I’m continuing Traffic Generation blog post series and today we’ll cover one of the most profitable traffic generation methods for eCommerce Shop owners – Media Buying!
What is Media Buying?
Media Buying is an advertising concept where you buy pre-agreed advertising space on a 3rd party website. Usually this means buying banner space on blogs, forums, news & other websites that are highly targeted to your niche.
You can do this either via Ad Networks or deal with website owners directly. Ad Networks are companies that act as a middle man between a website owner and advertisers, taking their cut from every deal.
The way these networks work is simple:
- You sign up for a free account;
- Find a website in the network you want to advertise on;
- Buy a set number of banner impressions or the term you want your banners to be displayed for;
- Pay the money, upload your banners to the system and you’re good to go!
Most of the sites in these networks will be based in the US but in some niches you can still find UK sites too.
The best way to do Media Buying though is by dealing with webmasters directly. You simply find blogs, websites, forums – places where your potential customers can be reached and contact them directly asking about available ad spaces on their website.
This way you can be super selective with who you contact and can choose to only advertise on highly targeted websites with local traffic that is good for your business.
Many websites and blogs will have Advertise links clearly displayed somewhere on their site which makes your life even easier.
Here’s the thing though – savvy website owners, who have an Advertising page on their site, will usually have higher prices than say a stay at home mom or a blogger without a clear understanding on how this advertising thing works.
So I actually recommend you start with blogs or forums. Use Google and blog directories to find a list of blogs that are in your niche. Then contact each webmaster via email, an online contact form or Facebook.
A simple message like this is all you need to start the conversation:
I saw your website and found it very informative!
I’m running an online shop, selling these products and was wondering – would you have any banner space available for me to buy?
We’re ready to go live as soon as you confirm available advertising options on your site.
Looking forward to your fast response.
To increase your chances of receiving a reply, always try to find out the first name of the person who runs the website. And start your conversation with that. You can also mention a recent blog post they did just to get more personal and avoid being marked as a spammer or con artist.
Be totally honest and upfront and represent your business professionally.
I have found that Facebook works very well for this kind of first contact. While many people ignore such emails or don’t bother to reply for weeks, on Facebook they’re more active and the chance of you getting a quick reply is much higher.
Once you hear back from a webmaster, ask about their site statistics. Ideally they should send you a recent Google Analytics report where you can see exactly how many unique visitors they get a day, what’s the average visitor staying time, page views and bounce rate.
One super important analytics data you want to check out is visitor location. There’s no point in paying for an ad on a website where 90% of traffic comes from Brazil if you’re only selling to the European market.
Very rarely you’ll find a website with only local traffic, that’s fine – we live in a world where cross country borders don’t really exist on the internet. But still, if you’re targeting the UK market, at least 50% of traffic should be UK based. Ideally 70%-80%.
The money you pay for clicks that go out of your target territory is money completely wasted.
There will be webmasters who understand this dilemma and offer geo targeted ad spots. This means that your ads will only be shown in the countries you want. Geo targeted ads are the perfect solution so if at all possible, stick with them.
There are loads of websites who will happily sell you ad space just to put a small banner next to 10 existing ones somewhere down below the fold. Such ad locations are worth almost nothing!
As a general rule of thumb, ONLY buy banner space that is published Above the Fold. This guarantees that all visitors actually see your banner and greatly increases your CTR.
Best three locations from my experience are:
- Header (often called Leaderboard, banner size 728 x 90 pixels)
- Right top corner right below the header area (often called medium rectangle, banner size 300 x 250 pixels)
- Right column (often called skyscraper, banner size 160 x 600 pixels or 120 x 600 pixels)
These three are proven to deliver the best results in most cases.
I usually don’t deal with leaderboard or skyscraper banners. I don’t know; I just don’t like these types of banners as it’s hard to create a great design for them. In 99% of cases I just stick with 300 x 250 pixels, medium rectangle ads that are located on the right hand side of a website, right below the header area.
This is where most people will think – Andrew, I can’t do this! Wrong!
You don’t have to be a designer to create banners for such campaigns. Furthermore – you don’t NEED professionally designed banners! They in fact have a lower CTR in general than ones created by normal people like you and me. Yes, they look fancy and they flash all year round but trust me on this – you don’t need them!
Obviously, if you can’t work with graphic design software at all, you’ll need to outsource these. Fiverr is a perfect place to go for such banners as you’re not looking for PRO quality here!
Just be very clear with the message you’re trying to push – use large text, an image and call to action element, which is usually a simple Click Here text or button:
Check out the website where your banners are going to be published. You don’t want to try to blend in the colour scheme and style.
Quite the opposite!
You want your banner design to stand out! Make it ugly, make it bright, and make it noticeable! This is the key to super high click through rates.
Funny pictures, borders and scream headlines – all can be used in such banners to draw attention.
Remember about split testing! Always run at least two different banner designs for each campaign. After the first 20-30 clicks you can usually see which one is performing best. Keep it and replace the other one and continue monitoring. After another 20-30 clicks, drop the weakest and replace it with a new one.
This is an on-going process and this is exactly how you get banners with click through rates as high as 10% and more!
I can’t really tell you how much you should pay for banner space as it will be based purely on the niche and demographics you’re working with.
As a general ball figure you can use £1 per 1000 impressions. But it can be more and it can be less. Obviously, the more you buy, the lower the price should be. In the beginning though I recommend you start with a small deal and see how it goes. If you’re getting a decent ROI, you can always scale up your campaign by buying more impressions.
Another thing you have to remember with banner advertising is that usually you pay for the number of impressions and NOT clicks like in Google Shopping or AdWords.
What does it mean to you? It means that the more clicks per 1000 impressions you get, the cheaper the cost per click.
