Council Post: Affiliate Marketing Versus Media Buying 101

Photo:GettyIf you’ve been around the block in the affiliate marketing world, you may have heard about another similar avenue called media buying. If you’ve only just learned about media buying and are wondering what exactly it is, don’t worry – it’s not as well known as affiliate marketing but is, in fact, intrinsically linked.What is…



If you’ve been around the block in the affiliate marketing world, you may have heard about another similar avenue called media buying. If you’ve only just learned about media buying and are wondering what exactly it is, don’t worry – it’s not as well known as affiliate marketing but is, in fact, intrinsically linked.

What is affiliate marketing?

Let’s cover the basics first. Affiliate marketing is simply the process of promoting (a.k.a. marketing) the products or services of other people’s businesses in return for a cut of the revenue. For example, if Company A sells video games at $30 each and has an affiliate program, in which an affiliate marketer gets 5% for any sale, then an affiliate marketer would get $1.50 for every $30 sale.

While $1.50 may not seem like much, affiliate marketing can be done at scale. If you drove 1,000 people to the site in a week, and 10% made a purchase, you’d make $150. If you set up a website that converts them for you, then this happens week on week without your input.

With thousands of affiliate program now available to choose from, affiliate networks play an important role in this process as well. To find the most success with affiliate programs and networks, make sure you pay attention to ones with higher commission rates and who their target audiences are.

What is media buying? 

Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space to promote your message. It’s essentially buying paid traffic for exposure for your brand. In relation to affiliate marketing, it is often understood as someone who buys ads to drive to an affiliate link that gives them commission.

Essentially, the difference between affiliate marketing and media buying is that the affiliate marketer focuses on creating great content to attract organic traffic for their affiliate links, while the media buyer buys ad space and drives traffic that way.

When considering any type of media buying with affiliate marketing, there are many different approaches to weigh. Depending on your ad spend, market and timeline, each one should be considered.

How do I combine both for the best ROI?

The best thing about affiliate marketing and media buying is that they are essentially two sides of the same coin and aren’t mutually exclusive. While some people get heavily into building up organic traffic that can drive people to their sites — for free — for years to come, some become experts in media buying and use the power of ads to make money.

When you master the art of paid ads, you can essentially pump money into the system and get money out. For example, you could know that spending $200 in ads a day gets you a return of $400, leaving you with $200 a day in profit.

Now, if you combine both of these, you have the opportunity to benefit from both to maximize your ROI. So, how can you do this?

Consider integrating landing pages into your site.

If you’re an affiliate marketer who focuses on integrating affiliate links into helpful content, consider using landing pages, too. The articles will continue to pull in organic traffic, and you can use your landing pages to convert your paid traffic. At the bottom of your landing page, you can send those who haven’t converted back to your site to get more information, which may help save a lost lead.

Use media buying when you have a successful product.

If you find a product that converts your organic traffic like crazy, you can see if the same happens for you via media buying – the likelihood is you’ll see the same results. Try to translate what makes the product convert so well into a one-page landing page, and drive ads to it.

Work on multiple projects.

When you’re waiting to see if an ad is effective before tweaking it, you’ll have a few days to a week in which you’ll have some time on your hands — unless you have unlimited money to continue setting up new ads. This means you could work on another affiliate marketing project funded by your own efforts that starts to gain organic traffic and then sales. As this happens, you’ll hit your stride with your media buying projects, and both will become profitable. You can even start this process over when both are working effectively to increase your revenue further.

Using media buying and affiliate marketing in tandem can be extremely profitable, especially if you become an expert in both areas. If you’ve yet to try media buying, it’s well worth exploring before settling on which type of affiliate marketing works best for you.


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