The weekly startup review initiated with PageTiki continues today with PerformancingAds. This, in my opinion, is an obscure advertising system that supposedly helps “great publishers get partnered up with great advertisers.”
For research purposes I will include in this article some affiliate links to PerformancingAds (to see how many clicks will appear in my affiliates control panel). Please note that this is a negative review of the service and I do not recommend PerformancingAds as a feasible monetizing option for your site/blog.
PerformancingAds released its service on July 24 with a biased list-type of announcement on their corporate blog. Behind the service there are names like Ryan Caldwell, Chris Garrett, Sean Hickey and Randa Clay – all web authorities, respected professionals in the blogosphere. These are the names that “baited” so many people into becoming PerformancingAds users.
I haven’t tested the service as an advertiser, but I can today express my opinion as a publisher and an affiliate.
Something Fishy in PerformancingAds Land…
Creating an account with PerformancingAds is easy. You submit some basic information, go through a basic confirmation process and you are in.
Then you submit your sites, set up your advertising fees, get a script code and paste it wherever you want to display PerformancingAds on your site. This sounds simple and clean, doesn’t it?
Next, you wait for advertisers to “book” advertising space on your sites. In the meanwhile Performancing will display its own banners, at its discretion or place miscellaneous banners on your sites – apparently based on a “traffic exchange” basis:
A publisher earns a set baseline of credits simply for displaying ads, and earns even more credits when ads are sold on his or her site. Credits are then converted into free traffic for the publisher.
I was not inspired to make screenshots of my sites in the first two days of displaying PerformancingAds because honestly… I haven’t expected the service to be so full of bugs. So “fishy.”
Let me explain.
PerformancingAds showed for two-three days ads from its network on my site. There where links to http://performancingads.com/ and a few other sites from the SplashPress Media network. I treated these as “exchange” ads and I ignored them.
If you have not sold all of your advertising spots, Performancing Ads will show exchange ads in their place. Exchange ads are ads from other sites in the network and count towards your exchange credits. Exchange ads always defer to paid-ads, so as soon as someone buys an ad on your site, the paid ad will replace an exchange ad.
At the beginning of September I noticed that the ads displayed by the PerformancingAds script on my sites changed. I logged into my account and I was happy to see 6 bookings in my reports for September. There were 2 bookings for each site I submitted. Today these bookings magically disappeared – although the ads still show on my sites.
Naturally this raises questions about Performancing’s integrity. Do they charge the advertisers and do not pay the publishers? Frankly, this is exactly how it looks.
Advertisers book banner ads on a publisher’s site on weekly basis –at least according to Performancing.
Why do you use weeks instead of months?
We get asked this question a lot. The simple truth is that at the end of the day, it increases the level of entry for advertisers. By having more advertisers involved in our network, our publishers will make more money, more consistently. It’s a win-win for everyone.
So if advertisers book banner space for one week, how come that the bookings completely disappear after 2 days (!) from a publisher’s account and how come that these advertisers remain featured on the publishers’ sites? Do the ads convert to “exchange ads” over night? If so, why is http://umarsiddiqi.com/blog/ not displaying any Rounite ads?
The questions “how does the exchange system work?” receives from Performancing a nebulous answer:
Good question! The exchange system is a credit based system that is internal to Performancing Ads publishers. A publisher earns a set baseline of credits simply for displaying ads, and earns even more credits when ads are sold on his or her site. Credits are then converted into free traffic for the publisher.
The “exchange” is obviously random and incontrollable. In the PerformancingAds control panel there are no stats to show you where your “exchange ads” are being shown or how many referrals you get from the so called “traffic exchange.”
In this equation only PerformancingAds wins.
The affiliates program is even more nebulous. If you are logged into your account there is no way to access the information from this page: http://performancingads.com/affiliates
This is how the page reads when you are logged off:
And this is what the same url displays when you are logged in.
The question “how much I make per referral” was not included in the “help” FAQ for affiliates. There is also no way to tell whether the affiliate signed under your referral id is a publisher or an advertiser.
With mysterious disappearance of bookings from my account, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of affiliates reset to zero tomorrow. More mysterious is the number of clicks reported in my affiliate account.
I had days when TerraHermes had 8000 unique visitors. Please note that the PerformancingAds affiliate banner is on the header of the blog. Do you think that out of 8000 visitors no one clicked on that banner? Not even by accident? According to my tongue-in-cheek calculations, at least five users drank too much Finlandia and passed over the keyboard accidentally hitting the banner; two husbands (or wives) got slapped at the back of the head for being on the Web too long and clicked the banner; at least four users had mistakenly travelled to one of my sites trying to find performance cars (and clicked on the “performancing” ad) and finally… statistically… at least 8 users (or 0,01 percent of 8000) actually clicked on the banner as intended.
PerformancingAds is a mystery and I am not the only one to complain. See Ben Barden’s four week review – it’s more in-depth than mine. Not many web authorities are criticizing the system, and we do have some users experiencing “problems” with their PerformancingAds… I guess the others are too busy to notice or too busy advertising the system…
So far I am deeply disappointed with Performancing and I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. I continue to run the script for a while, just for the sake of the argument. I am also very curious how many “clicks” will appear in my “affiliates” reports after this article and basically till the end of September 2008 – when I will publish my conclusions. I will discontinue using PerformancingAds at the end of the month and I will donate all winnings (if any) to a cause you recommend.