country tiers in affiliate marketing?

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Programmatic advertising allows for targeting your ads at users all over the world. To make your life easier, all these countries have been divided into three groups — tiers — based on a number of factors, like:

  • financial status
  • geographical location
  • languages
  • legal regulations
  • technological advancements
  • society and ethnicity

This allowed for identifying three main areas that share similar characteristics, called TIER 1, TIER2, and TIER3 GEOs.

Sometimes there are also mentions of Tier 4. In that case it’s usually made of the worst-performing GEOs coming from Tier 3, or simply countries with unstable political situations, that makes advertising there even harder.

So what countries belong to each group? Well…if we were to include them all you’d get tired scrolling down.

TIERS of GEOs

(Tier 1 and 2 in full, Tier 3 shortened)

TIER 1 TIER 2 TIER 3
COUNTRY COUNTRY COUNTRY
Australia (AU) Austria (AT) Afghanistan (AF)
Canada (CA) Belgium (BE) Albania (AL)
France (FR) Cyprus (CY) Algeria (DZ)
Germany (DE) Czech Republic (CZ) Argentina (AR)
Italy (IT) Denmark (DK) Armenia (AM)
United Kingdom (GB) Finland (FI) Azerbaijan (AZ)
United States (US) Greece (GR) Bangladesh (BD)
Hong Kong (HK) Barbados (BB)
Iceland (IS) Belarus (BY)
Iran (IR) Bolivia (BO)
Ireland (IE) Botswana (BW)
Israel (IL) Brazil (BR)
Japan (JP) Cambodia (KH)
Kuwait (KW) Chile (CL)
Luxembourg (LU) China (CN)
Malaysia (MY) Colombia (CO)
Netherlands (NL) Costa Rica (CR)
New Zealand (NZ) Cote d’Ivoire (CI)
Norway (NO) Croatia (HR)
Portugal (PT) Cuba (CU)
Qatar (QA) Ecuador (EC)
Russia (RU) Egypt (EG)
Saudi Arabia (SA) Eritrea (ER)
Singapore (SG) Estonia (EE)
Slovakia (SK) Georgia (GE)
South Africa (ZA) Ghana (GH)
Spain (ES) Hungary (HU)
Sweden (SE) India (IN)
Switzerland (CH) Indonesia (ID)
United Arab Emirates (AE) Iraq (IQ)
Kazakhstan (KZ)
Kenya (KE)
Korea (KR)
Latvia (LV)
Liechtenstein (LI)
Lithuania (LT)
Macedonia (MK)
Madagascar (MG)
Mexico (MX)
Mozambique (MZ)
Nigeria (NG)
Pakistan (PK)
Paraguay (PY)
Peru (PE)
Philippines (PH)
Poland (PL)
Puerto Rico (PR)
Romania (RO)
Slovenia (SL)
Sudan (SD)
Taiwan (AF)
Thailand (TH)
Tunisia (TN)
Turkey (TR)
Turkmenistan (TM)
Ukraine (UA)
Uruguay (UY)
Uzbekistan (UZ)
Venezuela (VE)
Vietnam (VN)
Zambia (ZM)
Zimbabwe (ZW)
  • Clearly, Tier 1 includes mostly English speaking countries plus rich Western European ones.
  • Tier 2, as could be expected, is a mix of countries from all over the world that could be described as medium level.
  • The last group, Tier 3, consists of all the other countries — either the poorest, the least developed, or simply the least attractive for affiliate advertising. Do not write it off just yet, though. Bear with us and you’ll see there’s a huge potential in Tier 3 countries.

Why bother with targeting various tiers instead of reaching them all, though? Here’s why.

Tiers of Traffic GEOs MAP

Why is geo-targeting essential for digital advertising?

Geo-targeting is a very important part of any digital advertising strategy. It was designed to help advertisers optimize the efficiency of their campaigns by showing ads only where relevant, leaving out all those countries and regions where people wouldn’t be interested or… simply couldn’t understand the ad’s message.

Precise targeting and careful optimization are paramount to the success of your affiliate campaigns. That’s why you need to think of geo-targeting as a key component of your marketing strategy and deliver the message to potential customers only where it matters. Which is often based on your target audience’s geographical location.

Thinking strategically and analyzing your audience’s preferences can get you far in affiliate marketing. And geo-targeting allows you to learn more about your ads’ recipients than just where their IP addresses are from. You can actually assume their:

  • language
  • financial status
  • Interest in your offer
  • tech-adoption
  • latest trends and hypes

How? Just check the Google Trends, look for information on most frequently used keywords or search phrases per country or language, check what ads are already shown there and which receive the most traffic — that’s what spy tools and the Internet are for.

