"Make a media plan first."

That's advice you'll likely hear from seasoned affiliate marketers, like those in our Telegram chat.

However, we've found that many beginners in media buying aren't sure what a media plan even is. So we're here to clear things up.

With input from some of the best media buyers in the business, we've put together a straightforward guide to media planning.

So, whether you're rolling out a new app or want to boost existing reach, we’ll explain how to make a solid media plan that helps you achieve your marketing goals.

Let’s get started!

Why is a media plan so important?​

Media plans are important because they help you reach your target audience effectively. In its simplest form, it helps you understand:
  • Where your audience hangs out online
  • How to reach them with advertising channels
  • How to allocate your budget to get your audience to take action on your ads
The process of media planning helps beginner and expert media buyers make informed decisions about how they’ll connect their apps with potential users without wasting budget on hit-or-miss tactics.

What’s in a media plan?​

A media plan consists of the details of your campaign –– goals, audience, budget, timing, and frequency. It can be as detailed or as lightweight as you like.

A minimum viable media plan should include:
  • Campaign goal: What's your endgame with the ad campaign? For example, a particular number of leads, brand awareness boost, or sales.
  • Target audience: Who are these ads for? Pin down the people you want to reach, whether it's teenagers interested in gaming or professionals looking for career development.
  • Budget: How much cash are you willing to shell out? This is about figuring out what you can afford to spend on your ads.
Ad timing and frequency: How often and when will you show your ads? You need to plan this to make sure your ads don't annoy people by showing up too much or get ignored by being too sparse.


Or it can evolve into a detailed spreadsheet where your team keeps track of every move:


Ettore, a savvy marketer from Tappx and a regular in our Telegram chat, puts it simply:

“A media plan is about the outcome you want from your campaign. That means thinking about its budget, whether the budget is realistic for your KPIs, and the platform you're buying traffic from.”

Can I skip media planning?​

Wondering if you can skip the whole media plan and dive straight into the fun stuff like crafting ads, tweaking campaigns, and watching the profits roll in? Well, it's not that straightforward.

Even pros debate this one. Take Ettore's take—he's in the camp that believes a media plan isn't always set in stone. If you're running a campaign you've mastered before, with a product you know inside out, then maybe you can move along without it.

“If I'm very confident about what I'm going to do, I might skip the media plan. For example, when I work on an app that I already know, and I’m very aware of its best GEOs, top converting creatives, and customer acquisition strategies. But usually, especially if the product or a campaign is new for me, I do a media plan. It's essential.”

Svetoslav, another partner of PropellerAds, doesn't mince words. To him, a media plan isn’t just a nice-to-have; it's an essential part of your campaign, no matter how seasoned you are.

“Affiliate marketing has too many people today, and the competition is insanely high. Today, you need to pick what you're going to do carefully, and this includes a really good media plan with your budgets, target audience, and all that. At least consider your budget: its planning can be narrowed down to just a couple of minutes when you get more experience with it. But that's the basic key part everyone should do before starting anything.”

In other words, think of a media plan as a map—whether you're a newbie or a vet, it helps guide your decisions and steer clear of getting lost among the trees.

How to create a media plan​

Whether you're rolling out a brand-new product or tweaking the strategy for an old one, a media plan is your first step. Here's how to create your media plan:

Step 1: Set the goal​

Don't fly blind with your campaign. Know what you want to achieve—be it 1,000 app installs a month or a certain number of sales. Your goal should be clear, measurable, and sometimes, adjusted after a reality check against your research findings.

Step 2: Market research and budget planning​

Market research isn’t just about the numbers; it’s about gauging a product's standing and its potential to hit it off with customers down the line.

You can understand your product's reach across different regions with tools like SimilarWeb or Google Trends. Both can show where most of your potential traffic comes from.

Here’s an example based on data from SimilarWeb:


Ettore shares advice on how to make the best use of Google Trends:

“I also use Google Trends sometimes, but this is not for pure campaign purposes. It might be helpful when you encounter a new customer and need to check their products’ reliability and overall popularity. Besides, it may help estimate how popular a new product might become in the near future.”

When it comes to budget planning, especially for cost-per-action (CPA) campaigns, a rule of thumb is to allocate three to five times the payout for simpler goals, like an email signup.

For more ambitious goals that require a user to make a deposit, be prepared to invest at least ten times the payout for testing.

Step 3: Traffic sources and audience​

Pinpoint where to buy traffic based on who's likely to bite. If your research says your product appeals to men aged 22-30, then tailor your media plan to reach them effectively.

