Top 5 Media Buying Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

It’s time to hit the ground running and get the most out of creating, optimizing, and sending your campaign out to the big wide world. In this article, we’ll share a few tricks and tips (geared to newbies) when running ad campaigns. We’ll cover stumbling blocks to avoid like, bidding against yourself, using dated creatives, and utilizing niche GEOS right off the bat. So, without further delay, let’s remedy the first-time pitfalls and unpack the “need to knows” that you probably need to know. 😁

1. Not Using The Right Targeting 

Take the guesswork out of your campaign creation once and for all and go straight to the source with User Interest Targeting. Here, you’ll never need to reach around blindly for what you “think” might be the right audience again. Now you can directly track down the users most likely to connect with your ads. To do this, select the category or vertical most applicable to what you are advertising on the Adcash DSP platform. Your ads will then automatically target themselves to the traffic sources that have shown the most noticeable interest in what your campaign has to offer. Select all supply sources when using this targeting method and remember to use the “spread” option on cappings, to avoid spreading your budget too thin. 

You can take the whole targeting adventure one step further by using the CPA Target Bidding Option, also available on the Adcash DSP platform. This feature will make your online advertising journey seamless with the use of fully automated ad optimization. All you need to do is set the CPA cost of what you’re willing to pay for each conversion and the CPA Targeting algorithm will take care of the rest.  With CPA Target bidding in place, you can say goodbye to manual optimization once and for all.

2. Not Using the Right Tracking

What’s a seamlessly optimized campaign without the analytics to gauge whether it’s actually working or not.  A first-time affiliate mistake seen again and again comes from not setting up the right post-campaign analysis. This is where Affiliate Trackers come into play. 

Some of the benefits of a quality campaign tracker include…

Impartial analytics
A quality affiliate tracker will never use deceptive information.

Up to the minute tracking
Affiliate trackers are updated by the minute and around the clock, meaning the data and insights you get from them are always accurate.

Multiple features
Today, trackers really are more than just tracking platforms. They help you optimize your campaigns in real-time in order to see which is performing the best, whilst allowing you to replicate a winning model. 

Budget Alerts
Most affiliate trackers now also monitor and report back to you on your daily, weekly, and/or monthly ad spend, ensuring you stay aware of low performing campaigns, whilst giving you the insights needed to capitalize on those with the highest success rates

If you’re not entirely sure where to start, we’d recommend checking out affiliate tracking services like  RedTrackBeMob, or Voluum to name a few. At the end of the day, it pays to research the different options thoroughly and make an educated decision on which one works best for you.

3A. Forgetting to Split Test Your Campaigns

If you’re first starting out in media-buying and you only have one offer and one landing page in your online arsenal, it pays to split test the campaign in order to see how best to target it to your audience. Figure out the perfectly optimized campaign and avoid tunnel vision by testing the same offer with different content, creatives, and traffic sources. 

If a banner or landing page isn’t performing to the standard you’d like it to, the fault may lie in the campaign itself and not the offer you’re advertising. 

The same rule applies to your pre-lander pages, i.e the pages you’ve created that appear before the offer itself. As these pages have a high chance of converting potential users over to what you’re advertising, it’s ultra-important to have clear directives and Calls to Action, in order to move the client to the next stage of the purchase cycle. 

Testing and interchanging ad formats.
For example, if your offer utilizes Native advertising to secure conversions, try testing out the same offer with Interstitial Ads as well. Or perhaps Pop-Under advertising. 

Reinvent your creatives.
Try changing up the copy and creatives on your landing and/or pre lander page. Try different fonts, titles, phrasing, and background imagery to see what resonates most with your potential traffic source. 

Research the Competition.
Check out the competition and see what they’re doing. Take the best elements and use them as inspiration to craft your own eye-catching creatives. Pick the competition most applicable to your campaign, based on the offer type, vertical, and geo. You can start by researching the world’s Top Affiliate Marketing Spy Tools and Why They Work

Test out different regions and Geos.
Your campaign might not be getting as much traction as you would have hoped for because you’re gearing your ads to the wrong region. Take the same creatives, content, and formats and try tailoring them to new regions. Who knows, maybe South Korea is where the most VPN downloads take place. Keep testing and find your affiliate marketing tribe. 