DOs and DON’Ts of geo-targeting

Basically, targeting it all, without any bigger plan, or showing your ads to people who aren’t even able to understand what’s written there (and why would they if it’s not in their native language) is simply a waste of time and money.

While talking to the right people, at the right place, at the right time, about the right things, and in the right way… is a way to go in marketing. And affiliate marketing allows you to do it all while sat on your couch.

Where to invest your advertising budget?

Once we’ve established the basis as to why geo-targeting is an essential part of your business, let’s have a look at each tier and discuss its characteristics, pros and cons, as well as what areas are especially worth focusing on.

Tier 1 GEOs

TIER 1 GEOs 

US, UK, AU, CA joined by FR, DE and IT. What a party, huh?

As mentioned already, Tier 1 consists of the English speaking countries plus the three Western European ones. These are definitely rich countries, with a huge spending potential, high technological advancement, and broad mobile devices adoption. All this makes them a very attractive target for affiliate advertisers.

But it also means that the market is highly saturated, the competition is tight, bids are higher than with other tiers, people are more conscious of your ads, and often how to avoid them or simply tend to block them completely.

Also, you must be wise and clever with your bidding strategy if going for Tier 1 countries. Don’t let your budget burn while you’re outbid by more experienced advertisers and with much bigger budgets.

TIER 1 CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Geographical location: North America, Western Europe, Australia
  • Language: English is prevailing, also FR, DE, IT.
  • Spending potential: BIG
  • Legal regulations: need to be taken into account
  • Technological advancements: HIGH
  • Mobile devices adoption: HIGH
  • Online payment: advanced
  • Ads blocking: frequent

TIER 1 INSIGHTS:

  • Top verticals: e-commerce, finance, dating, nutra.
  • Top ad formats: domain redirect, push, pop
  • Competition: HIGH
  • Top GEOs: US, CA, UK
  • Volumes: BIG
  • Bids: HIGH
  • Budget: HIGH
  • Conversion rates: HIGH
  • Potential: You play big, your score big.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it’s definitely worth the risk. Tier 1 countries require a lot of experience, dedication, proper budget, and a killer offer that people actually want to see. But when they do… it pays off well.

Tier 2 GEOs

TIER 2 GEOs

The second group is a mixture of the remaining European countries, Asian countries, and the better-developed countries from the African continent. Generally, people there aren’t as prosperous as in Tier 1. Although this may be a sign of a smaller spending potential, it varies heavily depending on a country. That’s why advertisers need to check how a particular country they’d like to target performs despite its Tier characteristics.

Nevertheless, Tier 2 countries convert well and are definitely worth giving it a go. The technological development (online payments and mobile adoption included) is strong there, making Tier 2 another prosperous segment of the affiliate advertising market. And most importantly, the bid prices and competition are much smaller than with Tier 1 GEOs.

Surprisingly, the Tier 2 countries tend to travel up and down the list. They either make it closer to Tier 1 regions, or are joined by the countries coming from Tier 3. Remember that the list is not fixed. It fluctuates, and things can get quite dynamic even within one tier of traffic.

TIER 2 CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Geographical location: Europe and richer Asian countries, aslo other regions.
  • Language: various languages, localization is recommended.
  • Spending potential: MEDIUM
  • Legal regulations: need to be taken into account, medium level.
  • Technological advancements: MEDIUM to HIGH
  • Mobile devices adoption: HIGH
  • Online payment: developed
  • Ads blocking: occasional

TIER 2 INSIGHTS:

  • Top verticals: e-commerce, dating, sweepstakes
  • Top ad formats: push, domain redirect, pop
  • Competition: MEDIUM
  • Top GEOs: JP, NZ, SE, RU
  • Volumes: MEDIUM
  • Bids: MEDIUM
  • Budget: MEDIUM
  • Conversion rates: GOOD
  • Potential: Monitor what GEOs are currently top-performing bid there.

All in all, it’s a good segment of traffic for both — those more experienced, and those only starting in affiliate marketing. Still, targeting and creative optimization are required.

Tier 3 GEOS

TIER 3 GEOs

For some advertisers, the Tier 3 countries are the wild, wild west of affiliate marketing. There are little rules, lot’s of traffic for very occasional prices, many campaigns that wouldn’t even be accepted in other GEOs are scoring it big in Tier 3, and the competition is much smaller.

