From Newbie to Media Buying Authority Part 1 – Top 10 Buyer’s Classic Mistakes

From Newbie to Media Buying Authority Part 1 – Top 10 Buyer’s Classic Mistakes

Media Buy

Written by

Papa Whale


July 16, 2014


Media Buy


So we've already talked a bit about media buying, covering the basics of this enchanting profession in earlier posts.  But, we know you're more ambitious than that.  We know the basics just ain't gonna cut it.

That’s why we've decided to outline the whole media buying path to success:  from the bottom, to the top.

And you know how a newbie becomes an authority in the media buying world?

By staying clear of the classic mistakes or at least making every effort to avoid them.

Here are the Top 10 mistakes professional media buyers should always be wary of.

1- Being a lonesome cowboy

Always contact your affiliate manager before buying any traffic. Be as loud and clear as you can be about the offers you want to promote, the type of campaign you’re interested in, and ask for tailor-made recommendations:  Where should you bid first? What are some of the pros and cons of the ad network you're planning on working with (capping, contextual etc..)?

Seriously, talk to your affiliate manager:  it’s free advice and they want you to make money at least as much as yourself.

2- Magical Thinking

Don’t think that you’ll double your money right away… regardless of the amount!  Most traffic sources tend to be more on the expensive side and it's no secret people lose money on this at times.  Even the most skilled media buying teams can lose 30-40% of the initial money they invest (trust us on this one).  The important thing here is to be responsive: cut out the losers (fast!), and keep renewing the winning spots.

Test as many sources as you can to find the perfect match for your traffic. There's no magic traffic ㅡ the fact of the matter is visitors will never spend their entire paycheck on every offer presented to them, and you will never convert 100% of all your traffic.  If only this were true.  But hey, if you do find that magic traffic and the latter starts happening, give us a call.

3- Buying Global

Choose which market to start with and don’t lose focus on it.

There's no product taking the world by storm and converting on such a widespread level, other than maybe a product like coca-cola. Set your sights on targeted countries/languages/geos and keep them there.  Stick with it.

4- Mixing up Desktop and Mobile Traffic

It’s always easier to start with desktop traffic. The mobile market is a whole new ball game ㅡ its cost and its technical issues are far more complex... iOS, android, wap, 3g ㅡ you name it!  Mobile device traffic (such as cell phones) is not to be confused with tablet traffic for obvious reasons ㅡ the screens are a bit bigger on an iPad for example, therefore the pages can be optimized differently.

If you jump on the mobile train, make sure the sponsor you choose has the perfect responsive tool-box for you to succeed, including mobile-optimized creatives, enticing landing pages, and adequate billing.

5- Going Too Big, Too Fast

If you have a 5k budget, it can either be spent in one day or one month ㅡ that’s really up to you.  However, smaller spots are your best option for testing because you can buy a decent percentage of the rotation for a longer period. Jumping in headfirst to purchase the biggest spots before you have adequate experience under your belt is one way to get ahead of yourself, and an even better way to crash and burn. Your budget will go up in flames with it.

You are better off testing 15 bid sources x 100$ for a few days, and then keeping the winning ones while increasing the traffic. Secure your profits and then start new bids, but small.  You know the saying:  don't put all your eggs in one basket.

6-Not Setting Trackers

Tracking is the key to keeping a close eye on your investment.  Put as much information as you can: Ad network ID, ad network name, source name, spot location, geo bought, banner/tour used, date, etc.  Avoid special characters in trackers and be careful about their number ㅡ trackers are useless if they’re not working.

On the other hand, if you really want to be a tracker master, code or encrypt your trackers whenever possible, as hiding the tracker can lead to higher conversions. Some people have a tendency to notice trackers and some will visit the link after altering it via a copy/paste (if the visitor suspects someone is profiting from it and they don't want someone else getting the credit)

7- Random Testing

It's better to plan your tests accordingly rather than starting them randomly.  Why?  Well for one, don’t you wanna know how much you've earned? If you can’t track your earnings and compare them to your expenses, how will you know if one spot is profitable compared to the next?

Many factors will influence the results ㅡ the period (Christmas, Summer, etc..), the month, the day… hell, even the hour of the day plays a role!  Indeed, certain times throughout the day are worse times than others to make money.  For instance,  7-10AM isn't the best time when it comes to making money online.

Finally, don’t compare apples to oranges: examine your sources within the same time frame, on the same geos and with the same banners and tours.

8- Being Lazy

If you plan on buying traffic from an Ad Network for the first time, do your homework first:

  • Check the spots you’re able to bid on and look at the ads that are already there. This is the best way to evaluate which websites could be the perfect match for your products.
  • Check where your competitors are buying and try to find the seller.
  • Pay attention to which ads are being displayed by the biggest traffic sources and analyze what could work best for you.
  • Check the FAQ and read everything!

All the networks have different traffic, some are even sharing the sames spots, so make sure to always compare them in order to get the best deal.

9- Underestimating Extra Value

Buying ads brings exposure ㅡ which can easily lead to new prospects.  As soon as you start gaining decent volume, you’ll notice more type-in traffic than ever before ㅡ that is, if you watermark your ads (as you should be doing). That’s something your branding can also stand to benefit from since type-in traffic has always been pretty good for SEO.

Never forget that it may take a while before getting some good/satisfactory conversion rates. Indeed, free customers can convert after only a few days, weeks, months, or even years!

10- Giving Up

Quitting after some disappointing results and losses is the easy thing to do; quitting is easy, but a worthwhile (long-lasting) Media Buying plan of action takes some work.  Quitters will likely quit if they were never serious about this from the get-go.  You may lose at the beginning ㅡ  and even more later on -- but when the going gets tough, don’t stop: keep analyzing your stats and get back on your horse. Quitting is the worst thing you could do ... because well, QUITTERS DON'T MAKE MONEY!

Don’t drop the ball

If you manage to avoid these common missteps, you’re already 10 steps closer to media buying success.

Think we're joking? Think again!

We don't joke around when money's at stake. No matter your experience level ㅡ everyone is capable of a common misstep.  This list is yours to help. (These tips were part of a traffic panel we wrote for Xbiz last year and we received a lot of feedback from it -  we wanted to give you a realistic look at the classic mistakes junior media buyers often make.)

It's one thing to dodge the classic mistakes, but it's another thing entirely to stick with it and succeed in your media buying career.  The greatest media buyers are the ones that learn from every experience and every situation.  But indeed, we all know the greater importance of making smart deals, especially when you have more capital to make bigger bets.

That’s why next week, we'll be going over the Top 10 things you need to ask before buying flat rate.  Read Part 2 HERE.

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