7 Principles of Effective Media Buying Campaigns [Updated 2020]

Media buying can be one of the cruxes of a business owner. Ask anybody who’s tried to market a business online. Everything seems to crystallize on paper until the first sign of hardship hits, that’s when true adversity starts. 

There are a plethora of different variables that go into an effective media buying campaign, and it can be difficult to diagnose any issues without having any idea of what you are actually doing.

Don’t fall into the trap of running media buying campaigns without getting the principles down. Without doing so, you are essentially buying a lottery ticket and hoping you win. 

Read everything you need to know about media buying in this piece, and don’t leave anything to chance.

In the following sections, we will be covering principles that will allow you to lay a solid foundation down to build an effective media buying campaign.

media buying

Organization + planning is what sets the pros apart from beginners

Staying organized and planning out your lead generation campaign will be what sets you apart from the beginners. Being organized and planning are the foundational pieces that will allow you to do the following:

  • Run effective tests on your ads
  • Find your most optimized targeting group
  • Budget intelligently and for the long-run
  • Analyze your data to nail down your persona

In essence, these points listed above are what will make or break your campaign, here’s why:

Any lead gen campaign should be looked at as a science. You are the scientist and you have a hypothesis you want to test. In order to substantiate your claims, you need to run your tests and make sure it’s repeatable before moving forward. The same goes for any lead generation campaign. Without testing different variables, you will never know what works better for your campaign. 

Let me repeat, you will never know what variables work better for your campaign without testing it

In order to do this effectively, organization is key to keep track of all of your tests. Ideally, you’ll be running multiple tests at the same time, and worst case you let an important finding fall through the cracks.

Beginners do this all the time. 

They run a test, and then another, and then another. Eventually, they collect data from one of their tests and totally forget about the others because they get lost in the abyss. For those using Facebook Manager, it can be confusing, especially when you don’t pay attention to how to label things and where to store them.

Organization and planning will allow you to find your most optimized targeting group as well. Just like testing, a pro media buyer will test multiple targeting groups and see what works better. Some ads work best by targeting contextually, others work best by targeting based on behavior. Staying organized can be tough when you are dealing with more audiences than you can count on two hands. 

When dealing with your budget, we suggest planning a scalable model. 

More times than not, a client will come to us with a lifetime budget. At this point, it’s important to calculate a daily spend that can be scaled once testing is over. In most cases, we use 40% of the budget to fund the first 2 rounds of testing and then pour 60% of the remaining budget into what’s working best.

Last, staying organized in order to analyze your data is super important. We usually spend a good chunk of our testing time analyzing data in order to nail down a persona to help guide our ad creative. Generally, a client has an idea as to which persona they are looking to target only to find out that the analytics show otherwise. 

Data doesn’t lie. It’s paramount that your data is organized in order to use it to its fullest potential.

Next, let’s look at funnels and how getting them down really well can result in massive returns.

Know your funnel, really really well

Repeat this after me: if you can’t push your customer through a funnel, then you cannot reasonably expect a conversion. From time to time, we’ll come into contact with an online business owner who thinks oil funnels don’t have a place in their online marketing strategy. To be clear we agree but we’re talking about a completely different type of funnel, a digital funnel. 

Let’s start with what is a funnel?

Imagine plotting out, in a perfect world where unicorns and puppies are everybody’s best friends, the ideal journey your buyer would go through to buy your product… From 1st impression to purchase. What would it look like? 

Boom, that’s it.

Your funnels should be contriving the ideal experience that will allow you to answer common questions and concerns with ease, relay social validity, and emotionally connect with your prospect to gain trust.

These funnels are comprised of these 3 stages:

  • top of funnel (or TOFU)
  • middle of funnel (or MOFU)
  • bottom of funnel (or BOFU)

Your TOFU generally represents the stage called ‘prospecting.’ This means getting as many people to see your product or ad on your digital advertising platform of choice. This is what would be called, “cold leads.”

Now you need to nurture these leads.

The MOFO provides additional touchpoints for your prospects to interact with your brand again, called re-engagement. This portion of the funnel should turn your cold leads into warm ones and provide some combination of the following:

  • An FAQ
  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Or free giveaway

Turning your warm leads into hot ones will require you to push them through your BOFO, where you will retarget your ultra-vetted list of prospects who’ve interacted the most with your brand or product. These are the people you will have the best chance at converting, so hit them with the best version of yourself. Create awe-inspiring content, amazing discounts, thumb-stopping video, anything to grab their attention and push them over the proverbial ledge and buy.

