How to Earn More: Affiliate Marketing or Media Buying

Scarlett Schreiber Scarlett Schreiber
Reading time:  5  min.

Today, most consumers use online search engines to discover products. Thus, the Internet has become the most efficient way for marketers to connect with online buyers. Digital marketing offers numerous ways for publishers to earn money, but essentially, it comes down to advertising products directly or promoting them via affiliate marketing. Both methods are intrinsically linked, but require different approaches. This post compares media buying and affiliate marketing before exploring how to combine their advantages to achieve better marketing results.

Affiliate marketing vs media buying

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing approach in which publishers promote advertisers’ products on their online pages and get rewarded for sales. There are three leading players: an advertiser, a customer, and an affiliate marketer connecting both of them.

Affiliates and advertisers can partner with each other directly or via an affiliate platform. Such platforms can be niche-specific, covering offers in one niche, (e.g., travel), such as Travelpayouts, or unite diverse verticals. They also offer the necessary software and tools to make such a collaboration more efficient.

How affiliate marketing works
How affiliate marketing works

Affiliate marketers can choose among different payment models and receive a revenue share or get paid per sale (CPS), action (CPA), install (CPS), or lead (CPL). Each method has its advantages to consider before joining a specific affiliate marketing network and some advertisers also offer combinations of models in their programs.

Contrary to widespread belief, you don’t need a website to get started. Promoting an offer via social media, email marketing, webinars, and other online avenues is also possible. However, having a blog allows for more benefits. For example, you can place interactive banners and widgets that will draw attention and increase conversion rates.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

So, how exactly is affiliate marketing advantageous to businesses? Below are some of the benefits you may encounter as an affiliate marketer:

  1. Free to start

Joining most affiliate programs is free of charge, as advertisers have a strong interest to extend their network of publishers. You can share your affiliate link on a blog or social media and use SEO to promote it.

  1. Low operating costs

You can run affiliate marketing campaigns with little to no investment, depending on your ambitions. For example, you can start a blog with free website builders, get free content, or use free traffic sources and link building software programs.

  1. Low risk

As you won’t invest much in the beginning, there is little risk of any losses. As time passes, you’ll see which campaigns and tactics generate the best results, so you can invest in the most profitable options. 

  1. Flexibility and independence

You can promote only those offers that you find to be most lucrative and suitable for your audience, join as many networks as you like, leverage versatile promotion methods, etc. The best part is that you can work anytime from anywhere and don’t have to leave your current job. You can start your affiliate marketing journey as a side hustle.

  1. High return on investment

Affiliate marketing requires little cash to get started, but may generate impressive results. The returns are typically much bigger than the majority of marketing techniques.

  1. No extra knowledge needed

You can learn about affiliate marketing along the way, so there is no entry barrier in terms of your knowledge or niche expertise. Naturally, it’s great if you already know how the market works, but if you don’t, it won’t prevent you from starting.

What Is Media Buying?

Media buying is essentially the process of purchasing ad space on websites, social media platforms, publications, etc., to expose a brand. The ultimate goal is to get the broadest reach possible for the smallest cost. It’s a comprehensive process that includes identifying target customers, analyzing demographics, discovering relevant publications, monitoring your campaign (and optimizing it, if necessary), and so on.

Contrary to affiliate marketers, media buyers don’t hold ownership over the content used for promotion. They earn the margin between the ad placement price and the fee they make for attracting new customers to brands. There are three standard payment models: for each click the user makes on their banner, for a thousand impressions, or a fixed amount for each ad placement. 

How media buying works
How media buying works

To succeed in media buying, you must learn constantly and analyze the efficiency of your ad placements. This will lead to lucrative opportunities and can help guide your future decisions. In the end, you’ll know how much return on investment you can get on a particular spend.

Pros of Media Buying

There are plenty benefits of media buying that you should encounter for your brand, including:

  1. Quick turnaround

Media buying campaigns usually have a short turnaround time. You can see results, analyze your investments, and gain experience faster than in affiliate marketing, as well as figure out how to get the most profit at the lowest cost.

  1. No need to have a website

In comparison to affiliate marketers, media buyers don’t have to invest into building a blog to promote a product. Website maintenance includes many expenses from server performance to security certificates to copywriting and so on. Instead, media buyers can spend more on purchasing a better ad spot and getting profits faster.

  1. Better budget allocation

As you won’t have to invest in a website, more of your budget can be allocated to create various media buying campaigns. Your calculations will only include ad costs and your business software so that you can afford more quality placements. Furthermore, media buying makes it easier to analyze your campaigns, as few objects of expenditure influence the outcome.

  1. Less competition

Among various the many types of advertising, media buying features less competition. Good research will allow you to find quality placements at reasonable prices.

How to Combine Affiliate Marketing and Media Buying

Affiliate marketing and media buying are two strategies with the same end goal of driving traffic to a brand. They are not mutually exclusive. The difference is that affiliate marketers create content to gain organic traffic for their links, while media buyers buy ad space to attract leads. Both practitioners need to know their audiences well to succeed. Here are a few approaches you may employ.

Create Landing Pages

Many media buyers use landing pages to convert users, and affiliate marketers can follow their example. If you send a lead to the product page too early, they might not be motivated enough to make the desired action. However, a smartly crafted landing page will make leads more likely to follow through, as you can describe the offer in detail and help leads flow seamlessly into making purchases. At the bottom of the landing page, you can invite users to check out your website for more information. Meanwhile, articles on the website will keep pulling in organic traffic, while your landing pages can help convert your paid traffic.

Use Media Buying for Successful Products

Media buying can bring you targeted traffic fast, but if your product is not appealing, the ad may not succeed and your earnings won’t cover the costs of attracting this traffic. Thus, if you discover a product that efficiently converts organic visitors on your website, it’s likely to convert paid traffic just as well. Find what makes the offer convert so efficiently and highlight its advantages into a landing page to drive traffic to it.

Run Different Projects

It takes some time to see if an ad brings results and even more time until articles start gaining organic traffic. You’ll have some time on your hands during this period, which can be spent setting up various campaigns. Then, the results will start coming in and you won’t have to lose time waiting for one campaign to finish to create the next one.

Media Buying vs. Affiliate Marketing

Successful affiliate marketing and media buying is not easy, but they are essentially two sides of the same coin and can be used to craft winning campaigns. For example, affiliate marketers can add landing pages to their blog to warm leads up or use ads to drive paid traffic to promote their newsletter. In addition, ads can enhance any campaign that already sells well and help expand reach. Media buyers, on the other hand, can learn how to create content themselves to ensure its quality and cut down on costs. If you manage to handle both affiliate marketing and media buying, you will undoubtedly take your business to the next level.

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