If you have lofty ambitions of eventually taking your hands off the reins when managing your media, I’m sorry, but I’m going to crush that dream for you. I’m doing this because we had to do the same for ourselves. For six months we experimented with ways to put an end to our media challenges for good. It didn’t work — yet.
Let’s back up. What kind of media challenges?
Our media challenges are the same as yours — more channels, increasing scepticism of advertising and corporate governance, and the general mistrust of traditional media agencies and their lack of buying transparency. So what did we do? We turned to AI!
In the beginning, there was a lot of promise for what artificial intelligence-based media platform might do. And while we did notice some improvements, it just wasn’t the holy grail we were hoping for (read about some of our results here). We’re still playing with these tools because they’re continually getting smarter and evolving. But for now, we simply haven’t found one tool or platform that dramatically changes the game for us.
To get real, meaningful gains with your high performance media, you still have to put in some hard work.
Three keys to driving high performing digital media campaigns
The three pillars of successful performance media programmes are: research/set up, media mix and optimisation. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into each.
Research and setup
Before you do anything else with your media, ensure your analytics are set up correctly. This allows you to see and understand the impact of your media spend. Typically we use Google Tag Manager for our clients, which enables us to easily install any third party tracking code (like Facebook pixels or CRM integrations) through a single set up, rather than installing new code on your site each time.
With the right analytics in place, you can see how users interact with and move through your site. Do they bounce? Do they consume your information and explore to find out more? Or do they fill out a form or buy something? Without tracking code in place, you can’t know for sure. One note on mobile: cookies don’t work with iOS, so for mobile-specific campaigns, we need to think differently about how we use other available tools.
Connection planning digs deep into your target audience to understand them and the kind of media they interact with. This process helps you know what media mix will be right for your particular product or service. Here, we also look to develop campaign KPIs and map out user journeys and set up conversion goals or ‘tripwires’. By ensuring the user journeys are visible (through these tripwires), feedback loops are created for richer data analysis. Together, this information is pulled together and data profiling inputs are generated, which are used for machine learning and predictive analytics to drive better results and goals.
Build your plan
Once connection planning is complete, it’s time to build your media plan. This should be a balance between aligning your business, marketing and communication objectives with carefully curated channels that serve the end user and your digital media strategy.
When building a media plan, you need to consider two things. First, look at the budget you have and split it across the appropriate channels for your audience. Look at the different creative options within these channels and choose the most interesting ones (this should give you a minimum of 4 different media options). Next, do two variations of creative (now you have eight different options) to provide you with lots of opportunities for optimisation.
Experiment and test
No matter how air-tight your media mix is, it’s still a good idea to consider new and interesting ways in, like new media channels or new creative options within existing channels. Allocate 5-10% of your budget towards these experimental media options and test them. You may crack something great that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise.
Monitor and optimise
So, your media is up and running. Great! Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop. In fact, this is when the smarts kick in. Your systems will do a lot of the heavy lifting; they have built-in optimisation algorithms that work to drive the best results based on your campaign goals. But on top of that, we monitor the results ourselves to see whether things are working towards our targets. If they’re not, we optimise the media mix, creative options and occasionally rework the landing pages. Each of these changes may only make a small impact, but together lots of little gains add up.
SEO and content
Lastly, optimise your content. Keyword research will help you gain insights into the kind of material your audience is searching for and the terms they use to find it. It is also hugely beneficial to include fresh content that is specific to your campaign (when possible). This should be an ongoing part of your site development to improve traffic (from both paid and unpaid search results) and improve on-site engagement.
So, to sum up. AI will one day be able to run all your high performance media campaign needs. But until then, you’ll have to do a few things manually. First, get the set up right. Next, have a media plan with the mix that caters to your audience. Lastly, monitor and optimise your results (and make changes if necessary). But don’t just rely on media alone — continually create experiences and original content that add value for your target market. The days of being able to rely on one message and bombarding the market into submission are over. Find unexpected and original ways in, track what is effective and adjust when you need to.
Find out more about our media services.
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