Let’s take a look at two real life examples side by side:
A) Your CTR is 1% and you pay £1 for 1000 impressions. This means that out of a 1000 impressions you’ll get 10 clicks for £1 which equals 10 pence per click.
B) Your CTR is 5% and you pay £1 for 1000 impressions. This means that out of 1000 impressions you’ll get 50 clicks, paying just 2 pence per click.
Do you see how much of a difference your CTR makes?
And that’s why it’s super important to constantly split test banners to increase it! The higher the CTR, the more traffic you get and the less you pay for each click.
Depending on your skill, you should be able to generate at least a 1% click through rate for your banners. That’s an absolute minimum. But just so you know, the sky is the limit here. I’ve had banners with CTRs as high as 10%+. This is where Media Buying becomes the CHEAPEST form of paid advertising out there!
Choose websites that are highly targeted to the products you sell and constantly split test banner designs. This is the key to success with direct Media Buying.
You hoped that I had forgotten about the tech stuff this time? Afraid not! No paid advertising campaign goes without using some sort of tracking system. With Media Buying it’s easy though.
You should already have Google Analytics with eCommerce tracking enabled. This is all you need. What you do is simply tag your landing page URLs so that Analytics knows exactly where these clicks have come from.
There’s a link builder provided by Google itself for this. You can also do it manually but for most people I guess the link builder will be the best way to go.
Simply enter all the information about your campaign and landing page and click Submit! Google will generate a custom URL that is tagged with the campaign specific information. You give this URL to the webmaster to link your banners.
If you do this, in Google Analytics you’ll clearly see where these clicks are coming from and more importantly – see whether they generate any sales or not!
Going back to CTRs and banner testing – there will be times when you see some banners generate a brilliant CTR BUT not that many sales. You’ll see this from your Analytics data.
So while having a high CTR is good, your main goal is still to make as high a ROI as possible! So monitor the sales each banner delivers. It may be that a banner with a lower CTR and higher cost per click actually generated you more sales and profit than a banner with a higher CTR.
ROI always comes first.
If you’re using an Ad Network such as BuySellAds.com, you’ll have a nice interface where you can manage ads, upload banners, split test, pause campaigns and so on.
With the direct site approach, often this won’t be the case. Yes, some sites will have similar software in place that allows you to manage your campaigns on your own but this usually only applies to bigger sites.
Most small time bloggers won’t have any such automated way for you to manage your campaigns. And that sucks!
Imagine, you have to send each and every banner design to the webmaster, wait for it to be uploaded and URLs changed – it can take days!
This doesn’t help, especially when you want to constantly split test various banner designs to achieve a higher CTR.
What’s the solution?
Use your own ad server.
Sounds scary? It’s not as complicated as it sounds. While there are many professional, enterprise ad server solutions available on the market, you don’t need them. You need something simple, easy to set-up and preferably FREE!
Any ideas…? Google! Yep, good old Google has a solution for every situation.
Google’s ad server Double Click is free to use as long as you don’t go over 90 million ad impressions per month. Well, I don’t think that will be a problem at the moment! 90 million impressions means that your monthly ad budget has reached at least £50 000… I guess at that stage you can afford to start paying for it!
So how does it work?
As with all Google products, you can sign in with your Google account and get started straight away! Next go to Inventory and create a new ad unit. Give it a name (the website name you’re targeting is a good idea), select the banner size and Save! Activate the ad so it goes live.
Now click on the ad you just created and Generate tags. These are two pieces of code you’ll give to the webmaster you’re working with. The first piece of code goes into the HEAD element of the website and the other one in the banner location.
Last step is to create an Order – you basically create this for yourself. If you were selling ad space to others, you would create these orders for advertisers that pay to advertise on your site.
But in this case it’s more of a formality.
Enter all the required information. There are countless amazing features and settings you can use! And you can adjust all of them later on, once the order is created.
Just a few of the things you can do here:
- Create several campaigns and split test them against each other;
- Have multiple banners for each campaign. Split test and optimise automatically -this is a super cool way of climbing up the CTR ladder!
- Auto pause ads based on daytime settings. Say display one creative during the day time and another one in evenings and at night.
- Geo target campaigns down to country, city and even post code level! Just imagine what kind of laser targeted campaigns you can create this way!
- And so much more!
This is where you can make real money buying cheap ad units and making the most out of them – truly the BEST of media buying!
Imagine, a banner that says – we will deliver to Manchester tomorrow by 2PM. Shown only to people in Manchester. I don’t have to tell you what kind of CTR you can expect from highly targeted campaigns like these!
Here’s another interesting twist – you can actually use Google’s ad server to create and manage banner campaigns for your eCommerce shop! Yes, you can create laser targeted product up-sells and special promotions using all the same techniques I’ve already covered. The best part about this is the geo targeting and split testing. Use it to automate all banner campaigns you run on your eCommerce shop!
Google’s ad server is just a tool though – you’re the one that makes it work for your business! It’s FREE and very simple to use, so just get into it and build your first campaign!
I’m only giving you the basic information here.
If you really want to make this work, you should learn more about Media Buying and become a true expert; master this skill! When you do this, your competition will be left behind and you can dominate your niche driving thousands of highly targeted people to your eCommerce shop with the click of a button.
Created by Chad Hamzeh, a guy who has generated millions of clicks with paid advertising, Traffic Black Book is the real deal when it comes to Media Buying. In the course you’ll learn all you need to know to become a true media buying master!
I can’t recommend this course enough! It’s not cheap, yes, but you get world class information from the best marketer in the field. Period.
As with any skill – the more your practice, the better you’ll get. So start small, with one campaign on a blog and track your results. You can only lose the money you pay for the ad space – everything else is pure experience.