In this guide, affiliate marketers can discover the best affiliate marketing traffic sources: from creating affiliate website to using paid ads, targeted traffic, social media sites, search engines. Let's get started!

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you promote products or services owned by another person or company in exchange for a fee.

You find a product or service, advertise it to other people, and get a share of the profit when you sell it. The partner simply promotes goods or services on their affiliate website. For each purchase or click on such an affiliate site, the owner of the web sources gets a fee.

This kind of digital marketing is mostly based on pay per click or CPM models.

Affiliate marketer gets paid per click on paid campaign links, paid ads, or other clickable elements placed on affiliate site.

Later we'll discover why it is important to find the best paid traffic sources.


Who is involved in it?

There are 3 parties involved in a typical affiliate campaign - a publisher, advertiser, and the affiliate ad network. Let's inspect affiliate marketing traffic sources. 


A publisher drives organic traffic to products/services by linking them to the consumer.

The publisher's main goal is to get people to act here and now: place an order, register on the site, fill out an application, that is, perform the necessary target action (Conversion Flow).

The tasks of the publisher are the following

  • find goods or services (offers) for promotion;
  • define the audience, identify its pains, problems;
  • study the product, formulate its benefits, advantages;
  • conduct a marketing analysis of competitors, their strengths and weaknesses;
  • create marketing materials (ads, landing pages);
  • attract potential buyers (organic search);
  • optimize the campaign (test the components of the campaign, make it profitable);
  • or scale up an already profitable campaign.
  • As you can see, such a person can be called a master of online ad trafficking.

Affiliate network

Affiliate networks are platforms for offers, goods/services that companies promote. Networks are intermediaries between partners and offer owners, i.e. advertisers.

A publisher can work both with an affiliate program and directly with an advertiser. But working with an affiliate ad network has a number of advantages worth paying attention to:

It gives access to hundreds and thousands of offers in various directions and up-to-date information on what needs to be promoted.

A manager is appointed to the user (who can help with diverse technical questions, suggest what's hot right now, activate private offers, increase payouts, and much more).

It provides a fast turnover of funds. Payments are made once a week, and there is a large number of sales every day. Advertisers usually only pay once a month.

Affiliate networks take on the risk of non-payment from the advertiser. If the advertiser decides to end cooperation without paying the due amount to the affiliate ad network, it will still pay the earned amount to the publisher.

Most of the networks have proposals in many existing directions. Some specialize in a particular thing: goods, games, financial services.

Offers and verticals of affiliate networks

There are concepts like offers and verticals. Offers are specific goods and services offered for promotion for a fee. Offers of the same type are grouped into verticals.

For example, the "Neo Slim" fat-burning complex is an offer, it belongs to the "Health/Beauty" vertical. Each vertical has its own promotion methods, organic traffic sources, and promotional materials. Below are the most popular verticals.

Installs (games, antiviruses, utilities - offers that involve downloading the application by the user).

  • Sweepstakes (iPhone giveaways (or other equipment), gift cards for shopping, travel promotions).
  • Pin Submits (mobile subscriptions to various content).
  • Health/Beauty (means for weight loss, joint treatment, potency enhancement, muscle building, skincare, haircare).
  • Gambling (online casinos, sports betting and other events, poker rooms).
  • Dating (Dating Mainstream, Casual Dating). The vertical is divided into two groups: mainstream (serious acquaintances) and adult (casual acquaintances).
  • Adult video (Adult Content) (photo/video for adults).
  • Finance (insurance, lending, binary options).
  • Products (eCommerce) (products, clothing, appliances, and more).

popular affiliate networks

What affiliate networks pay for and how to get started

Affiliate networks pay only for the completed target action. Conversion flow is a series of sequential actions that a user must perform in order to accomplish this expected action. When it is completed, the conversion is counted. The advertiser pays the network, and the affiliate pays the partner.

Conversion rate (CR) is the percentage of visitors who made a targeted action on the site in relation to all people who just were curious. For example, 500 people came to the site, and 30 of them bought something. CR = 30/500 * 100%, that is, 6%. For every 100 people there are 6 purchases, that is, 100 clicked, and 6 bought.

There are several types of conversions:

SOI (Single Opt-In) - one action. A conversion is counted when a user has sent an email address, filled out a credit card questionnaire, registered a profile on a dating site, or submitted a request for a free sample. For such actions, the advertiser is ready to pay from $0.50 to$ 2.