With this in mind, you should be asking yourself other questions like, “how big should my funnel be?” / “who is my target persona?” / “how many steps will my funnel be?”

These details will lay the foundation down for what you build your funnels on. Sometimes having a very simple step funnel works wonders (fewer clicks > less effort response from your prospect > the more purchases you will receive).

Now let’s talk about getting your personas down.

Get your persona down (or better yet, your anti-persona)

As a business owner, you are building a skyscraper, taller and more beautiful than anyone else ever has. You can’t do this on a shaky foundation. You need to get the fundamentals down of your campaign and advertising business models before building.

This includes your personas.

Many of you reading this will not be in the position to gather large amounts of data through surveys (which many large corporations do in order to fulfill this step). Don’t let this discourage you. Take the time to nail down your ideal customer. Ask yourself questions like:

What gender am I targeting?

What do they like to do for fun?

What are their personality types?

What gets them excited?

What values matter to them most? Money? Status? Attention?

What is the superpower your persona would wish to have the most?

What are their challenges/frustrations/etc?

You get the deal. From here, you should be crystallizing a clear image. From here, create what’s called a ‘market map.’ This entails how you will be targeting this group of people. Are they on Facebook often? Will you have a better chance at reaching them on Google Display Network. Sometimes, a combination of targeting works best.

Third, create what’s called an ‘empathy map.’ This details everything you will say to them. What kind of language speaks to them? What levers can you pull and buttons can you push to get through to them. Essentially, how can you cut through the noise with your creative and copy?

This last point can be one of the most easily missed action items…

Create an anti-persona. Who will you not be targeting? Be sure to be intentional with it. Don’t create an anti-persona that’s obvious. If you’re targeting housewives and moms, then don’t create your anti-persona as a male bodybuilder who goes to the local gym every day. Obviously this isn’t going to be your target demographic. Rather, your anti-persona can be a stay at home wife who works remotely and prioritizes her career. These idiosyncratic differences can significantly guide your empathy map, and much more. 

Know the competitive landscape, use modern analytic tools to get a firm grasp on what you’re up against

Getting insight into what your competitors are doing can be invaluable information, even for those in the boat of authenticity. You will hear plenty of business owners harp on the fact that if you want to stand out from the crowd, then you need to do different things. Don’t get us wrong, we agree. 

For one, one of my favorite quotes is “you can’t expect extraordinary results from doing ordinary things.”

But advertising is a different beast. Don’t be fooled by thinking that your competitors are doing it wrong. Those at the top are actually doing it right. But you can do it better.

Get insight into competitor metrics by leveraging must-have tools. The following list of tools will allow you to piece a holistic picture of their strategy, take a look at the following:

Adespresso – allows you to look up competitor’s ads on Facebook. A priceless tool when your ad will be showing just beneath them a couple of scrolls down. Get insight into what kind of copy they are using, their creative, placement optimizations, even granular details like objectives & targeting.

Adbeat – allows you to look into a competitor’s ad spend on Google. Essentially this will give you insight into what you will need to spend in order to rank above them in paid placements on Google.

SimilarWEB / SEMrush / Ahrefs / MOZ – all of these tools will allow you to see metrics very similar to Google Analytics. How much traffic are they getting, what channels are being used the most, their top-performing keywords, and the list goes on?

Not enough can be said with having this kind of valuable information at your disposal. Next, let’s look into media plans; essentially the next layer in laying down your solid foundation for your skyscraper.

Create a fire landing page and leads will convert

A landing page is like a piece of art. When you first lay eyes on it, it’s intuitive and guides its viewers on an emotional journey that brings most (if not all) of them to the same conclusion. Yet, most don’t initially see the intricate details that went into every aspect of the blank canvas. A good landing page does the same. The color of the buttons has been meticulously planned out, the copy intentionally crafted, and the creative artistically compelling. Every aspect of it is thumb-stopping and conveys a deep sense of trust that connects with each individual viewer, and communicates the value of the offer is greater than the cost is to acquire it.

