Constructing An Effective Paid Media Strategy

Welcome to the very first post within the newly added marketing category on I have a strong background in general marketing through educational and professional entities. With my strong passion for the subject, I thought sharing my knowledge with you may be beneficial. The marketing page will be helpful to anyone who would like promote, advertise, or market their websites, blogs, or businesses efficiently and effectively.

The whole point to sharing my knowledge is to help other people succeed in ways they never expected. If I am able to help one individual or one business improve their marketing efforts, than I did my job! Without further adieu…

Paid Media Introduction

Paid Media is external marketing efforts that you pay to place. Some major forms of paid media are display advertisements, search advertisements, and sponsored content.

Social media advertisements, retargeting advertisements, and promoted pins are pieces of a larger marketing strategy. For example, if you are looking at flights from San Fransisco to Germany and do not book a ticket right away, you could potentially be seeing more advertisements that are directed to booking flights to Germany. This will be considered a retargeting ad, which keeps that dream vacation in mind and could potentially encourage your purchase of the flight.

Overarching marketing strategy includes not just paid media, but owned and earned media as well. Owned media includes channels your brand controls, such as a website or blog. Earned media is driven by users, customers, and fans who promote you brand by word of mouth. Paid media includes content you pay to promote. These make up your marketing mix.

How do you combine all of your paid marketing to maximize their impact on you business? There is a three step process including media planning, media buying, and media optimization.

Media PlanningThe process of identifying and selecting a combination of media on a variety of platforms. This includes researching your target audience and setting goals for campaigns.
Media BuyingThe process of purchasing your paid media placements including setting bids and automating purchases. A paid media plan sets the vision and goals for a business, whereas media buying executes on the strategies in a way that maximizes your budget.
Media OptimizationIncludes tracking performance and refining your campaign over time. The goal of media optimization is to refine targeting, decrease spending, and increase the return on investments.

With a paid media strategy in place that covers media planning, buying, and optimization you’ll be set up for success to design campaign that brings a return on investment.

Paid Media and The Inbound Methodology

When paid media comes to mind, do you associate it with inbound or outbound social media efforts? Many of us assume, including myself, the paid media efforts are outbound, disruptive, and intrusive. Of course, paid media can be all of these things, but it doesn’t have to.

This is when journey-based advertising comes into play. Journey-based advertising is when your paid media campaigns add value to your audience. They can be an effective inbound marketing tool. Paid media can be used at all stages of the customer journey including awareness, consideration, and decision.

To understand this concept better here are a few examples. You could run an influencer campaign to raise awareness of your product or service, serve paid search ads to people considering your solution, or use retargeting ads to encourage those who are already familiar with you brand to purchase. By using ads in addressing the needs to your target audience, the advertisements will start to feel less like an advertisement and more like a helpful solution.

Understanding A Target Audience

One of the first steps, and one of the most important steps in building a paid media campaign, is to understand your target audience. This step is one of the most forgotten and neglected steps when constructing a paid media campaign.

Great paid media plans start with understanding the audience you want to engage. Keeping a pulse on your target market is essential to create effective paid media campaigns.

Even with so much competition, there’s something that makes your company unique and different. This comes back to your companies core reasons to believe (RTB). A RTB could be anything from sustainable packaging to free shipping or discounts. So ask yourself, what are you businesses reasons to believe? What are the unique selling points that differentiate you in the marketplace? How can you connect these reasons to your target buyer?

One of the best ways to designate a buyer persona to your companies business is through customer interviews. Bring valuable and qualitative feedback about your product or service that is not only helpful for improving your business, but also for finding more people like them.

To construct the perfect formula with customer interviews the following steps are more efficient and effective:

  1. Prepare specific questions related to your users.
  2. Invite all users to schedule an interview. This could be over email, social media, phone calls, surveys, and other channels.
  3. Run a video conference that lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.

Identify Goals & Objectives

When constructing a paid media strategy, you need to be very specific when identifying your goals and objectives on what you want paid media to accomplish.

One general goal most companies can agree on is long term profit maximization. A paid media plane can be seen as a bridge that takes a companies historical performance to the companies business goal. Below is a diagram that helps align initiatives around your business goal:

Think about what is most important to your customers in your industry and use paid media to deliver those values. These values should also align with the core values of your company.

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Use Paid Media Across the Buyer’s Journey

Through consumer awareness, consideration, and decision, paid media can be used at every step along the way of a buyer’s journey. On the other hand, not all businesses have the resources to launch paid media along all stages of the journey.

If you are a company with a limited budget on advertising, you are going to have to be very deliberate with what areas you are spending that budget on. It is no easy task when prioritizing where a limited budget should go. Here is something you should consider asking yourself. Are you someone who:

  • Likes to attract new people to your brand
  • Nurtures people closer to buying your product or service
  • Targets your current consumers to get them to up-sell or buy more

Depending on your stance, you may be looking for an efficiency play or growth play. An efficiency play is a bottom-up approach which can max out what you can form from retargeting perspective or your current customer pool. A growth approach is a full-flywheel approach which includes a lot of awareness, but also have other consideration purchase tactics.

