eCommerce Tips & Trends

Be smart with advertising: How to guarantee your return on ad spend

Cooper Harris

by Cooper Harris

On 2018 M06 12

by Cooper Harris

Everybody loves the possible benefits of advertising but not the high cost and lack of guaranteed outcomes associated with it. Today’s standard advertising pricing model – whether on Facebook, AdRoll, or elsewhere – is the same: put money in, gather impressions, clicks, and engagements, and pray for sales.

Because it’s been the standard for so long, most marketers have become complacent with this model –– they’re resigned that there is rarely a guarantee for actual revenue (or even good performance), let alone assurance that your return on ad spend (ROAS) will pay off. They’ve settled for paying money ‘up front,’ hoping the ads will get sales.

The top complaints we hear every day about advertising are as follows:

  1. Spent a ton of money on advertising, got a bunch of clicks, but only a few sales.”
  2. “Ads worked great, but my CPC is through the roof!
  3. “My ads get people to my site, but the drop-off rate is crazy high!”

Clearly, with more noise online than ever, it’s never been harder to be smart with your advertising when results aren’t guaranteed. So, over a year ago, we set out on the giant task of creating an advertising platform that addressed ALL of the 3 points above. We wanted to spell it out here,

In our (admittedly very biased) opinion, if you’re using an advertising platform that makes you pay “up front” for advertising –– with no performance guarantees –– you should stop! That platform has no incentive to work as hard as you for sales; they already have your money. We think that’s money could have been better spent elsewhere on your business.  Or could have gone to your beach house fund ;).

If you’re guilty of paying out on the traditional models above (we don’t blame you, everyone does it), take a look at these 3 ways you can take back control of your ads:

  1. Only pay for ads that are performance-based (i.e. only pay when ads drive sales)
  2. Find an advertising platform that can guarantee or “lock-in” your ROAS (return on ad spend)
  3. Make your ad creative as efficient as possible

True performance-based advertising (it’s not CPC)

The most common form of this payment model is affiliate marketing. Affiliate sites can be desirable options for a few reasons:

  1. They can increase your revenue with little to no work
  2. They can moderately increase your sales within days of going live
  3. They have easy access to very specific niches

However, a challenge with affiliate marketers is that once they reach out to their core audience, it’s hard to expand from there. That’s because affiliates do not actively advertise your products to best-match consumers across millions of sites; they’re just showing your products on one site. Rarely do affiliate marketers have the ability to continuously grow your customer base, outside of their own platform growth.

We set out to build Klickly to have all the qualities of the performance-based model brands love –– you only pay when we drive sales –– BUT while actively advertising your products on over 25 million sites (think ESPN, Vogue, Instyle, etc). That means, as a smart marketer you can grow your brand’s audience in a risk-free way –– by leveraging Klickly’s machine-learning technology, you’re able to grow your audience every day, and you don’t even pay for it.

Guarantee Your ROAS

This is arguably the trickiest part of advertising.  As stated earlier, when you’re paying on CPM, CPC, etc., you won’t have guaranteed on what returns or revenue you get.

Traditionally, the only folks who can help you advertise for guaranteed results are performance marketing agencies. These are agencies that operate your campaigns and are paid a percentage of the sales they drive.

However, these agencies take on a lot of risk with this model.  So they only accept a few fast-trending brands (usually selling only 1 niche product with high margin). They also usually require brands to agree to stringent locked-in terms, without the ability to easily renegotiate changes. You may be required to work with the agency for 6 - 12 months and split the revenues at a set 30% or higher. It doesn’t give the marketer the possibility of testing what happens if you give them 10% vs 15% of the sales revenue.

After studying this model, we essentially tried to model Klickly after the good parts of performance marketing agency. But with a key difference: Klickly lets you choose your terms and lock-in your returns. You can also A/B test different commission settings by running more than one campaign (at no extra charge).

With Klickly, since you have full control over your commission, smart marketers will use it to lock in your ROAS!

  • If you want a guaranteed 3x ROAS (or a 3:1 return), set a 33% commission.
  • If you want a guaranteed 5x ROAS (or a 5:1 return), set a 20% commission.

Our Insight to Ads Creative

Creating effective ads that accurately showcase your products as well as get consumers’ attention is very difficult. People today have become relatively blind to word-heavy advertisements.

We, as a society,  are bombarded with ads so heavily every time we’re on the internet that we’ve grown to ignore them almost entirely.  As a rising brand, this makes it really hard to grow your business at an expo.

Consumers like to be engaged, but getting them to that point is the hardest part.

We’ve found that the more engaging an ad can be, the more the consumer feels like they’re actively taking part in something and having a true experience, rather than simply seeing an ad for a product.

This is largely why advertising has evolved so much over the past decade, and why brands spend billions trying to coax consumer into their sales funnel.  For example, check out the mobile app game created by Dominos, solely designed for people to buy pizza.  Domino’s still keeps up with their regular ads, but it’s things like this that separate them from the rest of the industry.

Easyship x Klickly - Return on ROAS 1

While we didn’t make a mobile app, Klickly took a different approach to optimizing ads.  We created the first-ever buyable ads, where consumers can buy your products directly in the ad.

Let the consumer buy on the spot, without ever leaving the page. Now customers can purchase faster and easier than ever before.

5 trillion (yes, trillion with a “t” ;) dollars of goods were abandoned in shopping carts in 2016 (eMarketer, Dec 2017).  With Klickly ads, they don’t get the chance to abandon the cart, since they can impulse purchase directly in the ad.

See these ads in motion!

Easyship x Klickly - Return on ROAS 2


There are more online consumers today than in the history of the internet, unfortunately there are also more online advertisers today than ever before competing for that audience.  Standing out can be difficult, but the reward for successful advertising is tremendously high.

With Klickly you can select specific products to advertise, or your whole store, and only pay when you actually make a sale.

It takes literally 5 minutes to setup but gives you the power to spend what you want but still advertise powerfully and effectively.

Easyship x Klickly - Return on ROAS 3

About the author: Cooper Harris is a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Klickly, an impulse-payments platform. Cooper is a contributor to Forbes and HuffPost and has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, Mashable and Women2.0 and more.