After reading this, if you have any questions, feel free to post a reply. I'll try to answer all the questions that I can.
Don't you dare ever run any affiliate campaign on any traffic source without tracking. I fully and highly recommend you use CPVLab. It costs a little bit of money, but what you lose for in cash, you make up for in an awesome, low hassle tracker that does anything and everything you will need to get your PPV on. I won't go into setting up CPVLab because the documentation given to you from them is already top notch.
Make sure you use a host that can handle all the traffic PPV can net you. I highly recommend Wiredtree. Their support is fantastic, coupon deals are the best I've seen, and the speed on them is top notch. I use them for 90% of all my hosting.
2.) Choosing Your Offer
With PPV, you have choices. Choices in nearly every niche you can think of due to the unique way PPV gets it's traffic. Here are some niche recomendations that I highly encourage you to look at as a first time PPV marketer or a struggly affiliate trying to get PPV to work.
Dating - Dating will always be a strong niche. You've got a ton of offers to pick from (and don't be afraid to split test them all in one campaign). You've got a ton of people looking for love online. You've got a ton of lonely and horny guys ready to sign up. You've got desperate women who are dying to meet anyone that will love them. It's a win-win for everyone. Dating is currently my largest niche.
Gaming - Another strong performer. If you are using TrafficVance (which I recommend for all your USA PPV traffic needs), you should know they get a lot of their users from signing up to gaming toolbar offers. This is perfect. People that already play games will be seeing your ads. Find the right angles and be creative to make gaming a winner for you.
Business Op/Money offers - I run a massive list for making money online that started out on PPV. There are so many angles to go for here - single parents, college kids, and disgruntled employees are just a few to name that I run. You can find hundreds of niches inside the niche to angle your landing pages at that it is near impossible not to make some sort of money here. You've got long leadgens, short leadgens and sale offers to mail out or offer direct from the LP, so don't be shy from experimenting in this niche.
Education - The big angle here sort of leads into money offers listed above. Eg. Increase your education, make more money, find a new job, etc. One of my first big breaks into affiliate marketing were scholarship offers. I continue to run these style of offers at new unique angles and they make a boatload of money for me.
Other short leadgens - There are new offers popping up on a daily basis. Take advantage of this and be the first one to run a new offer, even if its in a niche you aren't familiar with. Head over to Offervault or oDigger to find these new offers and look for anything that is only 5-10 fields long to fill in for a conversion. Short leadgen offers are great for new affiliates because they are generally quicker to convert than other types of offers.
This will be your most time consuming phase of building any campaign, no matter the traffic source. If it isn't taking you more than a couple hours, you aren't preparing yourself to win!
I start off all my research by getting to know the offer/offers I've chosen to run. Google searches on the businesses, I try to find their ads or ads by their direct competitors, where their ads are running, and what sort of demographics their users/buyers are. This can all be done with a mix of free or paid tools such as Google, Alexa, Quantcast, Compete, WhatRunsWhere and other competitive spies, and tools like AffPortal or AffExpert.
I'll also do some psychological research into any new niche I enter. This is pretty easy and just adds a few hours of reading or so. Use Google to make this a simple task. Examples of search terms you can follow to gain this information:
Why do men sign up to dating sites? (Dating)
Types of online daters and dating sites (Dating)
Psychology of an online gamer (Gaming)
Why people with good jobs go back to school? (Education/Money)
Having all this down you should know more about the demographics and search statistics of your offer. This will prepare you to write your landing page ad copy, and in this day and age, you definitely need this. No more are the days of directly linked $1000+ a day campaigns.
4.) Landing Pages and Ad Copy
A lot of people put emphasis on their design when they run with landing pages on PPV. Here's a tip - keep it simple stupid. Ugly landing pages outperform pretty landing pages 99% of the time. I usually start with around 1 - 3 ugly layouts, then fill it in with different ad copies. In total I start with around 3 - 10 different landing pages on campaign launch and constantly rotate through new landing pages when I find the best performer out of a round of split testing.
By the way, you can get free landing pages from being on my list (I send them out weekly) and from time to time I post some freebies on my blog. You can do some simple edits to get these to work in any niche if you lack the skills to build full landing pages on your own. I recommend you learn HTML/CSS to build your own landers anyways.
As far are your ad copy, try and be unique with it. Set up a quiz, a poll, or a compatibility test for your offer (Should you become a nurse and get paid 50k+ a year? - Education niche). Use fake chat boxes, clickable videos, and sound to increase CTRs. Use things like dynamically inserting the city name or domain/searchterm your landing page showed up on into the ad copy. Market it with something familiar to your demographics home, such as a common situation they find themselves in or a pop culture reference.
Get things like "Find a cute girl online now" out of your head now. You've got to be a lot more creative these days to gain traction. Try reading Ca$hvertising for a better idea on how to write good copy.
5.) Picking Your Targets and Running Your Campaigns
If you've done your research already, you should have a good idea on where your demographics are coming from and what they are doing online. You can use Quantcast to find targets based off demographics fairly simple with their Demographic Media Planner tool. AffPortal also gives you great access to scrapers of all kinds from competitive, keyword and broad site scrapers. I highly recommend them for an all in one platform.
Alternatively, Google "free PPV scrapers" and see what you come up with. There are plenty around.
I tend to pick out any high traffic targets and put them in a separate list from my medium and low traffic targets. Why? Because they blow through budgets quick, and when that happens you won't have enough data from outside a few targets to get any real data from a more broad spectrum of targets. Not every target you pick will convert, and I usually find that its a few mid-traffic targets that make a majority of my money even with 100s of targets in the campaign.
You can also go for a completely longtail domain/keyword targetted campaign. One of my top campaigns is one of these. It has 10s of thousands of targets that trickle in traffic, but because they are super targetted and inserted into my landing page, it performs magnificently!
Whatever direction you go, make sure you are prepared for the surge of traffic that could come. Set your initial budgets low so you don't accidentally spend $100 in 5 minutes on a high traffic target you may have missed filtering out. Double check all your links and landing pages and make sure they are working. When you are ready, submit that campaign and with the right luck you should get approved within a day or two if it is the weekend.
6.) Now What?
Now you've got to let the campaign run! Any new campaign around a short lead gen payout (typically around $5 or less) I let run through 50 dollars or so, so long as the traffic is pretty spread around different targets. Any target that eats all your money, put into a separate campaign and build a more specifically targeted campaign to that sites demographics. Anywho, at around $50 you should have a good idea on what is converting and what is not. Some landing pages you are splitting will have good results, some will have none. Optimize accordingly.
Continue optimizing by trying new landing pages and ad copies. When you think you've topped out campaign performance, try a couple more landing pages just to be sure. Again, I've had some campaigns get 100+ landing pages split test. They started out more drastically in changes to design and ad copy, and in the end come down to changing a single word or the color of a button. At this point you can start testing new targets and scaling the campaign.
Come up with new ideas on how you can take what you've learned and scale out to other demographics and targets. Borrow LP designs and transfer them to other niches. Just make sure you never stop building. In my dictionary, there is no word called "enough." Having enough means you will eventually stop working and be happy with were you are at. If that leads you to stop testing new campaigns and scaling current campaigns, and for whatever reason your campaigns die, you'll be back at square one. That isn't a fun place to be. I've been there and it taught me this lesson.