Employing Advanced Traffic Buying Techniques

Stephen Yagielowicz

Traffic hungry adult website operators often rely on bid-based advertising buys to get the visitors they need, but other options exist, such as flat rate ad spot purchases, covering a certain period of time or other parameters. This increases profitability and predictability but there are a number of important factors to consider when trying out this traffic source.

According to traffic guru Axel Vézina, while bidding for ad spots is very convenient and simple, it also requires a lot of work; and you never know what the real traffic volume or price will be, because it varies with the numbers and the buyers.

Prospective purchasers should begin by identifying their traffic needs and then contacting sellers to inquire about spot availability, around 10 days before the upcoming month so that there is time to check out the spots.

For these reasons, he says that when traffic buyers have obtained some experience and are confident enough, they can move on to acquiring larger traffic sources and try out flat rate advertising deals.

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Vézina recently discussed some tips for buying flat rate ads with XBIZ, in hopes of helping others acquire the traffic their sites need. His first bit of advice was elementary: find the best spots for your ads by using bid-based ad buys to analyze and target spots you would like to purchase at a flat rate.

“Use ad networks to do this, or contact the site owners directly,” Vézina told XBIZ. “Sometimes a traffic broker will be a good intermediate,” he added, advising that if you think a spot really fits your traffic needs but it is not available, ask them to hold it for you when it is available.

“On the other hand, avoid a spot if someone is trying to sell it to you every month,” Vézina explains. “Good spots are taken most of the time and don’t often appear for sale, so if a spot is always for sale, something is wrong.”

Vézina told XBIZ that there are a number of questions that prospective traffic buyers should ask prior to purchasing, although he notes that new customers may face resistance from some vendors over certain requests.

He advises prospective purchasers to begin by identifying their traffic needs and then contacting sellers to inquire about spot availability, around 10 days before the upcoming month so that there is time to check out the spots.

“Sometimes you’ll see more than one company offering the same spot,” Vézina said, “So see who has the best price and terms on that spot and be sure to verify the offer’s starting and ending dates.”

Testing is vital as it is difficult to invest in a spot that you have never tested, but many vendors shy away from short term runs; with Vézina noting that most of his flat rate buys are on a monthly basis. Some spots might have been previously tested on an ad network — with test results providing an estimate of the chance of success with a flat rate buy.

“The best thing is to request a quick test, such as a 72 hour test, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the buy’s price and volume,” Vézina says. “If they don’t want to sell such a quick test, try to buy a 10-15 day run.”

Other strategies include buying a smaller rotation on the ad spots or partnering with another buyer to split the ad cost with you.

Smart decisions require reliable data, so it’s important to know what you are buying. For example, Vézina advises against buying spots that no stats are available for. While tools such as Alexa are helpful as a pre-search tool, the results are not accurate enough to base buys upon, so he recommends asking sellers to provide Google Analytics or similar data, including stats for geo/country breakdown and for daily visitors (with page views, time on site and bounce rate), going back for the past three months, so you will see the trends and the source types, which could be very interesting.

Receiving minimal traffic commitments is also important because while traffic varies, you should have an expected average number of impressions; which provides predictable CPM prices for the ads — and a negotiation point if the buy comes up short.

Of course it’s important to play by the rules — and to verify those rules before you get too far into the game. For example, there may be prohibitions against certain niches or rules for banners, such as no fake players, watermarks or incentives, no hardcore, nude imagery and more. Be sure to also check with the seller as to exactly which ad spot it is, and on which pages and sites it appears, etc.

Some sellers will also not allow iframe ads and some that do may have compatibility issues, so it’s important to verify how the system works.

“Be careful if it’s a manual upload system,” Vézina offers. “Sometimes they say it’s not going to be a problem, but then they take four days to change your banner or the geo-targeting doesn’t work properly.”

As for banners, Vézina prefers animated gif banners as they will normally beat static banners in CTR, so be sure what type of creatives you are allowed to use and verify the percentage of the ad rotation you will receive.

“Lots of sellers split their spots into percentages,” Vézina explains, saying that before committing to a buy, you should verify your rotation percentage and ask which advertiser bought the rest of the rotation and if that buyer took any geos out of rotation. “Too often we saw spots that were lacking certain geos because they were sold to a higher bidder.”

On the subject of pricing, it’s important to remember that prices aren’t always frozen.

“Some sellers have high margins on their spots, so try offering a lower amount than the asking price to see their response. You’ve nothing to loose by asking for a discount,” Vézina says. “But don’t expect discounts on very popular spots.”

Another tip is to find out who had the spot before, for how long and why they quit, because you can never have too much information. You may even want to contact the previous buyer to ask him the same questions.

“A good thing to negotiate,” Vézina adds, “is the first right of renewal (even better if it’s at the same price), and an extension of renewal confirmation date as late as possible.”

Finally, trust is a huge issue as there are many fraudulent and “fine print” traffic deals that will cost time and money with no return on investment.

“Try to not pay everything in advance,” Vézina advises. “Once your ad run is started, verify the starting date, if the impressions are good and if the geos are like you expected.”

Repeat this same exercise a third of the way through the buy and again at two-thirds of the way through. If you feel the traffic is being undelivered, tell the seller and ask for more days, a discount or a higher percentage of the rotation.

“Use a proxy or geo software to verify if you are receiving your ads on various geos,” Vézina hinted. “If you did a test, request and verify the same rate pro rata. If you renew, make sure the price is the same, the dates are good, and always verify the previous steps, every month.”