February 03 0 206

"We Built Our Media Buying Department in a Way that We Never Lose Money" — an Interview With the Team Leader of the Zavod Media Buying Team

The M1 affiliate network recently posted a video on their YouTube channel featuring an interview with Sergey, the leader of the Zavod media buying team. Sergey provided valuable information about his work, including how he built his team, how it operates, his own journey from a media buyer to a team leader, advice on how to enter and advance in a media buying team, the most successful areas the team focuses on, and the compensation of team members.

All the key takeaways from the interview are summarized in this article.

Getting into Media Buying

Sergey says that he got acquainted with online marketing and media buying while studying at university. One of his friends was engaged in dropshipping of goods from China, and he asked Sergey to help him promote the business online.

Sergey and his friend started trying to promote Chinese goods on different platforms while testing different techniques. Their business was mostly targeting Russian customers, and they saw success after trying the MyTarget traffic network, which has loads of traffic volume from Russia.

Sergey worked with the MyTarget traffic source for three years while at university, and he understood the ad network so well that he even wrote his university thesis on it.

After graduating and gaining experience in promoting product offers at the same time, Sergey decided to try his hand at other verticals. He posted his resume on HeadHunter, and a couple of weeks later, he received an invitation for an interview from the Zavod Team.


Below is the conversation between Tatyana, the M1 interviewer, and Sergey published in question-answer mode.

Q: Which places do you recommend beginners to go in order to find jobs in a marketing agency or a media buying team?

Despite the fact that I myself got into the Zavod Team through HeadHunter, I cannot recommend it to applicants. Teams today are skeptical about this service since the level of candidates for media buying positions in it is rather weak.

I would advise you to pay attention to niche forums, Telegram channels, and job vacancy sections of media houses that work in the online marketing space.

In addition, networking helps a lot in finding a job. You can network in conferences and meetups.

Q: You said that you immediately got into the mid-level media buyer position. Tell us, how was the selection process for the Zavod team?

The selection took place in three stages:

  1. First, I spoke with the HR manager. She told me about the team and the requirements for a candidate for the media buyer position. I told her about myself - my skills and my background. In the process of communication, I realized that we liked each other professionally, and I felt that I had passed this stage.
  2. The next step was an interview with the team leader. He asked me so many questions when he found out that I had been working with MyTarget for a long time because he also used to work with it.
  3. The last step was to complete the test task. It was necessary to set up a link for trackers and make creatives for two offers.

I successfully completed the test task, and I was immediately accepted for the mid-level media buyer position. Although, as a rule, everyone new starts at the junior level,

Q: What advice would you give to those who want to get a media buying job today?

First of all, you need to have a desire. Also, the job seeker should have at least some experience in this space. If a person has never been involved in media buying, then you need to at least study the theoretical part before submitting a resume.

Q: What were your duties as a mid-level media buyer?

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When I joined the team, I immediately began to promote physical goods—I advertised them through Facebook. Product offers were familiar to me, and I knew how to work with Facebook well. My friend and I tried this traffic source when we were working as a duo, but we didn't develop much in it, because there was no money to scale. So, I immediately engaged myself in creating and launching Facebook ad campaigns.

Q: How did you manage to become a team leader? How long did it take?

At some point, we, the media buyers felt a little cramped with the work. At that time we were 20 and everyone worked on their own - no one shared campaigns because they were worried that a colleague would squeeze out your offer. We had very few new offers coming in, and the offer owners took a long time to introduce new GEOs.

Nikita, who was the team leader then, suggested trying new verticals. Two people agreed: Cyril and I. Together, we began to test other niches and look for profitable offers in them. Then another person from the general team joined us.

Gradually, we started to get better and better, so Nikita began to add additional people to our small team. In the end, we formed a full-fledged separate team within the Zavod Team.

At first, Cyril became the team leader of the new team, but later he found a new job for himself, and I took his place. From the moment I joined the team to the moment I was appointed as a team leader, it was about a year and a half.

Q: What responsibilities did you have when you became the team leader?

