A Quick Start Guide To Media Buying

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Some of the biggest affiliates drive traffic via media buying, also referred to as display advertising. Without the strict quality score of Google (and other PPC engines) and without the bidding hassle of CPV, media buying allows affiliates a steady stream of high volume traffic to drive hundreds (if not thousands) of conversions daily. The problem a lot of affiliates run into is 'how exactly' to get started promoting offers with media buying. Therefore, I've decided to publish this 'dummies guide' to media buying; a step-by-step article on how exactly to get started.

Setup A Tracking Solution
Before you even select your offer or a site to begin buying inventory on you need to have things ready to track. It doesn't matter if you're promoting CPA, CPS, CPL offers tracking will MAKE or BREAK your media buy. If you're not tracking and optimizing you will lose about 98% of the time. There are two important elements to tracking a media buy: an ad server and a landing page/offer tracking system.

The Beginner Ad Server
Did you know Google actually offers a FREE remotely hosted ad server? Most affiliates I talk to don't even know this exists! As long as you serve under 90 million monthly ad impressions you can utilize this server for free. Formally called Google Ad Manager, they've recently rebranded it as DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) Small Business. You don't have to worry about installing complicated software and it doesn't cost you a dime. It doesn't get any better than this! Signup for a free account

Tracking System
I have to admit, I'm addicted to using Prosper202. Having met Nana and several of the 202 team, I absolutely love their self-hosted software. Best of all, it's FREE! So many affiliates just starting out get buried in overhead costs they leave very little of their budget for the most important thing; traffic. Save your money and put it towards a campaign!

When just starting out you can run Prosper 202 on a VPS hosting solution without a problem (if you have lots of volume you'll have to move to a dedicated box). It tracks important items such as CTR from your advertisement to your landing page as well as the CTR and conversion rate from your landing page to your offer. It also works great for split testing multiple variations of landing pages and offers (with a little added code). I know there is a lot of other stuff out there, but this works best for me.

Select Your Niche
There is a lot to consider when selecting a niche to promote via a media buy, so I'm not going to be going into detail in this post. I will say though, you want to make sure your niche appeals to a wide variety of people unless the site you're purchasing inventory on is very niche specific. For example you wouldn't want to promote a dating offer that targets 40 year olds + when the primary audience is 20 - 40 and married. You would want a more generalized dating offer. This is really hard to explain without going into detail on a case-by-case basis, but your best tool in evaluating this is common sense. Remember with media buying the consumer is not actively searching for your product or service. It is your job to capture their attention and pre-sell them with a landing page (or your creative).

Select A Site To Buy Inventory
When getting started with media buying I see so many affiliates make the mistake of 'getting in over their head.' They expect to go to a huge advertising network, purchase $1,000 (or more) worth of inventory, and become the next success story. As with any business, things simply don't work like this. As I told someone the other day, I'll spend anywhere from $30,000 - $50,000 just to see if I can get a media buy profitable. If you're just starting out, this is IMPOSSIBLE. You need to focus on getting a small amount of inventory profitable and then branching out from there. Shoot for $100 a day net profit. It is very important to set goals that are obtainable.

Here are some excellent free tools where you can input your target demographics and return a list of sites to inquire about advertising on:

- DoubleClick Ad Planner
- Quantcast
- Compete.com
- Alexa

The more creative and aggressive you get with negotiating CPM rates, the more successful you're going to be media buying.

Test Everything
Once you get your inventory purchased you want to make sure you test everything. Right off the bat it is VERY important to test multiple creatives. I recommend at least 10 but as many as 50 depending on the amount of inventory you purchase. Try animation (if allowed), different borders, different calls-to-action, different formats, etc. When purchasing inventory by CPM your CTR on your creative is your lifeline.

As I mentioned above you're going to want to also test several different variations of landing pages. Again it depends on how much inventory you purchase, but I recommend as many as 10. The smallest changes on your landing pages can sometimes make the biggest difference!

Before I make any optimizations I like to let everything run untouched for 24 hours. This provides me with enough data where I can begin to eliminate some creatives, landing pages, and/or offers. Also pay very close attention to the time of day when your conversions are the greatest. Many sites and advertising networks will allow you to day-part your campaigns where you can only run during certain hours. This can really impact your bottom-line.

Common Media Buying Terms:
- CTR: Click through rate
- EPC: Earnings per click
- CPM: Cost per one-thousand impressions
- Insertion Order: A contract that states the amount of impressions you are purchasing, how much you are purchasing, and the flight dates of your campaign.
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