Exposing the Industry’s closely-guarded secret for success with Shopping Ads. Famous direct response company Agora slapped by FTC for shady business tactics tricking diseased seniors. FB Groups members’ data exposed to 100 apps developers.


Comparison Shopping Services: Best kept secret?

Just as we promised, we’re going to talk a lot about e-commerce and Shopping Ads during Q4 this year, and hopefully it will help you make the most of the holiday season.

Yesterday, we talked about the enforcement updates for Shopping Ads on Google that will boost the visibility of your ads when compared to your competitors.

Today, we’re bringing you the industry’s best kept secret surrounding Shopping Ads. This info is rarely found in any of the FB Groups, simply because very few people know about it. If you already do, kudos to you, give yourself a pat on the back.

For the rest of you, let’s indulge in some awesomeness called Comparison Shopping Services (CSS).

+ What’s CSS? CSS are platforms that can bid to place Shopping Ads on Google’s general search results pages on behalf of you. So, Google Ads manager isn’t the only platform to run Shopping Ads. In fact, Google Shopping itself is a CSS platform.

+ What does this mean? It means that, as a merchant, you can provide your product data to any CSS platform out there and let them run these ads on your behalf. You can also use multiple CSSs at the same time. The more, the merrier.

+ How does this work? The CSS creates a separate Merchant Center account for you which allows them to upload inventory and run Shopping Campaigns.

+ How is this helpful? To put it simply, it saves you a lot of money (especially if you are running bigger budgets) by significantly reducing your bids. This means that you part with less cash for each click. Jackpot, huh?

+ Woah, how? As an advertiser, you will never be second-priced against yourself in the auction for any offer. This rule applies irrespective of the number of CSS platforms you use.

Want an example?


+ Who are they available for? CSS are available to merchants in countries that are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

+ Shopping Ads for CSSs are currently available in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

One of our readers, Jon Lord from Connexity, recently spoke at PI LIVE about the topic and refers to CSS as the industry’s best kept secret.

“When asking how many people are using multiple CSS already, only 2 out of a few hundred people raised their hand. It’s one reason I described it as one of the best kept secrets in performance marketing”.

Jon also added that measurement is key. “Test it for yourself and ask for a Google Auction Insight report from your CSS. Check the overlap, outrank and impression data against your own direct campaign as well as the effect it’s having on your competitors bidding on the same products.”


Are you ready for the ecomm Superbowl?

When we featured BFCM post number 8178 a month ago, we hoped it would be the last one. Well, sorry to say that it wasn’t! After all, as Scott Seward says, the holiday season is the e-commerce Superbowl! Or the Champions League final match if you’re more about soccer.

Anyway, the point is, the more you know, the better.

So, let’s see these new tips that Scott Seward shared with us:

+ Offers

  • Do not run confusing offers such as “Buy 1 get 1 50% OFF with code x”. Remember KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) and go for deals such as “Min. 30% OFF”.
  • Discount codes do not work. Well, at least according to Scott’s experience over the past few years.
  • What works best is automatically discounted products.
  • Display the offer on your store’s homepage, Instagram account and FB page.

+ User experience

  • Test in advance to ensure the automatic discounts (or discount codes if you went down that path) are working.
  • If you offer product bundling, verify that product bundling works when added to cart.
  • Create a customized lander for the BFCM. They tend to convert better. Remember to test the speed and UX.
  • Check the discount bars and countdowns in your shop and countdowns..

+Campaigns: This is what worked for Scott Seward last year.

  • CBO campaigns outperformed ABO campaigns.
  • Take working ad sets and split out manual bidding points across the actual CPA.
  • High daily budget ($2k-$3k/day) with manual bidding between ½x to 1x the CPA plus accelerated bidding worked really well.
  • High spend accounts: Bump up the bids by 20% 2-3 times per day on best performing ad sets.
  • Retargeting site visitors with camps optimized for Impressions with a $1k bid.
  • Once you burn out the warm audiences on Black Friday, shift the budget back to cold traffic and leverage the data you built up: Create LLAs of Purchases, high value Purchasers, 2+ Purchases, best device, high AOV Purchases… well, you get the idea…

+ Creatives

  • Have a minimum of 7 large batches of creatives and copy: Holiday gifting angles ads, BF teaser ads, BF ads, new BF ads for the weekend after BF, Cyber Monday ads, Christmas ads and “in time for Christmas promised shipping before date X.”

