BigTech giants like Meta, Google and TikTok collect huge amounts of information not only about their users, but also about those who are engaged in online advertising on their platforms. On the other hand, affiliate marketers are constantly discovering new ways to bypass compliance on the advertising platforms. The question arises, how affiliate marketers are able to continue their traffic activities, despite the capabilities of those corporations?

Experienced media buyers know that in order to pass verifications on main ad platforms, they need to carefully monitor their equipment, network connections and financial instruments. This is affiliate marketing checklist for the 2022/2023 season from PST.NET.

I. Account

In order to provide profitable and stable work on advertising platforms users should consistently demonstrate that they are real people, not bots or fake multi accounts. In other words, fresh profiles require special actions to normalize behavioral factors. Although no one can say for sure, many people think that there is a necessity of posting and adding as many friends as possible to simulate the actions of a real person. However, it's hard to argue with the fact that most of the users mostly consume content, not create it. Let's think about the logic of advertising verifications with the example of Facebook. Obviously, the social network collects tons of private information from multiple devices.

Experts claim Facebook is not interested only in a few personal details such as biological parameters of a user (weight, height, etc.), mother's maiden name, as well as a birthplace and state of health. First of all, the corporation is interested in financial data of its clients. By consuming miscellaneous content, users help Facebook to understand what they like and what they are ready to pay for. Corporation developed an AI for handling all the information received from accounts, discovering patterns and making decisions based on a graph theory. Facebook pays special attention to the structure of user's “contact tree". Most likely, the phones linked to a new accounts might already be contained in database. Facebook gets that data directly from the users’ devices, when people allow access to their phone contacts for handy search of friends. In addition Facebook is able to detect more complex connections, for example, connection between people who are using the same Wi-Fi network, or are in the same location simultaneously.

Users with empty “contact tree” looks very suspicious for Facebook Ads. Despite the actual value of various FB verification metrics remains unknown, it seems that boost of behavioral factors is only a preparatory stage on Facebook Ads.

II. Hardware & Software

Verification systems can track multiple software & hardware characteristics, so affiliate marketers should be very careful about their equipment. Let's use one example from real life to explain this part.

It is known that the most common surname in the world is Lee, and the most popular name is Mohammed, while the number of people called Mohammed Lee is not that big. The same is true with software and hardware specifications. Affiliate marketers should not chase a combination consisting of the most popular browsers, operating systems or computer builds. Artificial intelligence knows that cases when the most famous hardware and software parameters combined simultaneously are not as common. In order to attract less attention from verification algorithms, affiliate marketers often mask themselves as Apple users, because there are considerably less models of Apple computers than the number of Windows-based variations, so it will be easier to blend in with other users.

III. Network

One of critical tools that provides network security and stable process of media buying are proxies, which can be divided into three categories:

Datacenter Proxy​

The cheapest and most affordable type of proxy, which has a serious drawback – everyone can see that the traffic comes from the particular data center. This significantly increases the risk of getting blocked on some sites even before the first visit. Datacenter Proxies are not suitable for affiliate marketing as they are immediately detected.

Mobile proxies​

Mobile proxies provide users with cellular IP addresses. They are better suited for running traffic, because there is a chance to hide at the subnetwork level. When people connect to the same cell tower, they may have partially or completely identical IP addresses, but this does not trigger verification mechanisms – because situations with identical IP addresses are common in telecom technologies. The problem with mobile proxies is that when using them, users need to use the smartphones, since using the proxies of a popular mobile operator from a computer will seem fishy – just like in the Mohammed Lee case.

Residential proxies​

Residential proxies are the rarest, most expensive type, but also the safest for affiliate marketing. The principle of network connection of those proxies are similar to Tor Browser – users access the network through a real remote device, with an IP address assigned by a local Internet provider. Nevertheless, such proxies have disadvantages too: from time to time, they can suddenly stop functioning. The reason may be in ordinary shutdowns of the "resident’s" computers. There are also so-called static resident proxies that allow users to save user specific residential IP addresses, but they are even more rare and expensive.

IV. Ad Behavior

User behavior in advertising accounts is also monitored by Facebook. In order to not get banned, affiliate marketers should not make any sudden changes. Here is a simple example. A media buyer finds a functional business model with a 500% ROI so he is very eager to upscale. He is ready to invest a six-figure budget into an ad campaign, however the system might flag such a big investment as an anomaly. In base case scenario it will label such behavior as fraudulent; most likely the newly registered ad account will be instantly banned.

There are several ways for media buyers to keep their ad accounts less suspicious. Media buyers usually start off with their personal Facebook accounts, but that usually leads to restrictions. The next step often becomes purchasing accounts online (brutes and logs).

Affiliate marketers often try to warm up their ad accounts to make it more trust-worthy. They are running traffic on their Fan Pages (innocent posts or pictures). On average they spend around $10-$100 on this process. Successful warming up of Fan Pages can be measured by achieving a billing threshold of $75 inside Facebook Ads Manager account. Warming up the account does not guarantee protection from getting banned, however experienced media buyers are confident this will significantly lower the probability. Subsequently, warmed up Facebook ad accounts guarantee higher spend limits from the start.

V. Payments

One of the key factors to succeed on advertising platforms is the quality of the payment solutions. The first thing media buyer should factor in when choosing a payment solution (VCC) is the quality of the BIN. You might ask what is a BIN? BIN – Bank Identification Number, it’s the first 6 digits on the card. With this code you can find all the necessary information: type of card (i.e. debit, credit, prepaid, etc), bank, country.

This information is crucial to better understand the type of accounts (in terms of geo and quality) affiliate marketer should run your traffic with. It’s a well known fact that cards from tier 1 countries usually perform better because of a higher level of trust from advertising platforms.

Platforms use different statistical data to evaluate a BIN. For example, what percentage of unpaid first bills is associated with the given BIN? Or how much aggressive advertising content is related to the particular BIN? The cleaner the BIN, the higher the probability of avoiding risk payments (restrictions due to untrustworthy payment solutions).

To avoid restrictions, media buyers have to be careful in choosing their card provider, because overused BINs will most likely get restricted on all major media platforms. Professional payment solution platforms rotate their BINs and also are constantly updating them.

Final Thoughts

It seems, all gray/black hat activity on the major advertising platforms can be easily stopped by a “press of a button”, because they have all the necessary AI, machine learning and other Big Data capabilities. “Then why isn't this happening?”, – any reasonable person will ask.

It's all about the money, as always. Media buyers bring in huge profits to ad services due to willingness to overpay for traffic. Affiliate marketers use multiple accounts and run millions of dollars of traffic per day which significantly increases the price via auction. It is worth stating that as long as media buyers do not cross the “red line” by promoting overly “black hat” ads, advertising platforms will continue to profit on “gray hat” media buyers. Nothing personal, just business.

We have been providing a payment solution to affiliate marketing companies worldwide, and here is what we have to say: today it has become quite simple to buy VCCs for media buying, but the question remains about their quality and overuse on a particular platform. Speaking from experience we have found that the only way for payment solutions to overcome the constantly changing algoringfm of media platforms is to have a large quantity of quality BINs from different banks and to constantly monitor their performance. That's the path we have chosen and we feel it will continue to benefit us as a platform and media buyers as clients.

Analytics Department