This article originally ran in the July 2016 issue of AVN magazine. See the digital edition here.
Getting access to quality traffic has always been the number one priority of anyone operating a digital business online. In years past that often meant operating a large affiliate network, generating organic traffic via SEO and a long list of other methods that have each become more arduous due to many factors. These days, many business owners are finding it far easier to simply buy their traffic at prices lower than the ROI their ad buys generate. Which leads to one all-important question: How do you get the most out of every ad spend you make?
According to the experts, the single most important factor is having the right tools in place to manage your campaigns and monetize your ad buys before you begin acquiring any traffic at all. “Always ensure you have the right tools,” explained Ross of TrafficForce.com. “Tracking software is of the utmost importance in order to run your media buys efficiently and get data on what is performing well to identify where you may be wasting money. Once you collect your data, and can use it effectively to tweak your campaign based on factors like time of day and days of the week, you will start to gain an edge to generate more profit.”
Most traffic-buying novices think of an ad buy that gets them 1,000 clicks as a deal worth a total of 1,000 clicks. Professional media buyers view those first 1,000 clicks as perhaps the least important part of what they get for their money. The real value is in the information those clicks and user metrics provide toward optimizing your campaigns to generate better results on subsequent media buys. “If you are not making positive returns during a particular four hours of each day, that is a big loss. Cutting out an ad spend during those times will make your returns greater, allowing you to outbid your competition and get more volume during the times that perform best,” Ross said. “Rotating ads and landing pages are another crucial step in optimization. Make sure you test your ads and jump pages as much as possible to get the best flow so that you can maximize conversions.” If you do things well that first buy of 1,000 clicks will soon lead to future buys that cost less money and bring back even more traffic with improved conversion ratios as well.
“Having bought a large amount of traffic from thousands of sources over the years, I learned the importance of accurately tracking every click,” said Clement of ItsUp.com. “ItsUp is software built from that experience and is becoming the industry standard because it is now being fully integrated into all the major traffic platforms via their APIs. Optimization is now so much easier because you can visualize every ad buy in real time and make decisions about each campaign that save you time and earn you money.”
“Speed also matters more than ever,” said Joey Gabra, managing director of Khepri.tech. “Now that everyone is learning to optimize their media buys, the process of purchasing traffic is becoming even more competitive. Waiting for results from your current campaigns and then trying to manually make use of that much information before updating each of your next ad buys can leave you making outdated decisions based on stale data, while you are also losing out on opportunities to competitors who take action quicker. Khepri’s unique machine learning algorithm connects directly to virtually any API and uses real-time data to automate much of the decision-making process. That new level of speed and accuracy saves you time while earning you money.”
While waves of new media buyers continue to test the market by dipping their toe in the water with an evolving set of tools, there is also a lot to be said for the benefits that can only come from real-world experience. “Getting the most out of your ad spend depends largely on how experienced you are, and what position you are in managing your campaigns,” said Juicy Jay, founder and CEO of JuicyAds.com. “Just starting out at a network like JuicyAds is easy. The targeting options and getting a campaign set up is quite simplistic. Truly learning what works and what doesn’t work is the best suggestion I can give to a new buyer. One needs to be disciplined and vigilant while working on a campaign (which is why many successful campaigns end up failing—they lose grip or get lazy as failure takes over). Using our SexyTech options also can save your campaign from becoming a loser, because you can automatically block sources that have a high CTR on a CPC campaign, or low CTR on a CPM campaign, to more effectively manage your active campaigns and avoid sudden wasteful spending. Transparency is key, and buying is easy to do with a network like ours, since you can see exactly where the traffic is coming from. Transparency and targeting is true power.”
“Don’t forget the leads,” added Jeff Random of 3ob.com (THROB). “Ad buyers often focus exclusively on ROI. However, there is often an opportunity to improve the bottom line by widening your focus to include opportunities for re-marketing. Whether that’s from follows, info opt-ins, or even partial registrations that include contact info—they all provide ancillary ways to increase the positive impact of your media buys.”
Part of the issue with giving general advice for traffic buyers is the unique elements of every sales funnel. The buys that work best for one product at one time from one source to one landing-page target may not work nearly as well for a very similar product at almost the same time with similar landers.
Random continued, “For me it’s always been mostly about geo and platforms, but lots of companies push different offers based on OS/ISP/carriers, so you need to identify what works best for your own sales funnel—and the only way to do that effectively is with accurate information tracked from every ad buy, allowing your spend today to evolve your future buys as well.”
The good news is that reputable traffic networks, tools providers and industry consultants are willing to answer questions and be accountable for their own suggestions. It’s easy to put on a tin-foil hat and claim everyone is out to rip off novices, but the simple fact is that ad networks earn much more by helping a $100 client become a $100,000 client than they would ever earn by churning the low end of the market.
“Always talk to your account manager at the ad network to get insights into tools they offer to further help you optimize your spend,” offered Ross of Traffic Force. “A lot of times, advertisers will not know the full suite of tools available to them and when they find out about a useful feature they are left kicking themselves for not finding out about it sooner. Always be on good terms with your account manager; it’ll help you out long term, and could also open some other avenues of potential business to help you generate additional profit.”
If traffic buying and optimization were easy, everyone would already be retired on their own private islands. However, there is an enormous difference between being an amateur who lights his money on fire and throws it in the street, or being an industry professional with the kind of tools, knowledge, experience and contacts to incrementally improve your campaigns and eventually have them cost far less than they earn for you.