Responsibilities, in fact, have increased with a vengeance. In my new position, I have the following roles:

  • I make settings for various campaigns and funnel integrations - those that the media buyer cannot or does not have time to do.
  • I negotiate with affiliate network managers about new conditions for the team - rates, opening new offers, and so on.
  • I do other administrative things.

Q: Do you participate in the recruitment of new buyers? If yes, what do you pay attention to during the interview?

I am currently in the process of recruiting both junior and middle-level candidates. We prioritize selecting juniors based on their soft skills and understanding of online marketing.

Finding suitable middle-level candidates, however, is more challenging as they are often already working in teams or prefer to work independently on their own projects as solo affiliates.

Q: What kind of person would you never take to your team?

I strongly dislike when individuals fabricate information during interviews or come up with false responses. It is understandable that someone may not know the answer to a question, but lying to impress an employer is unacceptable to me. This type of behavior evokes negative emotions and reduces the chances of me bringing that person on board with my team.

For instance, if a candidate states they make $10 000 a month and then claims an ROI of 80 - 100%, it becomes clear that they must have spent the same amount to make that profit. But when asked about the ad spend, they state it is only $1 000 a day, which does not add up to the $10 000 profit they initially stated. He needed to spend $30 000, not $10 000. This discrepancy reveals that the person is being dishonest.

Q: How much does a media buyer in your team earn?

The juniors have a salary part of $650, plus a bonus, that is determined by the team leader, that is, me. The bonus, as a rule, is between $165 and $245 per month.

When a junior demonstrates good profit indicators and knowledge of the technical part, then we transfer him to the middle position. As a rule, it takes 3-4 months for a junior to become a middle.

Our middle also has a salary, which is even less than that of a junior — $500. But besides this, he still has a percentage of the profit from his campaigns:

  • If the profit is up to $10 000 per month, then the bonus rate is 15%
  • If the profit is above $10 000, then 1% is added for every $2 000.

Q: How many people work in Zavod Team?

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Now there are 29 people in the team, which are divided into 5 micro-teams like mine. Each team has a team leader, and overall there is a leader — Nikita.

Q: Do you farm ad accounts yourselves?

Previously, we used to farm but we saw that it was faster and more profitable to buy accounts.

Q: I read somewhere that you position yourself as a team that has never lost money. This is true?

Yes, it's true. We have a fairly large and professional team. We have built our processes in such a way that if one of the buyers slides into the red, then he will be compensated by the profit of other colleagues. Thus, the team is constantly in profit.

We always have a lot of offers, and we have a whole month to figure out which ones are doing well, and then we continue with those and ditch the underperforming ones.

Q: Is Nutra your best niche?

Perhaps yes. For me, this is of sporting interest - to constantly look for approaches in creatives and descriptions so that the offer is understandable to the user, and at the same time, Facebook does not ban it. That is, somehow blur pictures, change letters to emoticons or symbols, and come up with different tricks in order to pass the moderation of the advertising campaign. In the same way, we are experimenting with approaches in pre-landers.

Q: What approaches are most popular in your creatives and landing pages?

As our practice has shown, cases in which someone bought some product, tried it and it helped him come in better.

The “before and after” approach is still the best despite the fact that it is banned on Facebook. We launch many campaigns at once, so somehow we are able to sneak in these “before and after” creatives and a few get approved in the mix.

Q: What are your favorite GEOs for Nutra offers?

I like Spanish-speaking GEOs the most because campaigns scale very easily. If you have some GEO hooked on, for example, Peru, then you can adjust the campaign to run in Chile, Mexico, and other similar countries. That is why there is so much competition in LATAM and Spanish-speaking countries in almost any niche.

I don't like the Arab countries, because it is very difficult to achieve a high-quality translation from one country to another in them. For example, if you have a campaign for Saudi Arabia, then you can’t just run it in Morocco. All these Arab countries have different dialects, therefore, you can mess up the translation if you are not careful.


​​​​​​​At the end of the interview, Tatyana asked Sergey a question about where the vacancies of the Zavod Team are posted.

Sergey replied that the team utilizes all social media platforms and also utilizes HeadHunter to search for candidates. Additionally, he mentioned that the majority of individuals who are eventually hired by the team are from online marketing media companies.

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