The payoff is small, but the conversion is high and there are a lot of split tests that can be done. For example, imagine we have a budget of $100. If you launch an offer with a payment of $100, you can get 1 conversion. And if you pay $1 for an offer, you can expect 100 conversions.

DOI (Double-Opt-In) - two actions. The user must not only send the application but also confirm it by clicking on the link in the email. Complex conversions require even more actions. For example, you need to not only register in the game but also reach level 5.

There are different ways to pay for the completed target action:

  • CPS (Cost-per-Sale) - payment is made upon sale. It can be fixed or as a percentage of the cost.
  • CPA (Cost or Pay per action) - payment for the desired action. For example: sending an email, applying for a credit card, registering a profile on a dating site, and applying for a free sample.
  • CPI (Cost per Install) - the installation of a mobile application is paid for.
  • CPL (Cost per lead) - payment for a lead.
  • Pay per action (CPA) offers are the easiest to convert. It is much easier to convince a person to leave some personal details than to force them to pull out the wallet.


This is the company that has the offer. The advertiser creates an offer on the market, forms a budget for its promotion, and bears the risks associated with the activities of partners. So, the advertiser pays only for the completed target action: sale, registration, completed application.

Website traffic source

High quality traffic refers to visitors who come to a web page. Organic traffic may be free and paid. Indeed, choosing the best traffic sources may not be an easy task.

Free traffic

There are many ways to increase website traffic. So, how to drive traffic to your website? Let's find out. The first thing to know - if there's free organic traffic and paid traffic.

They come from content marketing and search engine optimization.

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of useful, interesting content for a specific target audience. (blog articles, YouTube videos, posts on socials).

For example, there is a video blog about fishing. The author attracts an interested audience with content, gains lots of followers, and at the same time earns money by recommending various products for fishing.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a series of actions aimed at increasing the ranking of a website in search results. Google algorithm is constantly being updated.

However, if you can figure out the SEO puzzle and get to the top, you can get tons of free targeted website traffic. Otherwise, you will have to use paid traffic sources as well. Paid traffic is easier to get.

seo optimization

It may not be an easy task to choose the best paid traffic sources for affiliate marketing. Nevertheless, it is possible.

So, there are advertisements on the Internet. To promote the offer, the partner creates landing pages for ads. When a web page or ad is shown to a visitor or they click on a banner, the partner gets the money. This is the best thing about paid traffic.

3 main payment methods for paid traffic

Pay per click (it is called Pay per click or Cost per click). In the case of pay per click, payment is made only when a visitor clicks on the ad.

For example, the pay per click is set to $0.1. The maximum pay per click amount will be $0.1. Pay per click (cost per click) is considered one of the leading payment methods of paid traffic generation.

Pay per thousand impressions (some call it pay per view) - payment is made for every 1000 views an ad receives.

For example, 1000 impressions cost $2. If your ad is shown 10,000 times, then it will cost $20. CPM is a more affordable paid traffic model in comparison to pay per click. Read more about the best CPM network for publishers and how it is different from pay per click (cost per click)

Fixed-rate. The fee is set regardless of clicks/views. However, this paid traffic model is not tied to performance, like the previous two. For example, ad unit “B” was purchased on the site for one week for $500.

The benefits of paid traffic

  • Paid-traffic campaigns are completely under control: you can set the required daily budget, set prices per click or per 1000 impressions, and you can also start/stop a campaign at any time.
  • Fast results. You can monitor the performance of paid traffic campaign a few hours after launch (this is very fast when compared to organic traffic).
  • No dependency on one paid traffic campaign. If the campaign is unsuccessful, you can stop it and start another one.
  • With paid traffic, you can earn more and faster.
  • As you can see, paid traffic sources are highly beneficial. Pay per click and CPM models are offered by such platforms as Google ads and Google display network.

However, pay per click and pay per view models are also offered by the range of alternative programmatic solutions. In an attempt to compete with Google ads, these platforms can offer a lot of additional features and benefits.

affiliate advertising DSP

Ways to buy website traffic

You can buy paid traffic directly, working with Facebook ads, google ads (Google display), and google search, or by using the services of advertising network (Ad Network). Ad networks are the "marketplace" for the various sites that advertisements will be displayed on. Typically these paid sources work based on the pay per click or pay per view model.

Organic traffic sources differ by the following:

Audience coverage and, accordingly, the amount of available organic traffic. The audience of such paid traffic sites can be the whole world or maybe a particularly narrow niche.

Targeting options. For example age, gender, country, time, device type, sites visited. The more targeting options, the more accurately you can reach the right audience and the more sales your paid traffic source will make.

