5 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Media Buying

Media Buying is one of the biggest challenges among online marketing channels. The possibilities are endless – from individual websites and niche blogs, to full-on Ad Networks. With a limited budget, such decisions need to be made with great caution in order to avoid costly mistakes. One method to avoid costly mistakes, media buying strategies of websites similar to your own or website who are in your competitive landscape. In other words – look into your competitors’ website analytics and analyze their Display Advertising statistics and performance.

SimilarWeb PRO helps you access the website analytics data of your competitors; affording you endless possibilities for gaining marketing strategies and more specifically media buying strategies on behalf of your competitors’ advertising efforts. In this post I’ll go over some of the best practices of using SimilarWeb PRO for Media Buying. In order to explain some of the best ways to extract such information and use it to your advantage, I’ll run an analysis on MayTag.com, an e-commerce website selling Home & Garden products.

Tip #1: Find and Choose the Right Competitors to Analyze

The first challenge in this process is actually picking the competitors’ websites you want to analyze. On the one hand you don’t want to pick the websites which are way out your league, and on the other hand you don’t want to pick the ones which are too small to provide any useful information. To find the right competitors you can use any of the following tools:

  • SimilarWeb PRO Industry tab – The ‘Industry Analysis’ tab gives you the top websites per industry and country. This will not only give you your competitors’ websites, but will also rank these websites by traffic source. In this example, you can find the top competitors in the Home & Design Industry, under the ‘Display Advertising’ traffic source.

Home & Garden Industry Analysis by SimilarWeb PRO


    • Use Search Engines – run a quick search in Google, Yahoo, Bing or any other local search engine which is popular in your country. Use terms which describe your own business: “buy flowers online”, “find second hand cars”, etc. I suggest to run a check on medium-long tail terms rather than exact terms (terms with 3 or more words in them). This will give you a broader selection of competitors.


    • Search Social Networks – use the same search terms you’ve used in the Search Engines, on Social Networks. Look for your competitors in the major Social Networks in your country. For example, if you’re in the US it would be Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon and for some industries Pinterest. I’d also run a quick check on YouTube; look for channels or videos of potential competitors.


  • TalkWalker – TalkWalker is an alert service (similar to Google alerts, for those of you who remember that service). In this service I suggest to include exact terms (terms with no more than 3 words). This way you’ll get more precise results. The daily results will be any mentioning of these words on the web with the relevant link. You can expect to find your potential competitors on the list of sites mentioning your searched terms.


Tip #2 – Advertise on Niche Websites

Niche websites can be blogs about topics which are directly or indirectly related to your product or service. You can find a list of such websites under the ‘Traffic Sources > Display Advertising’ section in SimilarWeb PRO. You can export this list to Excel and filter or sort it according to the following:

  • Category – the category column can save you a lot of time in manual checks of each referring domain.
  • Traffic Share – when you check a competitor’s Display Advertising activity, one of the relevant statistics in the referring domains in just how much traffic each domain actually sends to your competitor. It’s safe to assume the ones that the one with higher traffic share have better potential in getting you traffic as well.
  • Global Rank – this factor should be taken under account (only partially) due to several reasons: first, because sometimes a site is ranked low in Global rank, but high in local rank, second, because a site with low rank doesn’t necessarily means low traffic. The rank is composed of several factors with only one of them being traffic amount. However, if you have a huge list and want to save time, I suggest to start with the higher ranked websites and move on from there.

Once you have the list organized, go over the top sites and look for potential niche websites that warrant placement of your site’s banners.


MayTag.com Display Ads Sources by SimilarWeb PRO


Tip #3 – Find Relevant Ad Networks

There are so many ad networks out there, so naturally it’s really hard to figure out which one is the most relevant to you. There are ad networks which specialize in one category, ad networks which specialize in mobile, and just general ad networks as well as other variants. If you’ve read my series of posts about online marketing strategies by 3 major industries, you’ll know that in most cases different industries use different ad networks. This is why it’s very important to choose your ad network only after investigating your competitors. SimilarWeb PRO organizes this data in one, easy to access, table. Go to – ‘Traffic Sources > Display Advertising’, and choose the ‘Ad Networks’ tab. There you will discover which ad networks your competitors are using and which are the most relevant to use for your own website. I suggest you export this data and cross reference it with data exported for other competitors. By doing so you’ll have a refined list of highly relevant ad networks.


MayTag.com Display Ads Creative by SimilarWeb PRO


Tip #4 – Diversify Your Banners As Much As Possible

When you do Display Advertising, it’s really hard to determine what works best for your potential customers. For this reason it’s highly recommended to divide your efforts into 2 steps:

    • Create as many banner variations as possible – this can include big changes, such as completely different designs, or small changes such as a different headlines. A/B test these banners on the same platform. Most ad networks give you this option. Run for a little while with a low budget campaign and collect the data.


  • Analyze the collected data, reach a conclusion about the most successful banners and continue to run campaigns with a larger budget.

Tip #5 – Adjust Your Ads to the Ad Network and Platform

Each Ad network is different and needs its own specific format of ad. Other than specific size and format limitations, the general look and feel of the ad creative material can be very different. For instance, web and mobile ads look very different. GDN and Facebook ads also require different adjustment. Even within Facebook, right side ads and sponsored stories also differ from each other. When you plan a display ad campaign, you need to take under account the needs of each platform and each ad network. If you think about such things from advance, it will save you a lot of time and money and minimize the fixing and additions requests from your designer. You can find some of your competitors through SimilarWeb PRO and look for their ads under the ‘Ad Creative’ tab


Media Buying isn’t easy, but at least now you know where to start from and how to make this process efficient, short and successful.

To learn more about how you can use SimilarWeb PRO to gain valuable insights from your competitors, contact us to set up a personal training session with our SimilarWeb PRO consultants.

About the Author -

Natalie Halimi is the Head of Marketing Communications & Education at SimilarWeb. With over 10 years of experience in marketing, Natalie has promoted services and products in the B2C and B2B arenas, in various industries.

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