There’s a huge potential in Tier 3 GEOs that’s only waiting for takers. The technology has moved forward significantly in the last few years, and mobile adoption, as well as the online payment solutions, are only growing. This means more and more offers actually make sense to be run with Tier 3 countries.

Yes, it’s still volatile and fluctuates a lot as an advertising market, but there’s no other Tier that can offer you that much traffic for such low prices. And that’s exactly what you need for testing your campaigns, regardless whether you’re an affiliate pro or a newbie.

Note, though, that localization and languages might pose an issue sometimes. Also, adjusting your ad creatives to match the local preferences or cultural norms might be required for an ad to be accepted by the target audience.

TIER 3 CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Geographical location: Less prosperous parts of the world, including EMEA, ACAP, and LATAM regions.
  • Language: various languages, localization is required.
  • Spending potential: depending on the GEO
  • Legal regulations: varying from strict cultural norms to loose legal measures.
  • Technological advancements: GROWING
  • Mobile devices adoption: GROWING
  • Online payment: limited
  • Ads blocking: rare or none

TIER 3 INSIGHTS:

  • Top verticals: sweepstakes, dating, nutra
  • Top ad formats: pop, domain redirect, push
  • Competition: LOW
  • Top GEOs: BR, MX, CH, IN, PH, TH
  • Volumes: HUGE
  • Bids: LOW
  • Budget: LOW
  • Conversion rates: GOOD
  • Potential: BIG

Tier 3 countries are yet to be fully utilised, and no one should write them off before at least giving them a try. There’s some great potential lying there and waiting for affiliate advertisers. Also, we’re quite curious to see how Tier 3 performance and popularity may change in the next few years when it comes to affiliate marketing.

Actionable data and statistics.

To make your life even easier while deciding on the best geo-targeting for your ad campaigns, here’s a portion of actionable data and statistics.

Top GEOs & Cost-Per-Click

It’s important to understand how much targeting a given GEO will actually cost you.

The higher the tier, the higher the prices — that’s something we’ve already established. Now, to help you understand why it’s better to go for Tier 3 regions if you’re only starting, here’s some food for thought.

Some Tier 3 countries, like the Philippines, offer lower CPC prices, smaller competition, big volumes, eager audiences, and still use English as their conversational language, so you don’t even need to worry about translation. What’s not to like compared to the crowded, expensive and highly demanding US market? Let’s do some basic math.

  • If you want to run push ads in the US, your CPC is $0.04.
  • While in PH it’s only $0.0072.

That’s 550% higher price per click for a Tier 1 country as compared to Tier 3!

It means that in order to buy 1000 clicks and test your campaign’s set up, you’d need to spend $40 for the US targeting, and only $7,2 on your PH campaign. Having a $100 testing budget allows you to gather way more data running tests on PH traffic rather than US.

TIER 1
GEO AVG. BID
POP DOMAIN PUSH
US $0.0003 $0.0448 $0.0400
UK $0.0004 $0.0150 $0.0476
CA $0.0005 $0.0106 $0.0529
AU $0.0009 $0.0087 $0.1012
DE $0.0004 $0.0073 $0.0199
FR $0.0008 $0.0087 $0.0215
IT $0.0003 $0.0048 $0.0388

 

TIER 2
GEO AVG. BID
POP DOMAIN PUSH
JP $0.0001 $0.0055 $0.0242
NZ $0.0003 $0.0115 $0.0843
SE $0.0003 $0.0028 $0.0134
NT $0.0006 $0.0127 $0.0211
PT $0.0008 $0.0051 $0.0155
ZA $0.0005 $0.0036 $0.0185
RU $0.0002 $0.0027 $0.0118

 

TIER 3
GEO AVG. BID
POP DOMAIN PUSH
BR $0.0005 $0.0035 $0.0098
MX $0.0006 $0.0019 $0.0126
CN $0.0008 $0.0024 $0.0067
IN $0.0005 $0.0017 $0.0030
ID $0.0004 $0.0041 $0.0076
PH $0.0003 $0.0029 $0.0072
TH $0.0003 $0.0044 $0.0123

English-speaking yet cheap GEOs outside of Tier 1

Another thing is that, many of the countries outside of Tier 1 do actually use English. Often as an official language, or simply because the language adoption is high among its citizens. That’s why we’ve prepared this list with countries where English is commonly used as the set device language, therefore making it the preferred website (ad) viewing language should work, too. Also, you can find both the percentage of clicks coming from ads in English that these GOEs receive.

