Getting Started With Media Buying 101 – Step By Step Guide For Beginners

Media buying is probably one of those advanced topics in the affiliate marketing industry, because you need a big enough budget if you want to get started. That being said, the amount of traffic you can generate is literally unlimited.

Just in case you have no idea what media buying is, let me quickly explain. Media buying is literally just buying media on other websites (i.e. banner ads).

In this guide I will mainly cover how to go about promoting CPA offers through media buying. So, in case you have no idea, please read “How to get started with CPA marketing” first.

What You Will Discover

  • How to minimize your risk when buying media
  • Tips & Strategies to increase your return of investment
  • The difference between direct buy and network buy
  • How to start your direct to site buy the right way
  • Setting up your first campaign using BuySellAds.com

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Have you ever browsed a website and noticed those banners that promise you a specific benefit like losing weight, making money or how to look 10 years younger?

These ads were most likely placed by affiliates and quite frankly, if you see the same ads for long period of time, there’s a high chance that the affiliate is making a boat load of money.

That’s because once you find a winning campaign, you can literally scale to thousands of websites and generate hundreds of thousands of clicks per day.

Now let’s talk about the 5-step process, when it comes to creating a media buying campaign.

5-Step Process

When I first started buying banners, I was seriously over complicating everything.

However, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on banner ads, I narrowed it down to a 5-step process.

1. Find an offer to promote

2. Create banners for that offer

3. Create a landing page (optional)

4. Find a website to place your banners

5. Split test, optimize and scale

Now, of course there are other variables like contacting agencies, ad reps, insertion orders, ad servers, tracking and so on, but I won’t be covering that in this guide since they are a lot more advanced.

This guide is designed to help you get started with media buying immediately and not to confuse you in the process.

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Step #1: Find An Offer To Promote

When it comes to niches and offers, you can literally promote anything and everything.

One thing to keep in mind though is that the traffic is going to come from website users. For instance, if your prospect is browsing a website that contains puppy training videos, you would want to place a banner that presents them with an offer that relates to dogs.

So in other words, you want to promote an offer that will allow you to laser target your traffic and scale big!

The easiest way to look for an offer is to use OfferVault. Offervault is a search engine for affiliate offers and affiliate networks.

Keep in mind that you will need to apply to certain affiliate networks, if you want to promote a specific offer.

I recommend you read my post on getting accepted into CPA networks for more information.


Some niches that affiliates are making a killing with are:

  • MMO
  • Forex
  • Binary
  • Adults
  • Skin Care
  • Weight Loss
  • Languages
  • Zip Submits (You see free iPhone all the time)
  • Dating

To be honest, when it comes to media buying, finding a good niche and a good offer to promote is just half the work.

The MOST important factor is placing your ad in front of your targeted demographic audience. I’ll cover this in step 4.

Step #2: Create Banners For That Offer

Lots of people over complicate the creation of banners and end out spending lots of money on outsourcing it.

The truth is, the banners DO NOT need to be fancy with quality HD images and stock photos. In fact, it has been proven time after time that ‘Ugly Banners’ work a lot better for us direct response marketers.

Below are some banners in the weight loss niche, which you have probably seen around. They are working extremely well.

(Banners pulled from Google)

banner ad bananabanner ad banana1weight loss banner weight loss banner1

As you can see, these banners contain no high quality stock photos and don’t necessarily require any advanced Photoshop skills.

Most high converting banners usually have 4 elements to it…

  1. Attention Grabbing Headline
  2. A hero shot (Image)
  3. Body copy
  4. Strong call to action

Take a look at the image below for example…

Banner with blue box

I have circled the Headline, the Hero Shot, the Body Copy and the Call To Action in blue.

You probably know the drill by now! The headline serves to catch your prospect’s attention. The Hero Shot can be used to grab attention, but also to allow the prospect to ‘identify’ with the ‘hero’ in the ad. The body copy reveals the most powerful benefit from the product and the call to action at the end is designed to push the prospect over the edge.

Again, nothing too complicated or too advanced that you can’t create.

Different Banner Sizes & Placements

Now that you understand the different elements of a banner, the next step is to understand the importance of their sizes and placements.

Here is an image that pretty much shows all the banner placement possible on a typical website:

banner placements

I’ll be honest and say that I have not tested all the different ad sizes and placements. That being said, two sizes that work extremely well for me is the 300×250 and the 728×90.

These ad placements are usually considered as “Premium” inventories and cost a bit more than the rest.

My advice for you is to always test these two sizes first when you’re starting out and slowly scale it once you optimize it to a winning campaign.

Another important factor that affects your ROI is having a good placement.

As you can see from the image above, some placements are at the bottom of the page, while others are at the top of the page.

This is what we call “Above The Fold“.

Above the fold refers to the view that a visitor sees when he or she lands on a particular website, without scrolling down. If your banner is below the fold, that means the visitor has to scroll down first, before they see your banner.

This greatly affects your ROI, because sometimes you’re still paying for impressions even though the visitor may not see your banner, because it is positioned further down the page.

To summarize banner creation and placements

  • ‘Ugly Banners’ work very well with direct response
  • 4 Elements of a banner include the headline, image, body copy and call to action
  • Always try and test 300×250 and 728×90 first before scaling big
  • If possible, always have your ad above the fold for accurate testing

Step #3: Creating A Landing Page

Before you read further, I recommend you read this post first on Direct link and Landing pages.

The issue basically boils down to this: After your visitor clicks on your banner, do you want to send them straight to the offer or your own landing page?

Back in the days, sending the visitor directly to the offer used to work very well, but these days, you need to pre-sell or warm them up first.