In a perfect world, every landing page would display these characteristics. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and not to mention, that’s really, really hard to do. Needless to say, these are the pillars of a fire landing page you need to strive for if you’re going to convert users. Your page should also display these 6 elements, which are imperative to gain trust and convert the user:

Identity – clearing branding on the page.

Credibility – display that other people have used your product or services with success.

Relevance – show services or products to viewers who actually might need it, as obvious as that sounds.

Social Proof – show large numbers of people have used your product or service with success.

Urgency – incentivize immediate action with a time-sensitive deal, otherwise, your prospect will find ways to justify waiting for a little to take action.

Usability – make sure the usability of your product or service is clear and concise.

Next, let’s take a look at the idea of media buying as a science and not a gamble.

Good media buying is a science, not a gamble

Setting up your campaign in the beginning stages is an important step in finding what resonates most with your audience. After you are able to build a solid foundation on an effective funnel, well-identified persona, good competitor research, and a fire landing page, you can now start to build your skyscraper upwards. You will want to do this by testing multiple versions of ads and seeing what works best. The truth is, no one really knows what’s going to work best before testing the market with it. We consistently see that beginner media buyers set up one campaign, ad set, and ad and just hope it works. This is the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket and hoping the gambling gods decide today is your lucky day. One word sums up this strategy pretty well…


Set a structured approach to testing multiple ad sets and ads. With each ad set, try 3 different variations with different targeting syntax. Try dividing your targeting within these 6 groups:

1. Contextual: currency keywords

2. Contextual: stock market keywords

3. Contextual: crypto-currency keywords

4. Behavioral: all visitors, time spent on site (>45 seconds)

5. Curated: all leads

6. Lookalike: customer lookalike

After nailing down different ad sets, test out 3 different ads with different copy and creative within each ad set.

This also brings up the point of staying organized with your campaigns. Make sure you implement good naming practices so you know when you open your campaigns back up, you know exactly what variables you are testing in each ad set and ad.

Next, let’s take a look at what it takes to have good creative that’s going to capture your prospect’s attention.

Good creative is the bedrock to an extremely effective lead gen campaign

On average, you have around 3 seconds to grab a person’s attention before they decide to scroll past your ad or exit out of the window. Everything you’ve built leading up to that moment hinges on those 3 seconds, if you can’t get clicks, then forget about converting anyone. Good creative is the flag at the top of your skyscraper, the finishing touch so to speak. Make sure you make it the most beautiful flag, as it signifies to others this is your piece of work, and you are proud of it.

Follow these rules, and you’ll be able to create thumb-stopping content that cuts through the noise of the internet where users are inundated with ads at every corner of their screen.

For copy, remember that you can only play on preexisting desires, don’t expect to get someone to desire something that doesn’t already exist in them. In order to do this, use these strategies:

  • Describe your product by using “now you can…” statements.
    • Ex: “Now you can buy a car online without going through an untrustworthy salesman.”
  • Beat your competitor statement.
    • Ex: “Beat (competitor) at half the price”
  • Statements that signify fast, easy, and cheap.
    • Ex: “Get lunch fast, easy and cheap right with our delicious recipes.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your audience questions in order to get them to stop and think a little.

As for images, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Be sure to be relative and evoke desire (just like with the copy).
  • Good ads also don’t look like ads, they look like content (or a normal Facebook post, etc).
  • Using images with powerful colors and contrast makes you stand out more.

If you can follow the guidelines above, you should have no issue getting clicks on your ad. Some things will work better than others, so be sure to test different variables and hone in on what works. 

In conclusion…

Running an effective media buying campaign is no easy task and doesn’t happen overnight. With the tactics and strategies detailed in this blog, you will find that with time you will see better and better results. We encourage you to go ahead and take the 1st step. Organize and plan your campaign and use the momentum you generate to propel you through the rest of the steps. 

If you find this helpful, please go ahead and share it. This post is intended to give you principles that can be applied to all and any media buying, essentially allowing it to be adapted to fit the needs of any individual business. Alternatively, if media buying doesn’t sound like the right strategy for your business, text marketing campaigns are starting to catch on, in a big way. If you want to learn more, click to read about mass texting services.

Here at Ivio Agency, we are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Downtown Phoenix that offers media buying to those seeking out services. We understand that running a campaign is time-intensive, and as a business owner, you wear many hats and always don’t have the time it requires. Reach out to us and leave us a message here if you’d like to talk about what partnering up with us looks like.