Paid Media Marketing

February 5, 2020 Jesse Stein Jesse has founded, operated and sold multiple Internet-related ventures over the last 20 years. Most recently, he started and ran DietSpotlight.com, a leading nutrition website with more than 120 million total visitors and 325,000 subscription-based customers. In 2018 Dietspotlight was an Inc 5000 fastest-growing company.

Although the digital world is full of free marketing opportunities, getting the most extensive reach typically requires a marketing budget. From search engine marketing to social media ads, paid marketing strategies can put your message directly in front of the audiences that matter most.

What Is Paid Media Marketing?

Paid media marketing refers to any type of promoted content. To run a paid media campaign, you’ll need a platform, a piece of content, and something for that content to promote.

 

Advertising with a Publisher

An advertiser is whoever pays for an ad to be run. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably a future advertiser.

A publisher is whoever allows the ad to be run on their content. Publishers can be any size; the only criteria are having a platform and an audience.

Most digital marketing opportunities involve a large publisher like Facebook or Google. By working directly with advertisers, these companies can make sure that the ads suit their individual platform. Large publishers have their own rules and advertising styles, and they can usually serve your content to a vast audience.

Demand-Side and Supply-Side Platforms

If you want to advertise with smaller publishers, you’ll probably work with a publishing aggregate. These platforms handle the advertiser-publisher relationship for small blogs, websites, and magazines.

A demand-side platform is an aggregate interface designed for advertisers. DSPs let you upload content, choose target audiences, and track your campaigns; in most cases, you can even select the types of websites that will display your content.

A supply-side platform is an interface designed for the publisher. These platforms let the publisher set up ads on their site and choose which types of content to display. Many SSPs and DSPs are run by the same companies; the only difference is which side you want to access the content from.

Clicks and Impressions

Paid ad campaigns are tracked by clicks and impressions. Clicks refer to every instance of someone clicking on your ad to view the content behind the link. Impressions refer to every time someone was shown the ad, regardless of whether they take any action after seeing it.

As the name suggests, pay-per-click advertising only charges your account when someone clicks on the ad. Most platforms let you set a budget limit; once you’ve exceeded the limit, your ad won’t be shown to any more users. Some PPC platforms limit the number of impressions you’ll receive based on the budget you’ve set.

Ad platforms can also charge you based on impressions or run time. These models make sense for ads that are meant to establish your brand identity, but they’re not the best choice for campaigns that want users to take immediate action.

No matter which type of model you choose, make sure to include both clicks and impressions in your campaign analytics. Checking these numbers can help you determine whether your ads had the effect you intended.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising refers to ads that are bought and sold using software. A programmatic advertising platform will use a combination of customer data and advertiser information to automatically determine the best audience for a campaign. Then, the software will purchase and run ads based on the settings in your account.

Some marketers see programmatic advertising as the way of the future. When applied correctly, this kind of software can let you reach a wider audience while reducing your workload. However, it’s always smart to keep an eye on automatic services to make sure they’re actually serving your content to the right people.

In truth, major ad publishers like Facebook have already incorporated programmatic elements into their platforms. When you run a social media ad, you define your audience, but you don’t choose which users actually see it; the program decides this for you. This balance of algorithm-based publishing and advertiser control works exceptionally well, and you can expect to see the system evolve as technology progresses.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing and paid media marketing are related, but they’re not actually the same thing. Affiliate marketing is when a content producer promotes products from another company through their own channels. A blogger who writes about the outdoors and provides product links for their favorite camping gear is an example of an affiliate marketer.

It’s generally recommended that affiliate marketers avoid selling their products through paid media marketing. If you do this, you’ll end up competing for ad space with the same company that you’re promoting for. However, there’s nothing wrong with using paid marketing to advertise your content. Just make sure you’re promoting yourself, not the products.

Paid Media Best Practices

The guidelines for paid marketing are generally the same across most platforms. Once you know how audience variables and impression statistics work, you can apply your knowledge to the publisher of your choice. Still, it’s essential to get familiar with your favorite platform before you run a serious campaign; every publisher has individual features that work better for their audience.

Defining Your Audience

The first step of running any ad campaign is defining the audience. Who do you want to see your ads?

Defining your audience is crucial to making sure that you only pay for the clicks that matter. If you select too broad of an audience, you’ll get clicks and impressions from people who don’t actually want to buy your product. Always start with audience discovery to make sure you’re advertising to the right group of people.

Once you know who your audience is, tell the publisher by selecting audience traits. Every platform is different, but you’ll usually see options for demographics, interests, and other identifying factors.

Demographics typically include age, gender, income, occupation, and education. Occupation and education are some of the strongest indicating factors in this category; if you know what industry someone works in, you can probably guess what kind of products they will want to buy.