We started with PropellerAds, for instance, and found that certain types of ads (like Popunder and Push) brought in more bang for our buck in certain niches.

Remember, if you're using multiple sources—say, Facebook or influencers—assess each one just as carefully.

Step 4: Track and optimize​

A media plan isn't set in stone. It should evolve as you gather data. If you set a budget but the real-world spend is way off, adjust it.

Ettore gives a practical example on the topic:

“Let’s imagine you determined the budget on a very broad GEO –– say the US or India, which, as we know, has a lot of traffic. Say you have a Cost-Per-Lead or Cost-Per-Install of $10, and you allocate $100 to make a test.

However, while testing, you notice that most of the placements you're buying from have a very low spend –– so low that your $100 is not representative enough for the traffic you can buy from the platform. In this case, you need to extend that budget to have a representative sample of your buying traffic. It often happens on very competitive or very large GEOs.”

In short, if $100 doesn't cut it for a broad target area like the US, and you'll need to up the ante to get a real sense of the campaign's pulse.

The key is to be adaptable. Create a plan with room for tweaks based on actual performance. And if you're part of a team, documenting your testing and optimization methods ensures everyone's on the same page.

Extra tips to create a winning media plan​

Mastering the basics will get your media plan off to a solid start. Now, let's sharpen your skills with a few more tips that could save you time and stress down the line.

1. Keep campaign names clear

Establishing easily recognizable naming conventions is a quick win when it comes to managing a large number of campaigns.
As Svetoslav puts it:

“A big part of my media planning is having campaign names that I’ll easily understand.”

Take a cue from Svetoslav and choose campaign names that make sense at a glance. Ditch the cryptic names like 'Campaign1139_creative_2432' for something that tells you everything you need to know.

For example, avoid names like this:
Campaign qweqwe

And try this, instead:

A format like 'PropellerAds_FinanceApp_US_iOS_Chrome' neatly spells out the ad network, the campaign type, the target region, the platform, and the browser.

A little effort now means less headache later when you're trying to find and analyze your campaigns.

🚀 RELATED GUIDE: Naming Conventions for Campaigns, Offers, and Landing Pages

2. Leverage your data

Don’t start from scratch each time. Use the goldmine of data from your past campaigns. It’s there to help you make better decisions moving forward.

If you’re new, you'll soon see how past results can inform future plans, like choosing which Whitelists to target.

For example, Ettore’s team buys traffic from their ready Whitelists –– proven and checked – and includes this in their media planning, too.

3. Get help and stay current

You're not alone. Use tools like SimilarWeb for research, sure, but also tap into the wisdom of those who’ve been there.

Advertisers, and network managers—they’re all resources you can learn from. And keep an eye on the big picture; what’s happening in your target markets can impact the success of your plan –– understanding the local context is critical.

Svetoslav gives an example on this topic:

“Let's say, for example, there's a flood in Haiti. In this case, people would hardly like being promoted iPhone giveaways. Probably a bad example, but you get the idea, right?”

4. Consider timing (Weekends are golden)

Did you know that Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the busiest days for affiliate marketers and media buyers?

If your campaign's not hitting its stride by Friday, hang tight. With everyone unwinding and scrolling more, your ads might get the attention they deserve.

But if weekends don’t bring the boost you expected, it’s time to reassess. Maybe there’s an issue with the offer, or the ad placement, or perhaps the budget needs a review.

5. Don’t obsess over stats

Checking in on your campaign's performance is good practice, but overdoing it? Not so much.

Constantly refreshing your stats won’t make the numbers climb faster. If your budget isn’t huge, check the results a few times a day at most. Obsessing won't help your campaigns or your stress levels.

In Svetoslav’s words:
“Some people keep checking the statistics every five minutes: ‘Hey, what's going on? What's going on?’ Like they don't have anything better to do! Well, that could be useful if you operate with very, very large budgets. But if yours is like just a couple of hundred bucks, don’t be a statistics junkie. It could be dangerous for your health.”

Final thoughts on media planning​

There you have it! Everything you need to know to take you from zero to hero with media planning.

In short, your media plan is more of a playbook than a set-in-stone script. It's designed to guide you, outlining your strategies and goals, yet it's adaptable, allowing for adjustments based on actual results.

The big takeaway? The key to a successful campaign is understanding your objectives while staying nimble enough to pivot as results come in.

With your adaptable media plan in hand, you're now set to bring your campaign to life. And remember, PropellerAds is here to help turn your strategy into success.

Register now and let’s get your ads out there and see them work their magic!