How successful marketers plan paid media in a changing world

Posted on Dec 8, 2021


“Think about how you handle planning or forecasting at your company: What does that process look like?”

Greg Finn, CMO of Cypress North, asked this question to two paid media professionals in his session at SMX Next. The presentation highlighted the planned media best practices that remain vital despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it brought to the landscape.

“Planning for us primarily stems from understanding the industry,” said Neha Divanji, founder of Growth Spin Limited, “We’re seeing if there are any persistent trends in the industry. We look for anything that has changed or anything topical that we would want to pay attention to, then we look at the competition.”

Andrew Lolk, founder of SavvyRevenue, highlighted his agency’s focus on goal-alignment and practicality: “We’re trying to figure out what is the goal here and what kind of limitations are we working within. Do we have any budgetary limitations? Do we have industry limitations?”

Putting together a planned paid media strategy is more important than ever in our changing digital landscape. Here are some tactics marketers should consider when building out these plans.

Consider using paid media planning tools

There are plenty of helpful tools available to help marketers plan their paid media efforts. Choosing the option that adapts to changes in the market depends on your brand, goals and competition.

“I use a tool called Similarweb extensively,” said Divanji, “It essentially pulls data from the competition and interprets which channels are the maximum traffic drivers for various competitors.”

“When we are looking at the campaign level and medium level data, we use Semrush,” she added. “It has options where you can look at specific competitor insights.”

Yet not all marketers prefer to use subscription-based planning tools. Some opt for a more manual planning process that brings all team members on board.

“We use few tools from a planning perspective,” said Lolk. “The only one we use again and again is Google Trends. It helps us understand new industries. When we see a little bit of a down season is key to start planning spend.”

Agency and client planning when things go awry

Failing to include clients in your paid media planning can disrupt your campaigns when things change. Marketers should share their plans regularly so no one is completely thrown off when adjustments need to be made.

“One of the key things that most clients and advertisers forget is sharing information,” Lolk said. “We’ve set up a process for how to proactively request and ask for all these things.”

Advertisers and clients miss out when these conversations are neglected. Their combined areas of expertise can serve as a solid campaign foundation.

“It’s so overlooked, just sharing insights,” he said. “It’s such a cliché when agencies say, ‘We have the technical know-how; you have the industry know-how. Let’s put it together.’ It’s the oldest cliché in the book, but it works.”

Adapt to changing advertising platforms

Aside from the many societal and behavioral changes, the biggest ad platforms continue to transform. And these shifts are often unpredictable.

“Nobody knows what’s coming out,” Lolk said. “We can’t guess what’s going to happen. So we focus on making sure we nail the basics. The basics have to be right and we have to be strong on strategy from.”

“From an agency perspective, it doesn’t matter what Google, Facebook, etc., throw at us. If you have the basics right, you’re pretty well off,” he added.

Marketers should have the basic practices, like gathering their own first-party data, in place, but aligning expectations with stakeholders will better prepare them for the changes to come. It’s the marketer’s responsibility to lean into their adaptability and let their clients know they’re prepared for each new status quo.

“As an agency, we know ground realities,” said Divanji. “We know what to expect. For clients, it’s important that their P&L (profit and loss) looks healthy, and that the agency and they are aligned with objectives, forecasting and deliverables.”

“As long as we can maintain that, I don’t see many problems: The P&L is healthy for the client, and your agency is delivering what you promised,” she added.

Watch the full SMX Next presentation here (free registration required).

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