With digital ad costs skyrocketing across all platforms, it's never been more costly to acquire customers. If you're looking for a cheaper way to drive high-quality traffic, Ad Exchange apps are your answer. Ad Exchange apps get similar brands to partner together to post ads for each other on their store pages and email newsletters at low or no cost. Because your partner brands have similar audiences, you attain targeted advertising at a much lower price. Some apps even allow you to swap audience data from other stores in your network and leverage their customer audiences to create Lookalike Audiences.
Disco Growth Network is our top pick for Ad Exchange Shopify apps based on its balance of well-curated brands, tasteful & native ad units, and a robust feature set. Although clearly a newcomer in the space (only installed on 600 stores currently), the team of 25 has received recent funding and we expect significant marketshare and feature growth in the near future.
Disco Feature Breakdown
Ad Customization & Targeting: Choose which of your products to promote and what category of stores to advertise on. The ad units are standard and cannot be customized, but they look the most native of apps in this category.
Promotions: Showcase promotions with your ad units.
Customize Partner Ads on your site: You can exclude specific stores or brand categories from advertising on your site to avoid direct competitor advertising.
Ad Network Size: According to Disco, there are over 600 participating stores on their ad network, which is relatively small as a newcomer to the category.
Audience Sharing: Unique to this app, Disco allows you to use audience data from similar stores in their network to improve your paid campaign performance targeting and create lookalike audiences. Note that you will have to give to get and share your audience data (anonymized, of course) as well. Disco currently integrates with Meta, Snapchat and Tiktok is coming soon.
Loyalty Incentive: Disco has a feature called Disco Cash, which is a shared loyalty program that lets customers use rewards collected from one store at other in-network stores, encouraging them to buy with other Disco members.
Pricing: Disco costs $50/month + $0.50 per conversion from their ad network.
Benchmarking & Analysis: Get standard reporting of ad impressions, clicks, and conversions as well as benchmark performance metrics against cohort averages of other stores in the network.
Join an ad exchange with other Shopify brands to cross-promote your products and share audience insights for lower CPA's than social media advertising.
Free Ad exchange to help you acquire high quality traffic
Free Traffic & Ads by Varinode is an ad exchange Shopify app that was launched in June 2016 by Varinode, Inc., who has developed 4 apps in total. It is the most widely used app in the category and has been installed on 7,012 Shopify Stores. The team has around 2-10 employees and the app has a 4.7 rating across 3950 reviews.
Free Traffic & Ads by Varinode Feature Breakdown
Ad Customization & Targeting: Varinode automatically places product ads on other Shopify stores in the network — its ad placements are programmatic so you won't be able to control where you'd like to advertise. You can upload media or import your product directly from Shopify, but you can’t customize how the ad panels look (that’s up to the partner store) or where they are.
Free Exchange: Varinode pricing operates on “Exchange Credits,” where every time a consumer clicks on an ad displayed in your store, you receive a credit to fund your ads in other stores. Currently, all new installs receive 100 exchange credits and you can also refer the app to other merchants for a 100 Exchange Credit bonus.
Partner Ad Customization: Varinode allows you to place an ad embed code (manual installation required) anywhere on your site you'd like to display ads for partner stores.
Largest ad network size: Varinode is currently installed on over 7,000 Shopify stores, the largest ad network of any free Shopify ad exchange.
Performance Analytics: Varinode allows you to manage your campaigns by setting a max bid and daily budget of exchange credits, with the ability track your performance metrics across partner ads and your ads.
Drive FREE Traffic to your store with Traffic Exchange
Instant Traffic & Ads is an ad exchange Shopify app launched in June 2018 by Eggflow, who has developed 7 apps in total. It has been installed on 1,942 Shopify Stores with a rating of 4.5 across 1,466 reviews.
Instant Traffic & Ads Feature Breakdown
Ad Targeting: Eggflow automatically places your ads on partner stores. You won’t be able to control the types of partner stores your ads are displayed on but you can choose which products you’d like to advertise on the network and with the premium plan you can limit ads by country and device types.
