Cultivating a Valuable & Trustworthy Performance Marketing Network

Stop using performance marketing networks to garner impressions. Start using them for long term growth. Director of Lead Generation, Tom Cullen explains how.

One of the primary benefits advertisers and agencies value in performance marketing networks is the ability to gain access to a variety of unique sites and publications through one point of contact. Work is consolidated while the marketing plan is diversified.

That’s assuming marketing networks curate the best sites, not just the most popular.

Too often, marketing networks make it their primary focus to partner with high traffic sites & publishers. While valuable, higher levels of traffic does not necessarily equate to an increase in sustainable advertising dollars. Exclusively chasing high traffic sites overlooks more pertinent factors, such as site relevance, traffic quality, and propensity for user engagement.

A more holistic approach, keeping the advertisers best interest as the point of emphasis, will result in stronger overall campaign performance. Diligence at three key steps can create a performance marketing network with the ability to deliver more than traffic.

Prospect with a Purpose

For a performance marketing network, the first step should be to prospect for sites and publications that fit your client-base. Focus on properties that align with your advertiser’s target audience and industry.

Inspect the look and feel of the site. Make sure it’s professional, brand-safe, and has strong content. It’s the networks responsibility to protect the advertiser’s brand.

Screen your Prospective Publisher. Thoroughly.

Yelp for restaurants, Zillow for homes, Glass Door for employment. We vet all of our potential business partners, a publisher should be no exception. Request a trade reference, testimonial, or case study when evaluating top prospects. See how long they’ve been in business and what their reputation is.

If the publisher owns multiple sites, insist on site transparency. Be aware of the potential properties you have access to, and the types of clients they’re advertising for. Properties that speak to your brand’s audience may exist in a portfolio that also contains properties that are far from brand safe.

Have knowledge of their strengths & weaknesses as it relates to their target audience, reach, and industry/vertical focus.


Marketing networks have the opportunity to start publishers with a small test. In the initial venture, limit the amount of impressions, clicks, and leads. Test with an advertiser that allows for immediate performance evaluation to gain an accurate understanding of how a publisher is able to help achieve your specific goals.

And remember that after a publisher is approved and a robust performance marketing network is assembled, there’s always maintenance and upkeep. The network – publisher relationship is an ongoing and mutual optimization process. Analyze all metrics available, including the obvious optimizations to targeting, traffic source, and more.

This is an ongoing process of prospecting, vetting, and optimizing your network. Be proactive. Let your clients’ best interests guide your decision-making, and lead to long-term, sustainable growth.