I’m a firm believer that just creating great content isn’t enough; to be successful with content marketing you also need to find ways to cost-effectively distribute your content to your target market.
With this is mind I recently set out to test out Stumble Upon’s Paid Discovery offering.
Stumble Upon gets a lot of traffic and they reserve 5% of all clicks for advertisers. So for a small sum of money you can expose your latest blog post to thousands of potential new readers.
Having had a number of blog posts go viral on the site over the last few years thanks to Stumble Upon I wanted to see whether paying for some initial exposure would have a long-lasting positive effect, leading to long-term traffic and new blog subscribers.
So I selected three of my most popular posts – based on comment counts and social shares – and added them to the system. The traffic started to arrive almost instantly and I saw a huge increase in visits for the duration of my test.
The question is: was it worth it?
Now the dust has settled, it’s time to dig into the results and discoveries to see whether Stumble Upon Paid Discovery really does produce decent results and whether you should consider adding it to your own blog promotion strategy.
1) The Cost Of Advertising on Stumble Upon
Stumble Upon’s Paid Discovery uses an “auction-style” pricing model whereby you select the amount you’re willing to pay for a single visitor. More expensive niches, or those with more competition, are typically more expensive than others.
However to give you a ballpark figure, my own testing suggests a cost of around 10-15c per visitor. Additionally, you can pay an extra 5c per visitor for the most “engaged” traffic – those people who are most likely to “like” your content.
Clearly, then, this traffic isn’t exactly cheap. Not when you can buy traffic from major sites like Facebook for far less if you know what you’re doing.
2) Content Targeting
When setting up your campaign Stumble Upon offers some basic audience targeting tools. For example you can select the country you want traffic from, the age group and the general interest group (such as gardening, nature or dogs). You can also choose what computer systems you want to target – such as desktops, iPads, Android tablets or mobile users.
However beyond this there isn’t much targeting.
That means that unlike many other paid content distribution channels it can be quite difficult to target your visitors at a very granular level – which in my opinion in turn leads to poorer results than can be found with some other opportunities.
That said, Stumble Upon does allow you to edit your campaigns and I saw surprisingly different results in engagement (time on site and number of likes) for specific age groups, countries and interest groups.
Therefore setting up a test campaign and then editing it some time later based on visitor statistics may be one way to improve the results you see from your Stumble Upon advertising dollars.
3) Quality Of Traffic
Stumble Upon traffic is notoriously “click happy” and is keen to hit the “stumble” button and move onto the next piece of content at any time without actually engaging fully in a piece of content. But what results did I see from my own experiments?
In other words, the traffic from Stumble Upon had some of the lowest engagement of any traffic source I’ve tried. A very short time on site and very low page view numbers.
Just compare it to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Twitter and my RSS feed and you’ll see just how poorly it performs.
It’s worth noting here that I didn’t receive a single comment from any of the hundreds of views my content received. As Stumble Upon’s advertising dashboard also shows any social shares generated from your campaign it’s also disappointing to note that I failed to see a single social share that can be directly attributed to my Stumble Upon advertising.
4) Traffic Longevity
Traffic engagement is one thing but what about traffic longevity? After all, while advertising on Stumble Upon isn’t cheap, if this initial advertising led to being “ingrained” in their algorithm and receiving regular, repeat visitors organically it may be a worthy investment.
The response to my content was better than I had expected. I received very few downvotes at all – and for many of my test campaigns the feedback consisted entirely of upvotes.
But did receiving a sizable number of upvotes in a short space of time lead to prolonged organic traffic from Stumble Upon after my paid campaign stopped?
The answer is “no”. The traffic stopped within 24 hours of my campaign finishing. No ongoing traffic was experienced meaning if I wanted to keep on getting traffic from Stumble Upon I’d need to keep paying.
I must confess that overall I was disappointed with the results of my Stumble Upon advertising campaign.
I felt the traffic was over-priced, the targeting was weak and I saw no “ripple effects” such as social shares or a long-term organic traffic from Stumble Upon.
As a result I’ve pulled the plug on my Paid Discovery campaigns and shall instead be focusing my energies (and cash) on other content distribution avenues.
Have you ever advertised on Stumble Upon’s Paid Discovery network? What were your results? What forms of paid content distribution have worked better for you? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts…