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5 Traffic Acquisition Pitfalls You Can Avoid: Risk Management for Media Buyers

risk management for media buyers

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What if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and it turns out to be the scam of the year?

This might sound a bit funny for seasoned marketers, but they also lose money, by the way. All these questions are more than legit — and can be combined into this one: 

— How to avoid risks when you do media buying or affiliate marketing?

The answer is risk management — a very standard procedure for any business, including digital marketing. To give you the most insightful information on risk management in media buying, we asked those who know the ropes of it: seasoned marketers!

So, meet our mutual work with Serge Abramov, media buyer — and also the most experienced marketers from our fav Telegram Chat!


What is Risk Management?

Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling…wait, stop; we are not here for Wikipedia definitions. 

In simple words, risk management is about predicting some possible pitfalls on your way — and doing your best to avoid them.

Just a real-life example, clear for anyone: a clothing shop always has a chance to lack customers at some point. To manage this risk, many brands offer evergreen goods that never go out of style and trend.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

Of course, this was over-simplified. The classical risk management strategy involves four steps:

  1. 1. Identifying a potential risk
  2. 2. Analyze the risk
  3. 3. Evaluate how severe the risk is
  4. 4. Monitor the risk and consider possible solutions

Obviously, life is not a student book, and we can’t always manage and count all of the risks. Especially when it comes to media buying and affiliate marketing — very big and ever-changing industries.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

So, we have consulted with industry professionals to reveal some of the most common affiliate marketing risks — and share the best practices for avoiding them.


Risk 1. Losing Your Budget

As Svetoslav, the owner of Sublime Revenue network, said — 

— When the aff is a newbie, there is the only risk: not having a solid media plan and not using metrics to develop it. Everyone who is more experienced very well knows this is not the 1990s anymore, and without research and knowledge in the field, there is no money in advertising. At least not in the long run.

What he meant is that, in a nutshell, you can’t just send some cash to a network and become rich overnight (like it was about possible when affiliate marketing just appeared). 

So, the risk: You will spend all your budget and get no conversions.

Besides being mentally ready for that, remember several tips from Serge — this might make your first (and all the following) attempts much less painful.

So, the risk management:

  • Define your budget. According to Serge, it makes sense to begin with the amount you are ready to lose if this is your first time — but not less than a few thousand dollars. Besides spending on testing and traffic, you will also need to invest in creatives and instruments like trackers and spy tools.
This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and
  • If you have a strictly limited budget (most likely you will), avoid too expensive offers when you are just beginning. If your conversion price is, say, $200, you’ll need much bigger budgets to test and earn than with a $10 payout offer. The same is true for top popular verticals: they have high competition, and you’ll also need considerable budgets to fit in.
  • Use automated tools for bidding: for example, PropellerAds CPA Goal allows you to avoid overspending because it doesn’t allow you to spend more than your desired bid.
  • Remember the 3 conversion price rules. Many affiliate marketers advise: if you spend three payouts of the conversions, and there is no single conversion yet — pause the campaign and try to change its settings significantly. For example, you can take another offer, bidding model, or targeting.

For example, your offer has a $30 payout. Spent already $90 and got nothing? There is no sense in continuing with this campaign. Test alternative GEOs or formats instead — and keep following the 3 conversion rules!

  • Don’t rely on a single offer. It’s a good idea to distribute your budget between several offers or campaigns. For example, you can take one CPA offer and spread your $1,000 between five different bundles like this:
SpendingGEOFormat
$200INPush
$200BRPush
$200SAPush
$200KEOnclick
$200PTOnclick
  • Be careful with WHERE you keep your budget and payouts. Serge shared a story of his fellow marketers who had to close — totally close their business because the payment system they used was blocked by some regulators. 100% of their budget was kept in this system’s account — and this was probably the worst possible way to lose money. The best advice here is to distribute your balance between several eWallets.

In a nutshell, there is always a risk of losing money. Your campaign settings might need to be better, your chosen bundle might not work out, and your offer might have too high competition. However, your accurate budget planning can make this risk much less severe.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

Note: You can also reduce your risks with some hi-tech tools. For example:


Risk 2. You Picked the Wrong Offer

Is it possible that the offer is not profitable by design? Basically, yes. 

So, the risk: Your offer doesn’t bring conversions because something is wrong with it.

Overall, all the offers are similar — we mean, every offer owner will claim their product is the top choice. It’s really unlikely that some advertiser says something like, ‘Well, you can find something much cheaper and better than us!’

Even the traffic volumes don’t give you any hint. For example, you might think that the offer is too popular to bring much money because of the competition — but it turns out that the profits are sky-high.

