Media Buying – An Insider Step By Step Guide

The #1 way to light up an offer online is through media buying.  There are less than 10 media buyers in the world that consistently deliver 1,000+ leads a day.

Pulling on my direct observations of the 3 largest media buyers out there, who’s identities are kept private in this article, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to media buying.  Please refer to the Direct Response Advertiser Glossary if any terms I use are ambiguous.


Items Prior To Placing Media


1.  Ads That Garnish Clicks

You need to create ads that attract clicks.

On CPC buys through traffic sources like Google, higher clicking ads cost you less money.  Since Google makes money off of every click, an ad that gets 10 clicks per 1,000 impressions is going to make Google a lot more money than an ad that gets 1 click per 1,000 impressions.  Google rewards higher clicking ads by lower the cost per click and yielding more impressions.

On CPM buys, your bid on the impressions determines how many impressions you win.  If your ad doesn’t receive a single click you’ll still win the impressions by placing the largest bids.  That’s why on CPM buys it’s CRITICAL that you have ads that click well.

Here’s a few articles I’ve written on improving the CTR of your ads:

5 Simple Steps To Tripling CTR On Google

5 Tricks To Creating Killer Banner Ads

1 Small Edit Causes $2.75 EPC Increase

If you don’t want to experience the trial and error of creating ads yourself, you can leverage the best Direct Response designers at our agency.  They’re the most expensive out there.  But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

2.  Presale Pages That Click Through

Once you’ve put the highest clicking ads at work, you’ll need a presale page that has a high click through rate (CTR) to your offer.  This is the one area that affiliate marketers consistently trip up on.  Either their presale page doesn’t click through or it’s a ripped copy of a non-compliant one that does click through.  Neither are an option if you want to enjoy longevity in the DR space and sleep with both eyes closed 🙂

In order to understand how to create an original presale page it’s important to first look at the psychology behind presale pages.  Presale pages are used to subtly create demand in DR offers through long copy.  Solid DR presale pages use Socratic sales techniques, gently guiding the consumer to their own conclusion that the product is trustworthy and worth trying out.

Examples of top notch presale pages are as follows:

Health Headlines  (this is the presale page used for Force Factor)

Try Sensa (notice that the main website for Sensa acts as a presale page)

Life Style Journals  (This is one of the lesser egregious affiliate presale pages that works)

How Life Works  (This is an advertorial type presale page that converts)

To put it bluntly, affiliate marketers pushing traffic to offers via affiliate networks are rarely provided the tools necessary to create presale pages that are both compliant and convert.  Moreover, most CPA network offers have a short lifespan – they’re mostly churn and burn offers.  In a matter of months they’re usually shut down by their processors.  Shortly thereafter they’re up and running again under a new name.    For those offers that aren’t shut down, it’s only a matter of time before advertisers get hip to what’s happening and pull the plug. It’s no wonder that affiliate marketers often revert to flogs and farticles to promote CPA network offers.  By the time they invest money and time into creating a solid presale page, the offer is gone!!!

And it’s also no wonder that tier-1 direct response advertisers rarely tap into CPA affiliate traffic sources.   Instead they go to tier-1 ad agencies to create a viable program for them.

It’s a sizable project to create presale pages that both convert and are compliant.  It’s mandatory that you have:

–  Powerful and real consumer testimonials.

–  Creative copywriters.

–  High end designers.

–  Experienced project managers.

It also helps to have celebrity endorsements, clinical trials, videos, professional sponsors, media stories, and programmers.

It’s a time consuming and expensive process to put together a solid presale page.  For that reason you need to make sure that you’re investing your time on an offer that’s here to stay.

3.  Top Converting Landing Pages

Ok, your ads are clicking good and your presale page has an awesome CTR.  The final step is having a landing page that converts its highly qualified visitors, who are already sold on the offer by the time they hit the landing page.

To do this you need to retain a top notch design team.

Give them as much info on your offer as you can.  Make sure to focus on the benefits of your product, not the features.

It’s taken me close to a decade to put together a team that can consistently churn out top converting offers.  Don’t make the mistake of cutting corners when it comes to landing page creation.  It’s an exact science and unless you can afford to lose a lot of money testing, make sure you use a trustworthy professional to put it together.

Here’s some free tips on landing page creation:

3 Best Direct Response Color Combinations

The Power Of Easy!

The Power Of Stronger, Longer Guarantees

There are also proven tricks that we implement on pages that I don’t reveal.  After all, we’ve gotta have an edge over the competition 🙂


Identify Your Audience


Make sure you clearly identify your audience before placing media.

WRONG WAY: An EDU Master’s offer wouldn’t click too well   My 6 year old daughter wouldn’t find that type of ad too interesting.

RIGHT WAY:  An EDU Master’s offer would do much better on  There’s a lot of readers with bachelor’s degrees seeking knowledge on

One of the easiest ways to target your audience is to poll your customers.

If you’ve yet to launch and gain customer data, study your competition.  Where are your competitors ads popping up?

Mark down their placements and then go to sites like Quantcast to view the audiences info.  Voila!

