Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the past 3 to 4 years, I’m sure you’ve come across sites like Scribol, 2Leep, Wahoha & Zergnet. They became quite popular during the advent of the ‘Curiosity Gap’, ‘Click-Baiting’ or ‘Meme Phenomenon’ that started 4 to 5 years ago.
Since most ‘Click-Bait’ sites could not rely on search traffic and building a strong social media presence was always cumbersome and time-consuming, they built their initial audience using ‘Widget-Based Traffic Exchange’ networks, which placed ‘Native Ads’ type widgets across these blogs which displayed relevant and interesting content, often attracting high click-through-rates, and in return for sending traffic towards other sites part of the network, bloggers and webmasters were allowed to submit their own links, getting 150% to 200% return in traffic.
This system worked extremely well because unlike traditional traffic exchanges, users weren’t incentivized or forced to visit any site, they clicked on the link because they were interested in seeing / learning more after seeing the thumbnail and caption in the native ad placements, and unlike traditional ‘Content Discovery & Social Media Sites’, this system gave equal opportunities to all types of content, and wasn’t dominated by top blogs and publishers.
Traffic Exchange Widgets – Getting Started
Compared to SEO and social media marketing, this is a fairly simple and straightforward method to get traffic to your site, all you have to do is sign-up to one of the many ‘Traffic Exchange’ networks, some of them require manual approval, but none of them have any strict criteria.
You will then place their widgets on your site, there are no restrictions on the number of zones or their placements, you can make this decision in order to maximize clicks and CTRs and ultimately your traffic growth.
The best converting zones are ‘Pop-Unders’ and ‘Departure Pages’, which are also the most intrusive and annoying zones for readers, if you are planning on using AdSense for monetization, it’s better to steer clear of such placements. There are also certain ‘Native Ad Networks’ that don’t approve off having traffic exchange widgets on the same page as their ad placements, so you must be aware of that.
Once your account is setup, website is approved, and widgets are placed, you just wait until you accumulate a number of clicks and then submit a blog post to get traffic to in return. You should get 150% to 200% of the traffic within 48 to 72 hours effortlessly. Another beautiful aspect of this system, is that the visitors coming from the exchange network tend to be casual surfers, which means, after going through your content they’re likely to click on the ‘Widget Ads’ to visit another site if something catches their attention. This way, once you get the ball rolling, you can accumulate clicks to exchange for traffic without any marketing effort from your end.
The main drawback of this feature, as expected would be the high bounce rates, which is again frowned upon by most ad networks, so while setting this up, you must ensure that your site’s load time is fast and the look and feel of the site must be engaging, forcing readers to stick-on for longer periods.
Since the traffic is mainly consisted of casual surfers, visitors from this source are rarely interested in making a purchase or putting an effort into research, most of them are here just to pass-time and learn something new without spending too much time or effort for the same, which means, that even your content must be delivered in a way in which readers can absorb the main facts about what you are planning on conveying, nobody is interested in long-form in-depth articles.
Sites Like 2Leep
A few years ago, it seemed like traffic exchanges such as 2Leep, Wahoha and Scribol had everything necessary to dominate the world of content marketing, in February 2011, 2Leep received nearly 31 Million visitors, and Scribol over 25 Million, but today both the sites receive just a fraction of the same, and many other popular networks such as Wahoha and CrowdIgniter are no longer operational.
Its really hard to say what exactly happened to these sites, there is very little information about them or the people behind them online, but the most likely theory is that they were unable to monetize the traffic to justify the high bandwidth costs, which is why some of the networks shut down, and others managed to pivot or scale down their operations.
2Leep still continues to operate in this niche, although its popularity has dropped to a great extent, a number of websites continue to get a majority of their traffic through this network, and 2Leep still promises an attractive return ratio of 1.5x to 2x for the traffic you send towards their network.
Apart from 2leep, there are a number of sites which follow the same concept which you can try out.
ZergNet – This is one of the most professional sites in this niche, with high-quality ads and traffic, and is also one of the only networks currently working using this model for traffic and audience exchange.
They currently serve over 100 Million Visitors to their partner sites each day, and some of their partners include, Uproxx, About.com and RollingStone.
The only major issue with this network is the long, tedious and stringent approval process. You cannot join their network with just any blog, it has to be something that matches the likes of the major publications listed above.
EngageYa – Another native post recommendation widget that helps you reach more audience and increase site’s page views by showing relevant articles as a widget. It’s a simple and straightforward system, similar to ZergNet, but they don’t have a tough criterion to get approved.
This is a very small network, but is growing very quickly. It may not make much of a difference to a big site, but can surely bring in considerable traffic to smaller blogs and websites.
They have a WordPress Plugin which makes the process of installing and customizing a widget very simple, in fact, if you start right now, you could create an account and place a widget on your site within the next 5 minutes.
Hexagram – This is a brand-new network, with an outstanding look and feel, along with a highly intuitive UX, which isn’t surprising considering that this is the work of Scribol’s founder, Chris Ingham Brooke.
Unlike other traffic exchange networks, Scribol maintained a very clean and professional network, with high-quality articles, dealing mainly in business and lifestyle niches, to attract the right quality of visitors and advertisers.
There is very little information on Hexagram, it’s a very new service, and so far, not much has been done for marketing and promotion, but considering the quality of the launch, we can surely expect great things from this network.
Traffic Exchange Software - On To Our Readers
‘Content Recommendation’ based traffic exchange services are without a doubt, one of the easiest and simplest ways to grow your audience, and it's really strange that this concept failed to take a foothold of the ‘Content Marketing Sector’, what’s even strange is the disappearance of many such services over the past few years, at a time when they were getting millions of visitors each month.
Most bloggers still believe that these networks are the future of traffic generation, and expect a resurgence real soon, so if you are planning to getting started with this source of traffic, there is definitely no better time than now.