In this blog post, I want to go into a bit of detail on how to do smaller site media buys, which is something that can typically be cheaper per month than PPC, but can still generate good ROI.
Most of the time when people hear about Media Buying, they think of $100,000 per month costs, and large upfront minimums to mysterious ad networks. Sure, that’s one way to go about it, but really Media Buying is just buying any type of ad space/time. Most people are referring to banner buys, and while these can typically have a high cost of entry, today I want to show you a way that anyone can get started. In fact, I still have some buys going this way that bring in a consistent 300% ROI every month without me having to really administer them much.
First, there are a few advantages as to why you will want to go direct to a site and buy banner space:
- Rarely will you encounter restrictions (great for certain CPA offers)
- Less competition than a lot of platforms
- Most things are negotiable in terms of price/placement/term
- There is an almost unlimited number of sites you can go after, just takes some digging
- Full transparency as to where your ads are showing
- Uninformed web masters (basically some have no idea what to charge for advertising, take advantage of this)
- For smaller site buys which we’re covering today, you can get most buys for under $300/month!
- For our smaller site buys, we will be buying on a flat rate. If your CTR on your ads is good, you could be getting some really cheap traffic.
So how do we buy banner space from small sites? Well, I’ll assume that most people reading this blog are into affiliate marketing and CPA marketing, so here is a brief step by step:
Step 1: Choosing an Offer
For this post, I’m going to focus on choosing the offer first and finding sites relevant to that offer. You’re also free to find traffic sources within a target demographic and try to monetize their traffic with multiple offers, but for our purposes today, let’s find an offer first.
I always recommend that if you’re doing CPA marketing, have a good relationship with your affiliate manager. If they know what they’re doing, they’ll give you the top offers within your vertical of choice. So our first step here is to talk to your affiliate manager and get the top 3 offers in the vertical of your choice. Check the demographics of your offer in Offervault.com. Also, cross reference if possible with Google Ad Planner and MSN Adlabs.
Step 2: Finding Sites
We want to find 20 – 30 potential target sites that fit our offer demographics. Obviously you can find less but many small web masters won’t get back to you. That is probably the #1 disadvantage of dealing with small sites. If it bothers you enough and you have the funds to do so, outsource the site finding and get someone to contact all the webmasters. That way you will deal only with setting up the buy with those that get back to you.
We want to look for sites getting less than 20k-30k uniques per day if possible. One of my best small buys had 2500 US uniques per day.
Here are a few of the methods I use to find smaller sites to approach:
Method 1: Google Search
- Simply go to one of the Big 3 engines, preferably Google, and search for very targeted terms to your vertical. Take a look at the sites in the organic search results. Check traffic levels in Compete.com, Google Ad Planner, Alexa & Quantcast.com. Find a common thread. If you have converting keywords from PPC campaigns, easiest method is to go after sites that rank high for those converting keywords. This goes for converting GCN placements as well. Approach them privately and cut out the middle man. Try to be as targeted as possible here.
- Look up demographics and cross reference with Google Ad Planner, MSN Adlabs, & Quantcast if available.
Method 2: Google Ad Planner & QuantCast Planner
- Go to Google Ad Planner & QuantCast Planner, and specify the exact demographics of your offer. You’ll be given a list of sites that fit your criteria. I like to sort these sites by Composition Index, which usually gives me smaller sites that are the most targeted to my demographic. Once you’ve found some good candidates, you can use the affinity index on Google Ad Planner and QuantCast Planner to find even more sites that are likely to be visited by your demographic.
Method 3: Forums
- A lot of times, forum owners have no idea what to charge for advertising. This can give us the opportunity to get some cheap banner space! Go the website Big-Boards.com, and search for sites related to your niche. Big-Boards.com lists some of the busiest forums on the web for related forums. Again, think in terms of demographics. A forum on quilting, for example, might respond well to an anti-aging product.
Step 3: Contacting Sites
Contacting small sites can be a challenge since only 10-15% of small site owners will get back to you. First obvious step is to look at the navigation or scroll down to the bottom and see if there is an “advertise” link. If there is no advertise link, is there a “contact” link? If there is neither of these, use your favourite “whois” look up for that domain and see if there is some contact info there. For forums, if none of the above work and you really want to get on there, post in the forum on how to get a hold of an admin or the site owner. I’ve had to do this before for a forum in GCN that was converting great for me.
So, now it’s time to e-mail the smaller site. The way in which I contact smaller sites is a bit more casual than when I contact a larger site. Here is a script that I use in my e-mails:
“Hi there (if there is no contact name)
I was wondering if I could get some info for banner advertising on your site __________.com
I’d like to do a test buy as soon as possible.
Thanks very much,
This is a template I pretty much copy and paste since we arecontacting so many sites.
Step 4: Deciding What to Pay
Like I said, the majority won’t contact you. If you like, you can e-mail them several times. If you get a response, a lot of times it will be vague, and sometimes they will want you to name a price. For smaller sites, I will typically then ask how many impressions my ad will see in the month. Tell them you want to buy the entire ad slot for the month, and not be rotated with other advertisers. Cross reference their impression number with the total page views number in Google Ad Planner (if available) assuming you purchased 100% impressions.
Also, keep in mind that if you are promoting CPA offers, they will only be eligible for certain countries, take this into account when measuring traffic levels. This is extremely important.
When I don’t have much data to go off, I will calculate a theoretical maximum CPM (cost per thousand impressions) based on page view data, a lower CTR of 0.25%, and a conversion rate from the click of 1% when using a lander, and of course my offer payout. I can use a higher conversion rate for offers not requiring a credit card. But again this is simply giving us an estimate. Also take in mind direct linking vs. landing pages. You’re really just going to get a rough estimate here.
The way I calculate a theoretical maximum CPM is as follows:
Offer Payout x 1000 x CTR x Conversion Rate = Max CPM
So, if we had an offer which pays out $40, and our test CTR was 0.25%, and our conversion rate from the click was 1% it would look like this:
$40 x 1000 x 0.0025 x .01 = 1…. so the max we should pay here with these numbers in place would be $1 CPM
Now, all we need to do is calculate the max cost. And that is done by the following formula:
Max CPM/1000 x Impressions = Max Cost
So let’s say that we’ve estimated that we will get 100,000 impressions for our buy and the webmaster has confirmed it:
$1.00/1000 x 100000 = $100 Max Cost
So for this buy, $100 should be the max we pay. Now, we were kind of under estimating on the banner CTR and conversion rates, so if you have previous data for that campaign that can warrant higher numbers there, by all means use those numbers. I will also use Cubestat.com to get a very rough estimate of what kind of daily revenue that site might be experiencing. And finally, sometimes I will simply throw out a low figure for these small sites, something like $50-100 for the month and see the web masters reaction. Worst they can say is no. As a guideline, I am usually looking to pay what would equate to under $1 CPM, ideally 50 cents or under. But of course this can vary.
At this point, it’s a matter of setting up your banners and tracking. For small direct buys, I will use Prosper202, I reserve my ad server for larger buys. I simply setup each small site as it’s own traffic source in Prosper202. ??Again, the toughest thing about this method is hearing back from the web masters and doing the initial research.
Try to be as targeted as possible here in terms of both demographics and interests, it’ll give you higher click through rates especially if you’re using banner ads that call out to that specific sites visitors. If you begin to outsource the research and/or contacting of the sites and you get a good system going, you’ll enjoy the benefits of this method since most won’t go through the work of doing it.
That’s all for today, hope you enjoyed it! Thanks very much….