Pro Tip?
Try to keep your Campaign CTA the same across ads. The reason being is you may end up competing against yourself if one CTA  requires the user to “Read More” and the other requires them to “Sign Up”. The message becomes blurred and the directive gets lost. Instead, try using different types of ad formats, with the same CTA. See which converts the best and keeps refining by using updated creatives and content. 

3B. Buying the same traffic twice

With the Adcash Advanced campaign setup, you’re able to exclude or include traffic segments through different targeting options (previously mentioned above). Logically, you wouldn’t want to display your offer to the same segment of users, with just a minor variation in setup. So in order to steer clear of this and get your impression at a competitive price whilst at the same time avoiding buying the same traffic twice, we recommend blacklisting the details that you may have whitelisted in your other campaigns. Here’s a quick example from the iGaming sector: 

  • Say you’re about to run 3 campaigns simultaneously, in order to understand which will be the most effective in terms of collecting the strongest onsite traffic. You start with Campaign A, and in order to optimize it, you whitelist the keyword “gambling” as a website category. 
  • For Campaign B, you decide to whitelist the same keyword, but under user interest instead. 
  • Finally for Campaign C, you blacklist the same keyword again, but this time as both a website category AND as user interest. 

If you adopt the above principle into any combination of verticals, categories, and keywords, you will buy into the right traffic sources with ease at a competitive price and, most importantly, only once per campaign. Not to mention, you’ll start to develop a killer set of affiliate marketing skills that you can use again and again in loads of campaigns to come. 

4. Forgetting to Increase Budgeting and Capping

Spending $5 on a campaign and getting $20 in return is a great start, and if this is where you’re headed, you’re well on the road to media-buying success. But, there are ways to increase your views (and hopefully click-throughs) tenfold, and here’s how. 

Configuring capping will impact and alter the number of views a specific traffic source or user will see your ads within a 24 hour period. Strategic capping plays a huge role in increasing the volume of your campaign and your expected ROI. 

Cap your campaign for the hours in the day where you stand to gain the most traffic. As an example, if you’re targeting a financial vertical in the United States, you’ll want to gear your ads to show during 09h00 to 17h00 banking hours (GMT-4). If you’re targeting iGaming, it would make more sense to cap your ads in the day and run them in the evening when you know your users are at home surfing the digital highway. 🏎️

As far as budgeting goes, the same rules apply. You want the majority of your budget to go to the traffic source with the highest probability of converting. 

That’s where cost per acquisition (CPA) targeting comes into play. This fully automated, optimization algorithm spreads your budget evenly where it counts the most and generates the best results for your campaign. 

Find out more about CPA Target Bidding or, get in touch with us and we’ll help tailor your campaign to generate the best results in a few easy steps.

5. Tackling difficult Geo’s too Soon

Last but not least, when you first start out in affiliate marketing and media-buying, it’s good to start with easier Geo’s, i.e regions that hold a little more universal popularity,  where the competition is a little more spread out and there is ample room for everyone to make decent returns. Start slow, be patient, learn all the small details of Media Buying, and keep scaling into more niche Geo’s as you go. 

As a rule, start by opting for worldwide coverage and from there, target the regions that will reach the largest possible viewership. As your creatives get better, start experimenting with products that serve traffic and regions more niche in nature. 

A few decent regions to start with include…

USA 🇺🇸
France 🇫🇷
Germany 🇩🇪
Canada 🇨🇦
Brazil 🇧🇷
China 🇨🇳

Lastly, check your expectations AGAIN. Learn as much as you can from affiliate marketers who have walked the media-buying road already. Constantly test and analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns with software like RedTrack or Voluum, and join an affiliate marketing community (like AffLIFT and others) to get the upper hand on vital industry knowledge/ best practices from the start. 

Good luck, and please reach out to us if you have any questions? We love hearing from you, and anything we can do to make your media-buying journey as painless as possible is a job well done in our books 👌😁✌️

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