One of the most commonly used type of landing pages and also the riskiest one, is fake articles/blogs.

Here is an example…

fake blogs


Everything that is circled (free-hand) in blue is NOT legit and is in fact an affiliate link.

These landers are very risky and I do not endorse them one bit. The FTC has cracked down on them over the years, but lots of black hat marketers still use them knowing the risks involved.

These landers are designed to ‘Tell a story or discovery’ and once the prospect finishes reading the article, they are more likely try out Garcinia Cambogia.


A typical landing page is also known as a squeeze page.

Below is an example of what a squeeze page looks like:

lead magnet example

These landers are designed to pre-sell and capture your prospect’s email address, so you can build your list.

The main advice I can give you, when building your own squeeze page, is to make sure you are giving away something of value. This is known as a ‘lead magnet’. If you want to find out why having a quality lead magnet is so important, I suggest you check out this post there.

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Step #4: Find A Website To Place Your Banner Ad

The next step is to find a website to place your ads on.

There are two ways to go about doing this and I’ll walk you through both of them.

Direct To Site Buy

The name pretty much speaks for itself. We’re going directly to other websites to buy ads space.

There are definitely some pros and cons, when doing direct to site buy.


  • Cutting out the middle man (i.e. networks)
  • Good inventory
  • No competition
  • Negotiation for pricing
  • Long term business


  • Manually reaching out to the web masters
  • No or low response rates
  • Manual research on the traffic and demographics
  • Sometimes require an insertion order (bigger sites)

These are just a few pros and cons, but I hope you get the point.

Basically, here are the steps you need to do, when doing direct to site buy:

  1. Finding websites that are relevant to your niche or offer
  2. Doing market research on the demographic and traffic quality
  3. Reaching out to the web master asking to place banners on their site
  4. Negotiating and discussing the buy
  5. Your ad goes live and you have to manage it manually

As you can see, there is a lot of work involved, when doing direct to site buy.

Some advice when looking for relevant websites is just to do a quick Google search. Just type in something like ‘topic blog’, ‘niche website’, ‘topic forum’  and so on.

Some sites are experienced with media buying and have an “Advertise” button somewhere on their page, but most of the times, you will have to reach out manually.

The next and easier method is buying ads through a network

Buying Inventory Through Networks

Unlike, going directly to a website, we’re going to a network and buying ads there.

How a network works:

  1. Websites go to these networks and agree to have ads displayed on their site
  2. We go to these networks and buy ads
  3. The networks then buys the ad from the websites
  4. The network charges us more than what they pay for (so that they make a reasonable profit margin)
  5. Network makes money. Websites make money. We got our ad out there!

A very popular network that I recommend you get started with is BuySellAds.com.

They have lots of websites in many different niches that you can place your ads on.

Here’s what the marketplace looks like on BuySellAds:

buy sell ads marketplace

Networks act as the middle man and take care of everything, such as tracking the amount of impressions, payments, split testing images and so on.

As you can see, buying inventories through a network makes life a lot easier, but there will definitely be more competition and it is genreally more expensive.

Here are some tips before buying ad space

  • Is the position of the available ad space above the fold?
  • What is the Traffic Quality and Demographic of the website? (Read this post here)
  • Are the visitors on the website engaged with the content?
  • Are they publishing regular content or is the website dead?
  • Ultimately, is it worth testing?


Step #5: Split Test, Optimize and Scale

Read this post on “In-depth Split Testing, Optimization & Scaling“.

Basically, when it comes to media buying, there are a few things you want to split testing constantly.

  • The most important thing you need to split test is your banner.
  • Start off by creating at least 10 banners with different headlines and images.
  • Once you have enough data and know which headline and image is working, the next step is to start split testing the body copy and then the call to action.
  • The reason why I suggest you do it in that order is because the Image and the Headline are responsible for 90% of the click through rate (CTR).
  • You also want to be split testing different ad placements and offers.
  • The last thing you want to split test is your landing page.

As I keep saying throughout this blog, there is never a definite right or wrong answer, when it comes to marketing. You need to test and split test everything, because only data can tell you if you’re right or wrong.

With regard to split testing landing pages, here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Direct linking vs Landing Page (See what converts better)
  • Landing page 1 VS Landing page 2 (which has a higher CTR?)
  • Capturing leads or not?
  • Survey landers vs Pre-sell landers
  • So on and so on

Once you have enough data and are comfortable with what you have, the next step is to start optimizing.

This is where you want to add in words in ‘BOLD‘ or ‘Colour‘ or even different ‘Fonts‘ to your banners.

Make sure when you optimize your banners, you are also running them along side the original winning banner. This will act as your control.

Of course, you should always optimize your landers as well, because even if you can only increase the CTR of your lander to your offer by 5%, that could make the difference between a winning and a losing campaign.

The final step is to scale your campaigns.

There are 2 main ways to go about this.

1. Buy more placements on the same winning website

If your banner on a particular website is working very well for you, you may want to buy more placements on that same website, including those ad spaces below the fold.

You should also try and get the most traffic possible. Sometimes, inventories are rotated by different ads, meaning less impressions to yours.

Negotiate or purchase as much inventory as possible.

One thing to keep in mind is banner blindness, but the payoff for scaling this furiously is definitely worth it.

Banner blindness

2. Scale out to other websites

If your ad is working well for one website, it should work well for other similar websites. Find other websites that are similar in terms of traffic quality and demographics and buy ads there.

This is why network buys are so useful, because you can literally scale out BIG!

I hope you enjoyed it!

What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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