Why is contextual advertising or advertising on social networks so effective? Because these sources allow you to target narrowly enough, segment your audience, and hit the target.

When registering on any paid traffic source, you must familiarize yourself with the rules of operation, payment methods, and rate models. Make a little research to discover the reputation of this particular paid traffic source.

Let's have a look at types of paid traffic sources

Social media sites

Facebook ads, Instagram, etc. Targeting is possible by age, interests, geography, etc. If the user matches the selected targeting options, then the advertisement will be shown to him. Social media offers a wide variety of targeting options and a lot of paid traffic.

Paid search sources are Google Adwords, Google ads, Bing (Microsoft), and others. These are powerful sources, as they allow you to target by keywords. For example, one can do it by Google search queries of users to get to the top of search results. Advertisers pay to get to the top for keywords.

CPC depends on the keyword you are bidding on and the ad and site match for that keyword. Google and Yandex advertising platforms are user-friendly and have many tools to help you create an effective campaign. High search results positions - that’s what one can get as a result of such cooperation.


In this case, we are talking about advertising on mobile phones: PopAds, PopCash, etc. There are a lot of paid traffic mobile sources. There are also mobile sources that specialize in specific formats: Display, Pop, Push ads.

Targeting is possible by operators, by operating systems, by site identifiers, by phone brands. Targeting by operating systems is especially convenient.

The growing popularity, low barriers to entry, and the sheer number of countries available for targeting make mobile devices an extremely attractive source. The most popular mobile ad formats are Display/Banner, Pop-unders, Push ads.

Native ad

Native advertising blends naturally with the site's content, that's why it is often used on social media. In conditions of "banner blindness," this is an effective way to reach out to the audience.

Using alternative traffic source

The main traffic source in this niche (adult) are advertising networks. This niche is very competitive so you need to look for the best paying advertising networks to generate traffic.

How it works

The advertiser enters into an agreement with an affiliate network, offering a product. A marketing partner receives a personal tracking link for each offer, attracts traffic, and, if someone uses this link to perform a targeted action (purchase, registration, etc.), receives a commission.

affiliate ad buying

Essential affiliate marketing tools

The landing page is the page that the user comes to - it accumulates the targeted traffic.

Web pages play a key role in sales - after all, these are sellers, and therefore the requirements for them are serious. This includes a selling headline, a profitable offer, a call to action, and pictures. This is a topic for a separate article.

Then you need a hosting that will host the web pages. Shared hosting won't work because pages need to load quickly. 40% of users will leave if the site doesn't open after 3 seconds. In the beginning, VDS is suitable, but then it is better to replace it with a dedicated server.

The main partner's tool is the tracker. Thanks to the tracker, you can find out where the potential buyer came from, from which country, city, at what time, from which device (including you can find out the device brand and operating system), what keyword he used, on which banner he clicked and much more.

The tracker allows you to understand how much money has already been spent on the ad campaign, how much is earned, which users are unprofitable, and which are generating income.

For example, the tracker reports that $100 was brought by iPhone owners, and $50 was brought by Samsung users by clicking, but they did not buy anything. So we need to stop attracting Samsung owners and focus on people with iPhones.


You are the chief, this means that no one tells you what to do, funds can come to your account every hour, and all day, without stopping (if there is a configured plan and work in this system) and it does not depend on what you are currently doing and where you are.

And the most important plus in favor of entering this business is that you are allowed to do it even with a minimal budget.

benefits of affiliate marketing

The sites should be thematic, so the advertiser looking for such resources gets a high-quality audience. The next plus that should be noted is that the advertiser gets potential customers without wasting time on their engagement.

What about benefits for a partner? Here, perhaps, it is worth highlighting that it is a great additional way of earning with the help of your resource (site).

Besides, there is no need to worry about customer support and the organization of e-commerce in general. The advertiser deals with everything. A partner only needs to sell and promote a product.

Before choosing the best traffic sources: where such marketing efforts should be applied?

The simplest example of using affiliate marketing is mentioning a brand in publications of a social media personality on a page on a social network. Celebrities go to restaurants, buy clothes, groceries, and use cosmetics. This is a great chance to promote goods and services. This is called media advertising.

If we talk about specific areas where affiliate campaigns will be successful, then this is online commerce, info-business, B2B segment is good because there are almost no boundaries for it. The right strategy, the correct choice of sites, and the performer will bring benefits to every advertiser.

