Getting the Most out of Media Buying
You’ve finally decided to give media buying your all. Before committing yourself, give these tips a read to stack all the odds in your favor.
Media buying is a common practice among affiliates. To this day, it’s still a relatively little-known field with plenty of competition. A lot of people feel turned off by buying advertising space online due to its cutthroat nature — you need nerves of steel to succeed.
If you want to learn what media buying is, give this definition a read. Our advice below assumes you already have the basics covered. Which means you should be comfortable with terms such as “spots” and “bidding,” for starters. Look, it’s ok if you’re a total beginner, but maybe you should start with this old but gold series instead just to get your feet wet.
Don’t worry: experienced or not, you’ll find useful information and be able to learn many valuable lessons from the tips below.
Tip #1: Start with bidding
Even though flats are alluring to newcomers, you really should put your efforts into bidding. There are multiple reasons as to why:
- More flexibility
- More precision
- You’ll know sooner if a campaign works or not
Bidding pits you against everyone else, but even if you end up paying more for a spot with less traffic, you’ll be able to pull out and cut your losses in case of failure. Flats are pretty merciless in that regard: you’re stuck with them for a set duration (usually a month). They’re for media buyers who’ve already cut their teeth on previous campaigns.
Unless you want to have a hard time, bidding is the way to go.
Tip #2: Be a sniper
The easiest way to fail at media buying is by being careless. Approach this mission as if you were in the shoes of a special unit sent to eliminate a specific target. If you go out with guns blazing, there’s a good chance you stand to lose everything pretty quickly (and probably come to be known as a pretty bad assassin to boot!).
You probably don’t have the ammo to maintain ad infinitum anyway, so be tactical.
It’s better to focus. For instance, you could buy spots between 5 and 11 PM EST because you know potential customers will be home from work. You could even go one step further and select a city you wish to advertise to, thus setting your sights on limited — and cheaper — sources of traffic.
There are two schools of thought regarding media buying: open warfare and guerrilla tactics. The first requires you to have deep pockets because you’ll be spending en masse for many spots at the same time. That’s probably not where you want to be. With guerrilla tactics, you concentrate on small-scale operations and live to fight another day.
Tip #3: Choose PPL
Media buyers need a constant cash flow to keep going. Pay per lead (PPL) is what you should be looking for if you’re starting out; you’ll be able to see results faster and make changes as needed. Pay per sale (PPS) takes longer before you see benefits and RevShare is a whole another story. You want to mitigate risks and the best way to do so is by threading a needle.
Tip #4 Study the competition
If you’ve seen the same banners or links on a website for several weeks in a row, chances are they can be a great source of inspiration to you. Take some time to analyze the message conveyed, the choice of words leading to powerful call to actions (CTAs). You want to incite a click and ultimately a conversion. Remember the following:
- Banner blindness is real
- Display ad click through rates (CTR) are low: 0.08% in the USA (Google)
Here’s a recap of what winning banners have in common so you can easily spot them:
- Eye-catching imagery (creatives)
- Click-worthy text
- Great design
- Clear CTA
- They’ve been tested. A lot.
Spying on the competition also means you’re going to pay attention to other bidders/buyers for your desired spot. Who’s there when you’re not? How much are they spending? These are all questions you should be asking yourself as part of your media buying journey.
Tip #5 Ask away
Affiliate Managers are in a great position to tell you which offers are best suited for your media buy campaigns. Usually, if you’re just starting out or need some advice, they’ll happily point you toward their top converting offers. Don’t forget that affiliate networks deal with mountains of valuable data, so they have the numbers to actually back their claims.
Tip #6 Be honest
Even if it can be tempting to generate fake leads because some countries’ payouts are more generous than others, this path will only lead to a swift termination of your account. Fraud is not something affiliate networks take lightly.
Tip #7 Diversify your portfolio
As a media buyer, you’ll always have to deal with an unavoidable level of uncertainty — traffic fluctuations, trends, you name it. Just like a professional poker player, you must learn to minimize the impact of randomness into your game. One way to achieve this is by diversifying—you don’t want to put all your eggs in the same basket!
At the same time, promoting too many offers simultaneously will also be a problem. Start with two or three offers max, then scale up by reinvesting your profits into other campaigns. Or use something like Smartlinks, which allow you to analyze what converted best and then focus on your winners.
Diversifying also means having a mix of different payout types. As we’ve said earlier, begin with PPL, then add PPS, something in the ballpark of 80/20. If you hit a profitable PPS offer, you can then bump it up to 30% and lower your PPL accordingly. In the end, you’ll hopefully find a pond (offer) that isn’t overfished — or oversaturated — and remain there for as long as possible.
It’s all about having the best lures for your fish.
Tip #8 You don’t need to be rich
To be a real media buyer, you’ll want to invest at least $50,000 USD.
Wait… that’s not actually the case, like at all.
Remember when we said to be a sniper: it’s all about figuring out how much you want to invest and sticking to that amount.
The most important part is to focus and spread your budget equally. You can be a great media buyer and just care about weekends in the United States. Pick your battles!
Tip #9 Understand your offers
There are two realities when it comes to offers and the art of media buying:
- Newcomers: people flock to your offer and convert, leading you to believe it’s the next El Dorado. However, you should always act with caution because what you see and believe might really be the newcomer effect — a period of keen interest followed by a sharp decline. You don’t want to end up with a flash in the pan, so before investing more money promoting an offer, give it some time to prove itself.
- Latecomers: contrary to newcomers, latecomers adopt a product or service after a while for reasons beyond your control. It’s a reminder that some offers might have more potential than you think, so don’t dismiss them just because they haven’t worked in the past or because you feel everyone’s promoting them.
Understanding your offers goes a long way. It’ll help you match them with the perfect source of traffic.
Tip #10 Testing WILL make or break your campaigns
You need to treat media buying like a laboratory of sorts; one with countless tests.
Yes, it’s true — the most popular spots have all seen a lot of action over the years. However, you should never go all in based on what worked in the past; you need to do your own experiments!
You want to get as much return on investment (ROI) as possible, right? Well, you achieve this goal by launching numerous campaigns and learning from your data.
Reading about how to run the “ultimate” campaign is fine and dandy, but reading about media buying is a lot different than DOING.
You need to test, optimize, rinse & repeat.
There’s no secret about it: you’ll want to connect your target audience with offers they care about. It’s the most basic principle of business. A/B testing for example leads to better interactions, reduced bounce rates and increased click through rates (CTRs). Here’s some ideas on how to test effectively:
- Try different banners & landing pages
- Separate mobile & desktop traffic
- Choose different hours
Media Buying in a nutshell
If you have to remember only a few words from today’s article, here’s a good cheat sheet for media buying:
- Know your product or service (offer)
- Segment your traffic (mobile vs desktop)
- Start small, then scale up (guerrilla warfare)
- Study your competition
- Test your campaigns
- Go with bids and not flats as a beginner
- Choose PPL offers
- Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas on what to promote
- Play by the rules
- Stick to your budget
- Diversify your portfolio
How do you choose Ad Networks?
Ad networks like Traffic Factory and many others greatly facilitate the job of media buyers around the world. They’ve been around for more than two decades. By pooling all available unsold ad spots and presenting you with a seamless experience, ad networks play a vital role in the purchasing of online advertising.
If you’ve already dealt with an ad network or plan to do so, we’ve prepared a quick survey. It’d be lovely if you could answer it to the best of your knowledge!