The only way to manage the risk of picking the wrong offer is… yes, you got it right — testing.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

So, the risk management:

Take your time to check the offer yourself. We are serious — even the biggest and the richest media buyers bother themselves with personal checks. They might include:

  • Downloading and using the app you are going to promote. Does it work fine? Does it work at all? Any problems with installing it? Maybe it’s way too heavy or crashes every time you launch it? 
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  • Checking call centers. Sometimes, the flow implies you are working in a bundle with the offer owner: you bring a lead, and the call center must complete the sale. So, why not try to make all the steps to conversion that your users will make?
  • Looking at the landing page. Most offer owners go with pretty standard landing pages or websites that include all traditional marketing components: social proof (product reviews), request forms, and product photos. If the offer’s page doesn’t include even those simple parts or has a messy layout — this might be your STOP sign.
This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and
  • Testing the flow. Simply said, just complete the whole flow before the first conversion: install an app, make a deposit, or purchase a product — as if you were a real user.

Risk 3. Your Bundle Was Spied Upon!

Of course, you will witness the competition among the offer owners. As we already said, everyone claims their iGaming app is the most entertaining and their trading app is the most profitable.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

Besides, your fellow affiliate marketers ARE your competitors, too. Especially if you are pretty well-known as a big and rich, successful media buyer. Who would resist the temptation to take a look at your top bundles and landing pages? And, let’s face it, you love spy-tools, too.

So, the risk: Your competitors will reveal your bundle, steal your creatives, and take away part of your traffic.

The worst part is that you can’t take full control of this risk. However, there are some solutions to minimize it.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

So, the risk management:

Use anti-spy media buying software. For example, Binom and PixelK trackers have a feature that hides your landing page when there is a risk you are being spied upon.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

Again, this will not become your magic pill. And, what is more, this might cause some issues, for example, redirecting users to the wrong destinations and losing traffic as a result. Spying is considered a norm in affiliate marketing and media buying — and it only makes sense to combat it when you buy traffic from highly competitive sources.


Risk 4. Good Offer Gone Bad

Sometimes, you have a pretty successful campaign. Users convert, and your budget is spent adequately enough, and you are in green. However, one day, you notice that the campaign keeps spending, but there are no more conversions around.

So, the risk: Your affiliate program was stopped or paused.

Why can this happen? Here are some of the most popular reasons:

  • The bundle wears off. In simple terms, there is no more converting traffic on your perfect combo of the GEO-traffic source-traffic format.
  • The product is not popular among users anymore. It usually happens when the offer used to be at its peak, and everyone is not only very familiar with it but also a little bit sick of it.
  • There is some trouble with the offer. For example, an app you promote might become banned in Google Play — and users can’t convert, even if they want to. Another example is when the offer owner promotes the product from the name of some celebrity — and then this celeb claims they had nothing to do with that dietary supplement. Heard about the scandal with the Thai prince?

So, risk management:

The worst thing about this risk is that you can’t really affect it. As Serge said,

Every day when your offer is performing fine, it approaches the day when it dies.

The only good advice you can follow here is to diversify your budget and always have a plan B — even if you are enjoying a great, profitable bundle right now.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

It is not just about choosing an alternative offer, by the way. You can diversify your budget between several GEO + traffic source + ad format campaigns — and this will significantly reduce the risk of being left without any conversions.


Risk 5. Your Partner is Not Reliable

Once again: it doesn’t always make much sense to check offer owners. Well, working with an offer from a very popular brand might help mitigate some risk  — but not always.

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

What is more important is to check your traffic sources, programmatic buying platforms, and CPA networks. 

So, the risk: Your CPA network has issues with payouts or rates.

Just a couple of examples from a media buyer’s experience:

  • You joined a brand-new CPA network nobody has ever heard about before. The network went bankrupt within a month — and closed. With all your payouts.
  • Your CPA network charges some percentage from your deposit if your account is considered ‘abandoned.’ This is a pretty normal practice, by the way — but it shouldn’t become a surprise for you, right?

So, the risk management:

Make sure you are working with reliable partners and read their terms and conditions carefully. As Serge puts it, it’s a bad idea to keep your budget scattered ‘just in case’ around some small unknown networks. 

This post is also available in: PTWhat if I launch my first media buying campaign and it fails? What if I invest my last bit of money into digital media buying and lose them — and my wife, who begged me never to do it? What if I promote a product with affiliate marketing, and

Besides, you can reduce the risks by having good relationships with CPA network managers. In this case, they are willing to help you with some complicated cases. For example, the offer owner might decide to drop working with CPA programs at all and stop paying out. With a reliable network, you have a higher chance of getting the money you already earned.


To Sum Up

The right partners, tools, and testing make your affiliate marketing business much less risky. So, don’t be afraid anymore, if you were —

LAUNCH YOUR CAMPAIGN

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