5 Painful Paid Traffic Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)

July 27, 2016 BY Phill Dangerfield - Get free updates of new posts HERE

Paid advertising – to the experienced eye, is everywhere you look these days, whether it’s remarketing adverts following you around the web after you searched for gluten free cakes (just me?), to sponsored ads clogging up your Facebook news feed, or your bog-standard Google ads sitting up top of the search results.

With paid advertising’s increasing popularity comes increasing competition, and with increasing competition comes a need to ‘hit the nail on the head’ first time when buying traffic. However, so many falter at the starting line and with a few simple changes can avoid wasting their cash away.

Let’s run through the five most painful mistakes that can be made when buying traffic.


By far the worst mistake to make is failing to do any/enough research. So many advertisers dive straight into buying traffic without doing prior research to understand if the campaign is likely to be viable or not.

In the affiliate world we talk a lot about Earnings Per Click (EPC), and this is a vital piece of information for any affiliate looking to buy traffic. If you can understand how much an affiliate offer is earning (on average) per click then you have a good indicator on how much you can afford to bid i.e. your maximum cost per click (CPC). This will also help you work out if it is even feasible based on the click costs of your chosen ad space.

Do your research before starting anything – fail to and you’ll likely end up with an empty wallet!



Advertising platforms know more about you than ever before. They know who you are, where you are, what you search for, and what you like. Gone are the days where you could only advertise to the entire UK. Now, you can run ads to women, over 30 years old, in Bognor Regis, on just a Tuesday afternoon (if you really wanted to do that).

Fail to target or targeting too broadly can be disastrous, as you will find your budget quickly being swallowed up. If you can understand the who (demographics), where (location), and when (time online) of your target audience then half the battle is won.


One of the biggest mistakes to make is writing emotionless ads – they result in poor click-through rates (CTR), which on many advertising platforms can mean your CPC increases. This is because your advert is deemed to be less relevant and of a lower quality, therefore you will need to pay more for it to show. On Google AdWords, increasing your ‘Quality Score’ from 6 to 7 can discount your CPCs by nearly 30%! The more relevant and useful you get the cheaper you can bid for prime ad impressions/clicks.

Except for Google search ads, the majority of the time you will be running ‘interruptive’ ads. What this means is that the user wasn’t actively searching for your product/service so you have to interrupt whatever it is they were doing at the time your ad was served. This makes it so important to attract their attention amongst all of the noise that is on their Facebook news feed as an example.

Without a doubt, the best way to interrupt is with emotion. There is a psychological theory called ‘Dual Processing’, which implies that our brain has two systems; one emotional and one rational. In short, system one is our emotional processor and is always on, resulting in us making decisions instinctively and then system two kicks in and rationalizes that decision. Source (conversionxl.com)

You should focus your ad copy around core emotions such as sadness, fear, awe, and anger.


 So you’ve got your ads up and running, and now it’s just a case of leaving them to bring the money home – right??

I’m afraid not. Once your ads are live, then starts the continuous process of ‘optimisation’. We must constantly test new versions of our ads with different messages, call-to-actions, images, and offers to maximise our earnings. True, you should leave your initial setup to generate enough data to then make decisions on statistically significant data.

It happens all the time – set up some ads, let them run and the view is ‘if they work they work, if they don’t they don’t’. The Japanese come to mind at this point as they are often at the forefront of leading technologies, and it’s no wonder why when a prominent word in their culture is ‘Kaizen’ – a philosophy of continuous improvement. Keep testing variations of your ads to maximise your earnings.


 Leads are coming in but you’ve been optimising and optimising but you’re still running at a loss. When is it time to call it a day and move on to a new campaign? In the affiliate world the typical rule of thumb might be to spend 4-5 times the expected commission when the commission is smaller or 2-3 times when working with larger commissions.

There is often a danger of falling in love with your ads, but if the numbers show that it is actually a stinker then you have to be bold and pause it to test a new version. Just because you think the ad is good and ‘should’ work, you have to be brutal and shut things off when they clearly aren’t working.



Paid advertising can be an extremely fruitful exercise for advertisers and affiliates if, and only if, it is done in the right way. Going in head first without and research or thought on who your audience is and what they need/want will see you reaching the same financial levels as Kanye West (well maybe not quite that bad) – see James’ recent blog on why Kanye should take up affiliate marketing. Add into the mix ad copy with no emotion and a reliance on your one wonder-advert and you’ll quickly find yourself in trouble. Do your homework, know who is your customer, entice them in with emotional copy, and keep testing. If you do all this and it doesn’t work then make sure to throw the towel in at the right time.

Written by Phill Dangerfield