Media Buying Challenges and Solutions

Maria Kofler
Maria Kofler 07 October 2018
Media Buying Challenges and Solutions

Updated January 2020   Media buying is a powerful way to reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time. Make no mistake, however, there are numerous challenges and solutions out there to avoid.  Countless advertising platforms at your disposal to help get your message in front of the right audience.  However, knowing where to buy media is almost as important as the creative you’re showing. In fact, in some cases, your best customers could be coming from a channel that might be getting overlooked.  Other times, your efforts may find themselves being sabotaged by fraud and bots lurking in the shadows. With that in mind, let’s look at a few to help ensure your media buying leads directly to business success.

“You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure”

Management guru Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Not surprisingly, the same holds true when it comes to media buying as well. With pinpoint, accurate data available, there is no excuse for not being on top of your campaigns. In short, constant optimization is required to make sure your marketing funnel is pumping out results like a well-oiled machine. Some of the best-known measurement platforms include AppsFlyer, Tune, and Adjust. Despite their individual advantages and disadvantages, they can provide a tremendous amount of insight into media buying and campaign performance.  On the surface, all offer basic tracking tools such as impressions and click-through rates, and more.  However, deeper analytics can really boost your media buying performance so take a good look into what’s available.

AppsFlyer, for example, offers features such as Universal Uninstall Attribution (identifying which user acquisition campaigns have high uninstall rates). Omni-Channel LTV lets you see the “bigger picture” including customer engagement and purchase activity across multiple channels.   Ad Revenue Attribution can even show which in-app advertising revenues came from which specific marketing channels and campaigns. So keep in mind the options out there and assess which works best for your specific needs.

Be Aware of Fraudulent Advertising Practices

Each year fraud costs the online advertising industry billions of dollars.  Needless to say, it will cost your company too if you’re not looking out for it.  Compounding the problem is that there are many ways that fraudsters can take advantage of you. Some of these ways include:

  • Ghost sites: placing ads on fake websites or apps
  • Pixel stuffing: showing a tiny add (sometimes as small as 1px x 1px), which counts as an “impression”
  • Ad-Stacking: placing an ad on top of another ad
  • Masked URLs: showing ads on a different website than what is expected
  • Click Fraud: one example is sending users who tried to tap on the tiny “X” on the upper right of the ad to the App Store. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can cause a lot of trouble when it’s done at scale. These types of clicks may “overtake” the organic traffic and “tag” them as clicks under that media source. Consequently, even though you won’t pay for the clicks, you will pay for the installs, even if they came organically.

Defending Against Advertising Fraud

Preventing fraud should be an integral part of your media buying strategy. The good news is that ad platforms have improved significantly in this regard. For example, big players like Google are usually more than willing to investigate and rectify any fraudulent behavior. The bad news is that fraudsters are constantly innovating in order to take advantage of legitimate companies. One viable solution to this issue is working with an agency that supports ad-fraud investigation.  This will help to ensure you won’t be any paying for actions taken from fraudulent sources. At Moburst, for example, we work with each one of the above measurement platforms (such as AppsFlyer) when monitoring campaigns. Within their systems, we can export reports and track fraud behavior, cutting these sources immediately.  As a result, you don’t pay for any of the “bad” traffic.

Beware of Bots

Most of the fraud today in the performance world is around the cost-per-install model (CPI). Bots are used to generate false downloads, which although not real, are still charged by the networks as genuine installs. When you are aware of this, you can track smart metrics to ensure you pay only for actual installs. One of these metrics is the time from click to the install. If it’s less than 20 seconds, for example, this usually means it’s fraudulent. Reviewing the app page, download the app, and open it for the first time takes significantly more time. If this happens too fast, it’s a good indication that there is a bot involved.

Nail Your ROI By Thinking Differently

While it’s quite fine to pay for installs based on the CPI model, you will need to optimize for the next steps of the funnel. These steps include prioritizing your budget for the lowest cost per registered user/loyal user/paying user.  Note, that does not mean just for the lowest cost per install. It’s about being smarter about overall goals and not taking a short-term approach. For example, let’s hypothesize that you can buy a user in Network A for $2, and in Network B for $3 per download. In this scenario, the average user from the first “cheaper” network was converting at 1/15. This means you will need to have 15 users download your app in order to get 1 registration.  From a dollars and cents perspective, it means you’ll be paying $30 (15 users multiplied by $2 per user) to make that acquisition.  On the second network, where a user costs $3, this means that every 4th user is registering. Comparatively, this essentially means that a registered user costs only $12 (4 users multiplied by $3 per user).  Even though the cost per install is more, the overall ROI is significantly better with Network B. Sometimes it takes a slightly longer view, and a different way to determine where you’re getting the very best ROI.

Eyes On The Prize

Overcoming the challenges that come along with media buying requires working smarter and thinking differently. It means optimizing at all parts of the marketing funnel.  It means ensuring you have the right partner to help you get the most out of your campaign. Just as importantly, it also means being aware of fraud and taking the necessary steps to protect yourself. A successful media buying strategy is just one of the key building blocks to maximize your ROI. If you’d like to know more about how you can take your media buying to the next level, get in touch with Moburst today!

Maria Kofler
Maria Kofler
Maria is a Senior Media Buyer and has a wide experience in Media Buy field, managing different types of campaigns in different verticals and platforms, starting from networking and finishing at Programmatic technologies. She loves finding innovative ways to make life better and scale KPI's. Credo " never stop evolving your life"
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