Making Money

Published on November 3rd, 2013 | by Daniel

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How to Make Money with Media Buying

Media Buying as a method to make money is best suited for those who are bit accustomed to internet marketing or selling products on the internet. I do not recommend this for those totally new to making money online as it can be risky and you need some investment to be successful with it.

How it Works

In its most basic form media buy is nothing more than buying banner space on other websites and using this banner space to promote a product. In this regard it is a very old school method, with us from the dawn of the internet.

By doing a media buy you place a banner with an affiliate link embedded in it on another website. Then when a customer clicks on the banner, he is directed to the merchant’s website, completes the transaction, and you get the affiliate fee. Sounds easy? Well yes, the principle is easy, but to make this principle profitable you will have to put in a bit of work (and testing).

How to Find good Offers for a Media Buy

When you start out with media buys you probably have used other online traffic sources (search engines, social media) for online marketing before. I would advise you to take the best converting offers from these traffic sources and use them for your first media buy campaigns. The most important reason for this is that you KNOW that these offers can convert (and assumingly have a stable conversion rate). It gives you the important knowledge (and confidence) that the offer and its landing page are sound and can turn a profit. In this way you can focus better on the CTR and effectiveness of your ads.

Second, try to stick to a niche you know well. Whether its gaming, car insurances, fashion or something else, stick with it. Most likely you have a competitive advantage in that field over most other online marketers as you are experienced in promoting these kind of products. This experience can be a make or break in media buy campaigns.

Third, try to achieve a perfect match between your audience (i.e. the website on which you are doing the media buy) and your products. Say for instance that I do a lead generation for a car insurance company. In that case it makes sense to go to car sale website or a blog where people talk about buying cars and do a media buy there. Of course, everyone else who is a little bit experienced in media buy knows this, so chances are that ad space will be expensive on these kind of websites as competition for it is high. Therefore you need to be creative with your traffic sources (i.e. websites) and what products to promote with it. This is ultimately one of your big added values as an affiliate marketer doing a media buy anyway. Sometimes it can work very well to go a bit against the grain with your campaigns and promote on a website where the match is not obvious to the untrained eye.

The good thing about media buy that it gives a lot of opportunities in a lot of niches while its scaling possibilities are huge. So if one offer does not work do not give up and try another one.

Good offers to promote via media buy are found at almost all big affiliate networks (and it depends on your vertical), but I can recommend NeverblueZanox (for Europe) and ShareaSale as they always have proven trustworthy for me and have quick payouts.

Going Direct or Using a Network

There are two main ways to approach a media buy (i.e. buy banner space); direct via website owners or indirect via media buy networks.

Going direct – Going direct is the old school method of doing a media buy. You do your research, you find a good website to advertise on and then talk directly to the owner of the website to buy ad space from him. You agree a CPM or fixed free per month and you pay him directly. For big deals you use a contract. This method can be very beneficial as you can strike bargains here and there, especially if the website owner has not sold his banner space before or is experienced with it. Even in case he is experienced, it is often cheaper than buying through a network. The problem with going direct is that you have to manage all your contacts separately (if you do more than one), implementation and especially rotation of your banner can be lagging and there has to be some amount of personal trust for the transaction to work.

Network – An increasingly popular method to buy banner space is via networks. These networks aggregate banner space from individual websites, making managing your media buy campaigns very easy. The networks also employ an automatic bidding system which means that the highest bidder get its banner shown most often on the website desired. Well established and know networks with a good inventory include SitescoutBuySellAds and Burstmedia, amongst others. Some are specialized in certain niches, for instance only fashion websites. And by a stretch, Google Display Network (GDN) is also great for doing media buys. I find them especially good for tests as they work on CPC basis.

Media Buy Model: CPM, CPC or Fixed

In media buy, the most common models for buying banner space is CPM, CPC or a fixed fee.

CPM – Cost per Mille. Paying for the amount of impressions on a website. Often calculated on a basis of a rate per 1000 impressions

CPC – Cost per Click. Paying for each click on the bannerlink.

Fixed – A fixed fee for a certain period and a certain banner space. Can be very interesting if you think that the amount of visitors to a site will increase or is higher than the price warrants.

What is the best depends on the kind of rates they offer. I like to test media buys first with CPC. You can control costs and analyze a bit more easily. When the test is successful I go direct and negotiate a CPM or Fixed fee. Fixed fee can be great to negotiate with smaller site owners directly as it is an efficient way to buy advertising space.

The ultimate Banner Position

Well, there is not really one as it depends on the website you are promoting on (and the products). Some media buyers insist on promoting above the fold only. On the other hand, ad spaces below the fold can be cheaper and therefore more lucrative eventually. Furthermore some visitors automatically scroll down the site looking for information, making below the fold ads actually much more visible than ads above the fold.

How to Create a Good Banner

Of course you can use the banners provided to you by the merchant. But I can say these will almost never turn you a profit. It is too easy, they are too available, everybody can start media buy with them (including the merchant). So you need to provide some added value by being creative and creating your own banners. Sometimes I use the standard company banners to control the splittest though.

What kind of banners and what texts work well in advertising is a worthy a whole separate post but for now you can advise you: don’t be modest. Try to grab as much attention as possible while still getting the key message across. Give the audience what they want. Also, look into this great classic book for good ideas on advertising. I used much of these ideas (in spirit, not literally) for my own online campaigns.

How to make your own banners? Learn to use Photoshop. It is quite easy to learn and a very good tool for someone starting in design to make banners. Photoshop is user-friendly and get the job done quickly. Stick to simple (but striking) banners when you start out. Learn how to make simple gifs as well. If you are really bad with Photoshop or just want to take a shortcut, try out Bannersnack. You can make a good looking banner with it in no time.

Turning a Profit

Of course, the ultimate purpose of doing a media buy is turning a profit. The reason that media buy is more for the intermediate marketer is that in spite of all your work you cannot predict really what will be profitable or not. You have to try and split test A LOT. When you get a profitable margin on a test campaign though you can start to scale and your little margin will turn into a huge profit when applied big time.

As a rule of thumb, a good general CTR to aim for on your banners is 1% with another 1% on this converting. For example you promote a lead form for a car insurance company, which pays $ 40 dollar per lead. So say (as example) you are direct linking to this offer, and you have 1.000.000 impressions, you get 10.000 clicks, and 100 conversions. This means $4.000 revenue. To break even, you need a CPC of 0,40 or a CPM of $ 4. Everything below means profit.

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