Many affiliates are turning to media buying/display advertising to drive targeted traffic to their offers. Media buying comes in many forms – text ads, banner ads, video ads – and is making a surge in the software vertical. Media buys can be on the pricey side and lend themselves to higher risk, but with these risks come high returns for affiliates.
Here’s how to get started with media buying:
Develop a budget
Media buying is expensive, but don’t let this be a deterrent. There are ways for small and medium sized affiliates to start off without spending thousands of dollars. The important thing is to set a reasonable budget and stick to it.
You should start off with least $500 dollars, and once you have had success and learned more you can make larger investments. Don’t get discouraged if your first campaign is not profitable. Like all other traffic sources it takes time to learn, optimize and master.
Do your homework
There is one consistent theme among affiliates who are successful at media buying: they do their research. Spending a large portion of time researching before getting started will pay off. Make sure to find out who your competitors are, what keywords they use, what banner ads they’re running, and where they place these banners.
There are several competitive intelligence tools that can help you research keywords. The Google Keyword Planner is the most well known, followed by What Runs Where.
Some other tools worth reviewing include:
Decide on the traffic source
There are a number of traffic sources to consider including real-time bidding, direct buys and ad networks. Here’s a breakdown of each:
Real-time Bidding (RTB)
RTB is essentially an online auction for media buys. You bid on ad placements and the highest bid wins a number of impressions. The advantage to RTB is that affiliates with smaller budgets can display their ads on larger, more expensive publications at a fraction of the cost.
One of the RTB tools we often recommend is Site Scout. They have billions of impressions in their inventory, and you can start bidding for a minimum deposit of $500.
Ad Networks play the role of the middleman in media buying. Some good ones to check out are CPX Interactive, Adbrute, and buysellads.com. They have relationships with numerous online publishers around the world, and provide you with cost-effective access those publications. The combination of a global inventory, account support, data integration, and reporting make this a good place to start when you’re getting your feet wet with media buying.
There are many more media buying sites out there – here’s a comprehensive list.
Do your paperwork
Whatever traffic sources you pick, make sure to familiarize yourself with the details of the contract. The contract will be made up of (1) a piece addressing the specifics of your campaign offer and (2) the terms and conditions.
Before you sign off on anything, be sure that all of the details in the offer are correct and the contact information is accurate. Know the terms and conditions – here’s an example - take your time and don’t skim through it.
Pay special attention to the “legalese”, in particular the out clause, the policy on creative swapping and how the company deals with “down time” and “implementation error”.
Test your ads
Testing your banner ads is an absolute must for media buys. It’s best to start with a 300 x 250 banner, because it will almost always yield the highest click-through results. This will give you the best template to test off of. Because it’s the most popular, it will be the most expensive banner size- but if it’s profitable then you can try out other sizes.