Interests include hobbies and favorite topics. Social media platforms like Facebook gather interest information from user profiles; other publishers gather interest information from internal communities and purchasing habits.

Other identifying factors might include the devices people are using, the members of their household, or the regions where they live. Decide which factors are relevant to your audience, but don’t feel pressured to fill out every field – you don’t want to go so narrow that you miss valuable customers.

Geotargeting

Geotargeting lets you serve your ads to people within a predefined region. Geotargeting is particularly important for local or regional businesses. If your company is in New York, you don’t want to advertise to people in California.

Geofencing lets you serve ads to devices that have entered a specific GPS radius. Geofencing is popular for event and trade show marketing – just set the radius around the convention center, and your content will be shown to anyone who looks at their phone during the event.

Keyword Research

Search engine marketing relies on keywords to focus your campaign. If someone searches for a keyword that you’ve bid for, they’ll be shown your ad somewhere in their search results.

Start by choosing keywords that you think users might search for concerning your product or service. Tools like Google Keyword Planner will recommend new keywords related to your original search; select from these to further define your audience.

In general, choosing more specific keywords will give you more reliable campaign results. This is because you’ll be competing with fewer people for the right to show your ad when those keywords are searched. If you’re advertising for a local business, try using location-specific keywords that include a city or a zipcode.

Remarketing

Remarketing is the practice of serving ads to customers who have already visited your site. These customers have shown an interest in your products, but they might need encouragement to actually complete their purchase.

When a platform allows remarketing, they’ll provide you with a line of code to include on your website. Browser cookies will be used to gather customer information and identify users when they return to the platform in question. Facebook and Google Ads both have this functionality, as do Twitter, Instagram, and many other mainstream ad publishers.

Another form of remarketing that doesn’t require browser cookies involves using direct mail campaigns. If a customer creates an account on your eCommerce site but doesn’t purchase their shopping cart, you can use their provided address to send them an email or a piece of physical mail. Try sending them a coupon for their purchase; chances are good that they’ll come back and buy.

Google Analytics

Paid media campaigns can eat up your marketing budget if you aren’t careful. That’s why all savvy marketers track the success of their campaigns with a tool like Google Analytics.

Once your website is connected to Google Analytics, you should be able to tell where your traffic is coming from. A marketing campaign is successful when it sends traffic from the publisher to your site. Impression-based campaigns might also cause an overall increase in traffic from organic sources; this is a sign that people are thinking about your brand.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

PPC ads are the most popular type of search engine marketing. These campaigns let you serve ads to people using Google or another search engine like Yahoo or Bing. You’ll decide which keywords to use, what audiences to target, and how much money to spend. Then, sit back and let the algorithm do the rest.

PPC campaigns don’t typically involve images. To be successful, you’ll need to craft extremely compelling titles and descriptions. Try running different versions of the same ad, and then keep the one that works for future campaigns.

Google Ads

Google Ads is quite possibly the most versatile ad platform on the internet. Although PPC ads are their main game, you can also use the platform to serve ads to websites, mobile apps, email inboxes, and any other publisher that works with the search engine giant.

The most important thing to realize about advertising with Google is that your ads have a quality score. To determine quality, Google considers the content of both your ad and the landing page on the other side. Your ads need to be relevant to the keywords you choose. If you’re having trouble, try using keywords that include your location or brand name.

Microsoft Ads

Many marketers ignore the potential of the Microsoft Search Network, which includes Bing, Yahoo, and MSN. Using Microsoft Ads is a good way to expand your campaign and get ads in front of older audiences.

Microsft offers you a surprising amount of control over both groups and individual ads. You can schedule ads to show during 15-minute windows, target specific devices, and choose whether or not to include variant keywords. You might also be pleased to realize that Microsoft Ads are cheaper; this is because there is significantly less competition.

Ads on Social Media

Social media platforms have targeted advertising easier than ever before. Thanks to the information in user profiles, you can be sure that your ads are going to people who are interested in your service or product category.

Before you set up a social media ad campaign, make sure your target demographic is using the platform that you’re advertising on. Some people prefer Twitter over Facebook; if you know the difference, you’ll see more success from your ads.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads typically take the form of sponsored posts and content. You can include text, images, and videos, and you can even sponsor an existing post on your page.

When you’re planning your campaign, pay careful attention to the Audience Insights section of Facebook Ad Manager. You can view all kinds of information about Facebook users, your followers, or the demographic you want to target.

Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads run using Facebook Ad Manager, so it makes sense to incorporate both into your marketing campaign. Remember that Instagram has a slightly different demographic from Facebook; your audience will be younger and more mobile-oriented.