Ad Customization: You'll import your products directly from Shopify to create an ad. You can control the header text and if your ad shows up in the bottom left or right, but you can’t customize how the ad panels look (that’s up to the partner store).
Customizing Partner Ads on your site: Eggflow allows you to exclude specific categories from placing ads on your pages but you can’t customize the header text (the partner shop does that). Eggflow displays a one-product pop-up ad when customers scroll through 70% of your page and a 5-product in-page ad in each product details page. Eggflow gives you limited customization of partner ads such as to adjust the font, color, and number of display items (up to 5).
Network Size: The second-largest ad exchange, Eggflow's Instant Traffic & Ads is installed on 1,942 Shopify stores.
Free Ad Exchange: Eggflow displays your ads at a 1:1 rate with partners, so the more impressions and clicks your partners get from your store, the more time your ads get displayed in other stores. There is a Free Plan available where you can promote up to 5 products and restrict partner ads to 2 categories.
Premium Plans with more Features: With the Premium Plan, which is $9/month, you can promote up to 10 products, restrict partner ads by 5 categories, target ads by country and device, and disable partner ads altogether. The Extra Plan, which is $29/month, gives you premium access to all 7 Eggfow apps but doesn’t give you any more features on the app than the premium plan.
Performance Analytics: Track impression, click, and conversion metrics across partner ads and your ads.
Grow sales with traffic from other shops & niche websites/apps
Free Traffic Ads & Advertising was launched in June 2020 by Adeagle. The appcurrently has a rating of 4.7 across 95 reviews.
Free Traffic Ads & Advertising Feature Breakdown
Your Ad Placement Targeting: Adeagle allows you to choose a target audience interested in specific categories and which products/collections you’d like to advertise on the network. You can also choose what countries you want to advertise in. You import your products directly from Shopify to create an ad and can choose how much you’d like to prioritize your campaign by volume of impressions.
Partner Ad Placement Customization & Control: Adeagle allows you to exclude specific categories from placing ads on your pages and customize the header text. You can also customize the theme, font, and border colors of your partner’s ads. Additionally, ads can be displayed in your store in two different styles: Notification and Banner, or enable both to earn more ad impressions. You can select how often partner ads are shown on your site (from 5 options) but you can’t control which pages or where the partner ad displays.
Free Ad Exchange: Adeagle displays your ads at a 1:1 rate with partners, so for ads displayed on your site, you receive ad impressions in partner stores. With the Essential Plan and up, you can opt out of displaying ads on your site and purchase more impressions.
Upgrade to opt-out from displaying ads: With the Essential Plan ($11.99/month) and above, you can opt-out from displaying ads on your site. You’ll also get unlimited campaigns and more impressions with every upgrade.
Performance Analytics: Adeagle allows you to track the performance metrics like impressions, clicks, CTRs of each campaign, product and ad.
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No one is more cognizant of steep digital ad costs than e-commerce marketers, who see their ad purchasing power decline more every year. So how can you acquire a precious piece of the digital media pie without paying these soaring digital costs?
There’s a new suite of Shopify app solutions that help you get traffic to your store for free. The only catch? You help other stores do the same.
What are Ad Exchange Apps?
Ad Exchange apps, as we like to call them, get DTC brands to band together and share their networks.
Imagine this: A customer checks out at a store similar to yours. At the post-purchase thank you page, the customer is recommended similar products — but not from that store — from your store. And in turn, you promote their products on your store page.
And it’s not just post purchase pages – its email newsletters and even other pages of their website. It’s a smart way to drive instant, high quality, free traffic to your store and acquire new customers who are already in the mood to shop for products like yours.
It’s not just ads, it’s audience sharing
Some apps, like Disco, allow you to swap audience data from other stores on the network. By swapping audiences, you can utilize other shops’ data in all kinds of ways. For example, you can leverage their customer audiences (anonymized, of course) to create Lookalike Audiences to drastically lower your CPAs on traditional digital channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. You can always compare your growth metrics to other partner shops in your category.
The implications are endless. Of course, it all depends on each app and its capabilities. That’s why we’re here to discuss which of these apps come out on top in the cooperation competition.