Lately, a few “spy” tools have popped up for the media buying space. Spy tools for pay-per-click and social have existed for quite some time because those ads are easy to scrape and spy on. But media’s a little trickier, due to the sheer size of the space and lack of centralization / consolidation.
But never fear, there are some new tools on the market for spying on the mejia. One tool is AdBeat, which got a little push from the peeps at Prosper in a recent webinar. Another tool, What Runs Where, comes from our favorite black-hatted mastermind: the ever so Slightly Shady SEO.
Before I continue: I am not, by any means, a seasoned media buyer. I get the concepts but it is not something I dabble with a lot compared to other stuff. Also I am writing these review because Shady is the shit, and I am not being compensated for it besides a free account. Look ma, no affiliate links!
In fact, I spent a good amount of time writing up a bug / features list that spanned a few pages, for Shady to change or include, for free, because I am such a nice guy :D
The Good About WhatRunsWhere
I haven’t used AdBeat so I can’t compare, but What Runs Where provides a pretty simple interface for viewing a large database of scraped media, which include: image banners, flash banners, and text ads. These ads are scraped from the most popular sources like Adwords, Pulse360, Adbrite, etc.
What Runs Where is basically a big repository of data from the entire web. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make sense of the data and use it for your own profiteering.
You can lookup domains from a specific advertiser and see where they are running. You can do a search and see what’s popular on X traffic source. You can see what kind of banners what have been popular in your particular niche in the past X number of days. This competitive intelligence gives you an advantage over someone who just posted their “OK I got a media server with OpenX now what?” thread on Wickedfire.
How to Maker the Monies with WhatRunsWhere?
So you have these tools, but now… what do?
1. See What’s Running on a Specific Traffic Source – You can do your Search for a specific traffic source like Technorati media, for example, and see types of banner ads running there.
So what does this tell you? It tells you what type (niche) of offers tend to work on that traffic source. It tells you what kind of offers a specific traffic source allows (Are they allowing rebills? Downloads? Or is it just big brands you don’t want to compete with?)
2. See What’s Popular on a Broad Scale – A few hours of going anywhere online, or a few minutes of using What Runs Where will reveal some types of ads work almost anywhere. Can you say “Today’s Daily Deal” or “$YourState Bucket List”? Better yet, can you improve on these types of popular creatives and beat out the direct advertisers?
3. Find New Traffic Sources – One of the best and worst thing about media buying is the sheer number of traffic sources available. There are big aggregators all the way down to individual site buys. The internet is fucking huge and you will never be able to wrap your head around it.
So you can do a search on What Runs Where for your particular niche or keyword, then look up all of the places similar ads are running. You will find a new traffic source about 100% of the time- whether it’s some site you’ve never heard of, ad network you didn’t think had any traffic, or get reconnected with a familiar traffic source where you didn’t think a specific offer would work before. What Runs Where lets you dig deep on a particular ad and root domain name so you can find all of the traffic sources for a campaign. Repeat the process a few times and you’ll have a list of new traffic sources to try that will keep you busy for days.
4. Don’t Copy 100% – Seriously! – You can’t just login to What Runs Where, copy an ad, and make monies online. I mean, you could do that, but the chances of your ad being successful will be slim to none. There’s a bunch of data that scrapers can’t track, like Click-thru Rates. That’s data you can only acquire yourself.
The smartie-pants will take the general copy of a banner ad and make it better. Copycatting runs rampant in affiliate marketing and those chumps will always fail in the long run. Creative people can stick around much longer, because they read books from marketing legends, apply their own wisdom, come up with their own original campaigns, and know how to avoid shit when shit hits the fan (like government crackdowns on more nefarious advertising practices- mainly because their whole lives don’t revolve around copy-pasting non-compliant advertising materials.)
What Could Be Better about WhatRunsWhere?
Difficult to Tell What’s a Popular Advertisement – While you can tell an advertisement’s popularity based on how long it runs for, you can’t see click-thru-rates or profitability. It’s not really a complaint because this data is basically impossible to grab, but it would be good to see what determines popularity metrics.
Media Buy Tips – If Shady and the team at What Runs Where provided a few pages of beginner to advanced media buying strategies, they’d probably be able to sell a lot more copies. Stuff like choosing an adserver, optimizing a server, negotiating IO’s, etc – is information that would be worth the price of admission. Seasoned media buyers deal with this stuff on a daily basis, but people looking to jump in have a steep learning curve ahead.
Should I Buy WhatRunsWhere?
If you want competitive intelligence on banner ads throughout the web, then yes. If you want to discover new traffic sources or get inspiration for new creatives, then yes. It’s roughly the same price as AdBeat. I can’t tell you if its better or worse, but anything Shady-made is fine by me.
If you’re looking for some “Get Rich Quick” tool or heard that media buying makes people filthy rich with no work, then you should probably hold off on this tool until you’re ready to take the game seriously.
Pro Tip – Make Real Flogs
As I write this post I’m listening to the Ads4Dough Webinar about the FTC and compliance, and the basic gist is this: Fake marketing is dead. Done. Gone. Forever. Anything FAKE is not allowed. You can’t just make shit up with stock photos and stolen weight loss pictures from BodyBuilding.com.
Completely lying in marketing isn’t new, but people do it a lot now because it’s the anonymous internet. “Hey, they won’t catch me!” Laws against completely false claims have been around for decades so I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to many people. It will take the government a while, but they will catch you eventually.
If you wanted to do it long term, you’d get an affidavit weight loss testimonial from someone with a real product. I honestly thought that’s what a lot of people did after the first crackdown a year or so ago, but apparently not. Now a lot of people are getting their ass kicked. :| And its fucked up because scammers on Clickbank are still running rampant with completely fake statistics and bogus products (One isn’t necessarily any better or worse than the other, but the fact that make money online peddlers on the Clickbank side haven’t been targeted is kind of bullshit)
So do what the pharmaceutical industry does. Create your own “think tanks” and “research centers” to create favorable data around your product. Or do what “As Seen on TV” advertisers do. Get people to lose weight with an awfully shitty product, like the Ab Twister Flyer Zapper. It easy because when you diet and add other exercise, someone will eventually lose weight no matter how useless the product. “Just look how easy it was to get 7% body fat and 8-pack abs with this belt that zaps my stomach with electricity!”
* Asterisk- I am not your legal counsel.