How a marketing partner earns

Commissions or referral income goes into the partner's pocket for every purchase made through an ad campaign (or on pay per click or pay per impression basis). Typically, partners receive a link or banner and publish it on their website. If the user does the target action, the partner earns.

How an advertiser earns

The advertiser must first invest money to pay for the services of the members of an affiliate program. He/she calculates the commission that he is going to spend on attracting people. The seller saves the budget for promotion, generates interest in the product, attracts new customers, and increases sales.

how affiliate marketing works

4 working strategies to follow

Let's imagine that there is a blogger, and he needs to acquire strong partnerships with brands for SEO promotion of their products through the site. What needs to be done for this? There are some tips on this.

High-quality content creation

Content of high quality allows you to build audience loyalty, drive more website traffic, and therefore increase your income. It is important to make posts interesting, motivating and persuasive.

Proper SEO

It's next to impossible to become successful without an optimized website. This part of the work is difficult, but it is worth it. With SEO optimization of high quality, your site will rank better in search results. Consequently, more people will see it and follow the affiliate link.

Social networks

SMM promotion is now one of the best ways to increase brand awareness and attract buyers' attention to it. You’ll need to share materials from the blog on social networks, publish useful posts. The more interested users they reach, the faster the reach will grow. It’s certainly a great way of promotion.


The term means the sale of more expensive products, from which the total profit increases. But do not consider cheap goods a meaningless object of promotion. You’ll need a competent message to potential customers why a premium product will help them achieve success. The higher the price of the ordered product, the more profit.

A strategy to start off in 5 steps

The first thing you need to do as a partner is to develop your strategy. It sounds complicated, but it's easier than it sounds. Here's how to get started with a few steps:

  • Choose a niche. Once you identify a potential niche, make sure to narrow it down. Micro-niche identification is an effective way to gain niche authority and quality leads.
  • Select a platform. Are you a pro on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube? Each platform has different requirements and algorithms, so it is important to combine them. For example, creating a YouTube channel along with a blog on Hashtag is a great strategy to reach a wider audience.
  • Study the market. Knowing the market will help you understand how to create quality content to reach your target audience. This will also help you narrow down your paid advertising strategy on a display advertising platform.
  • Select the type of content. Now that you know your target audience, decide what kind of quality content you want to create. Product or service reviews, tutorials, and how-tos? Think about what type of content will most impact your target audience.
  • Promote your affiliate links. Focus on content that works to promote affiliate products. Obviously, product reviews are a great type of content. You can also create comparisons and guides to make your affiliate product stand out.

how to start with affiliate marketing

Types of affiliate marketing

Each of these options has its own unique benefits, so we'd suggest picking the ones that interest you the most. It's also a good idea to combine several of these platforms to reach a wider audience.

Create a blog

Blogging has become one of the most powerful ways to reach target audiences with organic traffic. The best thing about blogging is that about 81% of Internet consumers trust information found on blogs.

The reason blogging is a great tool is because it allows you to use SEO (we have already discussed its importance). There are many factors that influence search rankings, some of them are keywords, actual blog authority, number of backlinks, and more.

The good news is that there are many simple and free blogging sites where you can publish articles that will be indexed by Google, for example.

Create a YouTube channel

YouTube is another great platform that can help.

Video content really gives you the opportunity to showcase a product. In many cases, it is easier to make affiliate link sales using video content because users can see first-hand the benefits of certain products or services.

Use social media advertising

If you use Instagram, TikTok, or other social media platforms, you've probably come across affiliate posts already. These are messages marked with the hashtag #advertisement or something similar on social media channels.

Social media users are promoting affiliate products through posts if they honestly tell the audience that it is an affiliate link. The only catch is that you can only place your affiliate link in the biofield, on social media.

Use email marketing

Email is a more underrated channel when compared to social media. You need to integrate it with another platform, ideally, a blog, to achieve better results.

Launch a podcast

If you listen to podcasts, you already know what this is all about. A small ad break that is used in a podcast to tell the user about a product or service is often an affiliate product too! The best thing about podcast ads is that they don't compete for user attention like banners.

Selecting the best traffic sources for affiliate marketing

The best traffic sources for affiliate marketing are effective. The list of solutions includes many different marketing traffic sources, and here are the best of them.

Search engines

Search engines are great for getting search traffic especially Goggle, Yahoo, and Bing. Affiliate marketing traffic sources of this type generate traffic for digital marketing campaigns with keywords.

Focus on long keywords to drive traffic to the landing page. Short keywords are highly ambiguous and may not lead to targeted website traffic. Google AdWords and other tools can help with it.

