Digital media buying is a concept that’s gained quite a bit of traction among strategists during the past couple of years. That’s for a very good reason: it works.

The basic concept is that you run ads or do posts on a variety of targeted websites to drive traffic and conversions to yours. All items, must be marked sponsored.

In this guide, I’ll go over digital media buying so you can use it to boost your brand online.

Working online on laptop, closeup of hands, checking email


The Challenge: Lots of Channels to Choose

When it comes to online marketing, you certainly have options.

There are plenty of channels you can use to promote your business. They all have varying levels of traffic and appeal to different segments.

The question is: which channels should you use to get traffic to your website?

Sometimes, the answer is yes. All of them.

Other times, you have to target your messaging very carefully or you’ll just waste ad spend. That’s where digital media buying comes into play.

With digital media purchases, you can get relevant traffic to your site and build your customer base.

What Is a Media Buy?

In a nutshell, a media buy is when you find out where your customers are hanging out online and target them with relevant ads on those sites.

You get the ball rolling by reaching out to webmasters and asking them what it will cost to run an ad. The answer to that question, of course, will depend on the popularity of the website, the kind of ad you want to run, and how long you want to keep your ad online.

Usually, you’ll have options when it comes to the kind of ad format you’d like to run. Examples include:

  • Banner ads
  • Ads on blog posts
  • Sponsored posts
  • Email newsletter ads

You can use digital media purchases to drive more product sales and generate leads. To do that, though, you’ll need to know how to run digital media campaigns successfully.

For a few tips on that, read on.

Start With Search Engines

The first question you need to answer is: where are people in your target market spending time online? Here, Google is your friend.

Use search engines to find places of interest to the folks you want to become loyal customers.

Beyond that, use SimilarWeb or SEMRush. Plug in the domain names of your competitors and find out where they’re getting traffic from.

Check the domain names. Are you seeing any patterns? Are you noticing that some domains are quite a bit more popular than others?

Those are the domains you should target for media buys.

A Manual Process

Once you’ve got a list of domains you’d like to target, the effort becomes a manual process.

If you’ve got better things to do than reach out to several webmasters and negotiate with them about ad buys, you should outsource the effort to a reputable digital marketing agency.

Alternatively, you can put someone in-house on the task. That assumes that you have a team member with the bandwidth to do that and that person’s time wouldn’t be better spent doing something else.

If you decide to handle the process yourself, you’ll need to find out what kinds of ad buys they have. For example, some sites might only offer sponsored posts while others might allow banner ads.

Build a Business Model

Once you’ve determined the kind of ad you’ll run, the next step is to find out how much traffic that ad will send your way. Use that number to determine your potential click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC).

Then it’s time to build a business model. Since you know your potential revenue, you can also know the maximum amount you should spend to generate a positive return on investment (ROI).

If the numbers work for a specific web property, go ahead and pull the trigger.

Rinse and repeat. Scale that same effort across 10 or 20 additional properties so you can reel in even more traffic.

An Example: Sponsored Posts

So what can you expect when you decide to run sponsored posts? The first thing you can expect is to spend a lot of money.

Sponsored posts run anywhere between $50 and $100,000 each. Big range right!. The exact amount depends on the popularity of the website.

The good news, though, is that the folks who run the site will usually write the article for you.

One thing to keep in mind when you’re running the numbers: not everybody who visits the website will see the post. You may find that only 30-40% of visitors will see your ad.

On top of that, you might only get a CTR of about 10%. And on top of that, you might see a conversion rate of about .5%.

In other words, all that glitters is not gold. A website that gets 500,000 visitors every day might only get you 75 conversions per day.

Is that going to be enough to justify a $50,000 sponsored post? Get with your accountant and run the numbers.

Run this model…

Audience Size > Impressions > Click Through Rate > Conversion Rate > Return On Ad Spend

This will give you a good idea if it is worth the money for the media buy.

Additional Benefits

You get additional benefits when you buy digital media, though.

In some cases, webmasters who partner with you will promote your business on their social media channels. That’s good for getting more clicks and building brand-name awareness.

They may also promote your ad in their newsletters.

But the main source of traffic to your website will always come from the ad itself.

Wrapping It Up

A final note: almost all webmasters you decide to work with can offer you some kind of metrics so you can see the traffic patterns on their sites. That’s info that will help you justify the expense to stakeholders.

In some cases, website owners might even share case studies. You can reach out to the people mentioned in those studies and ask them to share a little bit more about their experience.

So what are you waiting for? If your web traffic has leveled off, consider digital media purchases today.