Re: Speedlane Affiliate Program

From: Mark J. Welch <>
Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 09:48:54 -0600 (CST)

What is a "good" or "bad" sales-to-adviews ratio?

> Has anyone had any experience with the Speedlane
> Affiliate Program? I provided them with appx. 2000
> click-throughs during a brief test period in September.
> Speedlane has been unable to provide me with data
> regarding the number of purchases made.
> The Speedlane "sell" seems very compelling - it is
> a $19.95 download from Digital River - almost an
> impulse item. During the test period their banners
> received a click-through of appx. 10%.

This raises two issues:

First, this report emphasizes the importance of
affiliate program vendors providing accurate, prompt
performance statistics, which Speedlane clearly
chose not to do, to its detriment. Enough said.

Second, this raises the question of whether a site that
allocates 2,000 adviews to an affiliate program can
reasonably expect to have generated any sales.

I know we have discussed this before, but in general
the "conversion" rate (number of adviews per actual
sale) seems to be something between 1,000 and
10,000. Broken down, you might expect a 1% to 3%
clickthrough rate on the banner, followed by a 1%
to 3% "sales conversion rate."

But as we have often discussed, a higher click-
through rate usually results from techniques that
draw unqualified visitors (and Speedlane's ad is
a perfect example: it's a "deceptive system" banner,
made to look like a Windows/Mac error message,
so many visitors probably just swear and click on
the "back" button).

And Speedlane's site is awful for closing sales.
Speedlane deliberately omits useful contact
info at its site (no company address, no phone
number, etc.), customers are right to be wary of
buying. Thus, this "impulse buy" (as Adam calls
it) is quite the opposite: my impulse was to run,
not walk, away from this suspicious-looking site.

(Okay, I have met the guy who runs Speedlane,
and we both spoke at a panel discussion at the
Bay Area Internet Users Group last summer --
but I am trying to relate the public impression of
the site, not my personal knowledge.)

My personal conclusion: Adam's 2,000 adviews,
generating a 10% clickthrough rate (he says),
would have sent 200 people to the Speedlane site.
But I expect that only one in 500 or 1,000 people
who arrive at the Speedlane site are converted to
customers. Thus, it is unlikely that any of Adam's
visitors bought anything.

I generally advise my e-commerce clients who are
at a pre-launch phase to assume a "1-in-10,000"
conversion rate from adview to sales: this could
mean a 1% clickthrough rate and a 1% sales rate
at the site, or it could mean a 3% conversion rate
and a 0.33% sales rate, or some other formula.

Of course, results vary considerably: an ad on
a music site for SheetMusicPlus or Qsound will
probably perform better than the same ad on or; and of course the
quality of the ad creative and the quality of the
e-commerce vendor's web site itself will be crucial.

Even so, in my experience, the BEST performance
that most vendors can expect, across a broad
range of advertising exposures, is a "sales to
adview" ratio of about 1 in 1,000.

Okay, there's my opinion and experience. What
is the "real world" experience of other list members
regarding sales-to-adviews ratios? Tell me I'm
wrong, please (and tell me why).

-- Mark J. Welch, Web Site Banner Advertising [Adbility]
-- Ad rates:
-- (925) 462-8483 voice - Pleasanton, California

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Received on Mon Jan 04 1999 - 16:16:22 CST


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