COUNTRY CODE COUNTRY LANGUAGE ALL CLICKS %
BM Bermuda EN 100%
GI Gibraltar EN 100%
SR Suriname EN 96%
TZ Tanzania EN 95%
PK Pakistan EN 95%
KE Kenya EN 94%
PG Papua New Guinea EN 93%
UG Uganda EN 93%
ZM Zambia EN 92%
GH Ghana EN 89%
SL Sierra Leone EN 89%
PH Philippines EN 87%
LK Sri Lanka EN 85%
JM Jamaica EN 85%
NA Namibia EN 83%
NG Nigeria EN 83%
WS Samoa EN 83%
IE Ireland EN 82%
BS Bahamas EN 81%
AU Australia EN 80%
SZ Eswatini EN 80%
MV Maldives EN 79%
AE United Arab Emirates EN 77%
ZA South Africa EN 77%
QA Qatar EN 77%
NP Nepal EN 77%
GY Guyana EN 76%
FJ Fiji EN 75%
BW Botswana EN 75%
TC Turks and Caicos EN 75%
MU Mauritius EN 73%
ZW Zimbabwe EN 72%
SS South Sudan EN 72%
NZ New Zealand EN 71%
BD Bangladesh EN 71%
CA Canada EN 71%
GB Great Britain EN 69%
BZ Belize EN 69%
ET Ethiopia EN 67%
MT Malta EN 67%
IN India EN 67%
MN Mongolia EN 67%
CK Cook Islands EN 65%
MW Malawi EN 62%
AL Albania EN 62%
MM Myanmar EN 61%
US United States EN 60%
OM Oman EN 60%
SO Somalia EN 59%
SG Singapore EN 58%
TT Trinidad and Tobago EN 58%
KH Cambodia EN 56%
IS Iceland EN 55%
NO Norway EN 54%
AW Aruba EN 54%
MK North Macedonia EN 48%
MY Malaysia EN 46%
IM Isle of Man EN 46%
KW Kuwait EN 43%
CY Cyprus EN 40%
LB Lebanon EN 39%
BH Bahrain EN 39%
SA Saudi Arabia EN 27%
LU Luxembourg EN 25%
HK Hong Kong EN 20%
GE Georgia EN 19%
IL Israel EN 18%
PR Puerto Rico EN 18%
NL Netherlands EN 18%
LV Latvia EN 16%
ME Montenegro EN 14%
FI Finland EN 13%
BG Bulgaria EN 13%
RS Serbia EN 12%
MZ Mozambique EN 12%
EE Estonia EN 12%
LT Lithuania EN 10%
TH Thailand EN 10%
RO Romania EN 10%
JO Jordan EN 10%
DK Denmark EN 10%

Geo-targeting and optimization tips for successful campaigns. 

Advertisers need to be careful when choosing what tiers and countries to target, and that’s for a number of reasons. It’s not only about which region is the most profitable, or what’s better for more or less advanced affiliates. Geo-targeting and optimization tips for successful campaigns.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of top industry tips on geo-targeting and deciding for a tier of traffic. Have a look!

  • Don’t target it all — choose your audience and focus your attention on what are its characteristics.
  • Don’t limit yourself too much — running your campaigns in more than one GEOs is much recommended!
  • Remember to run separate campaigns per country so as to test and compare results.
  • Unless you’re running a multi-geo campaign. But even then, testing separate GEOs before running a multi-campaign is still recommended.
  • Test your campaigns with cheap traffic. 
  • If your testing budget is below $1000, start with Tier 3. If it’s more like a few thousand, you can try higher tiers.
  • If the volumes of your chosen GEO are low, you probably won’t be able to scale up your campaigns if proved successful. Make sure there’s space to grow.
  • Gather as much information and data as possible.
  • Pay close attention to offer restrictions. 
  • If you’ve got a good offer, but there are limitations in a given tier, try another region. Like with nutra, dating or crypto!
  • Tier 1 countries tend to be quite restrictive, but Tier 3 is up for grabs.
  • Think of market saturation and creative fatigue — it’s always easier to last longer if the competition is smaller.
  • Even if you run the same offer in various GEOs, always adjust your creatives to match the target audience and tap into current/local demand.
  • Match your ad visuals with the audience’s likings.
  • Do research on countries and regions you want to target. Check what’s legal and what isn’t when it comes to digital advertising.
  • Localization matters! Always translate your ad’s and lander’s copy.
  • You can fine-tune your ad copy by adding local buzz-words, sayings or slang — personalized content sells better.
  • Currency and date formats are also important!
  • Focus on creating high-quality ads rather than copycatting them from spy tools.
  • Test your ads and score big running affiliate ad campaigns!
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