to tell how it'll go, but I did get two sales yesterday, which has never happened before. Yippee!
Thanks again for all of the tips and encouragement.
Let's say you have created "Campaign 1" that points directly to the merchant. Everything seems to be going well, except for one thing...
You want more clicks.
You then create a landing page and a new "Campaign 2" that is an exact replica of "Campaign 1" except for the destination URL, which points to your landing page.
So you have two campaigns running with the exact same keywords and ad copy, only different destination URLs.
Would Google Adwords allow this, I assume it would be a clear violation of their Double Serving Policy.
Also. I'm getting sales on discontinued campaignes from people who've bookmarked my landing pages. I tell them to do that.
I my opinion the landing page is the way to go.