Back arrow

Understanding Tier 1, 2 & 3 countries

Understanding Tier 1, 2 & 3 countries

Understanding Tier 1, 2 & 3 countries

In digital advertising, it is understandable that some countries might be more valuable to advertisers than others. You’ve probably been thinking about expanding your offers to new countries, and this can be challenging. But with some work and understanding, it’s possible! 

I bet you already read something like “This offer converts very well in Tier 1 countries” or “Try testing Tier 2 and 3 countries” or “Your budget is not big enough for testing a Tier 1 country like the US”


What are country tiers? 

It’s a categorization of world regions based on their economy and spending habits, as well as other considerations. It helps the marketer define which countries are best and more suitable for their target.

There are 3 defined country tiers which will be explained next. 


And, what usually happens to a person who is new in the media buying industry?

They ask their affiliate manager for an offer and then they are given the offer for specific countries (let’s say US, GB, DE). What happens sometimes is that these offers are meant to be run by marketers with at least some experience, with some proven funnels. 

They usually think that they’ll make money, and what sometimes happens is that they end up with empty pockets - why? 

Because of the competition. Some GEOs, especially the Tier 1 ones, are constantly facing a cruel competition. This doesn’t mean they are not profitable, actually you can make a lot of money there. But it means that, to start, it’s advisable to try countries with less competition and more margin to learn, with less risk. 

“But I’m here to make some money. I have landing pages, creatives from spy tools, a tracker and I read a lot on forums! I’m ready to show the industry how good I can be! How can I do this without running campaigns in Tier 1 countries?” 

Don’t worry. We’ll explain. You’ll make money. 

Let me explain to you why running traffic in Tier 1 countries is not the best choice if you’re new to the playground. 

Tier-1 Countries

You can consider the following ones:


Other countries such as Ireland, Iceland, Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, France or China could also be considered in this group. 


Pros of Tier 1 countries: 

    1. You can usually receive higher payouts

    2. People usually have a greater GDP and therefore they’re more likely to spend money

    3. In most of them english is a fluently spoken language

    4. Citizens usually have credit cards

    5. Very big audience and increasing, especially in mobile 


Cons of Tier 1 countries: 

    1. Competition. A lot of competition. You don’t need it when you don’t have experience and don’t know all the dirty tricks that big media buyers use in their campaigns.

    2. Expensive traffic. Take a look at the competition score and average CPC.


    3. Strict regulations. For example, now it’s hard to run pin submits in tier 1 countries. It’s also harder with CC trial offers. 

    4. The market is saturated: it’s hard to find something new that catches people’s attention.

.    5. A big part of the population is using Ad Blockers. 


I think you already got my point now. If you’re unprepared, without good knowledge of how things work in media buying, it’s better for you to wait for the Tier 1 countries and focus on the other ones, at least until you gain some experience. Let’s take a look at them! 


Tier-2 Countries


As you can see, you have a lot of options here! Some really big countries with big population, and others which are smaller but very potential as well. 


Pros of Tier 2 countries:

    1. Less competition 

    2. Huge traffic volumes (especially in Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina)

    3. Cheaper traffic, but be ready to pay more in European Tier 2 countries

    4. Fewer law restrictions (especially not european Tier 2 countries)


Cons of Tier 2 countries: 

    1. Offers usually have lower payouts (especially outside of Europe)

    2. Traffic quality decreases a little bit 

    3. Spending habits are different so people are less likely to spend money

    4. Sometimes lack of good offers in the same GEO

    5. In some countries, citizens might not have wide access to credit cards and their payment methods are limited. Instead, you can try COD (Cash on Delivery) offers

    6. You might need localized versions of your creatives, landing pages and ads


In my personal opinion, tier 2 countries are the place where you should start and learn how to do media buying. There’s a good combination of good offer choices plus a competitive price, and well enough scaling options.


Lastly, let’s take a look at Tier 3 countries. 


Tier-3 countries

In this group, there are a lot of African countries such as Somalia, Chad, Congo, Botswana, etc. Also considered in Tier 3 Albania, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Iraq, India, Laos, North Macedonia, Mali, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam. 

Some of these are really small and they don’t have big volumes, but don’t underestimate them because you might get surprised! 


Pros of Tier 3 countries: 

    1. Traffic is cheap, sometimes even $0.001 per click

    2. Usually legal restrictions don’t exist

    3. Competition is usually lower

    4. Ad Blockers are not generally used


Cons of Tier 3 countries: 

    1. Payouts are usually very low 

    2. Traffic quality in average is not good - you’ll most likely make leads but it gets hard to convert them into sales

    3. Localized content is mandatory


That’s it! If you’re a young media buyer with no experience, please start running your offers in Tier 2 countries. You’ll need smaller budgets than in Tier 1 GEOs and they will probably be easier to optimize. 


3 tips on how to make your campaigns more profitable: 

  1. For some verticals (especially dating) you can use local slang. This will show your audience that you speak their language, which will lead to more trust from their side
  2. Before starting your campaigns, read and learn about manners, religion, culture, etc in a particular GEO.
  3. Don’t use Google Translate when preparing your creatives in non-english speaking countries! 


That’s it for today! 

I wish you nothing but success in your scaling strategies 💪🏼


Download PDF

Recent articles