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ad marketing for beginners

Media Buying and Retargeting Strategies that Work

Today I’m going to provide you the information you need to launch your first ad marketing campaign successfully. I cover a lot of topics in my posts, but haven’t really gone in depth into one of the most profitable online marketing methods available.

I try to focus the majority of posts on free methods for gaining traffic, expanding your brand, and increasing conversions, but the value in ad marketing is tough to deny. Though it does cost money and may require a reasonably sized marketing budget, the returns can be astounding.

We have a lot of ground to cover, so strap your thinking cap on and get ready.

Understanding the Various Ad Platforms

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all popular choices for purchasing ad space, but they only describe a very small fraction of the networks available to you. It’s important to “shop around” in order to see what is at your disposal before you commit to a specific platform.

For instance, Deck Network and Carbon Ads are two platforms that allow for campaigns targeted towards influential sites that relate directly to business or IM so that you can provide the highest in quality ads directly to your audience. Both platforms are invite only for publishers, meaning that they only accept certain websites based on their content, demographic, etc.

Other networks such as BuySellAds allows you the opportunity to purchase banner space on various influential websites, including the option to secure a position on mobile apps.

Launch Bit is a simple network that allows users to focus their campaigns on promotion through email sponsorship. Another ad network known as Tap Joy solely targets mobile users.

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are countless options to choose from so it’s important to test out an ad network that fits your specific goals, needs, and most of all, target demographic.

The ad networks I’ve listed above don’t even begin to scratch the surface. We haven’t even mentioned sites that focus on retargeting, which is the process of presenting ads specifically to those that have already been to your site or have seen your offer and chose to click away.

Sites like Ad Roll, Perfect Audience, and Retargeter all focus on presenting ads to the “warm” leads that have already been to your site. Ad Roll specifically, has been touted as one of the top marketing platforms by prestigious online publications like Inc Magazine.

Learn the Nuances

After deciding on a specific ad platform to use, it’s essential that you take a bit of time to gain an understanding of the ins and outs of that specific platform.

Unlike other marketing methods, you’ll need to pay for ads, so even if you overlook a miniscule aspect, it could end up costing you dearly. There’s no faster way to burn through a marketing budget than splurging on an ad network without fully understanding what you’re doing.

The majority of ad networks that I’ve listed are relatively straight forward and shouldn’t take more than a week or two to learn.

Google Adwords on the other hand is by far the most technical platform to master. Oddly enough, it’s also the most widely utilized, often leading to mishaps if proper precautions aren’t taken.

That being said, this shouldn’t deter you from pursuing to use an ad network because it can easily be the most lucrative marketing method around…if done right. Once the minor tweaks are worked out and you’ve tested and re-tested your campaigns, you may see an astronomical rise in ROI.

Know thy Customer

This will not only help you decide which websites platform to use, which websites to target, but also what your ad should contain.

For instance, you need to take into account what mindset your target demographic is in when they are viewing the specific site that you’re marketing on.

Though a wide myriad of people use LinkedIn, when using that specific platform, people are usually thinking about networking with others within the business world, if this fits your niche, then awesome. If not, then you may want to seek out another option.

Yes, you could present your message to a broad audience with these platforms, but your audience may not be in the right state of mind to purchase your product, which could lead to a significant waste of time and money.

Choosing Between PPC or CPM

These are the two ways to purchase ads. When using CPM, you will be required to pay for a set number of impressions, regardless of how many people click on your add. Every time your ad appears on a targeted site, it will count as a single impression.

PPC on the other hand, requires you to pay per click, meaning that you can receive unlimited impressions, but only pay when someone clicks through.

Both are widely used and neither is superior to the other. The type of ad that you use, the sites that you target, and the marketing budget that you have, will all need to be factored in when deciding which method to use. It may be best to test each method to see which one yields the highest ROI.

However, when using PPC, there is one particular technique that will help you ensure that every click you receive is of high quality, instead of a “tire kicker” that simply clicks on your ad with no intention to buy, essentially costing you more money.

This technique is known as “qualifying” your traffic before they decide whether or not to click.

This may sound counter intuitive, but try putting the price of your product somewhere within your ad. This way, only those that are prepared to spend money will choose to click on your ad. Believe it or not, this can greatly reduce the amount that you pay, while significantly increasing conversions as every click received will do so knowing the price range of your product.

Additionally, it’s important that the emotion your ad elicits coincides with the emotion you try to evoke when you sell them your product as well.

Test, Test, Test

There is ALWAYS room for improvement. No matter how well your ad converts, there are likely changes that can be implemented in order to improve performance.

EVERY company worth their weight in salt utilizes split testing to measure the performance of various aspects of their business. One site I stumbled upon was Visual Website Optimizer, which presented over 60 case studies of split testing in action from some prominent companies such as Hyundai and Get Response.

Some of the changes that these sites made are miniscule and may be seen as completely irrelevant, but they obviously triggered something within their audience because conversions skyrocketed in every study.

By experimenting with the call to action, color, images, and information provided, you can zero in on what causes your target demographic to click.

To gain a quick foothold, you can use services such as What Runs Where to not only see where your competitor’s ads are appearing, but what their ads look like. It’s almost guaranteed that an established site using an ad network will have already done previous testing.

They’ve created the look of that ad for a reason; their testing has shown that it works.

They’ve literally done all of the work for you!

You can then reverse engineer their ad marketing campaign and get ahead of the game from day one.


Listen, ad marketing is not an absolute necessity for a successful marketing campaign. It will cost money and there is a certain learning curve that needs to take place before you’ll see huge returns. However, when mastered, the use of ad networks can easily become the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

If you get the opportunity, I would suggest starting a small campaign and scaling up as you get the hang of it.

What ad networks do you have experience with?

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. Awesome information Sean… You’ve made understanding media buying simple and I really appreciate the links to the various platforms. I’ve already signed up to start a campaign. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for the blog,and in there for the useful statement and information.I have no experience of any ad network so far.

  3. msecormark secor

    Thanks Sean, Great valuable stuff, as always. Mark Secor

  4. Cheers Sean, there is so much to consider but if I have learnt anything about this business it is the need to just get on and do it, failure leads to success.

  5. wow Sean I did not know there was that much information about Media buying? You complied a great post here. And taught alot of great information on the topic. I thank you for showing us about Media Buying. Maybe one day I will get into media buying and build a nice stack of money with doing so.

    All The Best

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