Kaizen And The Art Of Direct Response Media Buying




Here’s the truth. A media buyers work is never done. There’s always room for improvement, either in return, or scale, or implementation, or all the above.

Many campaign managers who work at agencies are motivated to get to the point where they can “set it and forget it” for a client. They’ll frontload most of their work into the first 30 days of the retainer and use every client management trick in the book to instill fear and uncertainty into their client towards the aim of lowering expectations.

This is a trap.

There is always something to do. Always something to test. Always efficiency or scale to again. As someone who works in client services I’d love to be able to let campaigns run without maintenance, but this isnt the path to sustainable, long term success. (And this isnt the path to long term client retention either).

Think about it like this. Facebook has a billion+ active users. Any product that fulfills an already existing societal desire (see Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz) has an UNKNOWN amount of scale available on the internet.

Now let’s say for the sake of argument, only a certain percentage of active internet users will ever buy your product. Even if you are blasting those users with impressions on Facebook, you still havn’t hit the limit of your scale. Even the biggest noobie of an internet user visits multiple sites. Even my grandfather visits multiple websites.

Every website, every app your prospect uses is an opportunity to get them to buy.


Advertisers with a product that costs little to nothing to fulfill all want to scale immediately. But with exponential scale comes exponential resource investment.

Before any campaign or set of campaigns can scale there needs to be a concrete strategy in place. Tactics != Strategy

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Many gurus will close new clients on a pitch that goes something like “I have a step by step trademarked system I use for my clients to achieve success”.

And what they’re saying between the lines “I have a unique set of tactics known only to me that I will leverage for you but only if you pay me an exorbinant retainer”.

My pitch goes something like this: “I refuse to guarantee any results. What I guarantee is a methodical STRATEGY that over time will yield incremental gains, verifiable results, and proven tactics specific to your account”.

There’s key difference here. One approach starts from a scarcity mindset, “I can’t educate my client because if they know what we’re doing, they’ll take it in house.”

The other approach starts from an abundant mindset, “I will take the time to educate my client on my proper strategic testing methodology. If they know what I’m doing, they’ll have more insight into what is required for the success of our campaigns and they’ll have a bigger appreciation for my attention to detail and expertise”.

As a media buyer, you are the captain of a companies growth efforts. You’re charting the course for scale, you’re responsible taking a small media budget and making sure it can turn into something sustainable and long term.

When a client sets a monthly budget, there is a level of responsibility there that should not be taken lightly. And when you open up business manager and see the amount of impressions you serve monthly across all clients, there is a responsibility there too. Every impression a person, every piece of ad copy a conversation, every product an opportunity to match the person with the NEED to the product with the SOLUTION…

The unsexy truth of performance based media buys is there are no guarantees. Your biggest asset isn’t the amount you spend per month, it isn’t the big name clients you’ve worked, it isn’t your creative team or your system, or your super secret funnel or your ad rep.

It’s your dedication. It’s your attention to detail. It’s your commitment to do the same thing over and over again and do it correctly 99% of the time. It’s your commitment to proper testing and your tolerance for controlled risk.


I remember the first GDN client I ever got. It was a big name. I was told to not tell them how inexperienced I was in Adwords.

The campaigns ran at a loss for months. We were thousands of dollars in the red. I dreaded our weekly. I had nightmares about losing that client, about them grilling me every tuesday. Everyone at the agency knew how bad it was, and my boss refused to join me on most of those calls.

But every tuesday I reported the numbers in the most straightforward way I knew how. I acknowledged they were shit. I outlined the previous week’s tests. I outlined the coming week’s tests. And I repeated again and again what baseline funnel metrics we needed to hit to make it work.

And dozens of campaigns and banners and keywords and placements later the client had a new product they wanted to launch. And I said great. And we took everything we learned over months of testing and thousands of dollars of spend and we ran the launch in the most methodical way possible.

And we turned an insane profit. And I got on the call and I never had nightmares on Monday night again. And I remembered what Emilio Kim told me about GDN and how he never could have become as proficient as he is without having patient clients.


The best agencies arn’t very good at business development. Because they don’t need to be. They retain their clients for months and their clients reccomend them more people and they get a reputation for being the best.

How? Through methodical and strategic testing. Through open and honest communication with their clients. With a dedication to approaching every day as an opportunity instead of drudgery.

This is why I give away all my PPC audits for free. This is why I take the time to educate my clients. This is why most of my good friends are media buyers.

Because once you understand how the auction works and some basic statistics, you can begin to conceptualize a good testing strategy.

Because once you realize there are more social advertisers than ever, you realize the best client you could ever have is one savvy enough to understand the importance of paid acquisition to their company, and one patient enough to not pull the plug after one bad day.

This is the kaizen of DR buys. Approaching every cent of spend as an opportunity for incremental gains. Pinpointing key areas of optimization such as ad types, bid types, audiences, images, copy, videos, video length, keywords, demographics, locations, landing pages, tracking softwares, ad networks and more.

The strategy is simple. Minimize the variables in your test and identify the winning tactics/concepts in that test. And iterate and iterate and iterate and iterate…

We learn as much from the tests that fail as the tests that win. It’s important to pull your head out of the weeds once in a while and realize that even if a test has decreased your scale/efficiency/results in the short term. In the long term a methodical testing STRATEGY is what will separate you from someone who relies heavily on a single tactic (i.e. cloning, account rentals, 1 cent click glitches, swiping what they think is 100% of someone else’s succesfull campaign, cloaking, etc…) which will almost inevitably stop working in the future.


Prospecting is an app name for what we do. Because, I imagine the joy I feel in hitting a new level success on a campaign is something similar to what a prospector during the gold rush must have felt after digging for hours, days, or months, and finally finding that gold bearing vein…

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