Media Buying 101
Media buying: If you do it right you can make a boatload of money, but it can also cost you a lot when you don't know what you're doing. And if there's ONE thing we don't like, it's when our affiliates are losing money! In this startup guide we will teach you what media buying is, and provide some useful insights on how to spend your budget wisely.
You can find a lot of different definitions of media buying with a quick Google search. In a broad sense it describes the action of buying advertising from a media company. In our field we usually don't have to deal with traditional media companies like tv stations, newspapers and magazines so we use a more specific definition:
Media buying is the acquisition of internet traffic obtained by advertising, for the purpose of monetizing it with a CPA network or directly through an advertiser.
Fortunately it's very easy to acquire large amounts of internet traffic trough media buying. When you look around you can see that almost every website has one or more spots reserved for advertising. That makes sense, since it's a great (and easy) way for a webmaster to make some money. A media buyer can buy this spot and use it to place an advertisement, usually in the form of a banner image, that links to their offer.
Since most media buyers don't want to contact each individual website for advertising space, they use an ad network to do it for them. Ad networks allow you to bid on advertising space on a large number of websites. Your ad will be shown based on the bid you place, the highest bidder will have his ad shown first and the second after that, etc.
There are many good ad networks and traffic sources to get your traffic from. ExoClick, PlugRush, EroAdvertising, JuicyAds, Traffic Shop, Reporo, Pollux Network, Adsterra, TrafficJunky, AdXpansion, TrafficForce... I can go on, but you get the idea. Each network has their own unique selling points, so it's not for us to say who's the best. We recommend you to just pick three and start from there.
So, where do I start?
The first question you should ask yourself as a media buyer is not how you can get traffic (that's the easy part). First take a moment to think about how you will monetize your traffic.
Don't sweat, we can tell you the answer right now: you will need to find a good advertiser or (CPA) network.
Finding a good advertiser isn't always easy, and keeping up with which one has the best conversion rate is even harder. That is why CPA networks like Traffic Company combine offers from a large amount of advertisers. With Traffic Company you can generate a Promotion URL that you can use to send your traffic to. As soon as a user opens this URL, for example by clicking on your banner, our system will classify the user based on a wide range of userdata. In a split second our algorithm calculates what offer is most likely to convert this user.
Choose the right ad format
The next step is to choose an ad format for your campaign. There are a lot of different types to choose from, but the most popular ones are: redirects, pop-unders and banners. Every type has its advantages and disadvantages, so we encourage you to test all of them to see which one performs best for you.
Cost: 💰 Quality: ⭐
Redirects will divert the user to your offer even before the original website is loaded. You can imagine the quality of traffic from redirects is lower because the user is forced to a website he did not choose to visit. The advantage is that you can pick up large volumes of redirect traffic for a lower price.
Cost: 💰💰 Quality: ⭐⭐
Pop-unders open your offer in a new window behind the website. Once the user closes the main window the pop-under will appear. A pop-under is less obtrusive than its better known brother, the pop-up, as it waits behind the main window until the user is done browsing the website. Since the pop-under automatically loads every time a user visits the website, you will be able to get higher volumes.
Cost: 💰💰💰 Quality: ⭐⭐⭐
Banner ads are by far the most used ad format on the internet. They will generally give you the highest quality traffic, since it's the user that makes the decision to click a banner. Also you have a lot of control over what your banner will look like and this gives you a big advantage in terms of optimizing.
A disadvantage of banner traffic is that it's volumes are usually a bit lower than pop-under or redirect traffic because it has a lower Click Through Rate (CTR). Nevertheless, a lot of media buyers like banner traffic because of its high quality. This high demand combined with low supply can push the price up quite a bit.
If you have banner campaigns running with Traffic Company, we recommend you to focus on banners with a high CTR. Traffic Company takes a lot of the optimization from your hands since our powerful algorithm will scan your traffic and send it to the best converting offer in the market. Tip: don't forget to set the proper source type for your promotion (read about the importance of using the correct Source Type)!
Don't bid too low
You might be reluctant to invest too much when you're just getting started with an ad network, but with media buying this is usually not a very good idea. Keeping your costs low allows you to buy higher volumes of traffic, but in practice this means you will be getting the scraps in term of traffic quality.
This can be explained, because a user visiting a website will already have seen 20 or 30 ads before yours is shown. This greatly decreases the chance of this user clicking your banner. Your conversions will drop like a stone, which in turn means you will not be able to gather any kind of reliable stats from it. Gaining reliable data is essential to optimizing your campaigns.
So even when you get a net loss on your media buy once in a while, you will gain very valuable data that you can use to improve your campaigns. With these insights you can decide to eliminate traffic sources that are not converting very well, or choose a different spot for your ads. Mind you, this does not mean you should blindly go for the highest bid. Depending on the type of offer, the 3rd position is often a great place to aim for when you're bidding for traffic.
Optimize your campaigns
We can't state this strongly enough: Optimizing is the most important step in getting profitable campaigns! At Traffic Company we always advise our media buying partners to set up a unique promo info value per campaign. Without this it will be very difficult to identify individual campaigns and see which ones are performing poorly.
When you're sending your traffic and conversion data starts coming in, find out what country, carrier, device, ad format (source type) works well for you (and what doesn't). Be sure that you have enough data to base your conclusions on though, since you don't want to make any calls based on some lucky shots or a bad streak.
The Reports page in your Traffic Company dashboard is a great tool for analyzing your data, but you can use any reporting tool you like (Check out our post about Getting Familiar with Postback-tracking). We also strongly recommend you to use our Biggest Opportunities list as a starting point for your campaigns.
Get used to profits AND losses
Every experienced media buyer knows that not everything he touches will turn into gold. In other words: You win some, you lose some. The trick is to analyse these losses carefully in order to minimize them in the future. Check campaigns that have a negative Return on Investment (ROI) and see how you can optimize them. For example, you can set filters to get traffic that is more tailored to your offer. This will lower the amount of traffic, but it can greatly increase its quality.
Also remember that it takes money to make money. If you don't have proper cash flow, you will not be able to expand your campaigns and cushion your losses.
So, there your have it! This was just a basic introduction to media buying, and maybe we'll dig a bit deeper in a feature post (there's so much more to explore!). But we hope you're inspired to dive in and try it out for yourself. If you need any help setting up your campaigns just add me on Skype or send me an email.