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FREE online course: Advanced Competitive Research Practices with SEMrush 

Media Buying

3 lessons


Media Buying Powered by Competitive Intelligence

Hi! Welcome to the Advanced Competitive Research Practices with SEMrush course! I'm your host, Navah Hopkins, international PPC speaker and SMB champion. I've used SEMrush on thousands of accounts, and I can't wait to share lessons learned to empower you on the path to profit and victory!

In today's lesson, we'll cover:

  • Auditing potential publishers based on their traffic and their performance for our competitors
  • Identifying new potential channels for profit
  • Deciding how to allocate funds among your chosen channels.

A big part of deciding where to invest marketing dollars/resources is understanding the probability of the endeavor succeeding. Rather than wasting valuable time and ad dollars on guesswork, allow your competitors to prequalify these placements for you.

There are a few ways we can do this leveraging SEMrush:

  • Determine how much traffic a publisher's website has
  • Understand whether this traffic will bring you profitable prospects or just volume
  • See where competitors are securing their backlinks and buy display spots on those pages
  • See the audience makeup of potential partners to ensure they overlap with proven media buys.

Let's look at an example!

Traffic Analytics

How to analyze your potential partner's traffic

In this example, we'll pretend we're SEMrush and we're assessing which placements make the most sense for us. The first thing you might want to do is to see whether a potential publisher has a sufficient traffic volume and quality.

Go to the Traffic Analytics tool, enter up to 5 desired domain names — and you're off! You can check the websites' traffic, visitor engagement, and traffic distribution by country.

To compare the audiences of media, go over to the Audience Overlap tab — you can see how many users visit all of the media in a given period.

If you have a long list of media outlets to check traffic, go to the Bulk Analysis page. It enables you to see the main metrics — traffic and user engagement — for up to 200 domains.

Then let's revert to a domain we already know we advertise on — Now, we're curious to see if the domains driving traffic to it could be good fits for our marketing dollars.

How to find out your potential partner's traffic sources

To do that, we'll go to Traffic Analytics, type into the search bar, then click the Traffic Sources section.

If a brand is a powerful backlink for a competitor or existing media partner, odds are it might make sense to try and advertise there. For example, is getting quite a bit of traffic from However, before we get ready to advertise there, we'll want to compare that brand to a few other brands we know work for us.

How to compare your potential partners

So, we go under the Audience Overlap tab, then enter,,, and, making sure to include our own brand - - in the mix.

As we can see,'s audience has even more in common with our brand than our original investment. I included because it's a well-known competitor of I'd now be entitled to check the potential reach of BusinessInsider as a potential media buy.

How to find the geo distribution of your potential partner's traffic

Now, let's go over to the Geo Distribution tab to see traffic distribution by country. I like seeing at least 50% of a given domain's traffic coming from the country I'm focusing my marketing efforts on. If I know I will be managing an international campaign, I'll look for subdomains or destination sites reflecting the other markets I need to promote.

How to determine the best landing page for your ad

In choosing your targets for your display campaign, it's really tempting just to go all in on audiences. Yet the best way to supercharge your message mapping and conversion rates is to focus your placements by content contextualization.

Use the data from the Top Pages tab for the site you want to place ads on. By sorting the pages by top unique pageviews, you'll be able to see where you can get the best bang for your buck.

How to find out the best channels for your paid activities

So that's how we pick potential display spots, but how do we know if display is the right channel for us? Part of that decision is based on how much budget we have and what our objectives are. However, we might also learn lessons from our competitors, either on channels they are using successfully, or channels they're neglecting.

And for that purpose, we'll leverage Market Explorer. Let's type into the tool's search bar. As we can see, Business Insider is an Established Player in their market, meaning they have volume but they're not really growing. If we're looking to buy ads with them, we might need to consider whether we'll have a long-term engagement or a shorter one.

This is because their audience is their audience, and there will come a point where you've exhausted the value you can get out of a display spot with their audience.

If you need more evergreen value, you might look to a Game Changer, as well as looking into making a search and social play.

It's important to note that engaging in search/social requires adapting your creative to whatever market you're serving it to. For example, the US doesn't allow gambling ads - so Google doesn't allow them in the US. However, other markets absolutely allow them. If your brand is in debatable eligibility water, you might need to focus more on experimental media buys (TikTok, Quora, Reddit) over the conventional ones (Google, Bing, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).

How to spread your media budget

Finally, we need to decide how we will divvy up our media spend! Before we even think about looking at competitors, we need to think about what role each media channel represents:

  • Paid Search is the salesperson who loves to be in exactly the right spot to get the order.
  • Display is the blitzer who builds audiences and reminds your prospects to engage with you.
  • Facebook is the community builder and engagement enhancer who enables us to make impulse purchases.
  • Instagram creates aspirational longing and impulses so we can be just like our influencer friends.
  • YouTube is the educational and empowering friend who loves to entertain, but can sometimes get carried away.
  • LinkedIn is a tad elitist, but ultimately cares about connecting valuable people for mutual benefit.

My recommendation is to audit your top competitors in the custom market analysis of Market Explorer. Understanding which competitors are leaning towards or away from certain networks will help you understand where it makes sense to invest.

Media Buying Powered by Competitive Intelligence: Lesson Summary

So, to sum up:

  • We discussed how to assess a potential media partner.
  • We reviewed how to pick your media buy.
  • We discussed how to leverage your competitors' top pages to uncover potential keyword targets in your media buys.

That's it for lesson one of the Advanced Competitive Research Practices with SEMrush course, we hope you learned something new. If you have any questions, feel free to send them to me directly at @navahf, or the professionals at the SEMrush Academy at @semrushacademy.

From here, you can build your own report - practice makes perfect - or continue on learning.

Once you are ready, go get certified! It is absolutely in your best interest, both for more confidence in the tool and for your own cloud to have the SEMrush certification.

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can see a list of useful links and further reading that will help inform your knowledge on the subject.

Thanks for investing your time with me - see you in the next video!