There’s a few programs that let you spy on your competition.  One of my favorites is WhatRunsWhere.  Users can quickly discover where their competition is buying media at.  Then turnaround and view the demographic info via Quantcast.


Testing Placements


1.  Using Open Ad Networks

Traffic sources such as Yabuka, Pulse360, and AdSonar provide direct response marketers with visibility into the placements of ads.  This allows for quick testing of multiple variations of ads.

2.  Test 200 Clicks Per Placement

Test 1 or 2 placements at a time.  Run a total of 200 clicks to each ad variation, presale page, and lander.

As you test mark down the placements that back out.

Also qualify the effectiveness of your ads, presales, and landing pages.  Narrow down the combination that works best.  Then….


Go Direct


Setup Direct Website IOs

Once you’ve identified the best placements, highest clicking ads, highest CTR presales, and top converting landing pages, it’s time to GO DIRECT to the publisher.  Ad Networks charge a “middle-man” fee between you and the websites you want to advertise on.  By going direct to the website, you consolidate the value chain and save a lot of money.

Go in as an “agency” so you can get an agency discount.   Creating an agency is simple: spend $150 and register an LLC.  Then throw up a website calling your group “an agency.”  Wam!  There’s your agency discount.

Make sure you have a 24 hour out clause in the IO with the direct publisher in case something goes wrong..


The Final Result


Full control over your campaign’s destiny.  Congratulations on consolidating the value chain.  You just cut out the following 3 middlemen, all of which ate away at your profits: Affiliate Network, Affiliate, Ad Network.   You’re no longer an advertiser that relies on affiliate networks that get affiliate to run your offer via ad networks.   No sir.  You now go direct to the traffic source and are maximizing your profit potential.


The Shortcuts That Work


1.  EngageBDR

Clickbooth, Ads4Dough, and several other networks share the largest affiliate in the world.  This affiliate pulls top converting offers and buys his traffic exclusively from EngageBDR.

This one affiliate is also the largest customer of EngageBDR.  That means that he is going to have first rights to the best placements.  So how can you break into those placements?

To do that it’s important to understand how EngageBDR operates.  EngageBDR is a blind ad network that has years of data on the top display placements for just about every vertical.   Their staff acts as the media buyer by placing the ads the for advertisers and affiliates.

In order to gain impressions from the best placements on EngageBDR, you’ve gotta have a large spend.  The min. spend to get started with EngageBDR is $25k.   I can tell you from first hand experience that EngageBDR can blow through 25k in a matter of hours.  Don’t make the mistake of celebrating as hundreds of orders come pouring.   Your targeted CPA could be way off target.  When the orders abruptly stop you might find yourself one unhappy camper as the $30 targeted CPA might end up at $100.   And if that happens who are you going to blame?

Well, if your inclination is to blame EngageBDR then you’re way off.  When buying media from EngageBDR you need to get very specific as to the campaign goals. DO NOT LET THEM RUN WILD.  It’s your responsibility to ensure that the pixels are placed properly and direct EngageBDR on how to allocate your spend.

I recommend that you spread your spend out over a 2 week testing period.  Watch the stats like a hawk.  Once your stats are backing out per the placements they’ve tested, start to slowly scale.  Put thresholds in place with their staff to ensure that you are backing out at or below your targeted CPA.  Include strict instruction to pause the campaign if stats are off for more than a few hours.


2.  Work With Top Affiliates Direct

Creating direct relationships with the top affiliate marketers can save a lot of time and money.   The challenge is piercing through the sound to get a top publisher to run your offer.  That’s where we come in.

Some of our capital intensive clients would rather enjoy direct relationships with the top publishers in the world.  Instead of focusing time on media buying, they’d prefer to spend it on other areas of their campaigns.

My preference is to take destiny into your own hands and control all aspects campaigns.  But hey, to each his own, eh?


Useful Media Buying Tools


SiteScout: Cloud based ad server technology that allows for delivery of ads.  Great for testing placements.

Hitpath /HasOffers: Both programs are great for tracking leads.  Hit Path is purported to having better tracking technology.  I personally prefer HasOffers due to it’s ease of use and aweseome functionality.

Tracking202: Solid program for tracking multiple campaigns.


On Cloaking


One final observation.  If you need to cloak your pages to get them approved on a traffic source, then you’re not running a compliant program.  It is much more rewarding to create a high value offer that every publisher wants you to run.  I assure you that the end reward of creating a program that’s accepted on all exchanges is much more lucrative in the long haul.


Did you enjoy this article or other articles on this blog?  I keep this blog advertisement free to maintain it’s authenticity, passing the value to the readers.

My wife let’s me take family time on weekends and after hours to write articles.   This is very selfless of her.

At any rate, we are proud to announce that we are having our first son this January.   My wife put up this registry for our friends, family, and colleagues.  Any love you can show us by picking up an item for our son would not only give me a great excuse with the wife to continue to sneak away and blog on the weekends, it would also signify that this blog has helped you in some shape or form.  Much love !!!

Rich Gorman is an internet entrepreneur. His primary focuses are on direct response offers and SaaS models. When not working Rich enjoys spending time with his family.