Mobile traffic source

Most ads are hosted to mobile users through apps. Mobile traffic allows the marketer to keep building huge advertising campaigns like those built on the web, but with a better ROI.

With mobile medium, you can generate traffic and make money online across static or dynamic campaigns.

Social media

Social media affiliate marketing traffic sources can be diverse. Social media traffic sources have a very wide geographic reach, as their international scope is undeniable. The best part is that social media traffic sources generate traffic with loyal customers.

By nurturing potential customers who are already your social media followers, you can share your links and photos of the products and services you sell.

A social media traffic source can also allow your customers to leave comments and impressions about your products or services. This will help you build trust and a good reputation, which will attract new or potential customers who will visit your site and find the products and services you offer.

Thus, social media traffic sources are effective, but they should be used correctly. If done properly, social media advertising can do miracles. Creativity is the key to social media ads success as it awakens curiosity, especially when it comes to B2C. With B2B social media ads you need a more subtle approach that establishes trust and fosters loyalty.


Websites are another high quality traffic source; they can be compared to social media ads in terms of effectiveness. A high-traffic traffic source can be used to host a banner or link text to your site. To increase traffic, select a few websites as traffic sources and post a lot of links.

Loaded websites often seem to have very useful content in their database and therefore the click-through rate on your link is expected to be very high. It is also very efficient in regular browsers. Banners are made in a very original and creative way to attract the attention of Internet users.

While this high quality traffic source is very effective in generating organic traffic, it (as well as other best-paid traffic sources for affiliate marketing and free ones) should be used correctly and diligently as most people avoid click-throughs and ads.

Native ads: one of the best traffic sources

What is native advertising? Native advertising is an updated ad format that replaced classic teasers. It represents ad units/widgets on the site, consisting of a graphic part (the teaser itself) and a text - a title. Also, some sites provide the possibility to add descriptions under the ad unit.

Why is native ads traffic better than classic teasers and banners?

Users like native advertising. Native ads are unobtrusive and perfectly “breaks through” banner blindness, the blocks are conveniently located on the site, they do not interfere with the main content, and do not cause irritation.

Moreover, on some sites, native traffic sources are displayed as sponsored content by default, which significantly reduces user misclick. This is also shown by the numbers - the engagement of users when working with a native is 40% higher than with conventional banners.

Native ads are actively developing, still, you can find them easily on social media and websites.

You no longer need to make banners of different sizes depending on the type of devices and worry about how correctly they will be displayed. The programmatic platform can adapt everything for you.

The results of the focus group survey also showed that 52% of users prefer native ads over classic banners, and this is also supported by statistics according to which native teasers increase the desire to make a purchase by 53%.

The cherry on the cake is that in mobile native ads, the conversion rate from native ad format is 6 times higher than in classic banners.

mobile native ads stats

Another thing worth mentioning is that there are plenty of native ad formats, which is also great. Another question that arises is how to make the process of work with ads easier. Here, DSP platforms come to the rescue.

Demand-side platform (DSP) is software that makes it easy to buy and sell online advertisements. It is a digital tool used by advertisers (and other parties involved) to efficiently search for the best sites to place their advertisements, in accordance with the parameters they need.

The advertiser himself (or the agency representing him) chooses these parameters from the possible ones. The advertiser can sort the publisher's inventory by segmenting the audience (by demographic parameters, interests, location, etc.) or by the type of inventory (examples: video, mobile, desktop, etc.).

The point is that with DSP, this whole process of searching and sorting, which previously used to be done manually and was very long and ineffective, is now done automatically. On SmartyAds DSP, one can find the best native traffic and top native advertising trends.

Teaser networks

By tightening the requirements for moderation, becoming more demanding in terms of relevance and targeting, teaser networks again pose serious competition to other organic traffic sources. There is strong competition from push notifications that offer cheaper CTR (average 2.09%).

push ads stats

Push notifications

The increase in the mobile application market has led to a surge in the popularity of push traffic sources. This is one of the trends that took over all the web advertising trends some time ago.

Push traffic source is a small interactive ad that is delivered to mobile and desktop. In order to receive those, the user must subscribe to the newsletter.


Make sure to choose the right approach to the target audience with paid and organic traffic. Search traffic, Facebook lead ads, video ads, mobile video advertising, direct marketing and ad networks - there are plenty of best traffic sources for affiliate marketing that can streamline your marketing efforts.

Get started with the best omnichannel traffic for your ad campaigns on SmartyAds DSP.

affiliate tech