To recap, if you have a small budget or are new to the paid media space, start by advertising to your existing customers. Search and retargeting activity is intended to drive conversions. You will be able to start introducing other awareness and consideration tactics once you have a conversion strategy that works efficiently. If there is more that you want to communicate you will want to use a higher impact activity.


Determining A Paid Media Budget

Just like all other marketing efforts, all paid media campaigns need a budget. The first step is to know how much money you have to spend in order to prioritize all the channels and types. After that you’ll find that there is no real answers to how much of the budget should go towards the campaign… Contradictive, I know. This is because the answer will be different depending on the campaign and what type of business you have.

Digital advertising is an investing game. You want to figure out in your data where there are the most profitable areas of opportunity based on two things: (1) the highest level of efficiency and (2) the greatest ability to increase volume.

If you are new to paid media, experimentation is key in understanding what works well and what does not. It is also important to experiment in figuring out how much and where to allocate your budget for digital advertising. A good way to reevaluate your budget is to follow the steps below:

  1. Take your existing budget and experiment with different opportunities.
  2. Monitor performance and optimize campaigns.
  3. Determine your average return on investment
  4. Use this data to make a case to increase your paid media budget to bring higher return over time.
  5. DO NOT make strategic decisions until you have reliable results.

When setting a paid media budget, it is beneficial to use a 70-20-10 split diagram to allocate your funds.

70% of budgetGoes towards activities that are going to drive the main KPIs, based on historical performance.
20% of budgetGoes towards activities that can take things further such as conversion rate, optimization, or new social media channels.
10% of budgetGoes towards BIG ideas that drive a drastic change in performance. This is the experimentation category!

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Allocating Budget

In order to see a strong return-on-investment for your paid media, you need to allocate your budget wisely. Below I have a link to an excel sheet that can help plan and monitor the performance of your advertising and media buying spend, engagement, and ROI.

Note To Readers,
If you are interested in me doing a video run through of the templates below so that you know how to properly use them, please let me know. I will set up a YouTube video so that you can watch on your own time and have all the tools at your fingertips. Again, if you are interested in this offer I will be more than happy to oblige. Type “yes to budget planning tutorial” in the comments or contact me privately through my contact page.

Paid Media Monthly Budget Planning and Reporting Template: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

In the download, you will find that there is an “Example Template” tab. Here in this tab you will see an example of how to increase sales to existing customers. The example is the base of how you can start incorporating this paid media budget template to your real life business.

One term you may not be familiar with is Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). To calculate ROAS, take the revenue driven by a campaign and divide it by the amount of money spent on that campaign.

How To Optimize Paid Media

Optimizing campaigns includes necessary edits and changes on a regular and ongoing basis. This involves monitoring ad performance based on KPIs previously set and improvements on future KPI performance. Optimization should be monitored on a daily basis in hopes that you are not allocating too much of the budget in the wrong places.

It is important to make effective changes to your paid media from the type of content you are releasing to the day and time of day you are releasing it. Contradictive, changing too many things at once will blind which performance indicators are successful and which are not. Making changes should be done gradually, especially in the beginning of a campaign. Experiment, test, and learn.

Challenges of Advertising On Multiple Platforms

When you run campaigns on multiple platforms such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, they don’t talk to each other. In other words, there is no communication between the platforms. Your ads performance and data all live independently on each ad manager. It is also possibly for a single user to engage with an ad on multiple platforms. The problem here is which platform gets the credit? If a consumer ends up purchasing a product or service and have visited multiple platforms, the platforms will all take money based on the cost per click (CPC). We don’t want this. We want to give credit where it is due. The less money spent on CPC, the more money we will see in ROI.

There are a few different ways to solve this problem. One solution is to use attribution modeling. Attribution modeling is a set of rules for assigning credit to the various touchpoints in the conversion path. There are a few different models to consider when planning with attribution modeling:

Another solution method could be through an ads management tool. Ads management tools connect the dots between advertising platforms and they enable you to see which contacts interacted with which ads.

Reporting Automation

Reporting automation is using tools to automatically publish reports based on the metric you care about on a regular basis. For example, you could use Google Data Studio. This is a free platform that you can use to create dynamic dashboards and reports. It automatically pulls in data from other Google products such as Google Ads and Google Analytics.

You are also going to want to consider a third party entity that ties in other products outside of the Google universe. Supermetrics is a great tool in this circumstance. Supermetrics allows you to connect your data from Facebook, LinkedIn, HubSpot, and other networks to the report platforms you already use.

Phew. I know I just threw a lot of information at you. I hope I provided you today with some knowledge. Paid media campaigns are important for growth and development in your business. It is scary spending your marketing budget on something that is undetermined and something that does involve trial and error. But, if you seek advice and do it right the results will be worth your while.

//Probably Rob

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