A lot of things going on, uh? Well, Scott actually went on to talk about attribution during the Q4 and how to leverage chatbots for spike up that juicy ROAS.

Check here the whole doc.


Large American publisher slapped by the FTC for tricking seniors into buying fake products

Have you ever heard about Agora? No? Officially, it’s a publishing company. In practice, it’s a direct response business that leverages newsletters, publications and other content to push their products.

If you’re in the direct response copywriting world, you might know of them. It’s one of the most coveted companies to work for as a copywriter… because they usually only hire the best for their marketing camps.

Nothing bad so far, except that the FTC sued Agora for tricking seniors into buying books, newsletters, and other publications that falsely promise cures for widespread diseases. They are even accused of promoting a false plan that helps these seniors to cash in on a govt-affiliated check program.

The two products involved are:

  • The Doctor’s Guide: Agora and the affiliates advertised The Doctor’s Guide as a simple and scientifically proven protocol that can permanently cure a disease in 28 days, without any changes to diet or exercise. We can’t name it otherwise the spam filter would slap us, but you can easily find it yourself. It’s very widespread in America and is related to sugar 😉
  • Congressional checks: This covers newsletters and books that should show you how to claim a 6-figure check from the govt.

Well, the FTC is increasing its effort and really making a statement by investigating such a well respected company.

It seems that the FTC is starting to penalize not only what is promoted, but also how it’s promoted. It’s becoming a bit like Facebook, punishing companies that used aggressive marketing practices get sales.


  • BING: Microsoft announced a new look and a new feature for its browser Edge called InPrivate Mode that will not only set your browsing as private but also your searches in Bing.
  • TIKTOK: Transitioning from a direct sales ad platform to a self serve one, TikTok is now testing cost-per-click ad pricing model.
  • SHOPIFY: Shopify Email just launched: The tool will let you create, run and track email campaigns natively inside Shopify.
  • ADVERTISING: GroupM, the biggie from the advertising world, forecasts that Outdoor, Radio & Print might again offer real benefits and maintain the potential for faster growth in the future than in recent times.
  • FACEBOOK: A number of third-party apps from a hundred developers improperly accessed FB Groups members’ data without adequate permissions to do so. Ah, well.


What can point in every direction but can’t reach the destination by itself.

You’ll find the answer at the end of this email.


Cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all the other things affiliates like to chat about while sipping cocktails by the pool.

The classic tale of turning a pain point into business idea

There are many business ideas out there waiting for you to grab their attention. The question is, how big is your appetite and how good is your business acumen?

Jayson Gonzalez, a college student from Minnesota, came up with a not-so-innovative but great idea when he realised that there hadn’t been a Krispy Kreme store in his area for 11 years!

That was his Aha! moment.


Doughnut arbitrage could have landed him a Forbes magazine cover.

So he decided to drive all the way to Iowa (270 miles away) every weekend to buy hundreds of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. What next? Obviously he sold them to his own customers in the Twin Cities area.

He charged $17 – $20 per box and some of his customers spent nearly $100 each time.

Unfortunately for him, a local publication featured his story and he was asked to stop by the doughnut company due to his sales creating a liability for the North Carolina-based company.

“Life happens, and it could be a sign that something else is meant to be.” – Gonzalez

PS: Writing this post, we found out there’s been an update to the story: Krispy Kreme saw this guy as an chance to branch out into a new state. They struck a deal with him and he’s now allowed to resell Krispy Kreme doughnuts as an independent operator!

Well, we can now say that doughnut arbitrage is actually a real business. The hustle paid off for Jayson.


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