Up Your Media Buying Master-Game: 10 Things to Ask Before Buying Flat

Up Your Media Buying Master-Game: 10 Things to Ask Before Buying Flat

Media Buy

Written by

Papa Whale


May 22, 2019


Media Buy

First post: July 23, 2014. Last updated: May 22, 2019

It’s time to play with the big boys and up your Media Buying master-game.

By now, we all know that Media Buyers are the guys and gals that buy ad space online. But, the question is, are you asking all the right questions prior to pulling that metaphorical trigger?

Let’s begin talking about bidding, for example. Bidding is part of a professional Media Buyer’s daily business.  Unfortunately, there's a whole lot of sharks swimming alongside the Whales in this vast, ocean-like industry. Yet, if you’re up to the task and your teeth are sharp enough, you can try to buy–or better yet– STEAL some flat rate deals from your competitors.

Flat rate deals are a fixed monthly cost for a prime ad spot, which we talked about in a previous post about the basics of media buying traffic monetization.

It’s worth repeating … no flat opportunity is worth the same, especially when it boils down to YOUR traffic. This is where your skill level and intuition can take you leaps and bounds above the rest in this chess-like Media Buying game.

So without further ado, here’s a list of the 10 things you should ask before buying flat:

1- Am I Getting the Best Spot… at the Best Price?

Shoot for the stars!  Aim for a high % of the ad spot (the more exposure, the better) at the very best price.

Around 10 days before the start of a new month, start to look for prime spots.

Analyze the traffic and evaluate the opportunity:  Does it suit your needs? How many sellers are offering a spot like this?

Indeed, you’ve heard it right.  Make sure to look into every seller who is offering the spot ㅡ that’s the best way to get the best Flat deal. Checking the date/time-range of the deal is something you’re going to want to do, too.  In most cases, a good spot is worth committing yourself to for more than a month.

2- Are You Testing?

Testing is key.  As we mentioned in the previous tip, flat deals are usually set monthly. However, in much the same way you’d want to “try” your girlfriend before getting married, you’re sure as hell going to want to test a spot before buying it.

Well, we have good news and bad news for you:  Your girlfriend has probably tried a few other men before you, and in the same spirit, so have the ad networks (with regard to the spot you have your eyes on).  Ask for the results of these tests (the ad networks, not your girlfriend…) and estimate your chance of success.

It’s not a bad idea to ask for a test yourself.  In fact, a test of around 72 hours gives you some pretty good insight.  But of course, it can be longer or shorter depending on your needs, the price, or even the volume of traffic at stake.

3- Does the Spot Have Stats and Data to Back up Its Price?

Don’t go in blind.  You need to know what you are buying.  Don’t invest in spots that have no information behind it.  Some free sites such as Alexa can give you a glimpse on how popular a certain site is, which is good to know ㅡ since your ad spot will be on it.  Keep in mind though, these results are far from accurate; good for rough estimates and general ideas, but not much else.

Ask the seller if he or she can grant you access to their Google Analytic stats, or if they can at the very least provide a breakdown of daily visitors and geos.

4- Are You Prepared for Traffic Fluctuations?

Traffic can vary, especially in the summer – everyone knows that. Even the best spots can have a roller coaster effect: up drastically one day in impressions and clicks and dropping fast the next day.

No matter the turn of events, the seller should still be able to tell you the average expected impressions.

This estimation is the root of your expected CPM price for the advertisements.  This data matters in big ways and will bring more fuel to your bargaining fire.

5- Do You Know the Rules of the Game?

Some sellers have specific rules and terms such as particular niches not being allowed, no fake player, no watermark, no fake incentive, no hardcore, no nudity, etc.  It’s on you to ask if it’s not already written in the contract. Don’t sign anything without making absolute sure that the type of site you want to promote is allowed under their terms.

6- Does the Site Limit You in How You Can Display Your Ad?

Avoid spots where the usage of I-frames is prohibited.  Believe it or not, some rare spots are still subject to a manual upload system… yep, welcome to 2019!  Remain skeptical if the seller tells you that it’s not going to be a problem “manually” uploading a banner each time.  Most of these sellers are responsive but, on a few occasions, we’ve witnessed some delays of up to 4 days just to change a banner.

7- Are You Switching up Your Ads?

It’s always a good idea to animate your ads to avoid banner blindness… static banners just don’t cut it in our eyes in a distracted 2019.

MP4 creatives have proven to be an effective format for purposes such as these. Therefore, make sure that your spots can manage every type of creative you have in your ad toolbox.

For MP4 files, also make sure the weight of your ad meets the minimum requirements of the spot.

8- Are You Watching Your Ad Rotation like a Hawk?

Because you should be.

If you happen to have the opportunity to buy only a percentage of a good spot, by all means, go for it.

However, a true, savvy media buyer will always check the competition:  Who has the rest of the rotation?

But most importantly, make sure that there aren’t any missing GEOs with regard to the spot.

On rare occasions, crooked sellers have been caught reselling the top converting traffic to higher bidders. With any luck this won’t happen to you, but it’s important to stay on your toes and due your own due diligence.

9- Is the Price Right?

Pricing is rarely ever written in stone: you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by asking for a better price.

The art of bargaining is what the best media buyers end up mastering.

Offering a price lower than the one displayed is the cornerstone of this art.  Of course, this is not a skill that you can easily show off when it comes down to the most popular spots– because everyone wants these.

Important:  While it is a good rule of thumb to attempt to get a better deal than the asking price, be careful not to lowball a seller ㅡ no seller wants to be insulted.

Sometimes the seller will come down in price because he much rather complete the deal than not, but if you insult him, things will not end well and a potential business-relationship will be tarnished. The best price in Media Buying is a price that works out for both the buyer and the seller in the end ㅡ so you both can do lifelong business – all parties happy.

10-  Are You Trusting the Seller... a Little Too Much?

The vast majority of sellers are smart, transparent businessmen who are easy to talk with. However do not put full faith and trust in any seller.  Unfortunately, there’s always going to be someone out there who may attempt to fleece you big time!

Therefore, if you are buying from an unknown seller, keep your guard up. Treat negotiations as if you were buying a used car from a chubby mid-life crisis disenchanting salesman who sees you as his golden ticket to the cayman islands. He may very well become your best business partner, but you need to trust him first ㅡ and we all know trust is granted, not earned.

  • Avoid paying for everything in advance.
  • Let him know that you will be doing random checks (number of impressions, dates, ad rotation, geos, etc.) at some point, at least 3 different random times – and do it.
  • Ask for a free trial period.
  • Ask him how much he would want for a longer period, a discount and/or a better rotation.
  • Etc…

Make Yourself at Home at This Negotiation Table

There are a lot of professional media buyers out there, but even the best can witness some horror stories once in a while.  When you start dealing with dozens and dozens of sources, it’s easy to lose control… and money.

The negotiation table is a balancing act, in many ways. There’s more going on that meets the eye. Come to the table confident, but not cocky.  There MUST be a mutual feeling of trust between you and the seller.

Here are some final DO’s and DON’Ts to get you there:


  • Always conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism.
  • If you feel the seller excels in a certain area of his business (site design, business), by all means, give kudos!


  • Whine, argue, or give attitude if you two can’t agree to a deal
  • Badmouth or threaten if a fair deal didn’t work out as you expected

You’re the boss of your own business… but to continue being your own boss, you need lifelong strong business relations.

If you keep these good business practices ingrained in your mind, and always treat others with respect during all your business endeavors– your reputation will remain untarnished and you’re going to go far in this industry!

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