Instagram is an image-focused platform, so your ads should be catchy and visually interesting. Get on the platform to see how images show up, and play around with the graphic design possibilities.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads work much like other platforms. Identify your own audience or choose from one of Twitter’s predefined demographics. Ads show up in the form of promoted tweets and can include images and video content.

When you’re using Twitter Ads, you’ll be given the option to promote a specific hashtag. This is an excellent targeting tool, so take the time to research hashtags and their relevant audiences.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn is a social media platform for business professionals. This platform is a good way to find people who work in specific industries or who have a certain educational background.

LinkedIn lets you choose to promote social media content, text ads in the sidebar, or InMail messages that go directly to the user’s inbox. Make sure to explore all of the options, and don’t forget to include images and videos when relevant.

Ads Around the Internet

The internet is a big place, and there are plenty of ways to reach your audience. First, find out which websites your demographic spends time on. Then, see which advertising platforms those publishers are using to monetize their content.

YouTube Ads

YouTube is probably the best platform for impression-based ad campaigns, but it’s also a good way to get clicks and generate leads. Pay attention to which types of content you’re advertising on to get more focused results.

YouTube is a video platform, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to video ads. Choose from sidebar ads, overlay ads that appear in front of the video, and skippable video ads that play before the content. YouTube is also one of the best choices for remarketing campaigns.

Reddit Ads

Reddit is an internet community with an extremely dedicated fanbase. Reddit advertisements take the form of promoted links or promoted content, both of which can be highly effective.

To understand Reddit, you need to realize that users only see the subreddits they’re subscribed to. Choose your subreddits widely, and remember to visit the r/redditads community for more detailed advice.

Quora Ads

Quora is a polished forum with a format very similar to Yahoo Answers. Ads on this platform appear in the middle of user-generated content. The ads are served based on relevant keywords in the copy.

Quora uses a PPC structure and can be easily incorporated into a wider marketing campaign. Take some time to explore the site and get a feel for the community before you write your ads; you’ll get more success if you match the general tone of voice.

Pinterest Ads

Like Instagram, Pinterest is a highly visual platform. You can create promoted Pins with a variety of objectives that include clicks, brand awareness, traffic, and app installs.

Pinterest is a great platform for eCommerce sites. Most people already pin items they want to buy, so you can encourage them to add your products to the list. Make sure to use top-notch photography for all of your product images.

Taboola, Outbrain, and Adblade

Taboola, Outbrain, and Adblade are all publisher aggregates that let you advertise on some of the internet’s biggest websites. If you use one of these platforms, you should first make sure that they’re advertising on the sites that you want to reach. Check out the unique ad formats, and design your ads based on how they’ll appear to users reading the publisher’s content.

Ads from publisher aggregates are highly susceptible to ad blockers. Users with adblockers will never see your content, but users without adblockers might actually see your content too much. Always take a look at the customer-end experience before you decide which platform to use.

Ads on Apps

Apps are never going to replace the internet browser, but they’re still an important part of modern digital culture. Expect large apps to serve ads like any other major publisher. For smaller apps, look for a mobile aggregate with an interface that you like.

Snapchat Ads

Snapchat is extremely popular among audiences below the age of 30. Ads on this platform take the form of videos that appear as promoted Snaps in the middle of a user’s story feed.

The key for Snapchat is to get your point across in 30 seconds or less. Keep it snappy, interesting, and colorful. Decide whether or not you want to use sound; for some campaigns, it can be unnecessarily disruptive.

TikTok Ads

TikTok has only allowed paid advertisements since April of 2019. Ads will need to be approved by a TikTok representative, so the expected quality level is much higher than on other platforms.

TikTok appeals to an extremely young demographic. This means your content should be short, entertaining, and relevant to the 18-22 age group.

Google Ads for Mobile

Apps in the Google Play store can choose to run Google Ads, so campaigning on this platform isn’t much of a stretch. Take a look at the settings in Google Ad Manager, and find the checkbox for advertising on mobile.

Mobile ads are usually either small banners or screens that interrupt gameplay. Impression-based advertising is more successful on this platform, but you can expect at least some clicks for your efforts.

Smaato

Smaato is a large ad monetization platform based in San Francisco. Publishers who choose to use Smaato allow banner ads, videos, and other forms of native advertising that don’t disrupt the user experience. There are plenty of ad monetization aggregates, but Smaato offers some of the most sophisticated and streamlined options for advertisers.

Always start small with your paid media campaigns, and remember to track your results. If a keyword or demographic is responding, go ahead and put more of your budget into that campaign. With trial and error, you will quickly find the platform that does the most work for your brand.